Totai Palm (Acrocomia aculeata)

This is the iconic botanical symbol of my beloved Santa Cruz Department. The common name, Totai, comes from the indigenous tribe Chiquitano. It is also known as the Mboyoca, from the other major local indigenous tribe, the Guarayo. This is the most common palm tree here and it is found everywhere. It grows well in open areas and in sandy, nutrient-poor soils. It is found throughout Latin America, but I noticed it only here in southern cone regions of lowland Bolivia and Paraguay.

The trunk, especially when young, is filled with sharp spines, a characteristic of this genus of palm trees.

It is not much used by the locals. The leaves and fruits serve as food for livestock and wildlife, more so than humans, but the fruits are edible. Indigenous people used the tree from everything from making ropes, baking bread, and even making an alcoholic drink from the juice. Today it is only used in ornamental crafts.

The view of the open country north of the city, heading towards Warnes is made beautiful by the Totai Palms.




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