The peach palm is a multiple-stemmed palm with very spiny stems that can grow up to 20 m in height. It is widely cultivated in the New World tropics for its edible fruit and palm hearts and archaeological evidence suggests that people have utilised it for many thousands of years.
The fruits, which hang in clusters, are yellow and apricot-like in appearance and, after cooking in salted water, taste like a cross between a potato and a chestnut. They are sold in local markets in South and Central America, and are very nutritious, being rich in vitamins and protein. ‘Heart of Palm’, consisting of apical buds, young leaves and sheaths, is also eaten. These palms can yield about 1.5 kg of palm heart after four years and are faster growing and higher yielding than other local palms. Because of the palm suckers at the base, harvesting the heart of one stem does not result in death of the individual and so, managed properly, the palm can provide many hearts. In Costa Rica the palm is being tested as a potential commercial crop.
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You can see a peach palm in the Palm House
Search Kew's electronic Plant Information Centre for scientific information about Bactris gasipaes