(Platonia insignis, Clusiaceae)
FATTY ACID COMPOSITION AND PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA
The grease of the bacuri oil has a high absorption rate, due to its high level of tripalmitin (50% to 55%), which penetrates the skin quickly. The high amount of fatty palmitoleic acid (5%), compared to other oils (less than or equal to 0.5 to 1.5%), makes the bacuri oil a fantastic emollient, which can also be used as a moisturizing agent.
The bioactive ingredient tripalmitin is used in pills to slow the diffusion of drugs into an organism; releasing the proper quantity of a drug reduces the side effects of strong medicines that are absorbed by the organism according to pharmacokinetics. The current source of tripalmitin is from a plant commonly called Japanese wax tree (Rhus succedanea), which is originally from Japan.
The bacuri fruit is highly demanded in the markets of Belém and used for the preparation of sweets, cakes, jams, juices, and ice creams. Its seeds are not used and are discarded. The caboclos of the central region of the Marajó island have great difficulty removing the oil from the seed, because the seeds have to be soaked in water for over a year. They are then boiled and the oil is skimmed off the surface of the boiling water. The oil has phytotherapeutic applications and is popularly used on Marajó as a remedy against spider and snakes bites, as a treatment for skin problems and ear aches, and is considered to be a miraculous remedy against rheumatism and arthritis. The butter of bacuri gives a golden tone to the skin. It is absorbed a few minutes after it is applied and the skin becomes velvety to the touch; it also removes spots and reduces scarring.
Bacuri is native to the state of Pará, where the highest concentrations are found in the Salgado, Bragantina, and the Marajó island regions. This tree can reach 25 m in height and 1.5 m in diameter. It grows on terra firme and the timber is yellow, compact, resistant to rotting, and therefore is used in the construction of boats. The fruit of this species, which weighs 250 g on average, is oval and covered by a shell, which is 0.7 to 1.6 cm thick and 75% of the weight of the fruit. The edible part of the fruit is the endocarp, and represents 13% of the weight of the fruit. It is white, with a strong aroma and sweet taste.
The fruit usually has 4 oily seeds, and when dried (moisture content of 20%) they contain 72% fat, which is resinous and dark brown to almost black. The fat has an unpleasant smell and filtration is difficult. Pressing the seeds extracts approximately 40% of the oil. It is estimated that an average tree will produce 400 fruits per year. The number of fruits produced per year varies. A year of high fruit production is succeeded by one, two, or three years of low production. Propagation is possible via seeds, roots, and by grafting. Plants propagated by seeds mature12 to 15 years after they are planted while it only takes five to six years using the grafting method.
CARVALHO, J. E. U. et. al.: Métodos de propagação do bacurizeiro,(Platonia insignis Mart.), 2002, Embrapa Amazônia Ocidental, Circular Técnica 30, p. 12.
MORAIS, L. R. Banco de Dados Sobre Espécies Oleaginosas da Amazônia, não-publicado
SHANLEY, P. et. al. : Frutíferas e plantas úteis na vida amazônica, 2005, CIFOR, IMAZON, Editora Supercores, Belém, p. 300.