What is the plant
It is a long-lived perennial plant that is productive for 50 to 75 years on average. Its population has an important genetic diversity, leading to numerous fruits, colors, and qualities. The fruits are edible and nutritious but need to be cooked for 30 minutes to five hours. They also benefit many animals in the wild. Peach-palms are also cultivated for the heart of palm, and the trunk can make valuable timber. Bactris gasipaes, like most sea-island palms, grows erect, with a single slender stem or, more often, several stems that are up to eight inches (20 cm) thick, in a cluster; generally armed with stiff, black spines in circular rows from the base to the summit. There are occasional specimens with only a few spines. It can typically grow to 20 metres (66 ft) or taller. The leaves are pinnate, 3 metres (9.8 ft) long on a 1 metre (3.3 ft) long petiole. The fruit is a drupe with edible pulp surrounding the single seed, 4–6 cm long and 3–5 cm broad. The rind (epicarp) of the fruit can be red, yellow, or orange when the fruit is ripe, depending on the variety of the palm
Bactris gasipaes was domesticated early in the occupation of the lowland humid neotropics by the indigenous people of the Americas during the pre-Columbian era. There are three hypotheses for the exact origin of cultivated peach palm: There was either (a) a single domestication event in the south western Amazon, (b) a single domestication event in the Colombian inter-Andean valleys and adjacent Pacific lowlands or (c) multiple independent centres of domesticationThe peach palm grows wild in well-drained soils with various physical and chemical conditions, including acid and poor soils, since it is assisted by its association with mycorrhizas. It is grown in climates with precipitations between 2 000 mm and 5 000 mm and annual mean temperatures exceeding 24 °C. The recommended altitude for commercial cultivation ranges from 0 to 900 m asl. Peach palm is occasionally found at higher altitudes of up to 1800m asl, as the case in Colombia's Cauca region El Tambo.
Peach palm can be considered the most important domesticated palm species of the Neotropics. Its wild and domesticated populations can be found in Central America, in the pacific lowlands of Colombia and Ecuador, in Venezuela and in the area of the Amazon rainforest, especially at the eastern foothills of the Andes. The exact origin of the cultivated peach palm remains open to debate The widespread cultivation of peach palm in the Americas reflects its capacity to adapt to a wide range of ecological conditions in the Tropics and Subtropics.Peach palm has a rapid juvenile growth (1.5 – 2 m per year) and a moderate light interception if the plant is spaced appropriately. Therefore, it is suitable for agroforestry. In commercial plantations, peach palm is found in agroforestry systems with Coffee and Banana in Costa Rica. In several countries in Central and South America, it is found in combination with pineapple, papaya, passion fruit, maize, cassava and cacao. Fruit production starts between three and five years after planting and production lasts then for 50 to 75 years.[ The plant reaches its full productivity after about seven years
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