Ecuadorian Amazonian Fruits: A Proposal to Value Biodiversity and Promote Food Sovereignty


Fruits are characterized as a source of vitamins and minerals, recognized as an important part of a healthy eating pattern that reduces the risk of some chronic diseases. The Ecuadorian flora in the Amazon region is rich in edible fruits, but little is known about their characteristics and nutritional importance. At the same time, over the years, traditional knowledge about them has been lost. With this implication, this work pretends to describe a research proposal that values the biodiversity of edible fruits in the Ecuadorian Amazon, so that these underutilized products are conceived as more than merchandise. For this purpose, a narrative bibliographic review and a participatory observation were carried out. The research proposal included three stages i) the characterization of fruits traded in local markets; ii) an ethnobotanical study to identify the use and preference of the fruits; and iii) the analysis of bioactive compounds of at least 5 fruits prioritized according to the characterization and ethnobotanical study. The proposal stages generated research that converges the valuation of biodiversity, traditional knowledge, and nutritional potential of Ecuadorian Amazonian fruits.

Keywords: edibles, characterization, bioactives, Ecuador, ethnobotany.


Las frutas se caracterizan por ser una fuente de vitaminas y minerales, reconocidas como una parte importante de un patrón de alimentación saludable que reducen el riesgo de algunas enfermedades crónicas. La flora ecuatoriana en la región amazónica es rica en frutas comestibles, pero muy poco se conoce sobre sus características e importancia nutricional. A su vez, con el pasar de los años se está perdiendo el conocimiento tradicional sobre estas. Con esta implicación, este trabajo busca describir una propuesta de investigación que valore la biodiversidad de las frutas comestibles presentes en la Amazonía ecuatoriana para que estos productos infrautilizados sean concebidos como algo más que mercancías. Para esto se realizó una revisión bibliográfica narrativa y una observación participativa. La propuesta resultante incluyó tres etapas i) la caracterización de las frutas comercializadas en los mercados locales ii) un estudio etnobotánico que identifique el uso y preferencia de las frutas y iii) el análisis de compuestos bioactivos de al menos 5 frutas priorizadas de acuerdo con la caracterización y estudio etnobotánico. Las etapas de la propuesta generaron una investigación que converge la valoración de la biodiversidad, el conocimiento tradicional y el potencial nutricional de las frutas amazónicas ecuatorianas.

Palabras Clave: comestibles, caracterización, bioactivos, Ecuador, etnobotánica.

[1] Cardinale BJ, Duffy JE, Gonzalez A, Hooper DU, Perrings C, Venail P, et al. Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature. 2012 Jun;486(7401):59–67.

[2] Ojea E, Martin-Ortega J, Chiabai A. Defining and classifying ecosystem services for economic valuation: The case of forest water services. Environmental Science Policy. 2012;19–20:1–15.

[3] Vargas-Tierras YB, Prado-Beltran JK, Nicolalde-Cruz JR, Casanoves F, De Melo Virginio-Filho E, Viera-Arroyo WF. Characterization and role of Amazonian fruit crops in family farms in the provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana (Ecuador). Cienc Tecnol Agropecu. 2018;19:485–499.

[4] Ding P. Tropical Fruits. Second Edi. Elsevier; 2016.

[5] Bakar MF, Ahmad NE, Karim FA, Saib S. Phytochemicals and antioxidative properties of Borneo Indigenous Liposu (Baccaurea lanceolata) and Tampoi (Baccaurea macrocarpa) Fruits. Antioxidants. 2014 Jul;3(3):516–525.

[6] Calicioglu O, Flammini A, Bracco S, Bellu L, Sims R. The future challenges of food and agriculture: An integrated analysis of trends and solutions. sustainability (Basel). 2019;11(1):11.

[7] Machado CL, Crespo-Lopez ME, Augusto-Oliveira M, Arrifano GP, Macchi BM, Lopes- Araujo A, et al. Eating in the Amazon: Nutritional status of the Riverine Populations and Possible Nudge Interventions. Foods. 2021 May;10(5):10.

[8] Keats EC, Rappaport AI, Shah S, Oh C, Jain R, Bhutta ZA. The dietary intake and practices of adolescent girls in low-and middle-income countries: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2018 Dec;10(12):1978.

[9] Infant and young child feeding [Internet]. UNICEF DATA. [cited 2023 Jul 4]. Available from:

[10] Zhong L, Bornman JF, Wu G, Hornoff A, Dovi KA, Al-Ali H, et al. The nutritional and phytochemical composition of the indigenous Australian pindan walnut (Terminalia cunninghamii) kernels. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2018 Mar;73(1):40–46.

