Common Name: Piassaba
Piassaba is a single-stemmed, evergreen palm tree usually growing 4 - 5 metres tall, but with occasional specimens up to 10 metres. The unbranched stem can be 15cm in diameter; it is topped by a crown of 14 - 16 leaves[
The tree is particularly valued for the high-quality fibre it yields. This was at one time exported in quantity to areas such as Europe where, before the advent of plastic, it was widely used for making brooms and brushes[
]. The fruit is also used to make a popular local beverage[
Northern S. America - northern Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia.
Sandy soils near blackwater rivers and streams, rarely on white-water rivers[
|Other Uses Rating||
The mesocarp of the fruits is eaten raw or made into a refreshing beverage[
]. The thin flesh of the fruit, agitated with water, makes a popular local drink.
A fibre is obtained from the leaf sheath[
]. Known as 'piassaba fibre', it is used for making heavy ropes, where it can take the place of manila hemp (Musa textilis)[
]. The fibre is also used for making brushes, brooms and baskets[
]. The fibres resist rotting, even after long periods of immersion in water; the Brazilians used them to make cables to navigate the Amazon[
]. They are also used for making rope, brooms, brushes and baskets.
The foliar sheaths terminate in long (0.5 - 1.5 metres), pendulous fibres. The fibres at first appear as light brown ribbon-like strips, 2 - I0cm wide, that later split into dark brown to greyish brown individual fibres. These fibres persist and hang, entirely concealing the stem, and giving the tree a most curious and unique appearance[
The leaves are used for thatch[
]. The leaves resist rotting, even after long periods of being wet, and make a very resistant thatch[
]. They are, therefore, the most sought after of the local palms[
The nuts, which are a source of vegetable ivory, are encased in a hard, botryoidal shell which itself takes a nice polish. These shells are mostly 3 - 4cm in diameter and are 5 - 8cm long. The nuts are smaller and are loose in the shells. They have a fine delicate dark veining and are quite beautiful when turned or polished.
If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.