Known as the Queen of the Amazon Forest, the majestic chestnut tree produces the Brazil nut, a very tasty seed with high nutritional value and therefore highly valued in the national and international market. It occurs practically throughout the Amazon in the areas of upland forests and is directly related to environmental conservation.
The urchin is the fruit of the chestnut tree, a spherical woody capsule of dark brown color, quite hard. It has an average of 10 to 16 cm in diameter and contains chestnuts, or seeds, which can be an average of 10 to 25 units. When the hedgehogs are ripe, they fall naturally from the top of the chestnut tree and must be collected on the ground. Because it is very hard, the hedgehog does not open easily, it is necessary to break its lower portion with the help of a machete. Inside are the seeds that also have rough and hard skin. It is by removing this hard shell that you get to the almonds, the coveted Brazil nuts.
The Rainha da Floresta is also a symbol of Brazilian socio-biodiversity, as isolated on pastures it does not maintain its production. Besides, all chestnut production depends on the work of communities that live and depend on the standing forest. For this reason, Brazil nuts also play a great role in the socioeconomic organization of vast areas in the Amazon, especially in extractive reserves, where chestnut collectors, chestnut trees live. While carrying out the collection, these people also help to protect the forest from predatory uses, guaranteeing the conditions for the provision of various environmental services, such as the regulation of the rain regime.
The nut can be consumed in natural or roasted, is much appreciated as a snack. You can make sweets, flour, cakes, breads, and others. When crushed raw mixed with water, chestnut milk can be obtained, used both as a substitute for cow’s milk and various culinary purposes. Oil is also extracted from the chestnut, which is light in color and has a pleasant taste. It can be used in the preparation of foods and salads. Due to its intense moisturizing, emollient and exfoliating power, the cosmetic pharmaceutical industry uses Brazil nuts in the manufacture of moisturizers, shampoos, fine soaps, lipsticks, etc. The hedgehog is also used to make handicrafts. The chestnut stem is hard and compact wood, it was overexploited for civil and naval construction, which led to the extermination of many chestnut trees in the state of Pará. Therefore, in 1994, the Federal Government prohibited the cutting of this tree (Decree 1,282 / 1994). Currently the exploitation of the species is restricted only to non-wood products.