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What Is Buriti?

Buriti trees are native to South America's Southern Amazon River basin.
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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2014
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Hailing from the southern Amazon basin, the buriti palm is an aesthetically pleasing tree. Elegant and known as the tree of life, the tree is used in local construction while its fruits are a favorite in culinary endeavors. The nuts concealed within the tree's fruit are used for multiple herbal remedies.

The buriti nut provides the richest known source of beta-carotene, a skin antioxidant. This makes the nut's strongly-scented essential oil valuable in protecting the skin against sun damage as well as harm from free radicals. The oil, which also contains vitamin E, can help encourage the growth of scar tissue, soothe skin pain, and treat small cuts and burns. It may be helpful in preventing skin cancer by absorbing ultraviolet rays, making it a natural sunblock.

Fatty acids found within the buriti nut are useful in skin care. These help prevent regenerative conditions from developing within the body. The oleic and palmitic acids, both found in the tree's nuts, moisturize dry or aging skin. These acids support collagen growth and protection with their emollient properties, resulting in increased skin elasticity.

Facial oils made from the nut can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as soothe skin blotches and lubricate tissue. Its essential oil also provides deep nourishment for the skin itself. Lip balms and baby care products used to soothe diaper rash and other skin issues are also made from the mild oil.

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Buriti fruit is a good source of vitamin C. The fleshy yellow fruit is often used to sweeten beverages. It is also a common ingredient in ice cream, preserves, and other sweet foods.

No known harmful effects have been found in connection with using buriti essential oil. It is a very oily product, however, and may stain cloth or skin. If kept in a cool, dry place, the oil may have a shelf life of six months to one year. Refrigeration after opening may prolong the oil's usability.

Used in constructing homes, buriti is also useful for making other things. Local harvesters of the tree process it to make a special type of straw. This straw is then used to make many different household items, such as cooking racks, ropes, bracelets, sieves, skirts, and baskets. Home coverings can also be made from the straw.

Also found throughout central Brazil, buriti trees can grow up to 110 feet (35 meters) in height. Scientifically called the Mauritia flexuosa, buriti trees need constant humidity and large spaces for optimal growth. This makes watery areas like marshes and rivers a frequent habitat of the tree. The trees feature large, round leaves arranged in a crown pattern, and their yellow flowers bloom from December to April. Its shiny, chestnut-colored fruit grows from December to June.

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