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Cupuaçu

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Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), also spelled cupuassu, cupuazú, cupu assu, and copoasu, is a tropical rainforest tree related to cacao. Common throughout the Amazon basin, it is widely cultivated in the jungles of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru and in the north of Brazil, with the largest production in Pará, followed by Amazonas, Rondônia and Acre.

Cupuaçu trees usually range from 5 to 15 meters (16 to 50 feet) in height, though some can reach 20 meters (65 feet). They have brown bark. Their leaves are 25–35 cm (10–14 in) long and 6–10 cm (2–4 in) across, with 9 or 10 pairs of veins. As they mature, their leaves change from pink-tinted to green, and eventually they begin bearing fruit. Cupuaçu fruits are oblong, brown, and fuzzy, 20 cm (8 in) long, 1–2 kg (2–4 lb) in weight, and covered with a thick (4–7 mm), hard exocarp.

Fruit[edit source | edit]

The white pulp of the cupuaçu is uniquely fragrant (described as a mix of chocolate and pineapple), and It is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. The juice tastes primarily like a pear, with a hint of banana. Cupuaçu is touted as a possible superfruit flavor[1] Commercial production of cupuaçu includes food supplements, pills, drinks, smoothies and sweets. The pulp is also used in cosmetics products such as body lotions, as it is highly hydrating, similarly to cocoa butter.

Cupuacu fruit opened

Phytochemicals[edit source | edit]

Its flavors derive from its phytochemicals, such as tannins, the sulphated flavone glycosides theograndins I and II, and other flavonoids, including catechins, quercetin, kaempferol and isoscutellarein.[2]

It also contains the alkaloid theacrine instead of the xanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) found in cacao.[3]

Wood products[edit source | edit]

The wood is also commonly used for timber.

Ecology[edit source | edit]

Cupuaçu supports a phylogenetically intriguing butterfly herbivore the lagarta verde, Macrosoma tipulata (Hedylidae), which can be a serious defoliator.[4]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Cupuaçu as next big superfruit flavor, foodnavigator-usa.com
  2. ^ Yang, H.; Protiva, P.; Cui, B.; Ma, C.; Baggett, S.; Hequet, V.; Mori, S.; Weinstein, I. B.; Kennelly, E. J. (2003). "New bioactive polyphenols from Theobroma grandiflorum ("cupuaçu")". Journal of Natural Products 66 (11): 1501–1504. doi:10.1021/np034002j. PMID 14640528. 
  3. ^ Vasconcelos, M. N. L.; da Silva, M. L.; Maia, J. G. S.; Gottlieb, O. R. (1975). "Estudo químico de sementes do cupuaçu". Acta Amazônica (in Portuguese) (National Institute of Amazonian Research) 5 (3): 293–295. 
  4. ^ Lourido, G.; Silva, N. M.; Motta, C. (2007). "Parâmetros Biológicos e Injúrias de Macrosoma tipulata Hübner (Lepidoptera: Hedylidae), em Cupuaçuzeiro [Theobroma grandiflorum (Wild ex Spreng Schum)] no Amazonas" [Biological parameters and damage by Macrosoma tipulata Hübner (Lepidoptera: Hedylidae), in Cupuaçu tree [Theobroma grandiflorum (Wild ex Spreng Schum)] in Amazonas, Brazil] (pdf). Neotropical Entomology (in Portuguese) 36 (1): 102–106. doi:10.1590/S1519-566X2007000100012. PMID 17420867. 

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