Guyana’s fruits: The Awarra Palm Fruit

Subject: The Awarra Palm Fruit


Astrocaryum vulgareCommon names
Awarra, awara, tecuma, aiara, tecum, aoeara, murumuru, cumari, palmier tucaman, fiber palm.
Arecaeae (Palmae).Overview
Awarra is one of the medium tall palms from the Amazon rainforest, growing up to 50 feet tall. This tree is common in the savannas and lowlands of the South American coast.
The trunk is heavily spined and even the inflorescences are covered by a thorny spathe.
The Awara fruits grow in bunches of about 11 feet long on the tree; the weight of a single bunch is about 100 pound.
The orange-yellow fruit (about the size of a chicken egg) is an excellent source of carotenoids with a very high concentration ofß-carotene (precursor of vitamin A).
It is also an important source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
The oil extracted from the pulp contains saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. It is rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9. Since it is a good moisturizer it is used in cosmetics in skin moisturizers, lotions, and products for damaged hair.  

The fruit contains edible oil with a vitamin A content of 50,000 i.u. per 100 grams of pulp; this is 3 times higher than that of carrot!
Due to this fact, Awarra can be utilized against the eye disease xerophthalmia (also called ophthalmoxerosis) of which the deficiency of vitamin A is the main reason.
This is a severe eye disorder, which results from night blindness; it causes closure of the cornea and ultimately rupturing of eyes.
The fruit also contains in addition, carbohydrate, protein and fat.
The hard black seed is round and contains a hard white substance from which a fine edible fat can be extracted.
These seeds can take more than a year to germinate!
From the leaves of the plant a fiber is extracted and used to make hammocks and baskets. This fiber is resistant to rot and damage and was therefore in use on sail- ships in the earlier centuries.

In  traditional medicine, awarra is used for skin applications.
It helps to hydrate the skin and to soothe the scalp and also gives a natural gloss to damaged hair.

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  • Restorer  On 01/22/2013 at 12:30 am

    Nice information. I remember using the oil, back in the days when cooking oil was scarce. I am sure it has great medicinal value.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 01/22/2013 at 3:17 am

    Forgot how much I enjoyed eating awarra.

  • compton de castro  On 01/22/2013 at 8:29 am

    isnt it ironical that a jungle fruit has so many uses….
    also isnt it “amusing” that some of these ingredients are “patented”
    and returned to the indians in bottles “for sale”….or profit by multinational
    drug cartels et al……AVON calling MARKETING !!

    My cousin (a born and bred country girl from nabaclais ECD) who has lived for many years in COSTA RICA has logged many of these vegetables and fruits of the jungle in her diary with the local “aboriginal indians” help….with drawings of the leaves /trees to identify the plants…..many jungle species are forgotten as the indians in the area are “civilised”…(accepting western culture) …

    For similar reasons the “RAIN FORRESTS” (lungs of our planet) must be preserved/protected….GUYANA VENEZUELA and BRAZIL must observe strict
    enforceable rules on “deforestation”….in a “sustainable” manner…..
    even asking the UN for assistance if neccessary…forrest rangers et al..
    many countries I have visited already do so …. SPAIN a good example of deforrestation during the reign of FRANCO who burnt a lot of the forrest in the
    Alpujaras mountains in search of “terrorists” !…today european funding encourages the replanting of many of those forests (pine forrests) in a sustainable way ….the way forward….

    Our children and grandchildren will thank us for our efforts to preserve our planet ….our legacy to them….
    As a boy I developped a “scalp infection” that could not be cured with the modern medicine of the time….peninsulin et al..
    It was a bush mixed with train grease and a poltice (warm) applied that saved my life…also surgery in the UK 20 years ago saved my life as I had “cancer” of the colon.(malignant I may add) ..I live today with one foot less of my 30 foot colon … both methods worked….here i am today at 69 able to pass on my story.

    truth to power was a slogan of my twin brother who passed away lat year
    with “asbestosis” …he lived and worked in CANADA as a long distance trucker…
    As we said goodbye he told me that it may have been all the fumes he inhaled over the years that caused his cancer…who knows he may have been correct.

    we never stop learning about life itself.

    my story my legacy
    kamptan….me nah gu dead yet ! my destiny unfulfilled.

