Family: Arecaceae

Latin name: Astrocaryum chambira

Vernacular name: Chambira

Ethnobotany

The crown shaft and young fronds provide excellent fiber that is used for string, rope, hammocks, bags, and many crafts. People even floss their teeth with the fiber. The fruit is popular, as well as the liquid endosperm. This is drunk to cleanse internal organs, especially the kidneys and liver, and to reduce fevers.

Agroforestry

Chambira will grow from discarded seeds, and is commonly planted. Seed germination is tricky. It should be spaced at least six meters apart, and needs full sun. The trunk is very spiny, causing work accidents. It is common to plant a climbing tree next to the palm in order to safely harvest fiber and fruit. It grows well in non-flooding environments, but can attract animal pests to the field. As a result, hunting is practiced in these agroforestry systems. Where chambira crafts are sold to tourists, it is increasingly cultivated.

Two types of very useful fiber from the chambira palm.

Two types of very useful fiber from the chambira palm.

Woman making mats from chambira fibres.

Woman making mats from chambira fibres.

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