Latin name: Phytelephas spp.
Vernacular name: Yarina, tagua
The endosperm of the multi-seeded fruits is drunk as a liquid or eaten when it is in the gelatinous or firm phase. Once hard, tagua, or “vegetable ivory” is used for crafts. A tagua button factory once existed in Iquitos. The fronds are a very important source of thatch in the region, especially in floodplain environments. In forests, the palm is considered to be a sign of soil fertility, and is even planted to improve soils.
Yarina is planted for its fruit and thatch, and as a soil improver, often by simply throwing out seeds in fallows. Years later, the farmer will return to convert the area to a field. It grows best in floodplain soils, but can adapt to upland fields. The palm is relatively fire resistant. It is often heavily pruned back during fires to protect it, and then returns. The underground stem can make yarina difficult to remove from an agroforestry system. More studies are needed to understand the best management techniques for this palm.