This week I learnt something amazing about Brazil nuts. They contain a diverse content of micronutrients, especially a high concentration of selenium (about 2,500 times the amount found in other nuts), a powerful antioxidant which has found to help stimulate the immune system, protect against heart disease and certain forms of cancer.

The Brazil nut tree is one of the largest and longest-lived trees in the Amazon rainforest. It grows to a height of 50 metres and with a trunk 1 to 3 m in diameter. They can live for between 500 to 1,000 years.

In truth they are actually not nuts at all as true nuts are designed with two halves like peanuts, pecans and cashews. A seed, however, is a single unit. The nuts form in a pod, a hard, woody shell resembling a coconut which can weigh up to 2kg. They are so hard they remain intact when they hit the ground. This being the case, it means the nuts can’t get out and sprout into new trees.

So, how does God open up the pod? In the Amazon rainforest, there is a rodent called an ‘Agouti’, that looks like a large guinea pig. It gnaws it open with its chisel-like-teeth to get to the nuts. Some will be eaten, and some will be carried away and buried for a future meal. Many though remain underground and overtime grow into new mature trees which eventually bloom with special flowers lasting just one day. 

The flower has its pollen in a sealed spiral tube. Only one insect has the know-how and the tools to reach the pollen – the female orchid bees. With its strong jaws, it can open the tightly coiled end of the flower and inserts its very long tongue down the spiral tube to the pollen. As it goes from flower to flower, it pollinates the Brazil nut tree.

One final thing…the orchid bees are only found in rainforests that are home to a very special orchid. As the male orchid bee pollinates the orchid flowers, it is covered by their strong scent and colour, which in turn attracts the female orchid bee to mate, ensuring the survival of the bees!

To grow Brazil nuts, you need the trees, the Agoutis, the orchid bees, a specific species of orchids and the rainforest! While the trees can grow in plantations, production is very low and it is currently not economically viable. Most Brazil nuts are harvested from trees growing naturally in the rainforest! 

The astounding teamwork on display did not happen by chance or evolved by random processes but a wonder of God’s creation! “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). 

Next time you eat a Brazil nut, be in awe of God! 

Christ in us, the hope of glory!