- Scientific name: Bertholletia excelsa
- Family:Lecythidaceae (Brazil nut, cannonball tree)
Deciduous tree up to 50m tall. Leaves up to 36cm long, arranged alternately, only growing at tips of branches. Flowers pale yellow with six oblong-ovate petals, curving downwards (recurving) with age. Stamens attached to a fleshy ring covered by a hood-like structure. Fruits woody, round and brown, reaching up to 15cm diameter. Pollinated by female long-tongued orchid bees.
- The Brazil nuts we know and love are the angular seeds contained within the fruit structure. Some of the larger fruits can contain up to 24 nuts.
- The fruit is produced almost exclusively from wild trees in pristine forests. Brazil nuts have been harvested from plantations but production is low and currently not economically viable.
- This is among the largest of the Amazon rainforest trees and can live for more than 500 years.
- The leaves of the Brazil nut only grow at the ends of branches.
Where it grows
This plant is an emergent, meaning it opportunistically exploits any available area of land to grow in its native Amazonian forest in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature the brazil nut tree has experienced major declines in its population because of deforestation in Brazil, partly due to the construction of the trans-Amazon railway and the building of a reservoir.
Jungle rodents called agoutis are the natural dispersers of the brazil nut, so if these animals are hunted or chased away it can have an impact on the number of brazil nut trees.
- Rainforest Alliance
- Palomar College
- BBC Food Brazil nut recipes
- Brazil Nut Programme - Amazon Conservation Association
- Deciduous: sheds all leaves annually.
- Ovate: two-dimensionally egg-shaped with widest part at base.
- Stamen: male organ of a flower, including the anther-supporting filament and the pollen-producing anther.