Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 151–161 | Cite as

A review of the palm genus Acrocomia: Neotropical green gold

  • Natácia Evangelista de Lima
  • Alexandre Assis Carvalho
  • Alan William Meerow
  • Maura Helena Manfrin


The genus Acrocomia, popularly known as macaw palm or macaúba, occurs in savanna areas and open forests of tropical America, with distribution from Central to southern South America. They are important oleaginous palm trees, due to their role in ecosystems and local economies and their potential for biofuel production and vegetable oil. Although the taxonomy of the genus is not resolved because of observed phenotypic diversity in A. aculeata (Jacq.) Lodd. ex Mart., there are several conflicting treatments. Some authors recognize three caulescent spp. occurring in South America: A. aculeata, A. intumescens Drude, and A. totai Mart, although a new one was described recently—Acrocomia corumbaensis. Because some Latin American governments want to expand production of macaw palm in their territory as raw material for agro-energy, several groups have been encouraged to study this genus, focusing on the production of biodiesel, seed germination, phenotypic aspects, and genetic diversity. The goal of this review is to compile key information available in the literature and herbarium data, focusing on South American populations of the genus.


Arecaceae Fossil record Macaw palm Raw material Taxonomy 



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions, which were important for the improvement of this manuscript. They acknowledge Harri Lorenzi, Suelen Vianna, Jason Schoneman, and Mike Gray for the permission to reuse photograph material. They are also thankful to CAPES, USDA/ARS, USFS, and the University of São Paulo for the support.

Author contributions

NEL conceived the study and was in charge of overall direction and planning. NEL wrote the manuscript with support from AAC and AWM. AWM and MHM supervised the research. All authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript.


This work was supported by grants of Doctoral Sandwich Program Abroad - CAPES (006795/2015-03), CAPES scholarships to NEL, Agricultural Research Service - USDA/ARS, USFS International Visitor Program, and Postgraduation Programme in Genetics - Ribeirão Preto Medical School of University of São Paulo.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natácia Evangelista de Lima
    • 1
  • Alexandre Assis Carvalho
    • 2
  • Alan William Meerow
    • 3
  • Maura Helena Manfrin
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Postgraduation Programme in Genetics, Department of Genetics, Ribeirão Preto Medical SchoolUniversity of São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil
  2. 2.University of BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  3. 3.United States Department of AgricultureNational Germplasm RepositoryMiamiUSA
  4. 4.Department of Genetics, Ribeirão Preto Medical School and Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Letters of Ribeirão PretoUniversity of São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil

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