The New Student's Reference Work/Ivory, Vegetable

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The New Student's Reference Work (1914)
Ivory, Vegetable
See also Vegetable ivory on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.


Ivory, Vegetable. This curious material is furnished by a palm-like plant, which grows on the Andean plains of Peru, on the banks of the Magdalena and in other parts of South America.  It forms the type of a natural order of plants, intermediate between the palms and the screw pines.  The plant throws up a magnificent tuft of light-green, pinnated leaves of extraordinary size and beauty, like immense ostrich-feathers rising from 30 to 40 feet in height.  The fruit, which is as large as a man’s head, consists of many, four-celled, leathery drupes massed together, and contains numerous nuts of a somewhat triangular form, each nut being nearly as large as a hen’s egg; they are called corozonuts in commerce.  The kernels of these nuts when ripe are exceedingly hard and white; in fact, they resemble ivory so completely that few names have ever been better applied than that of vegetable ivory.  They are in extensive use by turners in the manufacture of such articles as buttons, umbrella handles and small trinkets.