PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA AND APPLICATIONS
Tucuma butter (Astrocaryum vulgare) is very similar to palm kernel butter in appearance, consistency, and property but with a higher and favorable melting point. It is known that butter with lauric acid has a key role in immune system function and the prevention of various diseases. Due to its grease composition and unsaponifiable matter, Tucuma butter forms a protective film on the skin and hair without causing damage to the lipid exchange.
Forms a transparent protective film on the skin, similar silicone without clogging the pores. The lipid exchange of the skin is not damaged and works well on dry skin and even on oily ones.
Tucuma butter is excellent for formulations for dry hair with split ends. Penetrates the cuticle of the hair to replace the loss of structural lipids and replenish moisture, giving back the natural elasticity, leaving them soft, strong and silky. Highly recommended for the formation of curled hair and regeneration of ethnic hair.
The fiber has many uses, the leaves provide a very resistant fiber, ideal for basketry, the kernel is used in handicrafts and the fruit is consumed in natura or in the form of a juice called “wine of Tucuma”, which is macerated with water or as an ice cream. The pulp is very nutritious containing one of the highest concentrations of pro-vitamin A “beta carotene” (52000 mg per 100 g), only equaling the value of buriti pulp. Its oil is used in cooking and in massage treatments.
This species is native to the Amazon region, possibly to the state of Pará, where it has its center of dispersion, reaching until French Guiana and Suriname. It is a characteristic palm of terra firme, low vegetation cover, or even open fields. There exist two varieties of Tucuma palms in the Amazon, the Tucuma-do-para (Astocaryum vulgare) and the Tucuma-do-amazonas (Astocaryum Tucuma). The tree of Tucuma-do-para is with 10 to 15 m smaller in height, regenerates easily by forming several stems, while the Tucuma-do-amazonas can reach 25 m in height and form a solitary trunk. Its fruits are larger, its pulp is more fleshy, less fibrous and less sweet than the Tucuma-do-para.
The Tucuma palm is considered a pioneer plant of aggressive growth, fire-resistant with a capacity to shoot again after the fire, mainly inhabiting secondary forest formations and pastures. Seeds take up to 2 years to germinate, grow slowly in the field and start to produce from the eighth year. There exists already some isolated palm (Elais guinensis) growers that are beginning to replace the palm by Tucuma even without a program of genetic improvement. Its resistance to diseases and high productivity make this specimen an alternative for the production of biodiesel since the operating costs of an orderly plantation is much less than that of the palm.
The kernel of Tucuma-do-para is covered externally with an orange pulp of oily consistency. The fruit weighs 30 g on average, 34% of that weight corresponds to the external pulp which concentrates 14 to 16% of the oil of the fruit in natural . A mature tree can produce up to 50 kg of fruits per year (25 kg per tree on average), which corresponds to 2.5 kg of pulp oil and 1.5 kg of kernel oil. In one hectare 400 palm clusters can be planted with three producing trunks each, totalizing 1.200 palm trunks that will result in 4,8 tons per hectare of greasy material, more than palm (Elais guinensis) that produces only 4 tons of oil on average per hectare and year (assuming a productivity of 20 tons and a oil performance of 22%). The advantage of Tucuma-do-para is that it forms clusters with no need for replanting contrary to the palm.
SHANLEY, P. et al (2011): Fruit trees and useful plants in Amazonian life, FAO, CIFOR http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Books/BShanley1101.pdf .