A tree of ungurahui
Synonyms: Jessenia batua
Other names: Mingucha, patawa
Ungurahui is an elegant palm tree native to the Amazon region. This tree can be seen growing in forests, on uplands as well as flood plains in Colombia Venezuela, Guyanas, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru in the South America.
The tree bears edible fruits which are also rich in oil.
A large erect tree, 10-25 m high, trunk solitary, 20-30 cm in diameter, smooth ring shaped.
Leaves 10-16, terminal, very large, can
reach upto 9 m; petiole 10-50 cm long, rachis 3-7 m long, leaflets upto
2 m long and 15 cm wide, about 100 on each side, placed in the same
Leaves of ungurahui
Fruits ovoid fruits, 2.5 to 4.5 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide, purple at maturity, borne 1200 to 2200 on a single stalk.
Ungurhai fruits are edible. These are eaten fresh by local people. These are a rich source of protein. The pulp also contains oil like olives. The fruits are sold in street markets in several urban centres in the Peruvian Amazon, such as Iquitos and Nauta. Vendors in urban areas keep the fruits moist so that they glisten like large black olives, thereby making them more attractive to prospective customers. Ungurahui fruits sell for about 80 to the US$1, enough to make plenty of juice for even the largest family
Juice is extracted from
the fruits. This juice is enjoyed throughout the Amazon, from the
river’s mouth to Peru and Bolivia. It is drunk straight or mixing it
with sugar. The juice is used to make a calorie-laden and protein rich
drink, the equal of any “power” smoothie sold in fitness centers in
North America or Europe. The juice is also made into ice cream and
popsicles in various cities and towns in the Peruvian Amazon. Unghurahui
fruits contain appreciable amounts of oil, similar in fatty acid content
to olive oil. One or two glassfuls of the fruit juice thus quickly
satiate even the hungriest person.
The protein value of the Palm’s fruit pulp is comparable to animal protein, and much better than that of grains or legumes. The mesocarp is so nutritious, in terms of both calories and protein, that it can sustain a person for a prolonged period
The heart of this palm is also eaten in certain parts of the Amazon, such as among the Achuar in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Yanomamo in northern Brazil.
Rural folk in the Peruvian Amazon fashion makeshift baskets from the fronds of the palm while in the forest to take home game meat.
Ungurahui is not cultivated. The fruits are collected from trees growing the wild.