Vegetable Ivory / Tagua Nut
The tagua nut is also known as vegetable ivory or corozo nut. Its botanical name “Phytelephas macrocarpa” means: “Vegetable ivory with large fruit”.
The nuts are however only suitable for eating when freshly picked.
Our tagua nuts come from Ecuador. They are dried in the sun for several months following harvesting. This makes them “rock hard”. The local population make jewellery, combs, toothpicks or saws from tagua nut. It serves as a cost-effective replacement for the considerably more expensive ivory. It is also used for high-quality carvings such as chess pieces, dice and toys.
Tagua nut has been used in the manufacture of buttons on an industrial scale since the 1920s. However, buttons have mainly been made out of plastic since World War Two.
Tagua nut was rediscovered as a substitute for ivory in the 70s as part of the ecological movement and species protection.