This evergreen tree is native to the rainforests of South America. At 150-180 ft it towers over all other trees, with its umbrella of branches sprouting above the canopy. This tree is not grown on plantations, but rather these ‘nuts’ are harvested only from wild stands of trees in undisturbed forests. They are considered endangered because their habitat is being threatened.
The fruit of this tree has been for centuries a mainstay of the diets of the tribes of the rainforest. The nuts were once used for trade; much like money would be used for payment.
Those same tribesmen of the Amazonian rainforests have been used to treat stomachaches, and liver problems. The husks of the seed pods, the tree bark, and the nut itself are used in medicine by the folk healers.
The nuts are eaten raw or grated into gruel. This gruel is made up of the grated brazil nuts, grated roots of Socratea palm, and mixed into manioc flour, this gruel is an important source of calories, protein, and fat for many people.
The nuts are so rich they can be substituted for macadamia nuts or coconuts in many recipes! The nut bark was made into a dye for coloring the fishing nets in order to make them less visible to the fish. The nuts have such high oil content that they can be lit and substituted for small candles.
Lastly the rich oil expressed form the nut has been used in hair conditioners, skin creams, and shampoos in South America.