Have you ever heard of tagua? Are you wondering what is tagua? Tagua is a form of vegetable ivory harvested from a plant called ivory palm. Not only does this vegetable ivory look exactly like tusk ivory, but it has a lot of redeeming traits. Tagua can be the answer to saving rain forests and elephant conservation!
Phytelephas is a genus of six species of palms, which all grow from Panama south along the Andes through Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. They are known as ivory palms, ivory-nut palms, or tagua palms. Their scientific name means “plant elephant”. This refers to the very hard white nut produced by the plant. This nut is called the tagua nut. It resembles elephant ivory. A full-grown tagua tree can reach up to 65 feet in height and will yield several very large, knobby wooden fruits. When it is picked from the tree the tagua nut is covered with skin or pericarp. The pericarp usually gets removed by various animals. When the fruit is cracked open, it reveals several hens’ egg sized tagua nuts, the seeds of the tree. The kernel is covered with a brown flaky skin and is shaped similar to an avocado about 4 to 8 centimeters in diameter. The tagua seeds can be allowed to grow into seedlings to perpetuate the trees, or carved into vegetable ivory products.