Brazil's walnut trees can take up to 20 years to produce nuts, so this is a project that requires a lot of patience. Nor are they easy to grow. But believe me, the effort is worth it. The fruit takes about 14 months to ripen once pollinated.
The resulting fruit is quite large (4-6 inches) (10-15 cm). Within the hard, woody shell, 8 to 24 clearly triangular seeds reside packed together like orange wedges. These seeds are what we call Brazil nuts. Nuts, botanically speaking, are actually an indehiscent fruit with a hard shell, like an acorn.
In their preferred environment, these majestic canopy trees are long-lived, up to 500 years, and can grow to enormous, up to 60 m tall. They are fast-growing and semi-deciduous in prolonged, dry periods with a straight trunk having a diameter of 1 to 2 m; branching only begins at the top. The large, oblong leaves are alternate, simple, leathery and glabrous, 20-35 x 10-15 cm. They depend on a very specific ecosystem.
Seedlings can take 6 to 20 years to bear fruit and grafted plants 3 to 6 years. Fully mature production will be achieved in the next 20 years. Reciprocating bearing with a cycle of 2 to 3 years is common. The fruit has a long ripening period of about 15 months.
The fallen capsules are collected from the ground and then opened and the seeds are dried quickly to prevent dangerous mold growth. Good yields of around 300 kg of nuts with shell have been reported under favorable conditions for some trees. Famous for reaching heights of more than 160 feet, Brazil walnut rises above other trees in the Amazon rainforest. During January and February, its fruit, which is the size of a baseball and can weigh up to 5 pounds, ripens and falls to the ground, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph on its descent.
Inside the hard, woody exterior of fruits there are 10 to 21 nuts arranged in a pattern similar to the wedges of an orange. The outer shell of the fruit is so hard that only a known animal, the agouti, a large rodent with sharp, chisel-shaped teeth, can open it. In just one year, a Brazil nut tree can produce about 250 pounds of nuts. A Brazil nut tree can produce Brazil nuts for 15 or even 20 years.
The process of growing a Brazil nut tree can require a large investment of time and can take between 10 and 20 years to start producing real Brazil nuts. Both Bolivians and rural Brazilians rely on the collection and sale of Brazil nuts as their main source of income. Chestnut trees are sensitive to deforestation and only appear to produce fruit in undisturbed forests. Through projects such as the Andean Amazon Conservation Initiative, Rainforest Alliance works with local communities to diversify their sources of income with non-timber forest products, such as Brazil nuts.
These trees are genetically programmed to be large, so no matter what size containment pruning is carried out, they will still need a lot of space. After Brazil nuts have been transported to processing centers, they need to be stored for significantly longer before they are finally processed. Management: The primary method to control the cacao weevil pest is through the use of fumigants in stored Brazil nuts. The chestnuts found in the markets come from wild specimens, from the Amazon forests, which are collected by local populations.
The Brazilian chestnut tree is tall (one of the tallest in the Amazon rainforest), between 30 and 50 meters high. Brazil nuts are eaten raw and are a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, thiamine and vitamin E, and are a rich source of selenium, important antioxidant benefits for the immune system and heart health. In general, each Brazil nut flower has 2 to 4 sepals, 4 to 6 unequal petals, 80 to 130 stamens attached at the bottom of the flower. The harvest of trees from Brazil that grow naturally has prevented deforestation for this reason in many areas of the Amazon.
Brazil nuts are the seeds of the Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa), a tree native to the Amazon forests of Bolivia, Brazil and Peru. Known to require very specific conditions for growth, flowering and fruiting, Brazil nuts are usually harvested directly from wild trees. It belongs to the Lecythidaceae family, which is closely related to sapucaia (Lecythis pisonis Cambess), a smaller tree whose nuts are also consumed. .