brazil nuts

The Brazil nut tree's yellow flowers contain very sweet nectar and can only be pollinated by an insect strong enough to lift the coiled hood on the flower and with tongues long enough to negotiate the complex coiled flower. The orchids produce a scent that attracts small male long-tongued orchid bees (Euglossa spp), as the male bees need that scent to attract females. The large female long-tongued orchid bee pollinates the Brazil nut tree.

If both the orchids and the bees are present, the fruit takes 14 months to mature after pollination of the flowers. The fruit itself has a hard, woody shell 8–12 millimetres thick, and inside contains 8–24 triangular seeds 4–5 centimetres long (the "Brazil nuts") packed like the segments of an orange. Brazil nuts are very large in size compared to some other nuts.

Brazil nuts contain 18% protein, 13% carbohydrates, and 69% fat. Nutritionally, Brazil nuts are perhaps the richest source of selenium. They are also a good source of magnesium and thiamine. Brazil nuts can often substitute for macadamia nuts or even coconuts in recipes.