Bertholletia excelsa - The Brazil Nut


One question you may have is, “Why choose the Brazil nut as the emphasis of your website?”  Not only is Brazil a part of my personal culture, but the Brazil nut is one of the most unique nuts found in the world.  Brazil nuts are the only tropical nut from the lowland Amazon sold over the entire globe.  In previous pages I revealed only a glimpse of the harvesting process required to get these nuts from the tree to store shelves all over the world, and now you can learn a little bit more of that process.  As mentioned, B. excelsa trees are very difficult to maintain on commercial plantations, so the harvesting process begins with the collection of pods scattered throughout the wild.  Once collected, the fruits are carried to a stream/river where boats transport them to local huts.  The local harvesters break open the pods to release the nuts; once released, they are either shelled or simply left with the shell intact.  The harvested nuts are then sold to traders who ship them downstream to brokers.  The act of shelling the nuts is becoming more of a common occurrence because shipping unshelled nuts is not only more expensive, but unshelled nuts are harder to sell in stores (not everyone owns a domestic nutcracker).


With all of the use that comes from B. excelsa, whether it is used for food or economic purposes, it is a dreadful thought to imagine the Amazon without this incredible organism.  At one point in time, B. excelsa was one of the fastest-vanishing trees in the entire Amazon rainforest.  Logging of the trees is now prohibited by law, but these restrictions are not always honored as land clearance is still a threat to the trees.  If you would be interested in getting involved with helping to prevent deforestation in the Amazon, visit the International Rivers webpage for more information.  International Rivers is just one organization that I found whose goal is to stop deforestation in the Amazon, but there are plenty more out there who need all the help that they can get!


To see where I got my information, continue to the References page!

Peter Zepke of University of Wisconsin - La Crosse.  BIO 203 - Spring 2012.