Peach Palm, Pejibaye - Bactris gasipaes Kunth
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Edible Palms

Bastris gasipaes
Fig. 1

Peach Palm Tree
Fig. 2
Peach Palm young tree

Bactris gasipaes stems
Fig. 3
B. gasipaes stems

Bactris gasipaes stem spines
Fig. 4
B. gasipaes stem spines

Spines on the Trunk
Fig. 5
Spines on the trunk

The spiny stem
Fig. 6
The spiny stem

Bastris gasipeas
Fig. 7

Bactris gasipaes leaves
Fig. 8
B. gasipaes leaves

Bactris gasipaes abaxial leaf rachis with tomentum
Fig. 9
B. gasipaes abaxial leaf rachis with tomentum

Bactris gasipaes abaxial leaflet tips (Note: apical leaflets wider than other leaflets)
Fig. 10
B. gasipaes abaxial leaflet tips (Note: apical leaflets wider than other leaflets)

Bactris gasipaes adaxial leaf rachis with tomentum
Fig. 11
B. gasipaes adaxial leaf rachis with tomentum

Peach Palm Inflorescense
Fig. 12
Peach Palm Inflorescense

Pupunheira (Bactris gasipaes)
Fig. 13
Pupunheira (B. gasipaes)

Bastris gasipaes Kunth, ripening fruit
Fig. 14
B. gasipaes Kunth, ripening fruit

Peach Palm Fruit
Fig. 15
Edible fruit commonly called parépou in Guianese Créole. Bactris gasipaes Photo taken by a lake in Kourou, French Guiana (Amazonia)

Bastris gasipeas
Fig. 16
Ripe fruit

Pupunheira (Bactris gasipaes)
Fig. 17
Pupunheira (B. gasipaes)

Peach Palm Fruit
Fig. 18
Peach palm fruit

Harvested fruits
Fig. 19
Harvested fruits

Fig. 20

Tropical fruit - Peach Palm - Chontaduro
Fig. 21
A boy holding up peach palm, a highly productive fruit plant, flourishing in the district of Rionegro, Colombia

Ripe fruit, Columbia
Fig. 22
Ripe fruit, Columbia

Peach palm fruit sold in Panama
Fig. 23
Peach palm fruit sold in Panama

Palm of heart
Fig. 24
Peach Palm palm of heart

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Edible Palms

Scientific name
Bactris gasipaes Kunth
BAHK-triss gah-ZEE-pehz
Common names
English: peach-palm (Trinidad and Tobago), peyibay(e), pejivalle; Spanish: pejibaye (Costa Rica, Nicaragua), chantaduro (Colombia, Ecuador), pijuayo (Peru), pijiguao (Venezuela), tembé (Bolivia), pibá (Panama), cachipay (Colombia); Portuguese: pupunha (Brazil) 4
B. ciliata (Ruiz & Pav.) Mart.; B. dahlgreniana Glassman; B. gasipaes var. gasipaes; B. insignis (Mart.) Baill.; B. insignis Drude; B. speciosa (Mart.) H.Karst.; B. utilis (Oerst.) Benth. & Hook.f. ex Hemsl.; Guilielma chontaduro H.Karst. & Triana; G. ciliata (Ruiz & Pav.) H.Wendl.; G. gasipaes (Kunth) L.H.Bailey; G. gasipaes var. chontaduro (H.Karst. & Triana) Dugand; G. gasipaes var. coccinea (Barb.Rodr.) L.H.Bailey; G. gasipaes var. flava (Barb.Rodr.) L.H.Bailey; G. gasipaes var. ochracea (Barb.Rodr.) L.H.Bailey; G. insignis Mart.; G. speciosa Mart.; G. speciosa var. coccinea Barb.Rodr.; G. speciosa var. flava Barb.Rodr.; G. speciosa var. mitis Drude; G. speciosa var. ochracea Barb.Rodr.; G. utilis Oerst.; Martinezia ciliata Ruiz & Pav.; Palma paripou Aubl. 3
Maraja palm (B. maraja), tobago cane (B. guineeneses), and Colombian palm (B. major) 1
Arecaceae (alt.Palmae)
Pejibaye in the Amazonian regions of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil but has become naturalized throughout Central America 1
USDA hardiness zones
Specimen tree, edible fruit
65-100 ft (20-31 m).
Massive canopy of 20-30 leaves
The crown is spreading
Plant habit
Multiple stems (trunks) 4-12 in. (10-31 cm) in diameter; clumping growth habit 1
Growth rate
Rapid, reaches 43 ft (13m) in 10-15 years
Long-lived perennial plant productive during 50-75 years
The trunk is generally armed with stiff, black spines in circular rows (there are spineless forms) 
Pruning requirement
One pejibaye clump may be utilized for both heart of palm (cutting young palms out) and for fruit from mature suckers 1
The leaves are pinnate, 8-12 ft long (2.4-3.7 m) long, with many linear, pointed 2 ft-long (0.6 m), 1 ¼ in. wide (3.1-cm) leaflets; leaf veins are covered with short spines; leaves are green to dark green 1
The inflorescence emerges from leaf axils, is enclosed in a spathe, and is composed of racemes 8 -12 in. long (20-31 cm); the racemes possess yellowish male and female flowers; terminal flowers are all male 1
A drupe yellow to red, turning purplish when ripe; pulp may be yellow to light-orange, sweet, dry and mealy 1
Heart of palm
The central white, soft core of young pejibaye stems is edible
Late fall, early winter
Light requirement
Full Sun
Soil tolerances
Well-adapted to most well-drained soils but grows best in moderately fertile soils 1
Drought tolerance
Soil salt tolerance
Cold tolerance
Young shoots will be killed at 25-27°F (-3 to -4°C)
Plant spacing
20 ft (6.1 m) apart
Invasive potential *
None reported
Pest resistance
There are fruit and trunk diseases as well as some insects
Known hazard
Dangerous spines; spines from the first 5-8 ft (1.5-2.4 m) of trunk may be removed for safety 1
The fruit is caustic in its natural state 3

