Cerrado Fruits Attractive to Homo Sapiens

The Cerrado is a great orchard, garden, and pharmacy and depends on us to value its treasures. Come and enjoy its fruits!

By Museu do Cerrado

The species Homo sapiens is an integral part of the evolutionary history of planet Earth and has contributed to the selection of plant species of interest to it since primordial times. The Cerrado is one of the richest and oldest biomes on the planet and the greatest threat to its conservation is ignorance and devaluation. So, we must reconnect man the animal with other forms of life in this biome, valuing the Cerrado on an environmental, social and economic scale in an integral way, and including the human being in the framework of the ecosystem.

Babaçu (Attalea speciosa) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Babassu (Attalea speciosa)

"From a babassu, everything can be used". From the mesocarp, the babassu pulp has several nutritional properties - rich in starch, carbohydrates, fiber, and mineral salts - several dishes are prepared.

Murici-do-brejo (Byrsonima umbellata) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Murici do brejo (Byrsonima umbellata)

Its fruits are sweet, reminding a little of the taste of prunes. This species occurs close to water courses and is one of 51 species of murici that occur in the Cerrado biome.

Cereja-do-cerrado (Eugenia involucrata) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Cherry of the Rio Grande (Eugenia involucrata)

The dry-type fruits, such as those that open spontaneously when ripe and without juicy pulp, mainly bear fruit in the dry season (autumn-winter), between the months of April and September. Plants like chichá and jatobá form part of this group.

Chichá-do-cerrado (Sterculia striata) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Chicha do cerrado (Sterculia striata)

Its fruit is up to 20 centimeters open when ripe, showing the red interior and blue seeds that if roasted, are better, bigger, and more nutritious than peanuts.

Jatobá-do-cerrado (Hymenaea stigonocarpa) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Jatobá-do-cerrado (Hymenaea stigonocarpa)

The fleshy fruits concentrate their fruiting period in the rainy season (spring-summer), between the months of October and March. This group includes species such as cashew apple, araticum, cagaita, mama-cadela, pequi and mangaba.

Cajuzinho (Anacardium humile) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Cashew apple (Anacardium humile)

One of the darlings of the Cerrado, the little cashew or cajuí is smaller than the commercial cashew and has a more intense flavor. It ripens early in the spring, between September and October, and also serves as food for animals such as the maned wolf and the wild dog.

Araticum (Annona crassiflora) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Araticum (Annona crassiflora)

The fruit is very tasty, delicious in sweets, juices, and ice cream. Cattle also love its fruit, being indicated for crossbreeding in pastures.

Cagaita (Eugenia dysenterica) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Cagaita (Eugenia disenterica)

Ripe or spent fruits, if eaten in quantity, strongly loosen the bowels, hence the name. Its white flower is of rare beauty and is suitable for gardens and urban woodland.

Mama-cadela (Brosimum gaudichaudii) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Rattle (Brosimum gaudichaudii)

With a marked and sweetish flavor, when eaten in the wild the fruit has a consistency similar to gum, allowing fruit lovers to chew the pulp. In addition, many people make sweets with the fruit, from candy to ice cream. 

Pequi (Caryocar coriaceum) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Pequi (Caryocar coriaceum)

An important nutritional supplement rich in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamins A, C and B2 and rich in carotenoids, pequi is much appreciated in the regions where it occurs, and is widely used in regional cuisine, in dishes such as rice, chicken and beans cooked with pequi.

Mangaba (Hancornia speciosa) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Mangaba (Hancornia speciosa)

There’s nothing like a cold mangaba juice!

Nature manifests itself through contrasts and so, some edible fruit species have been chosen which are practically unknown by the people of Cerratês and Brazil in general. The photos were taken for their contrasts, their strong and vibrant colors, to bring out the precise brilliance of these treasures of the Cerrado.

Bacupari-do-cerrado (Salacia crassifolia) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Bacupari-do-cerrado (Salacia crassifolia)

Yum, your fruit tastes sweet. Some mammals disperse its seeds; wasps, flies, and mosquitoes pollinate its flowers. Used for food and medicine, it is beautiful in gardens.

Bacupari-trepador (Peritassa laevigata) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Climbing Bacupari (Peritassa laevigata)

This species of Bacupari is a vine that grows in the Cerrado forest formations. It has a tasty and sweet pulp, with a gelatinous consistency, maturing at the end of the rainy season.

Bacurizinho (Allagoptera campestris) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Bacurizinho (Allagoptera campestris)

Also known as camburí, licurizinho or licuri-rasteiro-do-campo, this small palm tree occurs in savanna and rural formations of the Cerrado. Its coconuts are tasty and have a strong flavor, being also appreciated by the maned wolf.

Jenipapo-de-cavalo (Tocoyena formosa) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Jenipapo-de-Cavalo Tocoyena formosa)

The flavor is strong, with potential for jellies, preserves, liquors, syrups, etc. It is black, like other fruits such as chocolate quince and cerrado quince (Alibertia edulis).

Mutamba (Guazuma ulmifolia) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

West Indian elm (Guazuma ulmifolia)

Have you ever eaten Mutamba? It's sweet.

