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Print version ISSN 1405-2768


HORNUNG-LEONI, Claudia T.. Bromeliads: traditional plant food in Latin America since prehispanic times. Polibotánica [online]. 2011, n.32, pp.219-229. ISSN 1405-2768.

Bromeliads are monocots that have been consumed by natives in Latin America since pre-Hispanic times. The principal ways bromeliads are used as food sources include the whole fruit or another part of the plant. They are eaten as a vegetable or prepared in beverages (fermented or unfermented). This study includes local literature, personal observations and open interviews with people who know about the alimentary uses of bromeliads. The results cover ten countries and 24 species of bromeliads which have been reported and described as traditional foodstuffs. Of these, 76.9% have only a single use and 23.0% have two different uses. One species (Bromelia pinguin) has three different uses. Even in the present day these plants are still eaten as vegetables (12 sp.), used to prepare beverages (11 sp.) and/or consumed directly as fruits (nine sp.). It is important to note that contrary to expectations, in Latin America bromeliads are consumed more as vegetables than fruits.

Keywords : Bromeliaceae; uses; food; Latin America.

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