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Assai is one of the most valuable palms, sometimes called "new mysterious power fruit of the Amazon". It is famous for its anti-oxidant qualities of the fruit juice and as a host of many health benefits - from weight loss, to increased energy and lower cholesterol. The Assai is very interesting fruit that is highly popular as a low-cost beverage in Brazil, where it grows. In the U.S. it becomes the new high-dollar "rich man's" health drink.
This majestic palm is very ornamental, with multiple branches. It lives in seasonally flooded habitats and along water margins. It flowers throughout the year and the harvesting season is usually from July to December. The plant is a fast grower with multiple stems: the average mature wild tree has 4-8 well-developed stems from a single seed and root system; however, a single seed can grow a plant providing up to 25 shoots growing individually. It has pinnate leaves that start from a prominent crownshaft that is reddish color. It has adapted to live in periodically waterlogged and flooded soils by developing special root structures called pneumatophores. It produces both female and male flowers which are quite small and are brown to purple in color. The plant will take full sun as it matures, it also likes high humidity.
Acai produces an edible fruit which grows in bunches. The fruit is round, 1-2 cm in diameter, with a single large seed inside surrounded by stringy fibrous sheaths and a thin oily coating. It begins as a green color and ripens to a dark purple. Each tree stem usually produces four to eight bunches of fruit throughout the year but ripe fruits are the heaviest in the dry season.
The fruit is highly valued by the Amazonense for use in wine or as a juice, and it is an important and popular dietary complement. The dark purple juice is extracted from the small round fruit. The seeds are soaked in water to soften the thin outer shell. The seeds are then squeezed and strained to produce a tasty, dense purple liquid of incomparable flavor. This liquid is served ice cold with sugar and tapioca flour. Some people like it without sugar. It is a nourishing and refreshing treat that is also used to produce ice cream, liquor, mousses and sweets in general. Today, modern science has validated the absolutely remarkable wellness benefits of the Assai fruit. Acai is a rich source of anthocyanins and other phenolics and phyto-nutrients. Acai berries are amongst the most nutritious foods of the Amazon, rich in B vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The berry is known to harness the following properties:
antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-Inflammatory, antimutagenic, cardiovascular system. It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber which promotes a healthy digestive system. Research studies suggest soluble fibers may help lower blood cholesterol. The insoluble fiber may help reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Assai contains an amazingly high concentration level of Antioxidants which contribute to combat premature aging. Studies show that Açai provides significantly more antioxidants than such well-respected foods as blueberries, oranges and even red wine. The antioxidant concentration in the Assai fruit is five times higher than that of Gingko Biloba, the popular "brain boosting" herbal supplement that is renowned for its antioxidant properties. Assai is considered to have the best nutritional value of any fruit on earth.
This palm is also the world's main source of palm hearts: the proliferation of the tree is extraordinary, especially considering its intensive extraction for the delicious heart-of-palm.
Close related species, Euterpe edulis, is a single trunk tree.
On each leaf there is transparent window-like area at the top, it is for these window-like structures that the genus is named. In the wild, the plant grows mostly buried by sand.
Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. rhopalophylla with white flowers
Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. aurantiaca with yellow flowers
Cultivated in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. This delicious fruit has a thick, dark-red skin, inside which are creamy white segments with a sweet, slightly tart flavor. Purported by many who have had the luxury of tasting it as being the best tasting fruit in the world. While possibly a bit extreme, the mangosteen is instantly liked by many who eat it. The medical problems this product apparently solves are remarkable. Diabetes, high blood pressure, acid reflux, anti-inflammatory agent, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, antidepressant, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and even some forms of cancer cell growth inhibition are just to name a few. The tree is an attractive columnar or pyramidal slow growing evergreen, which attain a height of 30 to 40 feet. It has a strong central trunk with evenly spaced side branches, which become pendent at the tips as the tree ages. The leathery leaves are opposite, short stalked, and elliptic oblong with acuminate tips. The upper surface is bright shining green. The under surface is a dull green. All parts of the plant are without pubescence. Trees are highly sensitive to soil and alkalinity. Trees often do poorly in Florida not because of climate but because of salt spray, sandy soil, and high salt in the soil. Prefers humid conditions with over 100" of rain per year. Mangosteens can be planted near streams, ponds, or other bodies of water where portions of their root systems remain moist year-round. Heavy mulching is recommended in drier areas to retain soil moisture. Flowering and fruiting usually occurs in summer or after periods of heavy rainfall. Mature trees may bear anywhere from 100 to 3000 fruits. Seeds have extremely short viability, only 1 to 5 days, and must be planted immediately upon removal from the fruit. Germination takes place in 2 to 3 weeks. Seedlings soon develop a long tap root which is vital to the survival of the tree so great care should be taken when transplanting. Other forms of propagation are usually unsuccessful. Fruiting takes from 6 to 12 years from seed.
This gardenia is a true tree, although small size - 8-10 ft tall. The leaves are huge, 12-15' long and 6-7" wide. And so is the flower - 6-7" wide. The flower starts with a creamy light yellow and turns into dark gold a day or two later. Remarkable feature of this plant: on new growth amber-like drops of sap appear.
New rare gardenia from S. Pacific island Vanuatu. Very salt-tolerant. Fragrant flowers are similar to G. taitensis but smaller size.