  • Dmitri Allicock  On 01/22/2013 at 1:13 pm

    I love Awarra and it’s great taste is worth the clean up of your messy teeth afterwards.

  • Dmitri Allicock  On 01/23/2013 at 9:53 am

    We used the Corio {Akuyuro Astrocaryum} larger seed for playing marbles as children and also in the making of the famous “Buck Top”. The Buck Top was a ingeniously crafted Top. The nut of the seed was first removed manually or with the assistance of ants. Many seeds at a time were placed in an ant nest and within a week or two, the nut was removed by the ants for food as they inadvertently assisted in making this childhood toy. Three holes were drilled into the Corio seed. Actually one of them just had to be punched out of the naturally occurring eyes of the nut. A cylindrical 3 inch or so shaft{ stem} was fastened to the seed and secured with candle or bee wax. After a good polishing and cosmetic improvement, the Buck Top was ready for spinning.The motion of a top is produced in the most simple forms by twirling the stem using a piece of string attached to a small handle. The Top is spun by holding the axis firmly while pulling a string or twisting a stick or pushing an auger. In the kinds with an auger, an internal weight rotates, producing an overall circular motion. The competition was to see whose Top spun the longest and sang the loudest. The hallow top with one opening to the side acted as a kind of resonator, creating unique sounds as the trapped air attempted to escape.
    The top is one of the oldest recognizable toys found on archaeological sites. Spinning tops originated independently in cultures all over the world. Besides toys, tops have also historically been used for gambling and prophecy. Some role-playing games use tops to augment dice in generating randomized results; it is in this case referred to as a spinner. A thumbtack may also be made to spin on the same principles.

  • alfredbhulai  On 01/23/2013 at 3:38 pm

    There are various verbal representations of the same fruit. I heard it called “wara” by the Berbice River market handlers in New Amsterdam in the 1950s. I also saw it spelled “awara”.
    But the pronunciation that I like most of all is the the one by the North Westerners (Region 1): they say something like “ow-ra”, but more more delicately and musical, with the ‘o’ tending to an ‘a’; or like “awara” with the middle ‘a’ barely pronounced.
    “Drop awara” (awara freshly fallen off some trees) is delightful to the taste whatever the spelling or pronunciation.
    I hear that some sellers (from wheelbarrows in Bourda Market) soak them overnight in sugared water so that they are softer and taste sweeter. These will not have long shelf life, but it makes the awara manageable for the mouths of the elderly.

  • Kamala Persaud Gupta  On 01/23/2013 at 7:30 pm

    Kamala Gupta Boy, o boy give me all the awara, am happy as a lark. Now in my 70’s I still dream of eating loads of them, including, kuro and cookrit, which my chacha Harry Persaud from Leguan brought from the coast to Buxton- Friendship, where we children wait in happy anticipation, to tear down the juicy awara, kuro and ccckrit. Guyanese, wherever you are, let’s pledge to do whatever we can to make our names engraved in the annals of this remarkable country. Let’s follow in the holy footpath of my classmates and dear friends Ameena and Sattaur Gafoor to bless and help our people over there, with love and a helping hand, the same, which we carry around wherever we go.Time to make our pledge!

  • Vanie ac  On 01/24/2013 at 2:35 am

    My sibilings and I ate alot of awarra as kids .I looked foward to my vacation on the Essequibo Coast ,and going to the awarra bush.We enjoyed eating the fruit because granny Bentt would say green and yellow fruits good for U.

  • Ron. Persaud  On 01/24/2013 at 3:04 am

    I just want to add to Dmitri’s dissertation on the buck-top; “using a piece of string attached to a small handle.”
    That handle was part of an old tooth-brush (red was the preferred color) with the ready-made hole at the end – quite convenient!

  • Shelly  On 11/18/2018 at 11:56 pm

    Has anyone heard of the butter in the seed I being used in your hair

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