Demonstration vegetable gardens being set up in front of the Ministry of the Environment, Brasilia. Photo: MMA Brazil/L.Coradin

In Brazil, MSc students and researchers from the federal universities of Ceará, Goiás, São Paulo, Pará, and Rio Grande do Sul, as well as from the state universities of Ceará and São Paulo, have compiled national food composition data using the FAO-INFOODS methodology through the systematic and quantitative review of secondary data sources, particularly MSc and PhD thesis and other grey literature. Food composition tables from Brazil were also explored for data on prioritized species. In the first MSc thesis to emerge from the BFN project, nutrition data for 21 of the species prioritized by the BFN project was compiled and compared with the most commonly consumed fruits in Brazil (according to the most recent Household Survey – POF 2008-2009): banana, orange, apple, papaya and watermelon. Results highlighted the higher contents of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E contained in native fruits (for those fruits for which data was available). See below.

The vitamin C content in 100g of the pulp of four native fruits – camu-camu (1888mg), mangaba (332 mg), cerrado cashew (294mg) and jabuticaba (238mg) - are at least 3 times the amount contained in 100 g of common varieties of orange (53mg), banana (21,6mg) and papaya (82,9mg).

Lab analyses are being carried out by partner Universities and National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) to fill existent nutrient gaps for prioritized species. Recipes are also being developed with the prioritized regional native fruits. Some are available in the Recipes section.

A BFN partnership was established with the Horticultural Division of the Brazilian Corporation of Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA Hortaliças) for the inclusion of traditional vegetables in the Plants for the Future initiative. This initiative leads many important agricultural programmes that aid in: i) the identification of native Brazilian flora used both locally and regionally but that doesn't currently fulfill its economic potential, ii) the promotion of the use of these native plant species by farmers and agricultural producers, and iii) the creation of an enabling environment for increased investment opportunities and business creation to drive the development of new marketable local products.

So far, EMBRAPA have played a key partnering role in the implementation of BFN activities and the continuous growth of the nutritional database. Portfolios were organized with general information on six native vegetables which will be included in the Plants for the Future publication for the Midwestern region. Furthermore, food composition analysis of 20 leafy species (six of which are native to Brazil) is currently being carried out by EMBRAPA.

Food composition data and recipes generated by the BFN Project in Brazil will be hosted in the Biodiversity Nutritional Composition Database as part of the Information System on Brazilian Biodiversity (SiBBr) created by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to gather information on Brazilian biodiversity and ecosystems currently scattered across databases in various government agencies and sources. The technological platform for the database is being developed in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme’s and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).


As the national executing agency for BFN in Brazil, the Ministry of the Environment (MMA) has forged partnerships and relationships with many of the agencies and ministries involved in the Zero Hunger strategy launched in 2003 to eradicate hunger and poverty in the country. Representatives from strategic policy programmes such as the Food Acquisition Programme (PAA), the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) and the National Food and Nutrition Policy (PNAN) are part of the Project’s national steering and executing committees, which helps create an enabling policy environment for the promotion of biodiversity for food and nutrition in Brazil.
As part of its commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), BFN Brazil has led the revision of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), engaging 400 participants from institutions across the business, environment, academia, federal and state government sectors as well as indigenous peoples and traditional communities to define twenty National Biodiversity Targets for the period 2011-2020 closely linked to the Aichi Targets of the CBD. Some of the activities within the NBSAP now include the utilization of native plant species with actual or potential economic value as a successful measure of biodiversity conservation.

On 18 May 2016, after much advocacy and lobbying by the BFN project and Plants for the Future, Ordinance Nº 163 on Sociobiodiversity was published in the Union Official Journal of Brazil. Signed by the two respective ministers of Environment and Social Development, this Ordinance is a very important step in mainstreaming biodiversity for enhanced food and nutrition security as it clearly articulates what defines sociobiodiversity (read neglected and underutilized). "Brazilian Sociobiodiversity Native Food Species of Nutritional Value" are now officially defined and recognized. Sixty four of the BFN Project’s prioritized species appear on the list. These are the species which the BFN Project in Brazil is focusing on to improve the evidence base for their nutritional value with a view to integrating into relevant national policies and programmes. The Ordinance will contribute greatly to better understanding and dissemination of knowledge on these species, which will ultimately enhance the promotion and sustainable use of the so-called sociobiodiversity species.