Reading Material

Pejibaye from Julia Morton's Book Fruits of Warm Climates
Peach-Palm from Neglected Crops from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (By J. Mora-Urpi)
Pejibaye (Peach Palm) Growing in the Florida Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 5 pages


Pejibaye was introduced into the U.S. in 1920, the Philippines in 1924, and India during the 1970s.
This useful palm is apparently indigenous to Amazonian areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, but it has been cultivated and distributed by Indians from ancient times and is so commonly naturalized as an escape that its natural boundaries are obscure. Of prehistoric introduction into Costa Rica, it is plentiful in a seemingly wild state of the Atlantic side of that country and also much cultivated. Every Indian dwelling has a patch of pejibaye palms.
More... 2
The origin of pejibaye is still being debated. Mora Urpí (1992) argues for a polyphyletic origin, with numerous local domestications throughout the GP-2 range. Clement (1988) argues that a monophyletic origin is more likely and that the observed variations originated through Amerindian selection, germplasm migration, adaptation to a wide range of environments and introgression with GP-2 and GP-3 species. In this case, the species was probably domesticated in southwestern Amazonia, where the most similar Guilielmas occur, principally B. ciliata, B. dahlgreniana, and B. insignis, one of which may be the progenitor. 5

The palm is erect, with a single slender stem or, more often, several stems to 8 in (20 cm) thick, in a cluster; generally armed with stiff, black spines in circular rows from the base to the summit. There are occasional specimens with only a few spines. The pejibaye attains a height of 65 to 100 ft (20 30 m) and usually produces suckers freely. 2

Growing habit
It has a unique growth habit in which one seedling tends to form clumps of trunks. Solitary trunks are seldom seen. Each trunk is erect and reaches a mature height of 12 to 20 metres and a basal diameter of 20 to 30 centimetres. As each frond dies, scars are left leaving the trunk marked with rings. Up to 3 or 4 trunks can reach maturity at the same time. A big drawback is the large sharp black spines growing perpendicularly from the trunk. These 8-centimetre-long spines are arranged in circular zones of varying width. Those near the base of the stem are four to six inches wide, while those higher up decrease in width from one to two inches. Between the zones of thorns is about an inch of smooth trunk. 7

The inflorescence emerges from leaf axils, is enclosed in a spathe, and is composed of racemes 8 -12 in. long (20-31 cm). The racemes possess yellowish male and female flowers; terminal flowers are all male. Flowers are mostly insect pollinated, and cross pollination among plants improves fruit set. 1
The peach-palm is a monoecious plant with male and female flowers mixed on the rachillae. It is also protogynous, since the female flowers are fertile as from the opening of the spathe and continue to be receptive for 24 hours. Anthesis of the male flowers occurs on the second day of the cycle, i.e. 24 hours after the females. 4

The edible fruit hangs in clusters of 50 to 300 fruit and may weight 25 lbs (11.4 kg). There may be up to 5 clusters of fruit on a plant at a time. The time from flowering to fruit harvest is about 8 to 9 months.
The fruit is a drupe and is yellow to orange to scarlet or brownish, turning purplish when fully ripe. The fruit may be oval or round, 1 to 2 inches in diameter, with a 3-pointed calyx at the stem end. The peel is thin. The pulp may be yellow to light-orange, sweet, dry and mealy, fruit usually contain only 1 black seed enlcosed in a thin endocarp. Some fruit are seedless. 1

