A French-Colombian NGO is racing against time to save the Maya Nut tree from near-extinction. A remarkable tree that produces a highly-nutritious fruit, Brosimum alicastrum once grew in abundance from Mexico to Brazil, but has since been decimated by deforestation, Phys.org reports. Now Envol Vert is reforesting parts of Colombia’s northeastern Guajira region in order to reintroduce the locals to its numerous uses. Director Daisy Tarrier tells Phys.org, “The guaimaro is a magic tree”.
Feedipedia agrees with Tarrier’s assessment. According to them, the Maya Nut tree, which has a number of different names, can adapt to a variety of climatic conditions, and its fruit and seeds were used by pre-Columbia Maya populations. One tree can produce up to 165 pounds of edible fruit each year, according to Feedipedia, which humans or livestock can eat raw. The seeds can also be ground up to make a kind of corn meal, for tortillas.
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Envol Vert has been teaching communities how to cook with the fruit, according to Phys.org. Also known as breadnut, it “contains as much protein as milk, four times more potassium than bananas, as much iron as spinach, four times more magnesium than kidney beans,” Tarrier told the publication. The NGO hopes to fight malnutrition using the locally-adapted food supply.
The Maya Nut’s sap, which has the consistency of latex, can also be used for medicinal purposes. Phys.org reports that it is used to treat “asthma in Central America, anemia in Mexico, or rheumatism in Peru.” Head over to Phys.org for more details.
Image credits Rolando Perez, via Feedipedia, and Envol Vert