BFN Brazil has demonstrated great success in collaborating with schools to raise awareness about biodiversity for food and nutrition, with a view to promoting greater utilization of edible species of native Brazilian flora. Through collaboration with the National Fund for Educational Development and the Centre for Excellence in Tourism of the University of Brasília, a project called Educating through School Gardens and Gastronomy is guiding a number of schools in setting up tree nurseries for native species and growing non-conventional leafy vegetables in school gardens in collaboration with Embrapa Hortaliças, to encourage healthy eating habits, dietary diversification and greater appreciation of Brazilian biodiversity. Further, many awareness raising events were organized in different Brazilian cities, such as culinary workshops, tasting events and food fairs showcasing the deliciousness of native biodiversity.

BFN is also collaborating with the initiative “Rio Food Vision” (Rio Alimentação Sustentável), which aims to contribute a healthy and sustainable food vision for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and their legacy to Rio de Janeiro and Brazil with a transforming platform on food value chains. The initiative is working closely with the Olympic Committee and caterers to enable the inclusion of certified organic, fair trade and foods from local biodiversity during the games.


Following the publication of Native species of actual or potential economic importance for the southern region of Brazil (see Additional Resources in this page) by the Plants for the Future Initiative of the Ministry of the Environment, BFN is working hand in hand with the initiative to continue publishing similar reference texts for the Midwest, North, Northeast and Southeast regions. Over 800 species have been prioritized and grouped according to their main use: food, aromatic, fiber, forage, wood, medicinal, ornamental. In the edible group, over 100 underutilized native species of nutritional importance have been prioritized. Some are included in the list below. The dissemination of this information should positively impact the plants' conservation and foster greater appreciation and use of native Brazilian biodiversity. The books will be launched in 2016 and 2017 and will contribute to increasing cross-sectoral collaboration among the federal, state and municipal governments and other sectors of society.

BFN BRAZIL Prioritized Species


Common Name

Latin Name



Low in calories and rich in iodine, minerals and vitamin C, the fruits are also known for being rich in antioxidants, possessing bacteria-killing properties and containing flavonoids that stimulate the immune response.



Acca sellowiana


Cajú rasteiro


Anacardium corymbosum

@João Medeiros

Monkey nut

The cashew apple (red in the picture) is very similar to the common cashew, but smaller and more acidic. The fruit's pulp is used for making juices and jams. The cashew nuts, which grow below the fruit (in brown in the picture), are shelled and consumed raw or roasted. They are rich in Vitamin B1 and B2, protein and iron. See recipe.

Anacardium humile

Miniature cashew

The fruit is rich in vitamin C, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and phenolic compounds. Bark infusions of the tree are popular in traditional Brazilian medicine as a tonic for the treatment of a variety of diseases, including infectious diseases, inflammation, rheumatism, and tumor.

Anacardium microcarpum

@ João Medeiros

Dwarf cashew

Anacardium nanum

	Tree cashew of the cerrado (cajuí)
@Fernando Tatagiba

Tree cashew of the cerrado (cajuí)

Rich in vitamin C and fibre, the pulp is either consumed raw or used to make juices, liqueur and cakes. The toasted nut is consumed raw with salt or can be turned into a sweet "paçoca" (candy square). 



Anacardium othonianum

@João Medeiros

Cerrado Pineapple

A good source of calcium and vitamin C, this fruit is mostly consumed raw and is characterized by a sweet and juicy pulp. The core can also be used for juices and jams.




