Bactris gasipaes (2)

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Figure 1. G. speciosa

'Guilielma speciosa == Bactris gasipaes'

The wood of this tree when old and black is exceedingly hard, turning the edge of any ordinary axe. When descending the River Uaupes in April 1852, I had a number of parrots whose objections to any restraint upon their liberty caused me much trouble. Their first cage was of wicker, and in a couple of hours they had all set themselves at liberty. Then tough green wood was tried, but the same time only was required to gnaw that through. Thick bars of deal were bitten through in a single night, so I then tried the hard wood of the Pashiba. This checked them for a short time, but in less than a week by continual gnawing they had chipped these away and again escaped. I now began to despair; no iron for bars was to be procured and my resources were exhausted, when one of my Indians recommended me to try Pupunha, assuring me that if their beaks were of iron they could not bite that. A tree was accordingly cut down and bars made from it, and I had the satisfaction of seeing that their most persevering efforts now made little impression.

The very sharp needle-like spines of this tree are used by some tribes to puncture the skin, in order to produce the tattooed marks with which they decorate various parts of their bodies. Soot produced from burning pitch rubbed into the wounds is said to make the indelible bluish stain which these markings present.


Extracted from:

Palm Trees of the Amazon, Alfred Russel Wallace Pub: John van Voorst; 1853


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