Acai, or Euterpe vegetable – cabbage palm

The eutherpa palm is considered a rarity among indoor plants, and a more capricious plant than all of its relatives. They know it mainly for its special fruits, which are very common today, under the name of acai berries and are actively used both in medicine and in cosmetology. But the plant itself, which gives us super nutritious and surprisingly healthy berries of health, which caused a real boom in Brazil and gradually won fans of healthy eating around the world, deserves much more respect. After all, it is the visually lightest of all palms, apparently perfectly graceful, strikingly airy, practically weightless, despite its large size. The flawless symmetry of the leaves, which seem almost artificial thanks to the surprisingly thin wai lobes, the exceptionally graceful silhouettes turn it into a unique accent in the interior. Euterpe fills the surrounding space with special harmony. And even if growing this palm tree in a potted culture is not such an easy task. The special disposition of the euterpe is quite consistent with its truly special appearance.

Acai, or Euterpe oleracea. Farmer Ingrid Torres de Macedo

Personal version of the legendary acai

Euterpe is one of the rare houseplants that are spoken of either with disdain or admiration. This palm tree has earned so many dignified epithets – the most useful, and the tastiest, and the most fragrant, and majestic, and the queen of capriciousness … And in every such nickname there is some truth. Euterpe is indeed one of the most demanding indoor palms to care for. She belongs to the Arekov family (Arecaceae). And its status of a legendary plant, whose fruits, the core of young shoots and even the leaves are eaten, is simply impossible to deny.

Originating from Brazil and Paraguay, named after the ancient Greek goddess, the euterpe palm is also known by other names – cabbage palm, Amazonian grapes, acai or acai. But all these names do not at all indicate certain decorative characteristics of the plant, but appeal, first of all, to the edibility of various parts. The aromatic fruits are not only used to make the assai drink, but young leaves and buds are also consumed as vegetables, both raw and boiled.

Asai or Eutherpa is vegetable (Euterpe Oleracea) Is the only acai species that is used in indoor culture. This is a gigantic palm tree, capable of reaching a height of 35 m. But potted plants will not only fit well into the number of indoor large crops, but will also remain relatively compact even with age. Euterpe in our country does not grow higher than 5-6 m even in ideal conditions of botanical gardens.

On sale, it is most often represented by dwarf varieties (for example, the Para Dwarf form) with a maximum height of 2-3 m. And the point is not only that the palm tree does not have enough soil resources to reach its natural “swing”. Active selection in order to increase yields and simplify harvesting of fruits reduced the size and gave an unusual “bonus” for potted plants – it changed the character and made it possible to obtain a more spectacular appearance.

Acai is characterized by amazing grace and visual airiness. In its apparent fragility and tenderness, no other representative of the palm family can compete with it. Thin, smooth, straight or slightly curving trunks are just a visual prelude to a strikingly airy crown. Weakly feathery, slightly drooping, wide enough and long green leaves of this beauty in nature are capable of reaching 3 m in diameter.But in room culture, their true width is very difficult to estimate, since the lanceolate, thinnest, with rather rare lobes, the leaves seem surprisingly graceful and not massive, although in fact they are quite large. The leaves are collected in a beautiful apical rosette. In young palms, the first leaves resemble rapeseed, they are fan-shaped, but then the plant produces typical feathery fronds.

The ability of the eutherpa to bloom in indoor conditions, and even more so to give a useful crop, is doubtful. Those who sell the seeds of this palm for indoor cultivation and whose assortment includes acai, assure that it will begin to bear fruit as soon as it reaches a meter height. True, this information remains unverified, since reference books claim that eutherpa blooms only in the tropics. So, it is difficult to say whether it will be possible to assess the flowering of acai in full (as well as its fruiting) in a room culture: the small prevalence of the plant does not allow one to judge this objectively. But in order to appreciate the beauty of acai in all its glory, it is worth visiting the botanical gardens.

