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Morton, J. 1987. Amazon Tree-Grape. p. 64. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.


Amazon Tree-Grape

Moraceae

The Amazon tree-grape, Pourouma cecropiaefolia Mart., of the family Moraceae, is the best-known of about 50 species of Pourouma in Central America and tropical South America. It is known in Brazil generally as puruma, cucura, imbauba mansa, imbauba-de-vinho, imbauba de cheiro; in Bahia as tararanga preta and in Manaus as mapati. In Colombia it is called puruma, caime, caimaron, caimaron silvestre, uva caimarona, camuirro, cucura, uva, sirpe, hiye or joyahiye. In Peru, it is simply uvilla.

The tree resembles Cecropia spp., which are called imbauba in Brazil. It reaches 23 to 50 ft (7-15 m) in height. The bark is gray and marked with leaf scars. The alternate leaves, on long petioles, are nearly circular but deeply cleft into obovate oblong-lanceolate lobes to 1 ft (30 cm) long. They are green on the upper surface, whitish or bluish-gray and velvety beneath; agreeably aromatic, like wintergreen, when crushed. The unopened inflorescence is reddish-purple, densely coated with fine white hairs. The white male and female flowers are borne on separate trees. Borne in bunches of 20 or more, the fruit is grapelike except for its wintergreen odor. It is round or round-ovate, usually 3/8 to 3/4 in (0.5-1 cm) wide, occasionally to 1 1/2 in (4 cm). The skin is very rough to the touch, inedible but easily peeled; purple when ripe. The pulp is white, mucilaginous, juicy; of subacid, very mild flavor; and encloses 1 conical seed with fibrous, grooved coat.

The tree grows wild in the western part of Amazonas, Brazil, and adjacent areas of Ecuador and Peru. It is especially abundant in the vicinity of Iquitos. It has been cultivated since pre-Hispanic times by the Indians of southwestern Colombia and is grown by Indians and non Indians in Brazil. Patino says that around 1940 propagation was begun at the Estacion Agricola at Palmira, Colombia, and seeds and plants were given to the Estacion at Calima in 1945. Some trees are being grown, too, at the Estacion Agricola de Armero. There is today renewed interest in encouraging cultivation.

The tree grows on high dry land at altitudes below 1,640 ft (500 m). It may be subject to flooding every 4 or 5 years. It cannot stand prolonged drought. The seeds have short-term viability. If planted in time, they may show 86% germination. Cuttings are difficult to grow. Seedlings bear in 1 to 3 years after setting out. There may be 2 crops per year. Some trees that have been at least 3 years in the plantation have yielded 110 lbs (50 kg). The fruit is eaten raw or made into wine.

The wood is light, coarse and non-durable. It is used only for making charcoal.