you know that before the introduction of plastic, most
of the buttons in the United States were made from
Tagua nuts? In
the 1920s, the exportation of this nut, also known as
"vegetable ivory" brought nearly $5 million
dollars into South American county of Ecuador.
This South American export is enjoying new
popularity today both in the garment industry where it
is used for buttons and fasteners, and in the art
Why is this plain looking little brown nut so important today?
Well, it is a great example of something small
having a big impact.
There are three primary reasons the world has
taken notice of the Tagua nut: ecology, economy and
an ecology point of view, the Tagua nut is very much
like animal ivory in terms of its texture and
people became more aware that using animal ivory could
result in extinction of entire species of animals,
Tagua nut became a suitable replacement.
You almost cannot tell the difference between
Tagua nut and mammal ivory.
Economically speaking, the Tagua nut, which grows in the rain forest, is
a sustainable natural resource.
This means that the valuable rain forest is not
harmed in the cultivation and harvesting of this
allows the people who inhabit the rain forest to
engage in profitable trade without destroying their
you know, everyone on the planet benefits from keeping
the rain forest intact since it is so important to the
atmosphere of the earth!
Artistically, because it is so much like ivory both in appearance and in
texture, Tagua nut has become quite popular as a raw
forms like scrimshaw, traditionally reserved for
mammal ivory are now being practiced using the Tagua
and animals are among the art objects you can find
created from Tagua nut.
Tagua nut is also used to make intricate
designs that are used to inlay boxes, for jewelry for
Before it is processed, the Tagua nut does not look like anything
Tagua nut is a small nut that measures about one to
two inches with a brownish exterior.
Taguas grow on palm trees in several regions of
South America. Probably
the best-known producer of Taguas is Ecuador.
It is inside the Tagua nut that the real beauty
is found! The interior material, which is used to manufacture practical
objects and art, ranges in color from white to amber.
The composition of the Tagua nut is so similar
to mammal ivory that it is difficult to tell them
If you were in the market for scrimshaw or other items historically made
from mammal ivory, just be sure to have the piece
checked out by an expert.
There are cases where a dishonest merchant has
been known to sell items made from Tagua nut as mammal
items made from Tagua nut instead of mammal ivory are
lovely to be sure, but are probably not antiques.
Most of the mammal ivory you would find for
sale these days would have to be antique or obtained
from an illegal source.
It is the rare nature of animal ivory that
fetches the sky high prices. The other reason ivory has such a great value is its sheer
beauty, and that is something the Tagua nut is able to
Therefore, the little brown Tagua nut has many advantages over mammal
ivory, becoming popular enough to stand on its own. Tagua nuts can be grown and harvested economically, and so
art and other items made from Tagua nut are reasonably
priced, meaning more people can enjoy their beauty and
nuts are a resource that seems to benefit just about