Monday, 25 November 2013

Food Challenge: What is this Wild Fruit from Latin America?

This fruit is one of the most important foods used by Indigenous peoples in Latin America. Recent nutritional studies have described this fruit as a source of: protein, fat, powerful antioxidants, and many micronutrients, including selenium the nutrient famous for its mood enhancing potential. And, this fruit is not only enjoyed by humans but by animals such as chickens, squirrels, peccaries and paca.  

Readers, what is this fruit?

Please share your answers in the comments section below (if you have problems signing in to comment, let me know). Don’t forget to tell us how you learned about this fruit. If you’ve tried it, tell us what it tastes like too. 


  1. Hi Brian,
    I can give you a hint, it is common in the Caribbean side of Costa Rica!

  2. Very fresh pejibaye (Bactris utilis)?

  3. You got it. Pejibaye is the common name for this fruit in Costa Rica (it is called piba or chontaduro in other Latin American countries). In English, this plant is called peach palm. All domesticated landraces of this plant are commonly called Bactris gasipaes, but the scientific taxonomy of the cultivated varieties is more complex.

    I know this landrace by the name Dikó'ri or Dikówö, a Bribri name for this plant. My Bribri colleagues have innumerable uses for this plant, one of which is using its fruits to feed farm animals. In this picture, a friend of mine collected one of the last harvests of peach palm fruits of that year to feed turkeys, chickens, and pigs. It is an idea animal feed because it is high in fat and nutrients and, perhaps most importantly, animals love it.

    Thanks again for commenting.

  4. Awesome! Thanks for the background. I recognized it at first but it took a bit of sleuthing before the name came to mind. From what I understand, peach palm/pejibaye/palmito has been historically used in polyculture plantation systems with cacao; cacao dominated the understory and palmito were spread out intermittently and penetrated the overstory. One such plantation was run by Dr. Leslie Holdridge at La Selva Biological Station.

  5. Yes, peach palm and cacao in polyculture dates far back into the history of agriculture in Cosat Rica. Indigenous communities in Costa Rica, grow both these species in polyculture along with many other edible and medicinal plants. Interesting to hear about the La Selva plantations. What was their origin, i.e., planted for research purposes or were they run by farmers prior to Dr. Holdridge managing them?