(Lecythis sp. – Family Lecythidaceae)
Sapucaya nut, sapucaia nut, paradise nut, monkey pot nut
The sapucaya nut is among the best nuts in the world, but available only in Brazil and Guyana.
Related to the Brazil nut, the main species is L. sabucajo; but there are scores of others, all native to the same region.
The largest tree is almost as tall as the Brazil nut tree, but there is such a huge difference in their containers, making it impossible to market sapucaya nuts commercially.
Like Brazil nuts, sapucaya nuts are encased in a big, round, woody container, but that of the sapucaya has a detachable base or lid. While the whole container of the Brazil nut falls off the tree, only the lid of the sapucaya falls away, allowing the nuts within to fall out singly or be picked out by monkeys and parrots who do indeed fight over such a prize.
The empty container does fall off the tree after a time, but, since monkeys can run faster than people and parrots can fly, that leaves human collectors at the end of the line.
Sapucaya nuts are almond-shaped and about two inches long. The oil content is very high, giving them a soft texture and a delicate, but distinctive, flavour, and must be eaten very soon after falling from the tree or they turn rancid.
Although there is no trade in these nuts, many Brazilians grow them for their own use or for the bees, as the flowers of the tree make good honey. These are superb nuts, but available only in Brazil and Guyana.