Brazil nut or Bertholletia excelsa is a South American tree. This tree belongs to the family Lecythidaceae and the only species in the monotypic genus of 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. The brazil nut is a large tree, reaching 30-45 m tall and with a trunk 1-2 m 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 stem is straight and commonly without branches for well over half the tree’s height, with a large emergent crown of long branches above the surrounding canopy of other trees. The bark is greyish and smooth. The leaves are ‘oblong’ in shape and leaf arrangements are alternate. Leaf size is around 20-25 cm long and 10-15 cm wide. Brazil nuts flowers are small, greenish-white in the middle with six petals are light yellow or cream in colour. The flower size is 5-10 cm in diameter and grows in clusters.
Brazil nut will only bear fruit after 30 years and the fruit will fall when fully ripe at about 14 months after pollination. Although it fell from a height of hundreds of feet, the skin is usually not broken because of the woody, thick, hard, skin. The skin is usually broken using a machete or a saw to remove the seeds.
Brazil nut is very unique. The fruit is a large, round shaped capsule 10-15 cm in diameter with thick woody skin up to 2 cm. The fruit weight can reach up to 2 kg. The capsule contains 18-24 triangular seeds, 4-5 cm long and white cream in colour. Brazil nuts seed are 18% protein, 13% carbohydrates, and 69% fat by weight with 91% of their calories come from fat.
Beside eaten fresh, brazil nuts are also roasted and made into paste. The final products of brazil nut are flavourings for cakes, ice cream, cookies and health and cosmetic products. The wood of brazil nut tree is of a very good quality is not logged due to its protected status. Conservation status of Bertholletia excelsa is Vulnerable.
Fruiting brazil nut trees can be seen from the main road, near staff housing of Kampung Jawa, FRIM since early March 2014.