Collected in a brush, glossy, snow-white or yellowish flowers create very beautiful hanging “threads” of inflorescences. They look very unusual due to their dense, slightly cob-like texture and long length. But the main show begins when the fruits begin to ripen on the same threads in place of flowers. Black, juicy, round fruit with slightly flattened sides resemble grapes. Their diameter is about 1 cm, a single seed is hidden inside. They sit on the “string” not so tightly and resemble luxurious rows of large beads. The fruits adorn this palm tree and seem to transform it. Dwarf acai bear fruit in nature when they reach a height of 1 m, and, perhaps, under ideal conditions, their own harvest can be achieved at home, but so far, presumably, no one has succeeded.

Acai, or Euterpe oleracea
Acai, or Euterpe oleracea. Wendio

Growing acai at home

When deciding to buy an eutherpa, you should be prepared for the fact that the plant will need high-complexity care. Whimsical and even in many ways capricious, this airy beauty in room culture is limited to a much lower height, which does not make it more classic and modest. The main difficulty in growing acai is associated, first of all, with the requirement to ensure high humidity. But the heat-loving nature of the plant also does not simplify its cultivation.

It is especially difficult to provide the necessary conditions during the winter, when a drop in temperature can be fatal for a palm tree. In addition, euterpe needs not just regular, but rather specific, frequent and abundant watering, because of which caring for the plant is considered even more difficult. So the cabbage palm can rightly be considered one of the most difficult to grow representatives of indoor palms. It can only be recommended to experienced flower growers.

Lighting for euterpe

Like most large palm trees originating from South America, eutherpa is a photophilous plant. But at the same time, a palm tree, accustomed to a fairly diffused light in the Amazonian jungle, does not like direct sunlight, which is especially dangerous for it in indoor conditions. They leave burns on the leaves, which cannot be eliminated. When choosing a place for acai, you should stop at the brightest locations in the house with diffused lighting or install special screens.

Young euterps are best placed in partial shade. Due to the fact that the plants reach a fairly large size, they are perfect for placing them near the window, and not on the windowsill itself. It is better to place the Asai by the south-facing windows. If we are talking about young or compact plants, then they can be placed on the eastern and western windowsills.

Comfortable temperature

The cabbage palm is one of the most thermophilic indoor plants. Asai is not afraid of even hot conditions, moreover, it is in high air temperatures that the palm tree feels most comfortable. The minimum allowable temperature for this plant during the winter is only 18 degrees Celsius. Lowering the air temperature even to 16 degrees for this palm tree can cause serious problems with the development and health of the plant, and temperatures of about 10 degrees Celsius will become destructive for the acai. But the euterpe is even more capricious about the stability of conditions.

If the air temperature rises above 23 degrees, then hot conditions must be sufficiently stable, set for a long period. In the same way, the temperature drop to 18 degrees should not last for several days, but for a much longer period. Palm prefers smooth transitions in the temperature range.

Watering and air humidity

This is one of the rare indoor plants, the watering of which must correspond not to the stage of development, but directly to the air temperature in the room. When the eutherp is kept at temperatures from 18 to 21 degrees, the procedures should be quite restrained, rare, or they can generally be replaced with spraying. But when kept in higher air temperatures, especially in the heat, this palm tree prefers very abundant, almost daily watering. In this case, the main goal should be the absence of dampness, but the constant average moisture content of the substrate is higher than for classic indoor plants. Only the top layer of potted soil should dry out between waterings. Drying out the soil for this palm can be fatal. It will lead not only to wilting, but also to the gradual withering away of the plant.

Euterpe not only loves high humidity, but also needs it for normal growth and development. This is one of those palms that won’t grow in dry rooms. But at the same time, acai can be grown not only in greenhouses; simple spraying and other methods can be used to increase air humidity. This palm tree needs special measures to increase humidity in summer and during the heating season. But in the rest of the year, the minimum indicators for the eutherpe are usually measured at 70-75%.

During the spraying procedure, which is best done in the heat several times a day, it is very important to spray both the outer and inner sides of the leaves. Spraying should be supplemented by regularly wiping the foliage with a damp sponge to get rid of dust. Young acai can be immersed, gently tilted, in warm water with the whole crown or carried out a shower. But for adults, procedures will have to be limited to just rubbing the leaves. Euterpe loves the installation of artisanal humidifiers – special trays of water or wet materials, on which plant pots are installed. In this case, of course, the container with the euther should not touch the surface of the water. You can completely save yourself from the risk of drying out the tips of the leaves and the spread of pests by installing industrial humidifiers.

