Syagrus oleracea

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Syagrus (see-AHG-ruhs)
oleracea (ohl-eh-rah-SEH-ah)
Planted in 2009 from a 15 g. It has experienced 20 F the last three winters. Madera, CA (central San Joaquin valley). Photo by Robert Iwan.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Syagrus (see-AHG-ruhs)
oleracea (ohl-eh-rah-SEH-ah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
guariroba, gueiroba, gariroba, palmito-amargoso, catolé, coco-babão, pati-amargoso, coco-amargoso, Bitter Coconut Palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Syagrus oleracea is found in Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil
"Beautiful Syagrus oleracea in habitat, on the banks of Corumbá river in Ipameri, Goiás. Photo by Mauricio Moreira Caixeta.
Southeast, Brazil West-Central,occurring in the states of BA to PR, including MS também, GO, MT, TO and MG. And Paraguay. Semi-deciduous forests and barren lands. Found in dense primary formations as well as in secondary growth.


Guariroba is a single-stemmed, palm tree growing 5 - 20 metres tall. The unbranched stem can be 15 - 30 cm in diameter; it is topped by a crown of 15 - 20 leaves that are 2 - 4 metres long. The edible seed and fruit are sometimes gathered from the wild for local use. The fruit, and the oil from the seed, are sold in local markets. A very ornamental tree, it is widely grown as a street tree in central Brazil. (Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas Dr's Henderson A.; Galeano G.; Bernal R.)

A fairly large Solitary palm, up to 30-66 feet (5-20 m) tall, stem ringed and grey, crown up to 20 feet in diameter (6 m), leaf; pinnate, 15 to 20 rigid glaucous green leaves, 7 to 12 feet long (2 to 3.6 m). Flower: Flower stalk coming from among the leaves, fibrous sheath of 45-100 cm long, peduncle woody. Fruit: yellowish green, ellipsoid, smooth, 2 inches long (4.0 to 5.5 cm), with mesocarp thick, fleshy, and fibrous. Editing by edric.


Min. Temperature: 28°F (-2°C). Water Requirements: Regular water. Sun Requirements: Full sun. Requires a sunny position. Prefers a well-drained soil. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants have a moderate rate of growth.

Propagation: Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed or in individual containers. A very low germination rate can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 60 - 120 days. Seedlings grow away slowly. (Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition. Dr. Lorenzi. H.)

Comments and Curiosities

Syagrus oleracea is a palm tree typical of the Brazilian Savannah; Cerrado.

Syagrus oleracea (Mart.) Becc. is a palm tree (Arecaceae) indigenous to Central and Eastern Brazil. Its cultivation is projected as an excellent option for income diversification, based on the wide range of products that can be exploited, with an emphasis on the characteristic bitter-tasting hearts-of- palm. Due to its increasing economic importance, combined with the extractive exploitation of the species and the indiscriminate advance of deforestation in the region where the species is found. (

"not one of the more ornamental palms-looks more like an anemic queen palm. But some well grown specimens are beefier. Has large seed for a Syagrus. Thin, tall, smooth ringed trunk and plumose long arching leaves. I think this species is from Brazil" (Geoff Stein").

An elegant species with a tall and slender trunk and arching, plumose leaves. In Brazil, this plant is a popular ornamental and is also cultivated for its somewhat bitter palm heart and for the large fruits. (

Uses: Medicinal; for stomach aches, and as an anti-histamine. the heart is eaten, while a bit bitter, the fruit is eaten, as well as used for forage, the trunks are used as fence posts. Edible Uses: Fruit - raw. The pulp is fibrous and mucilaginous with a sweet flavour. The fruit is about 5cm long and 4cm wide. Seed - raw. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Leaves - cooked. A bitter flavour. The apical bud, often known as a 'palm heart', is eaten as a vegetable. Eating this bud leads to the death of the tree because it is unable to make side shoots. Medicinal: The apical bud is bitter, carminative, stomachic and tonic. It is also used to help control the symptoms of hysteria. The fermented pulp of the fruit is used to make a diuretic beverage.

