Ark of taste
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Aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa) is the fruit of the palm tree of the same name that is native to the Amazon area of Peru. The fruit is oval shaped and has a dark red peel and fleshy pulp that varies in color from yellow to orange. The natural habitat of this plant is the humid and swampy zone of the Amazon forest, also known as aguajales, where it grows both in the wild and as a cultivated crop. The largest production zone in Peru coincides with the Loreto region, particularly the Pacaya-Sumirìa natural park, thought to be the palm tree’s original home. This plant has an important symbolic meaning for the world view of the Yagua and Cocama-Cocamilla indigenous peoples, who call it “the tree of life” or “bread tree” and consider it a symbol of immortality and of life.

A part of the tree’s importance can be attributed to the product’s key role in the diet of these people, and indeed aguaje has high protein and lipid contents as well as being full of vitamins A and C. The fruit is traditionally consumed either fresh or as a drink, while the tree’s trunk is used for its edible starches and a sugary substance that is used to make aguaje honey.

In spite of the tree’s wide diffusion in the Amazon forest, this species is used too much and in an unsustainable way. The enormous rise in the demand for its fruit, along with the entrenched habit of cutting down the tree to gather it, is rapidly reducing the areas cultivated with this species. This same growth is also provoking the destruction of ecosystems that are fundamental for the communities, who use the trees both to feed themselves and to construct their homes, while for various species of animals native to the Amazon the tree acts as a refuge and source of food (one example being the tapir, which gets 76% of its food from aguaje trees).

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Other info


Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Indigenous community:Yagua, Cocama-Cocamilla
Nominated by:Dauro Mattia Zocchi, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino