Hello Monkey Fans!
Tagua is a unique vegetable. Grown primarily in Ecuador and Colombia, the nuts of this palm tree form in large clusters and hang much like a coconut. These clusters then fall to the ground or are cut from the tree. Each cluster contains many tagua nuts that are about the size of a potato.
When they initially are harvested, the inside of these nuts have a very gelatinous texture and are semi-transparent. The nuts are then dried for up to 4 weeks where this gelatinous material hardens and takes on the properties of ivory.
Much like bone and ebony, ivory has properties that are conducive to nice tone because of the hard yet porous material. Tagua wears down slowly and has a nice clear tone. Our tagua guitar picks take full advantage of the material as they are designed with ergonomic grooves on the front with engraving on the back for extra grip.
Tagua is known as vegetable ivory because it has the same properties as animal ivory. Many of the counterfeit ivory in the world is actually tagua. The benefit to this is animals are not killed for their ivory tusks. Also, as it is a fruit of a tree, they naturally regenerate. No trees are harmed and the rainforests in which they grow are preserved for economic prosperity among natives who are employed harvesting, carving and exporting the material.
Before plastics became the new production medium, over 20% of all the clothing buttons were made from Tagua and imported into in America. Tagua was also popular in dice, cane handles and chess pieces. Plastics became inexpensive to produce and tagua nut imports virtually disappeared from the country. Today, Tagua is popular among wood carvers, jewelry makers and at Howling Monkey - Guitar Picks. The Tagua industry in Ecuador and Colombia is bouncing back due to the resurgence and re-purposing of this vegetable ivory. Almost 2000 natives are employed processing tagua products and importing it all over the world.
"Tagua nut is the valuable and highly sought after nut of a family of palm trees. It is said Mayans, Incas, Aztecs, and natives of South and Central America used the nut for emotional and spiritual health and well-being. The meat of the tagua nut has the strength and intelligence of an elephant, thus natives of South America call it vegetable ivory." -