Acai BerryPosted 9 years ago under Health
Acai is a superfood known for its powerful antioxidant contents. Bitter in taste, it is typically found as an added ingredient in juices, smoothies, and other food products. The acai berry comes from the acai palm tree.
Kingdom (Plantae) → Phylum (Angiosperms) →Class (Monocots) → Commelinids → Order (Arecales) → Family (Arecaceae) → Genus (Euterpe) → Species (Euterpe oleracea)
The acai palm can grow up to around 82 feet tall with palm leaves up to about 9 feet in length. The acai berry, called a drupe, is similar in appearance to a grape, but slightly smaller with an average circumference of one inch and a deep purple color.
The acai palm is found in Trinidad and northern South America. It grows in marshy areas including floodplains and swamps. Large-scale cultivation is done mainly in the Amazon, especially in Brazil.
Acai berries provide a rich source of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins. They also provide 2 grams of fiber (8% of RDA) per serving as well as 15% RDA of vitamin A.
The acai berry is the main part cultivated from the acai palm though the heart of palm is also used. The berries are harvested twice a year. The acai palm grows best in slightly acidic, sandy, loamy soil. They take at least three years to start producing fruit once planted and do not reach commercial viability until six years. Acai berries are processed into pulp that is then typically sold in dried, frozen, or even powdered form.
Diseases, Pests, and Predators
The main pests of the acai include bark beetles, palm aphids, and South American palm weevils. Bark beetles damage the seeds of the palm while palm aphids damage the rest of the plant from the leaves and stems to the fruits and flowers. The chief pest of the acai is the palm weevil which damages the leaves. These pests and others can cause serious damage and prevent the acai from growing to full capacity and/or producing enough fruit to be harvested.