For acai, the quality of the water used is of great importance. It should not only be soft, settle for several days, but also the same temperature as the air in the room or a little warmer.

Acai, or Euterpe oleracea
Acai, or Euterpe oleracea. Farmer Forest & Kim Starr

Top dressing for acai

Despite its rather large size and intensive growth, eutherp does not belong to plants that need very frequent feeding. Its thin leaf lobes, having a large length, do not deplete the soil so much as to apply fertilizer more often than once a month. In the cold season, feeding is not stopped, but the dose of fertilizers is reduced by 1-2 times.

Fertilizers should be given special attention. Euterpe is one of those indoor crops that can only be fed with liquid fertilizers. The optimal composition for this palm tree is possessed by universal complex fertilizers for indoor plants. A special fertilizer for palms can also be used, but universal mixes are more suitable for acai. Euterpa feels great on purely organic fertilizers.

Transplant and substrate

For euterpa, you need to choose a standard substrate for indoor plants or palms. The main thing is that it is nutritious enough, coarsely fibrous, breathable and permeable. When self-compiling a soil mixture, the soil is most often chosen, consisting of 2 parts of clay-sod and humus-leaf soils with half the amount of sand, peat and manure. With access to a wider range of materials, the substrate is prepared from peat, humus and leafy soil with needles, coconut substrate and coffee grounds. Crushed charcoal is considered a mandatory additive in the substrate for this plant. Perfect for acai and any ready-made palm substrate or universal soil. The reaction of the soil can be between 4,5 and 6,5 pH.

Euterps are also unique palm trees because they practically do not need a transplant. When the plants reach their optimal size and maximum pot volumes, instead of replanting, the top contaminated soil layer is removed annually and replaced with fresh nutrient substrate. Young plants are transplanted as the roots of the earthen coma develop, with a frequency of once every 1-1 years. The best time for transplanting euthera is not March, but April. At the same time, the acai are not transplanted, but transferred, completely preserving the earthen lump, with the exception of the top layer of the soil. At the bottom of the container for this palm tree, a high layer of coarsely fragmented drainage must be laid.

Acai, or Euterpe oleracea
Acai, or Euterpe oleracea. Farmer Andreas

Acai diseases and pests

One of the best characteristics of euthera in indoor culture is disease resistance. With the correct content and the absence of waterlogging, it is not afraid of either fungal infections or specific viruses.

But pests are found on this palm much more often. Scabbards are very fond of settling on hard leaf lobes, and the removal of insects is somewhat problematic due to the large size and sufficient fragility of the foliage. The spider mite settles on the euterpe only if care is not taken and there is no normal level of air humidity. It is always necessary to fight pests on this palm with combined measures, using an integrated approach. Washing the foliage with soapy water and treating it with insecticides must be accompanied by a correction of care or conditions.

Reproduction of eutherpa

Like most indoor palms, eutherps reproduce only by seed. Vegetative methods for this plant are neither suitable nor used.

Acai seeds on sale are less common than other common palms, but today the popularity of the plant’s berries is rapidly changing this trend. Even if you managed to get only 1-2 seeds, you can hope for success in germinating them. But in order to get your own euterpe from seeds, you need to stock up, first of all, with patience.

This palm tree is characterized by an extremely uneven and long period of seed germination, which can take from 3 to 9 months, depending on the conditions and timing of collection, air temperature and other factors. But on the other hand, the dwarf varieties of eutherps presented in the room assortment quickly reach a meter in height and literally in two or three years they already turn into large beauties.

The process of germinating seeds itself is not too complicated. At the beginning, they must be soaked in warm water for 1 – 2 days. Using a loose and nutritious substrate, the seeds of the eutherpa are buried 1 cm into the soil, and then the container with the plant is placed in the most light and very warm room with a temperature as close as possible to 30 degrees Celsius. A drop in temperature is permissible only at night. With regular maintenance of light soil moisture and airing (and a long wait), the plant produces very strong shoots, which are first planted in small individual containers, and then, as they grow, are transferred to larger pots.


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Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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