Tugua Nut Craft

From a tree that looks like an ordinary palm (top left with my sweet tour guide Terry) the Tugua nut is native exclusively to Ecuador (because, as Terry says "god especially loves ecuador"). The cluster of nuts, seeds actually, are housed in a spiky shelled ball the size of a beach ball. The 1" diameter nuts are popped out, sorted, cleaned and then carved, turned and/or dyed to make all sorts of beads and buttons out of the creamy white interior. Ecuador was the largest producer of buttons because of the Tugua nuts and their hard workable qualities (much like that of ivory).