The ungurahua palm (Oenocarpus bataua subsp. bataua) is widely used throughout the Amazon Basin for its thatch, fibers, wood, and edible fruits. The fruits of this species are especially important to indigenous peoples and yield a high quality oil. This study examines the use of this species by the Siona people of the Ecuadorian Amazon in the Cuyabeno Faunistic Reserve. The reproductive phenology, fruit production, and relationship between vegetative characteristics and fruit production is explored here. Fruit production varies greatly from palm to palm with a range of approximately 500–7000 fruits biennially. This amounts to approximately 700 kg/ha every two years. Height, diameter breast height (dbh), and number of leaves on an individual are poor predictors of tree productivity. Reproductive histories of individual palms are examined. The economic potential of this species and the implications of overharvesting are discussed.
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Vol. 56 • No. 2