Ananas ananassoides

Annona crassiflora
@Ferbnando Tatagia

Marolo or Araticum do cerrado

The sweet pulp is consumed raw or used to make cakes, jams, juices, liqueurs, yoghurts and sorbets. The pulp is rich in linoleic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid for optimal health. See recipe.




Annona crassiflora


Paraná pine

Starchy, rich in B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and proteins, the pine seeds used to be the main staple for many indigenous tribes in Southern Brazil. The seeds are either cooked in water or grilled, and ground to produce flour for the making of bread, biscuits and cakes. Heavily exploited for its wood, less than 4% of the tree's original forest cover remains.             


Araucaria angustifolia



The edible fruit of the Tucumã palm is rich in vitamin A as well as lauric, myristic and oleic acids. The pulp is fibrous and can be sliced and eaten fresh in sandwiches or pulped and strained to form a juice known as "tucumã wine", which also serves as a base for sweet and savoury sauces. Oil can be extracted both from the pulp and the fruit's kernel and is used for cooking and as an emollient for skin care.

Astrocaryum aculeatum

Jelly Palm (Coquinho)

A good source of fibre, potassium and vitamin C (equivalent to levels found in oranges), the pulp is consumed raw or can be used in the production of sorbets, jams or liqueurs. Cooking oil is extracted from the seeds. See recipe



Butia capitata


Coastal Jelly Palm

The palm's fruit is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium. The pulp can be used in juice production and to prepare liqueurs, jams, ice creams, cakes, candies and other desserts.



Butia catarinensis

@K. Ziarnek

Woolly Jelly Palm

The woolly jelly palm produces small, orange fruits that taste of pineapple and orange. The fruits can be consumed raw, or be turned into jellies and jams. 

Butia eriospatha

@H. Luyken

Savanna serret (murici)

This flowering plant produces a small but aromatic yellow fruit. It is eaten raw and made into desserts or drinks. In Brazil, it has been used to make a fermented beverage called "chicha."

Byrsonima crassifolia

@ L. Coradin


This sweet and sour fruit is used to flavour regional drinks, to make cakes, juices, liqueurs, jams, puddings and sorbets. When eaten raw with sugar, the fruits are mildly laxative and are also used to treat cough and bronchitis. Oil is extracted from the seeds and used for cooking and pharmaceutical purposes. See recipe


Byrsonima verbascifolia

White Gabiroba

Highly rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, the fruit is also rich in phenolic compounds and a good source of iron and zinc. The fruit can be eaten fresh or used to make juices, ice creams, liqueurs and sweets. See recipe

Campomanesia cambessedeana



Rich in fibre and antioxidants, this juicy fruit is also low in calories. The pulp is used in the preparation of juices, jams, cakes, puddings, sorbets, liqueurs and wine. In traditional medicine, the peel and leaves are boiled in water and used to treat diarrhea. See recipe



Campomanesia xanthocarpa

@R. Roth. Coelho

Yellow lantern chili

Rich in phenolic compounds, carotenoids and vitamin C, this pepper is mainly used in stews and sauces, as well as marinades for meats and chicken.




Capsicum chinense Jacq.


Wild chili pepper

A rare, wild Capsicum pepper with tiny berry fruits. The fruits barely measure 0.5 cm, are edible and have a sweet flavor (rare in wild peppers) with only occasional mild heat.

Capsicum flexuosum


Chili pepper

The chili pepper is usually yellow as it grows, but becomes bright red once mature. These peppers are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. They contain a substance known as "capsaicin," which produces a spice ranging from milt to intense. For this reason, chili peppers are used as a means to add spice to dishes. 

Capsicum frutescens


Pequí or souari nut

Rich in fibre, carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin A, and a good source of folates. Can be eaten raw or prepared or used as an ingredient in cooking or to flavor beverages. Pequi with rice is especially popular in the traditional cuisine. See recipe


Caryocar brasiliense




Copaifera multijuga



Copaifera reticulata



Croton cajucara



Extracts of the rhizome of Cyperus articulatus contain flavonoids, polyphenols, tannins, terpenes and sugars. It is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of several ailments like, malaria, epilepsy, migraine and dysentery in different parts of the world. It has been reported to have significant level of antibacterial activity.


