The Amazing Brazil Nut
These mild-flavored nuts are rich in nutrients such as selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and copper. They are grown in the rainforests of Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Peru. The trees often reach 160 feet, which makes the 5-pound pods reach a velocity of 50 mph on their descent. Each pod can contain from 10 to 20 nuts, and each tree can produce as much as 250 lbs. of nuts. They are cultivated in the wild and are naturally organic.
Significance to Humans:
Brazil nuts are one of the most valuable non-timber products found in the Amazon, usually harvested from the wild by local people. They are used as a protein-rich food source, and their extracted oils are a popular ingredient in many natural beauty products. The collection and sale of Brazil nuts and their offshoots also provides an important source of income for many forest-based communities.
Did You Know?
Through projects like the Initiative for Conservation of the Andean Amazon, the Rainforest Alliance works with local communities to diversify their sources of income with non-timber forest products, like the Brazil nut. If properly managed, non-timber forest products provide income for communities living in and around tropical forests. In addition, they provide these communities with an economic incentive to conserve existing forest and reforest degraded forests. Brazil nut trees are sensitive to deforestation, and only seem to produce fruit in undisturbed forest. They depend on a rodent called agoutis for seed dispersal (they have sharp teeth that can open a pod), bees for pollination and other plants in the rainforest for their continued survival. If these other species disappear, so will the Brazil nut tree.