Great things come from small packages. This adage is true for the small grapelike fruit known as the acai berry from the acai palm tree. If these trees were to make an appearance in our backyards, we would most likely dismiss it just another exotic variety of palm trees with no obvious practical purpose.
The acai berries also look nondescript from its common red-purple color and its small size to the vines on which these berries cling on. It is easy to dismiss both the tree and the fruit until such time that the health benefits of this so-called tree of life come to light. On a side note, the acai palm is known as a tree of life for the native peoples of the Amazon because every part of it can be used to supply man’s basic needs like food, clothing and shelter.
Anyways, it is important to know the life cycle of the acai berry from its seed phase to its supplement stage.
If the acai palms are grown from seeds, these seeds must be planted in a moist nutrient-rich soil that mimics the soil of the swamps and floodplains in the Amazon. Of course, plenty of sunlight is necessary to nurture the plants. It must be noted that the acai palm is a native species of Central and South America, so it is important to consider if your location in the world is similar enough to its natal home in order to be a successful acai grower.
In two weeks, the seeds will shoot out of the ground complete with a few young leaves in the bud growing from the tender stems. The growth conditions of artificially-grown acai plants must closely mimic the Amazon environmental condition for obvious reasons.
In the coming months, these tender shoots will become post-infant palm trees with several leaves at the top. The palm trees should be a few feet tall by now – a clue to the heights by which acai palms will grow in adulthood. No acai berries will be visible although the smaller lateral stalks on which the berries grow will be in place.
In adulthood, the acai palm can grow anywhere from 15 to 30 meters with slender trunks. The pinnate leaves reach up to 3 meters long with arrangement typical of other palm trees. The small lateral stalks are shorter than the primary stalks and, as previously mentioned, are the bearer of the sought-after acai berries.
But it must be emphasized that even when the acai palm has attained maturity does not necessarily mean that it will bear fruit. The acai berries typically show up on the small lateral stalks anywhere from 3 to 4 years after the tree has relatively matured. Usually, this happens when the tree is already 8 to 10 feet above ground.
In most varieties of the acai palm used fro commercial purposes, the ripe acai berries are determined by their deep purple color although ripe berries in other varieties can be green. These berries grow in branched panicles consisting of 500 to 900 fruits although workers must move fast while harvesting since the berries rapidly deteriorate once picked off the tree.
Modern manufacturing processes specifically freeze drying are used to preserve the nutrients of the acai berries before selling these supplements to the end consumers. Thus, the acai berry supplements are already in their convenient forms of pills, powders and juices.
For many of us out there, being able to grow a palm that produces such a world acclaimed fruit in the luxury of one’s own home is now becoming a possibility as more and more knowledge is being discovered about this plant.