The ivory palms

About The ivory palms

The Ivory Palms or Vegetable ivory is the albumen of the seeds of several species of palm trees. These palms originating from Central and South America are have scientific name which is also that of the genus, Phytelephas. This name derives from Greek words, Phyto (plant, plant) and Elephas (elephants, ivory). These ivory palms or plant elephants belong to the botanical family of Arecaceae

Caracteristic of  The ivory palms

The ivory palms are up to 20 meters tall. The rod that characterizes them has a diameter oscillating between 8 and 20 cm. With a length of 2 to 8 meters, they have pinnate leaves and a fibrous base. The flowers are grouped in panicles while the conical fruits are grouped into globular infructescences 25 to 40 cm in diameter. Before maturity, the albumen of these fruits is milky, then, mature, it becomes very hard and forms vegetable ivory that is similar to elephant ivory. This vegetable ivory is also called tagua or corozo.

Cash of The ivory palms

The genus Phylelephas includes 4 species which are:

Phylelephas aequatorialis

Native to Ecuador and can reach 15 meters in height, with a stipe of 25 to 30 cm in diameter and large leaves of 8 meters.

Phylelephas macrocarpa

Native to Bolivia, Brazil and Peru, this palm has a height of 5 to 7 m. The diameter of the stem is 30 cm and the length of the leaves can reach 6 meters.

Phylelephas tenuicaulis

Comes from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The height of this palm tree is 7 meters. The diameter of the stem is a smaller, between 8 and 10 cm. As for leaf length, it is 2 to 4.5 meters

Phylelephas tumacana

With Colombia and Ecuador as a geographical area of ​​origin, this palm is distinguished by a height of 5 meters, a stipe of 20 cm in diameter and leaves of a length of 4 to 6 meters.

Culture of The ivory palms

The ivory palm grows in alluvial soils, at temperatures above 18 ° C, annual rainfall above 2500 mm, in humid and shaded areas. He also appreciates soft, deep and well-drained soils with a preference for sunny or semi-shady exposures.

The mode of propagation is sowing. Germination is slow and quite unpredictable, with an approximate duration of 4 to 9 months, sometimes beyond. The seeds are usually sown in deep pots so as not to hinder the growth of long rotating roots of plants that appear after germination.

Cultural interview of The ivory palms

Unlike adult plants, seedlings require sporadic watering. This water supply should not be excessive, to do this, let the soil dried for two days before seeing another watering. These plants need winter protection because they can not withstand the intense cold. Also, to avoid uprooting under the effect of strong winds, the stems of young ivory palms must be supported through a guardian.

Harvest of The ivory palms

The first harvest of the fruits of the ivory palm comes after 15 or 18 years. The ivory palm remains productive for several decades and allows to collect the vegetable ivory that is formed after hardening of the albumen.

Consumption and other uses of The ivory palms

Before maturity, the fruits contain a nutritious tissue, namely the albumen, which is a sweet milk of pleasant flavor, particularly popular with the Indians who also use the leaves of this tree to cover the huts. Dried, these fruits allow to realize sculptures, figures.


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