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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Brazil nut - 'Bertholletia excelsa - fam: Lecythidaceae

The Brazil nut, Bertholletia excelsa, is a South American tree in the fam. Lecythidaceae, and the name of the tree's commercially harvested edible seeds. The Brazil nut family is in the order Ericales, as are other well-known plants such as Blueberries, Cranberries, Sapote, Gutta-percha, Tea, Gooseberries, Phlox and Persimmons.

The Brazil nut tree is the only species in the monotypic genus Bertholletia. It is native to the Guianas, Venezuela, Brazil, eastern Colombia, eastern Peru, and eastern Bolivia. It occurs as scattered trees in large forests on the banks of the Amazon River, Rio Negro, Tapajós, and the Orinoco rivers.

The genus is named after the French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet. 1

The Brazil nut is a large tree, reaching 50 m (160 ft) tall, and with a trunk 1 to 2 m (3.3 to 6.6 ft) in diameter, making it among the largest of trees in the Amazon rainforests. It may live for 500 years or more, and according to some authorities, often reaches an age of 1,000 years. The fruit containing nuts are very heavy and rigid, and they pose a serious threat to vehicles and people passing under the tree. At least one person has died after being hit on the head by a falling fruit.

Though it is commonly called the Brazil nut, in botanical terms it is the seed from the fruit of this tree. To a botanist, a nut is a hard-shelled indehiscent fruit. An example of a botanical nut would be an acorn or a hazelnut. 1

REFERENCE: 1 - Wikipedia - Brazil Nut.


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