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TROPICAL PLANT CATALOG Printer friendly page  

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Orbignya speciosa, Attalea speciosa, American Oil Palm, Babassu Palm

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 Orbignya speciosa, Attalea speciosa
Family: Arecaceae / Palmae
American Oil Palm, Babassu Palm
Origin: South America, Amazon basin
Small tree 10-20 ftSemi-shadeRegular waterOrnamental foliagePalm or palm-likeSubtropical, cold hardy at least to 30s F for a short time

A wild fan-shaped palm, up to 66Ft tall with large curved leaves reaching 30ft in length. Its bunches of oblong or conical fruit are often 3ft long. After flowering, the palm bears two to four clusters of about 250 fruits each twice a year. Each nut consists of an extremely hard shell containing two to six kernels held by a hard fibrous layer. Its generic name is dedicated to the nineteenth-century French naturalist A. D. d’Orbigny. Its specific name is Latin, meaning magnificent, good looking and it refers to the graceful habit of this plant. Its seeds yield a kind of oil commercially known as babassu oil. As it is not greasy and possesses remarkable softening properties, babassu oil is widely employed, notably to prepare cosmetics (body and hair oils and creams, soaps, etc.


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