The Cerrado is very rich in fruit species, with an estimated 4,000 species that feed on and depend on fauna for the dispersal of their seeds. Of these species, about 1000 have pulp that is palatable to man, such as pequi, araticum, jatobá, cagaita, mangaba and baru.

Buritirana (Mauritiella armata) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Ghost palm (Mauritiella armata)

It blooms almost all year round, but more intensely from January to April. The fruit ripens mainly from August to December.

Caqui-do-cerrado (Diospyros lasiocalyx) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Cerrado kaki (Diospyros lasiocalyx)

Known as ox fruit, it is also eaten by cattle and wild animals. They have a delicate and mild flavor and are only consumed wild because they contain little pulp.

Coquinho-babão (Syagrus flexuosa) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Acuma palm (Syagrus flexuosa)

The pulp of the fruits of this palm tree is mucilaginous and very sweet, hence its name. It also has a very tasty nut, consumed mainly by children in rural areas.

Curriola (Pouteria ramiflora) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Curriola (Pouteria ramiflora)

Also known as guapeva, abiu or grão-de-galo, the fruits are extremely tasty and practically unknown by most people. They mature between December and February and have a white gelatinous pulp.

Canela-de-velho (Miconia albicans) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Canela-de-velho (Miconia albicans)

Plant traditionally used in folk medicine for joint pain. The fruits are sweet and similar to blueberry, being very attractive to birds.

Fruta-de-ema (Parinari obtusifolia) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Fruta-de-ema (Parinari obtusifolia)

A rare species in nature, it has to be cultivated to be conserved. The taste of this fruit is like a mixture of peanut and pear. It is great to eat straight from the tree. The pips have nuts which are also edible and very nutritious.

Gabiroba (Campomanesia velutina) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Gabiroba (Campomanesia velutina)

Have you ever had gabiroba juice or ice cream? Delicious!!!

Gabiroba (Campomanesia pubescens) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Gabiroba (Campomanesia pubescens)

Shrubby species, which occurs in savanna and grassland formations of the Cerrado, with tasty fruits and intense white flowering, with high ornamental potential.

Gurguri (Mouriri glazioviana) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Gurguri (Mouriri glazioviana)

Also known as puçá, these fruits have a gelatinous and sweetened pulp, being highly appreciated by local communities in the regions where they occur.

Pinha-brava (Duguetia furfuracea) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Araticum (Duguetia furfuracea)

Relative to the pine cone and araticum, its fruits have a sweet and strong flavor, also highly appreciated by the wild fauna of the Cerrado.

Pimenta-de-macaco (Piper aduncum) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Spiked pepper (Piper aduncum)

From the same genus and family as black pepper (Piper nigrum), it is a slightly spicy spice, with potential for use in drinks and roasts, giving pleasant flavors to the dishes.

Pimenta-de-macaco (Xylopia aromatica) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Pimenta-de-macaco (Xylopia aromatica)

Harvest the fruit from the branches as some begin to ripen and open. Use the fruit in cooking, as a spicy seasoning and to tenderize meat. It turns second-rate into first-rate meat. 

Veludo-branco (Guettarda viburnoides) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

White velvet (Guettarda viburnoides)

With a slightly sweet flavor, it has a polka pulp and can be consumed fresh. Fruit very appreciated by bats, that disperse their seeds.

Marmelada (Cordiera sessilis) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Marmelada de cachorro (Cordiera sessilis)

This species is one of the sweetest in the Cerrado!

Sangue-de-cristo (Sabicea brasiliensis) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Woodvine (Sabicea brasiliensis)

The fruiting peak of these fruits coincides with the Easter season, hence its popular name in Portuguese which translates to "blood of Christ".

Buriti (Mauritia flexuosa) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Moriche palm (Mauritia flexuosa)

The most abundant native palm in Brazil, an indicator of soil water. The fruits are very rich in vitamins and the leaves and stems are used for construction and crafts.

Pera-do-cerrado (Eugenia klotzschiana) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Cerrado pear (Eugenia klotzschiana)

The same size and shape of a pear, its fruits are very acidic, being indicated for the preparation of juices and sweets.

Mirtilo-do-cerrado (Gaylussacia brasiliensis) by Marcelo KuhlmannMuseu do Cerrado

Dangleberry (Gaylussacia brasiliensis)

From the same family as the blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), this species occurs close to water courses and has practically unexplored food potential in the Cerrado.

The Cerrado is one of the richest and oldest biomes on the planet and the greatest threat to its conservation is its ignorance and devaluation. So, we must reconnect man the animal with other forms of life in this biome, valuing the Cerrado on an environmental, social and economic scale in an integral way, and including the human being in the framework of the ecosystem.

Credits: Story

Museu do Cerrado
Curator: Rosângela Azevedo Corrêa
Photos and texts: Marcelo Kuhlmann
Biologist, PhD in Botany from the University of Brasília and passionate about nature photography. Born in the heart of the Brazilian Cerrado, he decided to dedicate his life to researching ecological interactions between native plants and animals. He currently works as a consultant at Embrapa Cerrados, DF, in the area of ​​biodiversity conservation. Author of the book “Fruits from the Cerrado: 100 species attractive to Homo sapiens”, which aims to encourage the production chain and culinary uses of Cerrado fruits. Learn about Projeto Frutos Atrativos do Cerrado

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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