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Araza - Araca Boi
|Common name:||Araza or Araca Boi|
|Botanical name:||Eugenia Stipitata|
|Avg Height X Width:||6' x 5'|
|Season:||Throughout the warm
months of the year
|Damage temp:||30 F|
Araza - Araca Boi plant in a 3 gallon container. Araza is an extremely rare New World fruit that is not widely known even in Amazonia Brazil where it is native. The small multi-stemmed trees produce numerous round fruit that look like tennis balls hanging from it’s outstretched weeping branches. The fruit is sour but versatile due to it’s pleasant flavor, texture, color, and smell. They are commonly used to make tropical drinks & cocktails, popsicles, and ice cream. The bushy trees can be maintained at six feet or less, or trained as a standard with a single trunk. They take just 2-3 years to fruit. Due to its compact size it can be container grown.
Eugenia stipitata includes two subspecies: stipitata, from the state of Acre in Brazil, and so/ via, which is more widely distributed from the basin of the Ucayali River in Peru. The latter seems to have been semi-domesticated in western Amazonia, although it may have originated in the southeastern portion of Amazonia. The arazá must have undergone a long process of selection by the Amerindian communities, as can be deduced from the large size of the fruit which, within the cultivated material, can be as large as 12 cm in diameter and 740 g in weight, compared with the wild populations which do not exceed 7 cm in diameter and 30 g in weight.
The species is still in the full process of domestication. The two institutions which have worked most on this fruit are INIAP's experimental station of San Roque in Iquitos, Peru, and INPA in Manaus, Brazil.
Today, the araza is cultivated on small properties throughout the basin of the Solimoes (Alto Amazonas), not as a commercial crop but as part of the complex mosaic of crops characteristic of the traditional agriculture of the region. It is relatively common on the town markets of Tefe, which is midway between Manaus and Iquitos.
Uses and nutritional value
Arazá is used to make juices, soft drinks, ice-cream. preserves and desserts. The fruit is rarely eaten raw because of its acidity (pH 2.4 in the case of the juice). Unlike camucamu (Myrciaria dubia), more than 20 percent of whose fresh weight is represented by 2 percent of ascorbic acid. arazá's potential is due to its intrinsic characteristics as a fruit: pleasant flavour, colour, texture and smell.
The nutritional value of araza is very similar to that of oranges, with the exception of the vitamin C content which is more than double in araza.
The arazá is a shrub or small tree which grows up to 2.5 m. with a fair degree of branching from the base. The leaves are simple, opposite, elliptical to slightly oval and measure 6 to 18 x 3.5 to 9.5 cm. The apex is acuminate, the base rounded to subcordate and the primary and secondary nervations are fairly evident. The inflorescences are in axillary racemes, usually with two to five flowers which are 1 cm wide and pedicillate, have four rounded sepals and five white, oval petals. There are numerous stamens and an ovary with three or tour locules. The fruit is a subspherical berry, reaching 12 cm in diameter and weighing 750 g w hen ripe; the flesh is yellow and thin; the skin is shiny. velvety and yellow, with few seeds which are oblong and measure up to 2.5 cm.
The subspecies stipitata has fewer stamens and an arboreal habit, whereas the subspecies sororia has a shrub habit and has more stamens.
Ecology and phytogeography
The arazá is a species of semi-open or open areas. Most of the wild populations are found on old, non-floodable terraces in tropical, white, highly leached podzolic soils, which are distributed specifically within the area between the Marañón and Ucayali Rivers and where the Amazon begins and as far as Iquitos (ssp. sororia). The camucamu and arazá have sclerophyllous leaves, which makes them very efficient in absorbing nutrients and utilizing water.
It is not surprising that the araza can produce between 20 and 30 tonnes of fruit per hectare annually without any great selection or improvement effort and that, under cultivation on Amazonian terraces, it is more productive than the camucamu.
Although there are no detailed studies on its reproductive system, on the basis of its floral morphology, the species must be allogamous with optional autogamy, since rates of autogamy of around 2 percent are recorded. This would enable it both to maintain a high evolutionary potential and have some degree of adaptation to its environment.
The species is harvested several times a year. If a comparison is made of the production curves of flowers and fruit with precipitation during the same period, it will be seen that they coincide fairly well with an out-of-phase period of approximately one month, which suggests that the water conditions serve to promote the phenological processes.
No data are available on the genetic variability of the arazá. The tact that it shows optional allogamy suggests that it has a high degree of heterozygosity which corresponds to what is expected of the majority of the species of the region.
Dispersal over a long distance is probably effected by birds and possibly fruit-bats, with very variable dispersal distances, thus allowing an exchange of genes between distant populations. There is likely to be a bigger difference within one and the same population than between populations. However, the fact that two subspecies exist in relatively restricted areas suggests that dispersal over a long distance is not very effective and that there are barriers to its distribution which are difficult to explain from the ecological point of view. Genetic variability does not seem to be in danger. However, there are only two collections of germplasm: that of San Roque, with 50 accessions, and that of INPA, with five accessions.
Seed beds. The seeds are recalcitrant and, after 40 days in cold storage, they lose more than 70 percent of their viability. Consequently, seed beds must be established in the first five days after the seeds have been harvested.
The seed beds are kept completely in the shade: the seeds are planted 2 cm apart and only lightly covered, as greater coverings inhibit germination. As a seed bed, partly decomposed softwood is recommended while the use of earth is not advised. Germination is not uniform and may take up to 80 days; in the conditions described, the germination rate may reach around 100 percent.
Nurseries. The seedlings are kept in the seed bed until they reach a height of 7 to 10 cm. They are then transplanted into 6 to 8 kg polyethylene bags filled with a mixture of earth and 10 percent manure. The plants stay in the bags for up to one year: six months in the shade and 6 months in partial shade.
Planting out. After one year, the plants are planted out on their final site. In San Roque, distances of 3 x 3 m have been adopted, with holes measuring 50 cm deep and 30 to 50 cm in diameter. The soil is mixed with 0.50 kg of manure. It is recommended that weeds be eliminated from the planted area each month and organic material added to the soil. Experimental results on fertilization suggest that organic fertilizer with manure is preferable to chemical fertilizers.
In Amazonia, it is recommended that chemical fertilizers not be used since their possible effect on the environment is unknown. In addition, the cost of these applications may make the crop economically unviable. In fertilization trials, chemical fertilizers had no influence on fruit formation (between 20 and 40 percent, average 25 percent) or on the total yield, which justifies not recommending its use in the region.
Prospects for improvement
It is difficult to predict the upper limits of arazá production, as it is still in an early phase of domestication. The genetic base is not known and knowledge about management practices is so limited that it is impossible to make realistic projections. Undoubtedly, under suitable cultivation conditions, its productivity may be somewhat higher than at present while its cultivation in other regions may amply justify chemical fertilization.
There do not appear to be any serious plant health problems. The species suffers heavy attack from the fruit fly, which reduces the normal density of plantings if sophisticated biological control measures are not adopted.
The success of araza as a widespread crop will depend above all on technological developments that facilitate its acceptance on markets outside the region. Any improvement or selection programme will have to involve parameters such as appearance, colour, smell, palatability and resistance of the fruit to transportation and storage.