Other Uses: The leaves are used to make brooms. An oil from the seeds is used to make a hair dressing that is said to invigorate the hair. The wood is moderately heavy, soft, durable even when exposed to the elements. It is used for stakes, posts, laths and water troughs. (Brazilian Trees. Volume 1. 4th Edition. Dr. Lorenzi. H.)

The guariroba (Syagrus oleracea) is a palm native to Brazil.

Other popular names: gueiroba, gueroba, gariroba, gairoba, bitter palm, catholique, coco-babão, pati-amargoso, coconut-amargoso, coconut-amargoso.

The term "guariroba" originates from the Tupi term gwarai-rob, which means "the bitter individual." "Catolé" comes from the term tupi katu'lé. "Pati" comes from Tupi pa ti.

Occurrence - Semi-deciduous seasonal forest and cerradões of Brazil (Ceará, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Bahia, Alagoas, Tocantins, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Paraná), Paraguay and Bolivia.

Solitary, erect, columnar, grayish-stemmed palm tree, up to twenty meters high, canopy and deflexa. It has large leaves up to three meters in length and flowers that appear in bunches from spring to fall.

Its slightly elliptical, yellowish-green fruit, whose mesocarp and white oleaginous almond are edible, occurs in clusters between October and February.

The cultivation of this palm is by seeds, although it grows spontaneously in the forests of Central West and Southeast of Brazil. Prefers regions of warm weather and well drained soils.


Among its products, the palmetto or terminal bud stands out. Considered by many as a bitter-tasting vegetable - which is in fact when compared to the sweet heart of Atlantic Forest species -, guariroba palm is a delicacy of culinary use in some states, including some regions of Goiás and Minas Gerais.

In the good recipes of the Goiás poulet, for example, perfect accompaniment to the colorful rice with pequi, it is fundamental to include good chunks of the bitter palm of the guariroba.

Substantial and strong seasoning food, the filling of this pie, along with the guariroba, should contain pieces of chicken, preferably thighs, sausages, potatoes and boiled eggs whole or just split in half and ripe tomatoes. Can also be used as salad: with cherry tomatoes and plenty of seasoning.

From the seed, edible oil is extracted.

The plant is also widely used in landscaping in squares and mainly in central streets and avenues of cities in the interior of Goiás, as an example in the city of Jataí that over the years has been planting thousands of seedlings throughout the city.


From seeds, which germinate in two or three months.

The guariroba (Syagrus oleracea), also known as gariroba, gueroba, gueiroba, gairova, gairoba, pati-amargoso and coconut-amargoso, is a palm tree native to the Brazilian cerrado region that can reach up to 20 meters in height.

We can find it in the region of the Federal District, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás and Minas Gerais (mining triangle).

It is a fine and straight stem palm that stands out in the landscape, indicative of fertile soil, and is characterized by the bitter taste of its heart of palm. It has flowering from September to May, with fruiting from October to February.

From the guariroba it is possible to enjoy almost everything. The stem is used as wood in construction and the leaves are used in animal feeding and house cover.

Inside the fruits there is a nut very appreciated by the local population, which serves as a complement in the cattle feed, besides being used in the manufacture of sweets, liqueurs and ice cream.

From the chestnut is removed an edible oil, which can also be used in the soap industry. Palm tree widely used as a landscape plant, it is common to see it as part of parks, gardens and squares of municipalities in the Central-West region of Brazil.

The main product extracted from the guariroba is its terminal palmito or bud. When compared to the species of palm heart found in the Atlantic Forest, it is considered bitter. It is very used in the cuisine of the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais.

Some say that in times of full moon, the bitterness of the guariroba is smaller, whereas in times of new moon, it is bigger. Several municipalities in the state of Goiás already have industries that process the heart of the guariroba to be sold in other regions of the state and the country.

For producers who intend to grow the palm tree, in order to market their palm heart, it is indispensable to obtain a license from IBAMA. The propagation of the plant is made by seeds, and the germination power varies from 70% to 90%. (

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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