Saturday, January 20, 2007

Guaraná fruit, continued

In an earlier post I presented a picture of guaraná fruit still growing on the plant. Cleuson Teixeira picked these mature seeds just in time, as they were getting eaten up by monkeys. Notice the one pod at the top of the image. As you may know, guaraná is classified as both a stimulant and aphrodisiac. Caffeine is the main ingredient that gives guaraná this fame. Although you can buy the real stuff at supermarkets and all arts and craft stores in the Amazon, the most popular guaraná is that of the soft drink bearing the same name. I like the Antarctica brand name because it has less sugar than others. To keep us from getting too high on a day to day basis, the guaraná soft drink is decaffeinated. I can't speak for those monkeys eating the fresh fruit from the plant!


Jens Hegg said...

I love your blog. It reminds me of the time I spent in the Amazon in 1999 with School for International Training.

I had a wonderful time in Santerem when we stopped there, although most of my time was spent in Belem, Roraima, and travelling. I particularly remember an excellent Avacado Guarana, playing with a perguica which was suprisingly cuddly, and watching 5 Zodiac's full of fat American retiree's disembark to explore the markets and hippie jewelry.

You seem to know a thing or two about the flora of the Amazon. While I was there I ate several fruit with the shape of a huge bean and I can't find reference to it anywhere now that I have reason to tell people about it.

Some of the fruit were as much as two feet long with >15 seed/fruits, others small enough to hold in your hand. The seeds inside were white and fuzzy. They looked remarkably like little white lab mice.

The white fuzz tasted very sweet without much taste, like sugar water.Beneath the white fuzz was a large black seed.

I've searched high and low to find the name or a picture of this fruit and can't. Do you know what it is? Any help would be appreciated.

Jens Hegg said...

I forgot to mention that some were cultivated and some were wild and they had a wide range. I ate one near Belem that was growing in the sitio of a friend. I also found them growing wild while canoing in the Mamiraua reserve, although they were smaller.

Steven Alexander said...

Good description of the fruit. It's Inga edulis. Accent mark over the last letter of the first word. What's your address? Mine is

Jens Hegg said...

Inga! As soon as I read it it all came back to me.

Isn't it wonderful how foreign languages get rusty but the information is still there somewhere with a bit of prodding.

My email is jensenhegg-(at) (subtract the dashes and add the @. I hate getting junk mail due to web spiders finding my address posted on websites.) Feel free to email me any time.

Steven Alexander said...

Jens, maybe I didn't need your address after all. My commenting on your comments on my blog seems to put us in contact. I just wanted to let you know that there are many different kinds of inga. Edulis is found in the floodplains but we don't have it at Bosque Santa Lucia because we're in the highlands. But .. we do have other varieities. Also wanted to tell you that I've worked with SIT in the past, when Dr. Bill Overall was heading up the program. Enjoyed working with students very much, especially SIT. Take care.

Jens Hegg said...


What a small world we live in. I was on the SIT program only the second year or so after Dr. Overall stepped aside. Gustavo Hees de Negrieros was the director (and still is I think) but we all knew Bill. He helped with various things and was a great resource for our independent projects. I talked with him at length about a possible independent project studying ants. I finally settled on working with the Secretary of Health in Boa Vista, Roraima, doing mosquito biocontrol research. I remember him as a great guy.

I've been trying unsuccessfully to get back to the Amazon ever since, actually. Unfortunately family and money commitments have gotten in the way. I'm currently working in the Medical Device field and applying for graduate programs to do aquatic ecology research in the Amazon.

Thanks for the info on Inga. I've found a fairly decent amount of information on it now that I know the name, including pictures and illustrations on Wikipedia for several species.