Table of Contents
Cabral Velho, C., A. Whipkey, and J. Janick. 1990. Cupuassu: A new beverage
crop for Brazil. p. 372-375. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in
new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Cupuassu: A New Beverage Crop for Brazil
Christiane Cabral Velho, Anna Whipkey, and Jules Janick
- Tissue Culture
- FUTURE PROSPECTS
- Table 1
- Table 2
- Fig. 1
- Fig. 2
- Fig. 3
- Fig. 4
- Fig. 5
Brazil is the largest producer of tropical and subtropical fruits in the
southern hemisphere. Exports of orange and banana have shown marked increase
over the last decade. Currently Brazil is searching for ways to diversify its
export industry and exploit indigenous species of the tropical rainforest
(Chaar 1980, Venturieri et al. 1985).
A promising new fruit is cupuassu [Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd ex
Spreng) Schum, Sterculiaceae], a close relative of cacao (T. cacao L.).
Cupuassu fruit contains a highly-flavored pulp that can be used for juices, ice
creams, liquors, wine, and jellies (Vasconcelos et al. 1975). The seeds can be
used to make chocolate (Vasconcelos et al. 1975, Venturieri and Martel 1985).
The volume processed by local industries in Para region has increased, although
fruits are still harvested from wild trees (Calzavara et al. 1984).
Cupuassu originated in south and southeastern Amazonia in Brazil and is also
native to the states of Para and Maranhao. Today, it can be found near the
Tapajos, Xingu, and Guama rivers, and in northeastern Maranhao (Vasconcelos et
Cupuassu, is an erect tree, that can attain heights over 20 m at maturity, but
when cultivated, is maintained at 6 to 8 m. The canopy can reach 7 m in
diameter; oblong leaves are 25 to 35 cm wide. The inflorescence has three to
five flowers. Each flower has a calyx composed of five triangular fused
sepals, a corolla with five purple petals, five purple staminodes, five
stamens, and an ovary with five locules. The oblong fruits are 12 to 25 cm
long, 10 to 12 cm in diameter, and weigh I to 2 kg. A four to five-year-old
tree may produce 20 to 30 fruits and a mature tree (over seven years) 60 to 70.
Each fruit contains about 50 seed which are surrounded by a mucilaginous pulp
with an acid taste and a strong "goaty" aroma (Chaar 1980, Venturieri and Alves
1985, Venturieri et al. 1985).
Cupuassu is cross-pollinated, with bees the main pollinator (Falcao and Lleras
1983). The rate of pod set is low because of the high incidence of flower bud
abortion. Anther dehiscence precedes anthesis which occurs between 10:00 am
and 5:30 pm. Flower bud development takes 15 days and fruits mature four
months after fertilization (Silva Retto, 1986).
Calzavara et al. (1984) has classified cupuassu by fruit shape:
Cupuassu can be cultivated in the humid tropics with an average annual rainfall
of 1,800 mm and an annual mean temperature of 23°C. Cupuassu grows well in
deep soils with high fertility. Germination of cupuassu is inhibited by the
mucilage which surrounds the seeds. The mucilage can be removed by light
fermentation for 12 to 24 hours; germination starts three to four days later.
Seeds are then sown directly in plastic bags or trays. If the mucilage is not
removed, germination takes 12 to 17 days (Venturieri and Alves 1985, Venturieri
et al. 1985).
Redondo: the apex of the fruit is rounded; the most common type (Fig. 1,
Fig. 2 right, Fig. 3 right).
Mamorana: the fruit has a pointed apex and a very thick rind (7 to 9
Mamau: a seedless clone found in Para (EMBRAPA/CPATU) (Fig. 2 left, Fig.
The seeded cupuassu fruit consists of 46% pulp, 38% rind, and 16% seeds. The
seedless fruit consists of 67% pulp, but the pulp is somewhat less flavorful.
Another problem with the seedless clone is low productivity (Chaar 1980). The
constituents of cupuassu pulp are listed in Table 1.
Young seedlings are protected by 50% shading of direct sun. When the seedlings
are five to six months old, light is increased to 75% of full sun. For
rootstock production, seedlings four to six months old are used. Recommended
propagation methods are side grafting or green strip budding (Calzavara et al.
1984, Venturieri et al. 1985, Venturieri et al. 1986/1987). Plants are spaced
5 m apart with successive pruning until the seventh or eighth year. The
fertilizer used is the same as for cacao (12-5-10 NPK) plus manure.
The most common insect pests are Coleoptera, aphids, bees, and several species
of Crysomelidae. The most common diseases are witches broom incited by
Crinipellis perniciosa, anthracnose (Colletotrichum
gloesporioides) and "queima do fio" (Pellicularia koleroga)
(Venturieri et al. 1985).
Somatic embryogenesis has been induced in cupuassu by culturing immature
zygotic embryos on a semisolid Murashige and Skoog medium supplemented with 1
mg/liter 2,4-D and 10% coconut water (Janick and Whipkey 1988). Somatic
embryos proliferate by budding and produce embryogenic competent callus (Fig. 4). Once induced, embryogenic cultures were most proliferative on 2,4-D-free
medium and glucose. Somatic embryos have not produced viable seedlings.
The fruit has various uses as shown in Fig. 5 (Calzavara et al. 1984). The
value of the seed of cupuassu is still not widely recognized and they are
usually discarded. The fatty acid composition of cupuassu and cacao seed is
shown in Table 2 (Calzavara et al. 1984, Chaar 1980, Vasconcelos et al. 1975).
