Mauritia flexuosa Linn. f. Palmae. Ita Palm. Tree-Of-Life.
Tropical South America. The tree-of-life of the missionaries, says Humboldt, not only affords the Guaraons a safe dwelling during the risings of the Orinoco, but its fruit, its farinaceous pith, its juice, abounding in saccharine matter, and the fibers of its petioles furnish them with food, wine and thread. The fruit has somewhat the taste of an apple and when ripe is yellow within and red without. The sago of the pith is made into a bread. The flour is called yuruma and is very agreeable to the taste, resembling cassava bread rather than the sago of India. From the juice, a slightly acid and extremely refreshing liquor is fermented. The ripe fruit contains first a rich, pulpy nut and last a hard core, Bates says the fruit is a common article of food, although the pulp is sour and unpalatable, at least to European tastes. It is boiled and then eaten with farina. This is the miriti or ita, palm of Brazil; the sago-like flour is called ipuruma.
Mauritia vinifera Mart. Wine Palm.
Brazil. This palm, says Gardner, produces a great number of nuts about the size of an egg, covered with rhomboidal scales arranged in a spiral. Between these scales and the albuminous substance of the nut, there exists an oily pulp of a reddish color, which the inhabitants of Crato boil with sugar and make into a sweetmeat. In Piauhy, they prepare from this pulp an emulsion, which, when sweetened with sugar, forms a very palatable beverage, but if much used is said to tinge the skin a yellowish color. The juice of the stem also forms a very agreeable drink.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.