This 'heart' is the still folded young leaves within the growing tip of the trunk. It is usually used fresh, cooked or canned. When raw or cooked it is used mainly as a salad ingredient. It keeps its appearance, texture and flavour very well. 7

There is much variation in form, size, color and quality of the fruits. Some with longitudinal scars (pejibaye rayodo) are considered of superior quality. These scars indicate low water content, firmness and a minimum of fiber in the flesh. In Costa Rica there are palms that bear clusters having a majority of seedless fruits. These are called pejibaye macho (male pejibaye) and are much prized. 2

Peach palm generally produces its first fruit crop in 3-5 years, and may produce one or two crops annually. They may produce annual fruit crops for 50-75 years. Inflorescences develop
in sequence on the stem, so one cannot harvest all fruit bunches on the stem at the same time. 6
A palm with 4 or 5 stems may produce 150 lbs (68 kg) of fruit in a season. Due to the spines, the fruit are usually harvested with long poles equipped with cutters. 1
The palm shoots are harvested before they reach 3" around the base.

Insects are the main pollen vectors, but pollen dispersal also occurs via wind and gravity (Mora-Urpí 1982). Fruits and seeds are naturally dispersed within short distances, principally by birds and rodents and occasionally by water. The pollination cycle lasts 3 days (Mora-Urpí and Solís 1980). 6

Pejibaye may be propagated by seed or suckers. Fruit quality of pejibaye propagated by seed varies widely. Superior plants must be propagated by suckers. 1
Pejibaye seeds take 60 to 90 days to germinate. Prior to planting thoroughly wash the seed and dip it into a fungicide to seed -rotting fungi. Slightly bury the seed in a well- drained media, cover the container with a plastic bag to increase the relative humidity, and place the container in a warm but shaded location. Well-grown seedlings will be ready for planting out-of-doors after 6 months. Seedlings grow rapidly, and after 21 to 27 months or more the trunk begins to form. Under favorable climatic and cultural conditions the palm has 15 to 25 leaves. Seedling trees may begin to bear fruit after 3 to 4 years. 1
Seed should be obtained from plants selected for desirable fruit characteristics, high yield and spinelessness. 5

Pejibaye may be planted as part of the landscape but its clumping growth habit and dangerous spines must be taken into account; therefore this palm should be grown away from areas where people frequently walk or play. 
More...pdf 5 pages

Pejibaye is a clumping palm. Young palm shoots are harvested for heart of palm (called palmito). Pejibaye used for palm fruits is allowed to grow to maturity. Usually only 1 or 2 shoots are allowed to grow to maturity and any new shoots are eliminated. 1
If all the spines are cut off the spiny trunks, the palm will die, but 5-8 ft (1.5 2.5 m) of trunk can be despined safely. 2

Young palm trees should receive ¼ to ½ pound (113 to 226 g) of a mixed fertilizer containing nitrogen (N), phosphate (P2O5), potash (K2O), and magnesium (Mg) 2 to 3 times during the growing season. As trees mature, the fertilizer rate should increase to 1 to 2 lbs (0.45 to 0.9 kg) with an application frequency of 2 to 4 times per year. Fertilizer mixtures containing 6-8% nitrogen, 2-4% available phosphoric acid, 6-12% potash and 3-4% magnesium are satisfactory. More... pdf 5 pages

Pejibaye palm trees need about 4-6 inches (10.2-15.2 cm) of water per month for normal growth and production. Thus about 1-1.5 inches (2.5-4 cm) of water should be applied per week from April through October (the warm to hot period during the year) if it does not rain enough, and during warm, dry periods in the late fall and early winter months. 1

Insect pests include the sugar cane weevil and mites.

Silky Cane Weevil, Metamasius hemipterus sericeus from the University of Florida pdf 5 pages

The trunk of pejibaye is susceptible to attack by Phytophthora algae.
Leaves may be attacked by Pestalotiopsis sp.
, Mycosphaerella sp. and Colletotrichum sp. Fruit diseases are caused by Monilia sp. and Ceratocystis species. Please contact your local County Cooperative Extension Agent for current control recommendations. 1