On the basis of the high linoleic acid content, the seed "butter" of cupuassu
would be expected to have a lower melting point than cocoa butter. The use of
cupuassu seeds for chocolate manufacture is restricted to the Solimoes,
Madeira, and Tocantins rivers valleys of the Amazon.
Currently, cupuassu pulp can be extracted directly, frozen or processed as a
syrup, with water and sugar (Chaar 1980). Pulp extraction is performed
manually or mechanically. During manual extraction, the pulp is cut with a
scissors and seeds are removed by hand. In the mechanical process, the pulp is
extracted by a depulping machine, then homogenized and pasteurized. Machines
have been developed that can process up to 2,500 kg of fruit per hour
(Calzavara et al. 1984). The pulp must be frozen because the flavor is
destroyed by heat.
Cupuassu because of its unusual aroma may have real promise as a new flavor for
many products, particularly ice-creams, yogurts, and tropical juices. However,
there are a number of agricultural problems that must be overcome including
high susceptibility to witches broom and short storage life of the fruit.
Immediate processing by freezing is required because heat destroys flavor.
Cupuassu has the potential to become a new crop for the tropical rainforest
providing research continues in culture, selection, processing, and marketing.
Investigations are presently underway in the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da
Amazonia (INPA), and Centro de Pesquisa Agropecuaria do Tropico Umido
- Calzavara, B.B.G., C.H. Muller, and O. Kabwage. 1984. Fruticultura tropical: o
cupuacuzeiro. Belem, EMBRAPA/CPATU. Documentos 32.
- Chaar, J.M. 1980. Composicao do cupuacu [Theobroma grandiflorum (Schum)]
e conservacao do seu nectar por meios fisicos e quimicos. MS Thesis, UFRRJ, Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Falcao, M.A. and E. Lleras. 1983. Aspectos fenologicos, ecologicos e de
produtividade do cupuacu. Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd ex Spreng)
Schum. Acta Amazonica 13:725-735.
- Janick, J. and A. Whipkey 1988. Somatic embryogenesis in Theobroma
grandiflorum. HortScience 23:807. (Abstr.)
- Silva Retto. A. 1986. Estudos preliminares sobre a biologia floral do
cupuacuzeiro [Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd ex Spreng) Schum]. BS
Thesis, FUA, Manaus, Brazil.
- Vasconcelos, M.N.Z., M. Leao da Silva, J.G. Soares Maia, and O.R. Gottlieb.
1975. Estudos quimicos das sementes do cupuacu. Acta Amazonica 5:293-295.
- Venturieri, G.A. and J.P.L. Aguiar. 1986. Composicao do chocolate caseiro de
amendoas de cupuacu [Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd ex Spreng) Schum].
INPA, Manaus, Brazil.
- Venturieri, G.A. and M.LB. Alves. 1985. A culture do cupuacuzeiro.
CEAGRO/GEDEI, Rondonia, Brazil.
- Venturieri, G.A., M.L.B. Alves, and M.D. Nogueira. 1985. O cultivo do
cupuacuzeiro. Infor. Soc. Bras. Fruticultura 4:15-17.
- Venturieri, G.A. and J.H.I. Martel. 1985. Coleta de germoplasma de cupuacu
[Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd ex Spreng) Schum] na pre-amazonia
maranhense. INPA, Manaus, Brazil.
- Venturieri, G.A., J.H.I. Martel, and G.M.E. Machado. 1986/1987. Enxertia do
cupuacuzeiro [Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd ex Spreng) Schum] com
o uso de gemas e garfos com e sem toalete. Acta Amazonica 16/17:27-40.
Table 1. Analysis of cupuassu pulp (Chaar 1980).
|Total soluble solids (°Brix) ||10.51|
|Titratable acidity (g citric acid anhydride % w/w) ||2.35|
|Brix/acid ratio ||4.47|
|Reducing sugars ||3.00|
|Nonreducing sugars ||5.81|
|Vitamin C (mg/100 g) ||28.32|
|Starch (%) ||0.96|
|Pectins (mg/100 g) ||703|
|Viscosity (cps at 21°C, 100 rpm) ||6750|
|Calcium (mg/100 g) ||3.10|
|Magnesium (mg/100 g) ||9.31|
|Total iron (mg/100 g) ||1.52|
Table 2. Fatty acid composition as a percent of total fats in cupuassu and cacao.
| ||Fatty acid composition|
|Fatty acid ||Cupuassu ||Cacao|
| ||% of lipids|
|Palmitic (C16:0) ||5.8 ||32.8|
|Stearic (C18:0) ||38.3 ||35.5|
|Oleic (C18:1) ||42.8 ||29.6|
|Aracadic (C20:0) ||4.8 ||1.0|
|Linoleic (C18:3) ||83 ||1.1|
| ||% of seed wt|
|Total lipid ||58.0 ||57.3|
Fig. 1. Fruit of cupuassu.
Fig. 2. Seedless (left) and seeded (right) fruit of cupuassu.
Fig. 3. Pulp segments and ovule of seedless clone (left) and seeded
clone (right) of cupuassu.
||Fig. 4. Somatic cotyledonary embryo of cupuassu.
Fig. 5. Products of cupuassu fruit.
Last update August 29, 1997