1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Brazil Nuts

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BRAZIL NUTS, the seeds of Bertholletia excelsa, a gigantic tree belonging to the natural order Lecythidaceae, which grows in the valleys of the Amazons and generally throughout tropical America. The tree attains an average height of 130 ft., having a smooth cylindrical trunk, with a diameter of 14 ft. 50 ft. from the ground, and branching at a height of about 100 ft. The lower portion of the trunk presents a buttressed aspect, owing to the upward extension of the roots in the form of thin prop-like walls surrounding the stem. The fruit of the tree is globular, with a diameter of 5 or 6 in., and consists of a thick hard woody shell, within which are closely packed the seeds which constitute the so-called nuts of commerce. The seeds are triangular in form, having a hard woody testa enclosing the “kernel”; and of these each fruit contains from eighteen to twenty-five. The fruits as they ripen fall from their lofty position, and they are at the proper season annually collected and broken open by the Indians. Brazil nuts are largely eaten; they also yield in the proportion of about 9 oz. to each ℔ of kernels a fine bland fluid oil, highly valued for use in cookery, and used by watchmakers and artists.