Listen: Euterpe oleracea grows wild throughout the amazon region, and the collecting of its fruit has been a boon to local populations. When it comes to eating the hearts of palm, however, please refrain from purchasing "wild harvested" and "organic" hearts of palm from euterpe oleracea as these are the stems of the same palms that could provide fruit perennialy, and their harvesting has become excessive. Hearts of euterpe edulis are produced on farms, though, and thus preferable for heart of palm consumption.
Hi harriss, thank you for posting that information. I'm all for environmental sustainability too. I have seen some of the Goji berry products using the "Fair Trade Certified" logo on their packages. I'm not sure if hearts of palm companies are doing the same - I sure hope so. For more information about Fair Trade check out: http://www.transfairusa.org/content/about/overview.php.
Hearts of palm are really high in sodium and should be eaten sparingly too. I noticed that when I printed out a nutrition fact sheet on them.
After reading about the berry, then the palm, I found that there is a smaller version that has been developed that begins fruiting at 5 or 6 feet. I am not interested in raising the palm for the fruit, but was interested in watching it grow. I found a greenhouse in Florida that had a seedling of the smaller variety for a reasonable price. Not wanting to lose a chance on obtaining the smaller version of the plant, I ordered it in March or April. I was very surprised to return home one chilly day and find the little box waiting at my door. The poor little thing was well wrapped in plastic, but very cold so I dunked the root ball end in warm water to try to warm it up. Surprisingly, the cold did not hurt it. I know that they need high humidity so I grow it under a dome. It gets bright indirect light and as the days lengthened, it started growing. It has produced one new leaf and another is coming up fast. It seldom needs watering because of the dome, but I have given it some Miracle Gro. I have to move it to a taller dome now so that the newest leaf will have room to grow. If it continues to live and grow, I will not be able to keep it for very long so I will donate it to a Botanical Garden in the area where it can grow in a greenhouse.