[11] Alvarez-Suarez JM, Giampieri F, Gasparrini M, Mazzoni L, Forbes-Hernandez TY, Afrin S, et al. Guava (Psidium guajava L. cv. Red Suprema) crude extract protect human dermal fibroblasts against cytotoxic damage mediated by oxidative stress. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2018 Mar;73(1):18–24.

[12] Guevara M, Tejera E, Granda-Albuja MG, Iturralde G, Chisaguano-Tonato M, Granda- Albuja S, et al. Chemical Composition and Antioxidant Activity of the Main Fruits Consumed in the Western Coastal Region of Ecuador as a Source of Health- Promoting Compounds. Antioxidants. 2019 Sep;8(9):8.

[13] Cifuentes A, Ballesteros-Vivas D, Cifuentes A, Fabian Parada-Alfonso, Cifuentes A. Foodomics of Bioactive Compounds From Tropical Fruits By-Products. 2021 Jan 1;672–688.

[14] de la Torre L, Navarrete H, Muriel P, Macia MJ, Balslev H. Enciclopedia de las Plantas Utiles del Ecuador (con extracto de datos). Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biologicas de la Pontificia; 2008.

[15] Brito B, Paredes N, Vargas Y. Calidad y Valor Agregado de los Frutales Amazonicos. INiflP [Internet] 2018;1:1–3. Available from: InfluenciadelosSistemasSilvopastorilesenelMejoramientodelpHdelSuelo.pdf

[16] Vargas-Tierras YB, Prado-Beltran JK, Nicolalde-Cruz JR, Casanoves F, Virginio-Filho ED, Viera-Arroyo WF. Characterization and role of Amazonian fruit crops in family farms in the provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana (Ecuador). REVISTA CORPOICA-. Ciencia Tecnologia Agropecuaria. 2018;19:501–116.

[17] Mestanza-Ramon C, Henkanaththegedara SM, Vasconez Duchicela P, Vargas Tierras Y, Sanchez Capa M, Constante Mejia D, et al. In-situ and ex-situ biodiversity conservation in Ecuador: A Review of Policies, Actions and Challenges. Diversity (Basel). 2020;12(8):12.

[18] Ferguson CE, Marie Green K, Switzer Swanson S. Indigenous food sovereignty is constrained by “time imperialism” [Internet]. Geoforum. 2022;133:20–31. Available from:

[19] Lopez V, Espindola F, Calles J, Ulloa J. Amazonia ecuatoriana bajo Presion [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2020 Aug 16]. Available from:

[20] Mora Vargas AI. Guia para elaborar una propuesta de investigacion. Educacion (Lima). 2005;9:67–97.

[21] Fernandez Collado C, Baptista Lucio P. Metodologia de la investigacion. 6th edition. Mexico: 2014.

[22] Arrova Gonzales Karol. Angamarca Monar M, Moreira Chiriap J. Biodiversidad y turismo: una propuesta para mejorar la economia, Parque Nacional Yasuni. Green World Journal. 2020;3:1–9.

[23] Legua P, Jose Martinez-Nicolas J, Guirao P, Hernandez F, Nunez-Gomez D, Melgarejo P. Influence of fruit bagging technique on the morphometric and biochemical characteristics of two pomegranate varieties (Punica granatum L.) [Internet]. Food Chemistry (Oxf). 2022 May;4:100112. Available from:

[24] Peixoto Araujo NM, Arruda HS, Marques DR, de Oliveira WQ, Pereira GA, Pastore GM. Functional and nutritional properties of selected Amazon fruits: A review [Internet]. Food Research International. 2021 Sep;147:110520. Available from:

[25] Gobierno Autonomo Desentralizado Provincial de Orellana (GADPO). Plan de Desarrollo y Ordenamiento Territorial de la Provincia de Orellana. 2020 - 2023;2020:205–207.

[26] Ter Steege H, Mota de Oliveira S, Pitman NC, Sabatier D, Antonelli A, Guevara Andino JE, et al. Towards a dynamic list of Amazonian tree species [Internet]. Scientific Reports. 2019 Mar;9(1):3501.

[27] Ortiz-Hernandez Yolanda. Pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.): A short review. Available from:

[28] Gimenez L, Rivas M, Vignale N, Gurni A. Caracterizacion micrografica de tres frutas tropicales, Musa paradisii L., Persea americana Mill. y Physalis peruviana L., importancia en el control de calidad botanico de alimentos derivados. Polibotanica. 2021;1:155–170.

[29] Ikram EH, Eng KH, Jalil AM, Ismail A, Idris S, Azlan A, et al. Antioxidant capacity and total phenolic content of Malaysian underutilized fruits [Internet]. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2009;22(5):388–393. Available from:

[30] Enriquez-Valencia S, Salazar-Lopez N, Robles-Sanchez M, Gonzalez-Aguilar G, Ayala- Zavala J, Lopez-Martinez L. Propiedades bioactivas de frutas tropicales exoticas y sus beneficios a la salud. Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutricion. 2020;70(3):70.