Cyperus articulatus



A species of yam that grows on a vine. While cush-cush is cultivated like the potato, it needs a strong trellis for support. Prior to consumption, the tuber is boiled, baked, mashed, and used in a soup. It is praised for being moist and rich in flavor. 

Dioscorea trifida

@João Medeiros


High in fibre, both the pulp and the nut of baru are edible. Floury in texture, the pulp is used to prepare cakes and breads, while the nut has to be roasted prior to consumption. Milk and oil are also extracted from the nut, which is also used to make liqueurs. See recipe


Dipteryx alata

@Fred benenson


Tonka beans are black wrinkles and have a smooth, brown interior. They have a particular fragrance similar to sweet woodruff. Are then used to prepare desserts, as a vanilla substitute or as an ingredient in perfume and tobacco preparation. Due to the high content of coumarin it is advisable to limit its consumption.


Dipteryx odorata

@ João Medeiros


A good source of vitamin C, vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium and iron, the fruit can be eaten raw or used in the production of jams, nectars and sorbets. The leaves have antidiarrheal properties. Anecdotal evidence also exists of the leaves' use in the treatment of diabetes and jaundice, while the fruits have laxative properties. See recipe


Eugenia dysenterica


Cherry of the Rio Grande

An evergreen shrub that produces small, dark red fruits, which taste similar to cherries. In addition to being consumed raw, the fruit is used to make jams, jellies, and juices. 

Eugenia involucrata

@ João Medeiros

Brazilian Pear

Characterized by an aromatic and slightly acidic fleshy pulp, the fruit can be consumed raw or used in the production of jams and juices. Little is known about its nutritional properties except for its high protein content (1-3%). See recipe.



Eugenia klotzchiana



Its fruits present considerable amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C when compared to other fruits. It is usually eaten fresh, made into juices or jellies.



Eugenia pyriformis


Araza (Araçá, araçá-boi)

This fruit present an high amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 and vitamin C (which is double that of an orange) in addition to having antitumor properties. Its fruits can be eaten fresh directly but with addition of sugar because of high acidity or processed mostly as a juices, nectars, ice cream but also jellies, marmalades, preserves and desserts. See recipe

Eugenia stipitata


Surinam Cherry, Cayenne cherry

Its taste ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the level or ripeness and on the cultivar. Is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A and its oil has several significant properties so that is used as an antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antitumor and analgesic.


Eugenia uniflora


Ucara Palm, Heart-of-Palm

Its sweet leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked. The fruit has a thin, fleshy, fibrous pulp and it can be made into a juice or can be used to prepare ice-cream. Juçara fruits are an excellent source of natural antioxidants.


Euterpe edulis


Açaí palm

Açaí is a fruit from the Brazilian Amazon region and it is a small, round, black-purple drupe. Its pulp was found to be rich in essential minerals like calcium, iron, manganese and zinc, but the levels of copper and manganese are surprisingly high, therefore is recommended to limit its consumption. The fruit can be eaten fresh, made into juice or can be an ingredient in various products like beverages, including grain alcohol, smothies, cosmetics and supplements.

Euterpe oleracea


Mountain Cabbage Palm (Açaí solteiro)

A tall species of palm that produces edible buds that are rich in antioxidants. They are eaten raw or used to make juices that can be added to a variety of foods, including tapioca, porridge, and cassava. The leaves of the palm are also edible when cooked, and are crunchy with a sweet flavor. An edible oil can be extracted from the seeds. 

Euterpe precatoria

@Cody H.


The fruit is used mainly for making liqueurs , wines, desserts, jams and sorbets. In traditional medicine the pulp is used as an insect repellent, and has possible antibacterial and germicidal properties. See recipe


Genipa americana



The mangaba is a berry-shaped, yellow or greenish, fruit from the Brazilian Cerrado. When ripe it presents a soft, slightly gelatinous and fibrous, flesh. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and folates and a good source of carotenoids and vitamin E. Due to its sweetness, fruits can be made into juice that combined with cachaça to make an appetizing caipifruta cocktail. Can also be processed into icecream, jams and used to make pastries, preserves, distillates, wines and syrups.

