The açaí palm is native to the swamps and floodplains of tropical Central and South America. It produces a small, round, purple-black drupe. A drupe is an indehiscent (not opening at maturity) fruit in which a fleshy outer part surrounds a shell – pit or stone – with a seed inside. Apricot, cherry, mangoes, olives, peach, plum, and most palms, such as coconut, produce drupe fruit.
The açaí berry burst into popularity in 2004 as a dietary supplement, with marketers making unfounded claims of its exuberant health properties, particularly its antioxidant potency. Internet hype was particularly intense in 2008–2009. For all that, there is no scientific evidence that açaí offers any especial health benefits beyond any other berry.