[31] Zurita Montenegro S, Navarrete Zambrano H. Lineamientos de consumo y fuentes de obtencion de los frutos nativos, penga (Garcinia macrophylla mart), sachi (Gustavia macarenensis philipson) y shawi (Plinia sp.) en dos comunidades de la Amazonia ecuatoriana. Revista Etnobiologia. 2019;17:61–73.

[32] Melgarejo-Sanchez P, Nunez-Gomez D, Martinez-Nicolas JJ, Hernandez F, Legua P, Melgarejo P. Pomegranate variety and pomegranate plant part, relevance from bioactive point of view: A review [Internet]. Bioresour Bioprocess. 2021;8(1):2.

[33] Legua P, Melgarejo P, Abdelmajid H, Martinez JJ, Martinez R, Ilham H, et al. Total phenols and antioxidant capacity in 10 Moroccan pomegranate varieties [Internet]. Journal of Food Science. 2012 Jan;77(1):C115–120.

[34] Tallei TE, Pelealu JJ, Pollo HN, Pollo GA, Adam AA, Effendi Y, et al. Ethnobotanical dataset on local edible fruits in North Sulawesi, Indonesia [Internet]. Data Brief. 2019 Oct;27:104681. Available from:

[35] Khadivi A, Rezaei M, Heidari P, Safari-Khuzani A, Sahebi M. Morphological and fruit characterizations of common medlar (Mespilus germanica L.) germplasm [Internet]. Scientia Horticulturae (Amsterdam). 2019;252:38–47. Available from:

[36] Simpson MG. 9 - Plant Morphology [Internet]. Simpson MG, editor. ScienceDirect. Academic Press; 2019 [cited 2023 Jun 9];469–535. Available from:

[37] Mangino G, Vilanova S, Plazas M, Prohens J, Gramazio P. Fruit shape morphometric analysis and QTL detection in a set of eggplant introgression lines
[Internet]. Scientia Horticulturae(Amsterdam). 2021;282:110006. Available from:

[38] Luczaj L, Pieroni A. Nutritional ethnobotany in Europe: from emergency foods to healthy folk cuisines and contemporary foraging trends [Internet] Sánchez-Mata M C, Tardio J, editors. Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Ethnobotany and Food Composition Tables. New York (NY): Springer New York; 2016;33–56.

[39] O’Kane GM, Richardson A, D’Almeida M, Wei H. The cost, availability, cultivars, and quality of fruit and vegetables at farmers’ markets and three other retail streams in Canberra, ACT, Australia [Internet]. The Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. 2019;14(5):643–661.

[40] de Sousa FF, Vieira-da-Silva C, Barros FB. The (in)visible market of miriti (Mauritia flexuosa L.f.) fruits, the “winter acai”, in Amazonian riverine communities of Abaetetuba, Northern Brazil [Internet]. Global Ecology and Conservation. 2018;14:e00393. Available from:

[41] Llerena W, Samaniego I, Angos I, Brito B, Ortiz B, Carrillo W. Biocompounds content prediction in Ecuadorian fruits using a mathematical model
[Internet]. Foods. 2019 Jul;8(8):284. Available from:

[42] Bortolini DG, Maciel GM, Fernandes IA, Rossetto R, Brugnari T, Ribeiro VR, et al. Biological potential and technological applications of red fruits: An overview [Internet]. Food Chemistry Advances. 2022;1:100014. Available from:

[43] Seethapathy GS, Ravikumar K, Paulsen BS, de Boer HJ, Wangensteen H. Ethnobotany of dioecious species: Traditional knowledge on dioecious plants in India [Internet]. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2018 Jul;221:56–64. Available from:

[44] Soukand R, Kalle R. Plant as object within herbal landscape: Different kinds of perception [Internet]. Biosemiotics. 2010;3(3):299–313.

[45] Rios Reyes A. Etnobotanica de los recursos vegetales, sus formas de uso y manejo, en Bustamante, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. 2016

[46] Tardio J, Pardo-de-Santayana M. Ethnobotanical analysis of wild fruits and vegetables traditionally consumed in Spain [Internet] Sanchez-Mata M C, Tardio J, editors. Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Ethnobotany and Food Composition Tables. New York (NY): Springer New York; 2016;57–79.

[47] Camara M, Fernandez-Ruiz V, Ruiz-Rodriguez BM. Wild edible plants as sources of carotenoids, fibre, phenolics and other non-nutrient bioactive compounds [Internet] Sanchez-Mata M C, Tardio J, editors. Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Ethnobotany and Food Composition Tables. New York (NY): Springer New York; 2016;187–205.