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Arecaceae, Mauritia flexuosa, Moriche Palm, Ité

November 3, 2009

M. flexuosa is a South American palm, occurring naturally across a large area of the northern regions, east of the Andes Mountains, including all of Amazonia except its most eastern part. The tree always grows in open sites, along rivers and streams and in swamps from elevations a few hundred feet above sea level to about 3000 feet. In swamps and flatlands it forms immense colonies in the exclusion of most other trees.

The species name “flexuosa” means translates to flexible, in reference to the leaf segments and the massive petioles.

The solitary trunks of this palm can reach heights of 80 feet, with diameters often in excess of 2 ft.

The leaves are 15 feet wide on large petioles up to 30 feet long with four foot wide bases.

Mauritia flexuosa is definitely one of the most massive and impressive and beautiful of all palms. The species is only adaptable to zones 10b and 11. It is nearly aquatic and, although it will grow in drier areas, the tree will not fulfill its growing potential unless planted in moist environs. It prefers acidic soil.

This species has probably been used by humans for thousands of years and is still of great significance to many human and non-human organisms. It’s highly nutritious fruit can be eaten raw, also made into a type of flour. It is also fermented in an alcoholic beverage. An oil extracted from the fruit is an important commercial produce in Brazil. Fibers from the leaves are used for making ropes, hammocks and other misc. utensils. The petiole pith is used to make mats and paper. A wine and sago startch are derived from the trunks of felled trees.

Here’s an interesting and informative overview of the palm and its traditional uses by an author from Guayana:

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2010 10:08:24 pm

    The Ite palm is indeed one of the most widely used palms among our indigenous peoples of South America. I work in Guyana on promoting the culture of us indigenous people that have conserved the area even for today and this palm has indeed contributed a lot to the upkeep of the ecosystem. It needs to be praised.

    • January 8, 2010 10:08:51 am


      Please, drop some plant knowledge.

      • January 9, 2010 10:08:19 pm

        Yes! I will. As a matter of fact I am working on promoting forest fruit trees in and around the Moraro forest of Koria,Guyana, South America.

        • January 9, 2010 10:08:25 pm

          Sounds interesting. I’d be very interested to learn of any interesting edible/medicinal/useful plant species of that region. I am not familiar with the Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname area of S. America.

          • January 10, 2010 10:08:49 pm

            Guyana is very interesting because the plant population varies depending on the terrain. One would find different species living not too far from each other with only the soil and moisture conditions being different. I accept the local names so maybe you may be familiar with some. Which area in the Central & South America are you familiar with?

            In Moraro where I work we have three main soil and moisture types so have different plants and trees.

            Gosh! but it is not as simple as that as you may know. Some plants just love each other (laugh)

            I am working on the Ite at the moment which I will post soon. Getting some pictures ready.

  2. January 12, 2010 10:08:14 pm


    I have posted an article on my blog on the Ite palm. You can access this from my website on the Forest Centre page since I find trying to access from the blog doesn’t always work. Also if you wish you can make a link to my site. Can I make a link to yours if possible?

  3. December 11, 2011 10:08:05 pm

    Hi there

    I have changed my website and there is a page dedicated to the Mauritia flexuosa.

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