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What Is Acrocomia?

The fruit of the acrocomia palm can be used in cattle feed.
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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 25 March 2014
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The acrocomia plant, which can grow up to 48 feet (about 14 m) tall, feature pinnate, or feather-shaped, dark green palm leaves that can reach 12 feet (about 3.7 m) in height. Acrocomia derives from the Arecales, or Arecaceae family, which is more familiarly recognized as the palm family of more than 200 species. These types of palms are native to such Caribbean islands as Dominica and Martinique, and in the North American countries of Mexico and the United States. Acrocomia palms also appear in Central American countries like Costa Rica and Honduras, and South American countries such as Argentina and Colombia. While common to these countries, the acronomia palm can, however, be grown and cultivated in any warm, tropical climate, and has a variety of uses.

Common names for the acrocomia include coyol, the macaw palm, or the gru-gru palm. What stands out about the acrocomia are the sharp, black spikes that surround the trunk. The trees are ideal for planting in open spaces as opposed to walkways or other related areas where someone could be injured by the the palm's spikes. Other characteristics that distinguish the acrocomia from other pinnate-leaved palms include the white, fuzzy undersides of the large green leaves. From the leaves emerge yellow flowers, then light green fruit that eventually applies as a natural resource for human and economic uses.

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Soil qualifications for planting acrocomia palms include sandy and fertile conditions. The palm also tolerates rocky, salty, or acidic attributes as long as the soil remains moist. Well-drained soils are also a must to ensure healthy tree growth and to avoid problems such as fungus or plant rot that can kill the plant. Acrocomia plants tolerate dryness for only a short period of time, so growers should water the palms frequently to retain soil moisture.

The keys to best acrocomia growth appear to be proper seed germination and location. For instance, the seeds of the acrocomia must be started at least four months before the palms grow. It is also acceptable to plant acrocomia seeds in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 9 through 11, meaning these types of palms tolerate some cold temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.9 degrees Celsius), but they fare better in areas where temperatures reach at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius). Whether it is planted in a greenhouse or outdoors, the palm prefers to bask in full sunlight.

Acrocomia palm plants are well-known for their food and industrial uses. The small, round fruits of the palm can be used as cattle feed, soap, and biodiesel fuel as well as candy or jams. Some people may employ the tree's trunk for wood construction or to make sap wine. The leaves of the palm may also be utilized in cattle feed, baskets, and clothing.

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