Hancornia speciose


Jatobá-Do-Cerrado, Jataí or Jutaí

The edible pulp of Jatobá appears like a soluble fibre. High in energy, it can be consumed raw or used in the preparation of liqueurs and desserts. To make biscuits, cookies and cakes, a flour is prepared by grinding the edible pulp in a pestle and then sieving. A medicinal tea is prepared with the peel and used to treat flu, bronchitis and diarrhea. See recipe.

Hymenaea stigonocarpa


Brazilian cherry or South American cherry (Jatobá)

Its fruit can be eaten fresh or can be used to prepare a flour used to bake cakes, cookies and breads. The protein value of Jatobá flour is similar to corn flour and above that of cassava flour. Its a good source of vitamin C.


Hymenaea courbaril

@Stan Shebs

Brazilian mint

The oil extracted has significant biological properties, including fungicidal and bactericidal activities. It is usually used to prepare infusions to cure headaches, fevers and flu.


Hyptis crenata

@Fernando Tatagiba


The fruit's soft and orange pulp is eaten raw or converted to flour after drying. Both are used for making cakes and jams. The oil extracted from the pulp is used for cooking and in traditional medicine against insect bites. See recipe


Mauritia flexuosa


Camu camu

This fruit is used for the preparation of soft drinks, ice cream, jellies, jams and liqueurs, likewise to add flavor and color to different types of pies and desserts made using other fruits. It has a high concentration vitamin C (2,606 mg per 100 g of fruit), higher than found in most edible plants.


Myrciaria dubia

@Fernando Tatagiba


Jabutica is a tree that is grown for its dark purple fruits. These fruits can be eaten raw or used to make jellies, juices, tarts, wines, or liquors. They contain powerful antioxidents, as well as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory compounds. 

Myrciaria jaboticaba



This species produces more fruit than any other palm in the central Amazon. The fruit has a dark, reddish-purple shell and creamy flesh. Its flavor is similar to that of avocado, and it can be eaten raw, or its oil can be used to cook with. The apical buds of the tree can be eaten as a vegetable, however this eventually leads to the death of the bacaba, as the removal of these buds make it impossible for the tree to produce new shoots. 

Oenocarpus bacaba



A flowering palm that produces a dark-purple, oily fruit. The fruit is eaten raw or used to make wine. 

Oenocarpus distichus



The pulp produces an edible sweetened oil for kitchen use. Cream-colored, milky and with pleasant taste, the "bacaba wine" is produced and used with salty foods served in everyday meals, together with local flours is used to make baby food, or preparing it in the form of juices and soft drinks.

Oenocarpus mapora


A medium-sized palm that produces an oily fruit that can be used to make wine. 

Oenocarpus minor

Prickly pear

While the prickly pear is edible, it must be handled carefully, as the skin is covered in many small spines that can easily become lodged in the skin. The flesh of the prickly pear can be used to make soups, salads, breads, candies, jellies, and drinks. It has many health benefits, such as its ability to improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and strengthen bones and teeth. 

Opuntia elata

Prickly Pear 

A small fruit that is consumed raw. 

Opuntia paraguayensis


Passion fruit (maracuja do mato)


Passiflora actinia


Passion fruit

Passion fruit is rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C and a good source of copper, magnesium and phosphorus. The pulps and seeds contain a considerable amount of fibers important for the gastrointestinal function. Can be eaten raw or made into juices or jellies. See recipe

Passiflora cincinnata

@Kurt Stüber

Passion fruit

Passiflora serratodigitata


Passion fruit

Passiflora setacea


Fislis, camapu

Produces small orange fruit within a papery husk. The fruit is known to strengthen the immune system, reduce cholesterol levels, and relieve sore throats. 

