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Useful Tropical Plants

Copernicia prunifera

(Mill.) H.E.Moore

Arecaceae

+ Synonyms

Arrudaria cerifera (Arruda) Macedo

Copernicia cerifera (Arruda) Mart.

Corypha cerifera Arruda

Palma prunifera Mill.

Common Name: Carnauba Palm

Copernicia prunifera
Young plant
Photograph by: David Stang
Creative Commons License
Copernicia prunifera Copernicia prunifera Copernicia prunifera Copernicia prunifera Copernicia prunifera

General Information

Carnauba palm is a large, evergreen fan palm with a single stem, usually growing 7 - 10 metres tall but with some specimens up to 15 metres. The unbranched stem can be 15 - 25cm in diamete; it is topped by a crown of fan-shaped leaves that can be 1 metre long on a petiole that is also 1 metre long[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
,
768
Title
Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas
Publication
 
Author
Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.
Publisher
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-691-08537-4
Description
An excellent book, giving basic information on all the 550 species of palms native to the Americas that were known in 1995. Comprehensive information on the plants range and habitat, brief description, some uses and almost 250 photos.
].
The plant is extensively cultivated, almost entirely in Brazil, for the wax that can be obtained from the leaves[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. It is also often grown as an ornamental in tropical areas[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
768
Title
Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas
Publication
 
Author
Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.
Publisher
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-691-08537-4
Description
An excellent book, giving basic information on all the 550 species of palms native to the Americas that were known in 1995. Comprehensive information on the plants range and habitat, brief description, some uses and almost 250 photos.

Range

S. America - northeastern Brazil.

Habitat

Dry forest areas of Brazil, growing along rivers in valleys, often in areas subject to periodic inundation and periodic drought[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
,
768
Title
Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas
Publication
 
Author
Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.
Publisher
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-691-08537-4
Description
An excellent book, giving basic information on all the 550 species of palms native to the Americas that were known in 1995. Comprehensive information on the plants range and habitat, brief description, some uses and almost 250 photos.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height12.00 m
Growth RateSlow
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Plants succeed in moist tropical climates where temperatures never fall below 10°c, the average annual rainfall is 1,500mm or more and the driest month has 25mm or more rain[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. They can also succeed in drier areas with an annual rainfall as low as 250mm and one month or more where rainfall is below 25mm[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
].
Plants grow well in full sun, even when small[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. Prefers a moist, well-drained soil[
314
Title
Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.pacsoa.org.au/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Contains at least a little information on the majority of palm and cycad species, plus a wealth of photographs. A first class website.
]. Succeeds in saline soils[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
A slow-growing plant[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

Edible Uses

The pith of the trunk is rich in starch and is used to make sago[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

An edible gum is obtained from the trunk[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Young inflorescences[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

The seed is used as a coffee substitute[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Leaves - cooked[
763
Title
Heart of Palm Use: A Family Survey
Publication
 
Author
Scott Zona, Ph.D.
Website
http://www.virtualherbarium.org/palmresearch/Hearts_of_Palm_table.html
Publisher
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Virtual Herbarium.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line article listing the botanical names and range of palm trees that have an edible apical bud.
]. The apical bud, often known as a 'palm heart', is eaten as a vegetable[
763
Title
Heart of Palm Use: A Family Survey
Publication
 
Author
Scott Zona, Ph.D.
Website
http://www.virtualherbarium.org/palmresearch/Hearts_of_Palm_table.html
Publisher
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Virtual Herbarium.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line article listing the botanical names and range of palm trees that have an edible apical bud.
]. Eating this bud leads to the death of the tree because it is unable to make side shoots[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

The roots are depurative and diuretic. A decoction is considered a specific treatment for syphilis, and is also used in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, dermal afflictions and oedema[
739
Title
Medicinal Plants of Brazil
Publication
 
Author
Mors W.B.; Rizzini C.T.; Pereira N.A.
Publisher
Reference Publications; Michigan.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-917256-42-5
Description
An extremely concise book, listing approximately 1,500 species and varieties of plants with their botanical name, common name in Brazil, regions in Brazil where the plant is found, a brief list of uses and any medically active compounds in the plant.
].

A wax obtained from the leaves is used in the preparation of ointments and cataplasms[
739
Title
Medicinal Plants of Brazil
Publication
 
Author
Mors W.B.; Rizzini C.T.; Pereira N.A.
Publisher
Reference Publications; Michigan.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-917256-42-5
Description
An extremely concise book, listing approximately 1,500 species and varieties of plants with their botanical name, common name in Brazil, regions in Brazil where the plant is found, a brief list of uses and any medically active compounds in the plant.
].

Other Uses

A high quality wax is obtained from the lower surfaces of the leaves[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
,
768
Title
Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas
Publication
 
Author
Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.
Publisher
Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-691-08537-4
Description
An excellent book, giving basic information on all the 550 species of palms native to the Americas that were known in 1995. Comprehensive information on the plants range and habitat, brief description, some uses and almost 250 photos.
]. It is very hard and has a high melting point[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is used to make various high quality polishes and varnishes, phonographic records, lubricants, soaps, candles etc[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
,
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

The leaves can be used for thatching and weaving into articles such as mats, baskets and hats[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
,
454
Title
Useful Fiber Plants of the World
Publication
 
Author
Dodge C.R.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
USDA; Washington.
Year
1897
ISBN
 
Description
A rather dated, but very comprehensive catalogue of fibre plants from around the world. The book can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The leaves (probably the fibre from them[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]) are used to make ropes[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

An oil is obtained from the seeds[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

The wood is soft, moderately heavy, long-lasting in salty water, easy to work. It is used for fencing, rustic buildings, laths, lathe work such as walking sticks etc[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
,
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. The whole stems are used for poles[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
The wood is used for fuel[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

Propagation

Seed - there is no need to separate the seeds from the fruit before sowing. If stored seed is used then pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water. Sow the seed in a lightly shaded position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. The seed can take 2 - 3 months to germinate[
297
Title
Palms of the World
Publication
 
Author
Blombery. A. & Rodd. T.
Publisher
Angus and Robertson
Year
1992
ISBN
0-207-14848-1
Description
An excellent guide, well illustrated, with information on cultivation, uses, habitat etc of almost 200 species of Palms.
]. Sprouting is slow, with a low germination rate[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. Young seedlings grow slowly[
419
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-17-8
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

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