Pestalotiopsis (Pestalotia) Diseases of Palm from the University of Florida pdf

Food Uses
Pejibaye fruit contain carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and ascorbic acid among other nutrients. Fruit should be boiled within 2 to 4 days of harvest. Before consumption, the fruit is boiled in water with added salt for about 1 to 3 hours to eliminate oxalate crystals and a trypsin inhibitor. Then, the peel is removed and the pulp eaten. The flavor varies with the carotenoid content and may be bland to a nutty or strong flavor. The pulp may be dipped in mayonnaise or cheese-dip. Pejibaye pulp may also be mixed with cornmeal, eggs, and milk and fried. Raw fruits may be kept for several weeks in a cool, dry place and cooked fruits may be held in the refrigerator for 5 or 6 days. 1
Young flowers may be chopped and added to omelettes. The cooked seeds are eaten like chestnuts but are hard and considered difficult to digest.
Palmito or palm heart (Fig. 24), a gourmet vegetable with an expanding world market, is the only pejibaye product currently grown on a commercial scale. The apical and basal residue from palmito extraction also have potential use. The basal residue just below the apical meristem, is very tender and has a crispy texture. This could be made into cream soup or be thin-sliced (transversally) as a substitute for bamboo shoots, or deep fried to make chips. The apical residue is slightly fibrous leaf and petiole material, which can be used as a vegetable. 5
This palm is the basis for a commercial (non-destructive) heart o-of-palm incustry in Central and South America. 9
The cooked seeds are eaten like chestnuts but are hard and considered difficult to digest. 2

Other uses
An oil is obtained from the seed. This species may turn out to be a better economic option than most other American oil palms. Oil levels of up to 62% of the dry weight have been reported, and there are reports that a large pot of boiling fruit can produce 2-3 kg of oil. The oil separates easily when the fruits are cooked. As with other palms, it is a potential source of lauric oils. The seed is rich in saturated fatty acids, and could be used to manufacture cosmetics and soap. 8

Further Reading
Pejibaye from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (by C. R. Clement)
Peach palm from from the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute pdf 83 pages (large file)
The Pejibaye (Peach Palm) from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Peach palm (Bactris gasipaes) in tropical Latin America: implications for biodiversity conservation, natural resource management and human nutrition from pdf 32 pages (large file)
The Pejibaye, the Neglected Palm from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia

List of Growers and Vendors

1 Crane, Jonathan H. "Pejibaye (Peach Palm) Growing in the Florida Home Landscape." This document is HS1072, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date Feb. 2006. Revised Nov. 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

2 Morton, J. “Pejibaye."  Fruits of Warm Climates. 1987. p. 12–14. Web. 26 March 2014.

3 "Bastric gasipaes Kunth." Web. 26 Nov. 2015.

4 Bermejo, Hernandez J.e. and Leon, J. "Peach-palm (Bastris gasipaes)." Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective. p. 218-221.  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 1994.  Web. 26 Nov. 2015.

5 Clement, Charles R. "Pejibaye." Purdue University, Center for New Crops and Plant Products. Last update 24 Feb.
1998. Web. 26 March 2014.
Mora-Urpí, Jorge, John C. Weber and Charles R. Clement. 1997. "Peach palm. Bactris gasipaes Kunth. Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops. 20." Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben/International PlantGenetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
7 Oram, Ann. " The Pejibaye, the Neglected Palm." Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Nov. 1987. Web. 4 Dec. 2015.
8 World Agroforestry Center. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.
9 Haynes, Jody and McLaughlin, John. "Edible Palms and Their Uses." . This document is Fact Sheet MDCE-00-5- of the UF/Miami-Dade County Extension Office.First published Nov. 2000. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.


Fig. 1 Edric. Bastris gasipaes. 2007. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 2,5,18,20 Peach Palm, Pixbae, Pewa. N.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
Fig. 7,16,22,24 Edric. Bastris gasipaes. 2012. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 3,4,8,9,10,11 Anderson, P.J. Bactris gasipaes. 2011. Identifying Commonly Cultivated Palms. In A Resource for Pests and Diseases of Cultivated Palms. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service, Division of Plant Industry and Identification Technology Program, CPHST, PPQ, APHIS, USDA; Fort Collins, CO. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.

Fig. 6,12,14 Popovkin, Alex. Bactris gasipaes, Entre Rios, Bahia, Brazil. 2008. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.

Fig. 13 Marajonida. Cacho de pupunha ainda verde. 2015. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

Fig. 15 Marialadouce. Edible fruit commonly called parépou in Guianese Créole. Bactris gasipaes. 2006. Under (CC BY 2.5). Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
Fig. 17 Chris73. Pupunheira (Bactris gasipaes). 2005. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 19 Hermann, Michael. Harvested  Fruits. N.d. Under Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 5 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 21 Camacho, A. A boy holding up peach palm, a highly productive fruit plant, flourishing in the district of Rionegro, Colombia. Under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
Fig. 23 Lamorlando. Pixbae enlatado en panama. 2006. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 4 Dec. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas

Published 19 Apr. 2014 LR. Last update to 26 Apr. 2017 LR

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