Physalis pubescens


Craveiro do mato

The leaves of this plant can be used to prepare a refreshing drink. Flower buds can be dried and used as a replacement spice to cloves, in cakes and mincemeat. They are also sometimes chewed after meals. 

Pimenta pseudocaryophyllus

@Australian National
Botanic Gardens


A flowering plant with a peppery odour. It produces a fruit that is used as a condiment or pepper substitute, or to flavor cocoa. 

Piper aduncum

Hoja santa


Piper hispidinervium



One of the most popular fruit in the Amazon region, is slightly larger than an orange. It contains a bittersweet pulp rich in potassium, phosphorus and calcium. The fruit is consumed directly or used for preparing ice cream, juices, jellies, liqueurs and other delicacies. Its shell is also utilized in regional cuisine.


Platonia insignis


Brazilian grape (jabuticaba)

It can be consumed fresh, but also in the form of jams, jellies, liquor or wine. It contains many proteins, low in carbohydrates and high in calcium, phosphorus, and very rich in vitamin C.


Plinia cauliflora

@Mateus Hidalgo


A tree that produces purplish-black, white-pulped fruits that are eaten fresh, or used to make juices, jellies, tarts, wine, and liquor. The fruit carries several anticancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory compounds. 

Plinia trunciflora

@ João Medeiros

White Pitch (Breu-branco)

An evergreen tree that can be cultivated for its sweet fruits. 

Protium heptaphyllum


White Pitch (Breu-branco)

Protium pallidum

@B. Navez

Purple guava (Araçá)

A small tree that produces pleasantly sour fruits that are high in vitamin C. They are often eaten fresh, or processed into juices, jellies, jams, ice cream, and sorbet. They can also be used to make a purée that is used as a filling in baked goods. 

Psidium cattleyanum

@Alex Popovkin

Brazilian guava, sour guava, Guinea guava (Araçá)

Rich in vitamin C, the pulp is consumed raw and used in cakes, jams and jellies, juices and frozen pulps. The root has diuretic and anti-diarrheal properties and the peel is used in tanneries. The leaves and shoots are astringent and also used to treat diarrhea. See Recipe

Psidium guineense

@Forest & Kim Starr

 Brazilian pepper tree (Aroeira-periquita)

Berries essential oils are used in the traditional medicine as analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anticancerous, antifungal, antiviral, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure) and wound healer. The leaves are best prepared as an infusion, and the bark decoction is used for colds, flu and other upper respiratory infections.

Schinus terebinthifolius


Yellow mombin

This fruit presents a considerable amount of carotenoids (pro-vitamin A) and a portion of yellow mombin pulp can provide one third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Its juice is also used as a diuretic and febrifuge. The fruit pulp is either eaten fresh or made into juice, jellies and sherbets.


Spondias mombin



Flowering plant in the cashew family. Its small, sour fruit resembles small mangoes. 

Spondias spp.

@Daniele Gidsichy

Brazil plum (umbu)

The umbu fruit is particularly rich in vitamin C and has a characteristic tart flavor. Can be consumed fresh, made into jams or other sweetened preserves like fruit cheese or prepared with milk and sugar.


Spondias tuberosa



Cupuacu fruit is a good source of vitamin B1, B2, B3 (niacin) and amino acids, and at least nine antioxidants including vitamin A and C, as well as minerals such as calcium and selenium. It is a stimulator of the immune system supporting the body's ability to fight diseases and has an energetic effect. The white pulp is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets.

Theobroma grandiflorum


Lady's legs (crem)

Tropaeolum pentaphyllum

@Badly Drawn Dad

Calasacha (Jaracatiá; Mamãozinho)

This small bright orange fruit has a sweet smell and juicy, sweetish pulp. These fruits are usually eaten in preserves or candied. Are a good source of papain, which is used to promote digestion.



Vasconcellea quercifolia


The BFN Project contributes to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Cross-Cutting Initiative
on Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition