Pequi (Cariocar brasiliensis )
PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA AND APPLICATIONS
Pequí oil is rich in fatty acids and boasts a high content of vitamins A, C and many B, as well as phytosterols, sitosterol, stigmasterol and lanosterol. Squalene and selenium are obtained in concentrations of 64mg and 0.7 mg per 100g respectively.
The Pequí kernel oil has a complete melting point of 37 ° C, identical to the temperature of the human body, which makes it ideal for skin creams. However, the Pequí kernel is not very common due to the difficulty in removing the endocarp. The seed oil obtained is white-yellow in color, solid and of an agreeable taste and smell.
Pequí oil is used in the production of skin creams and lotions, soaps, bath oils as well as shampoo and conditioner for dyed and brittle hair. Because of its chemical properties, it can be recommended as an ingredient in makeup products and post-depilatory creams.
The fruit is edible when cooked in salted water, and the oil can be used for culinary purposes. The peel is rich in tannin and used in the preparation of ink and dye.
The local communities apply the pulp oil as an anti-inflammatory and against liver disorders. It contains a high content of vitamin A, which helps to prevent and cure eye disorders. The bark serves as a remedy against athlete’s foot.
To extract the pulp oil in a traditional way, the pulp mass is boiled at low heat (without water) and the mass removed while the oil melts. Three dozen Pequí fruit yields 2,5 liters of oil.
Both pulp and kernel oil, along with the peel, are used in the manufacturing of soap.
The pequi tree has a leafy canopy that can reach 12 meters in height. Of all the native fruits of the Cerrado biome, pequi is the most consumed and marketed. Pequi is of great importance for agroextractivist populations and local economies. Some “collectors” and pequi traders come to get up to 80% of their annual income in the productive chain of the fruit.
The fruits ripen from February to May. A Pequí tree usually does not produce fruit every year. The average tree yields around 350 fruits per year.
Oil can be extracted from the fruit pulp as well as from the kernel. Each fruit weighs around 280g and contains 23% pulp and 6% kernel, with a 62% and 54.8% oil content respectively. Using hexane (a chemical solvent) in the extraction process, the pulp yields 45.8% oil and the kernel 42%.
With an annual harvest of approximately 350kg of fruit per tree, it is possible to extract 38.8kg pulp oil and 8.8kg of kernel oil.
The Pequí wood is slow to decay and therefore used in shipbuilding. Although not an endangered species, its uncontrolled exploitation could lead to the disappearance of trees in some regions.
PIANOVSKI, A. R, et al (2008): Uso do óleo de pequi (Caryocar brasiliense) em emulsões cosméticas: desenvolvimento e avaliação da estabilidade física; Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, vol. 44, n. 2, abr./jun., 2008 http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1516-93322008000200010&script=sci_abstract&tlng=pt .
SHANLEY, P. et. al. : Frutíferas e plantas úteis na vida amazônica, 2005, CIFOR, IMAZON, Editora Supercores, Belém, p. 300 http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/BShanley0501.pdf .