BURITI-Oil - Moriche Palm (Mauritia flexuosa, Arecaceae)
HARVESTING PERIOD (every 2 years)
FATTY ACID COMPOSITION AND PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA
The buriti oil is very rich in oleic acid (72.5%), a type of mono-unsaturated fatty acid that is abundant in olive oil and is associated with lowering the risk of coronary heart disease. Furthermore, it is considered to be the richest natural source in beta-carotene (30 milligrams/100 g pulp), exceeding 5 times what is found in carrots (6,6 milligrams/100 g pulp). In the buriti oil the concentration is even higher with 118 milligrams/100 g of oil. Beta-carotene is one of the most powerful antioxidants, known for its ability to renew cells, and serves as an excellent natural skin exfoliator. Due to its ability to absorb radiation in the range of visible and ultraviolet light, the oil is used by the cosmetic industry as a solar filter that reduces the dryness of the skin. IIn anti-aging formulas this oil increases the elasticity of the skin.
The buriti is a palm with multiple uses. New leaves and their stalks are frequently employed in crafts, such as baskets, and the fruit pulp is processed into a juice called “wine” and sweets, which are a popular food in the Amazon region. The buriti oil, which is edible, is used in frying and applied to skin to treat sunburns, which causes immediate relief and helps the skin to heal. Due to its powerful ability to detoxify and combat allergic reactions, the caboclos treat snake and scorpion bites by applying the oil to the wound. The oil is also used to treat asthma by ingesting half a spoon of oil per day, which reduces coughing and relieves breathing. Currently, the fruit pulp is commercialized in local markets, in the countryside, for the production of “wine” that replaces açaí during the rainy period, which is from January to June and is the low production period for açaí. There are companies that sell the fresh fruit pulp for the extraction of oil; others prefer the dry pulp, called buriti flour, because the pulp is very perishable.
Buriti is a palm tree (Mauritia vinifera and M. flexuosa), which dominates expansive areas and covers nearly all of central Brazil and the lowlands of southern Amazonia, where there are streams. It is an elegant tree that can reach 35 meters and forms large leaves with a rounded crown. The flowers are yellowish, and appear from December to April. Its fruits are ellipsoidal, chestnut colored, and have a surface coated with shiny scales. The fruits have a yellow flesh that covers a hard oval seed, which is edible. The trees fruit from December to June. The buriti palm naturally occurs alone or in communities, and requires an abundant supply of water.
For this reason, they dominate floodplains and swamps where the soil is soft and moist. The location where they grow is the result of the their seeds being dispersed by water when an area is inundated. This species is dioecious; plants have only male or female flowers. Only individuals with female flowers form fruits.
Approximately 60 female and 80 male buriti palms occur in one hectare. An adult palm can produce up to 200 kg of fruit, which can be processed into 30 kg of flour or 5 to 6 liters of finally extracted oil (the flour contains 22% oil). Assuming an average of 60 buriti palms per hectare, 300 to 360 liters of oil can be extracted per hectare. The reproductive cycle occurs every two years, but there are communities that mange their natural buriti groves by cutting and removing the small and dried infructescences (the stalks with fruits) and removing natural competitors, and thus have a year of low productivity followed by a year of high productivity.
LIMA, M.C.C.: Atividade de Vitamina A do Doce de Buriti e Seu Efeito no Tratamento e Prevenção da Hipovitaminose em crianças. 1987, Dissertação de mestrado, Departamento de Nutrição, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, 125 pp. (citado por SHANLEY, 2005).
Ao óleo de buriti ao filtro solar: Pesquisadores vêem utilidade do óleo de buriti na confecção de óculos e películas solares. Diário do Pará, Belém (16.07.2006).
PIO CORREA, A. M.: Dicionário de Plantas Úteis do Brasil; 1926, Imprensa Nacional, Rio de Janeiro , p. 339.
SHANLEY, P. et. al. : Frutíferas e plantas úteis na vida amazônica, 2005, CIFOR, IMAZON, Editora Supercores, Belém, p. 300.
MORAIS, L. R. : Banco de Dados Sobre Espécies Oleaginosas da Amazônia, não-publicado.