Jan 182012

tagua nut cluster
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.

Since there are trade restrictions on elephant ivory as well as the concerns with animal welfare, the tagua nut is often used as a substitute for elephant tusk ivory. It is regularly traded as vegetable ivory, palm ivory, corozo, or tagua. When is it dries out it can be carved just like elephant ivory. It is often used as a material for beads, buttons, figurines, and jewelry. Tagua can be dyed to make it any color. Palm can be used for bagpipes.

In small South American communities tagua can be provide a valuable economic and cultural service by helping to provide the people with a source of income which allows them to live a traditional lifestyle. It can stimulate the local economies and micro enterprises in South America by giving them an alternative to cutting down rainforests for farming, and it prevents elephants from being killed for their tusks.

In South America, there are several rain forest preservation that have taken advantage of the economic value of tagua. The cultivation of these trees and the sustainable harvesting is encouraged. In many places the tagua is grown in a rain forest environment rather than growing it in a plantation. The seeds are harvested naturally as they fall to the ground. The trees are not traumatized by climbing. This allows the tree to provide valuable habitat to the rain forest animal, and it also assists with rain forest preservation. It makes the rain forest more valuable standing than it is cutting it down. Keeping the rain forest intact allows scientists to explore it. They can catalog new plants and species, finding other plants with potential economic, medical, and decorative uses for humans.

Tagua is a sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. It is harvested from Ivory Palms. The cultivation and harvesting of tagua helps with rain forest conservation in South America. It also can help curb the illegal killing of elephants and other animals for their tusks. Now that you know more facts about tagua, you can see it is not only identical to animal ivory, but it can also help communities and the preservation of rain forests as well.

Tagua is exactly the type of material the Macramé Project likes to use. Not only is it a great material that can save elephants from poachers, but it can save the rainforests by creating a reason for them to grow rather than be cut down. It also can stimulate economies in South America which is exactly the goal of the Macrame project and The Eden’s Rose Foundation. We are working hard to incorporate tagua into our macramé collection. If you want updates on when we carry macramé with tagua put your email in the subscription field found in the side bar on the right. Until then, please check out our collection here. Thanks!

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