Family: Arecaceae

Latin name: Attalea phalerata, Attalea spp. (formerly Scheelea spp.)

Vernacular name: Shapaja


The leaves are a major source of thatch in the region. The fruits are consumed by chewing or sucking the fibrous part surrounding the seeds when ripe. The oily seeds (kernels) are a popular treat. The fruits are often scattered on the ground or buried in order to breed larvae (“suri”) in them for eating or use as fish bait.


Shapaja palms vary in size, from rather short palms to tall single-stemmed palms. The larger palms can produce massive fruit bunches. Some species are fire resistant and very hard to remove from gardens. The palms are rarely planted in this region, usually originating from naturally dispersed or human-discarded seeds.