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Lecythis zabucajo - Aubl.

Common Name Sapucaia. Sapucaia nut, Paradise nut, Monkey nut
Family Lecythidaceae
USDA hardiness 11-12
Known Hazards Possible toxic seed
Habitats Humid fertile lowlands and river valleys[307 ].
Range Western S. America - northern Brazil.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Lecythis zabucajo Sapucaia. Sapucaia nut, Paradise nut, Monkey nut

Lecythis zabucajo Sapucaia. Sapucaia nut, Paradise nut, Monkey nut


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Lecythis zabucajo is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, insects.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Lecythis crassinoda Miers. Lecythis davisii Sandwith. Lecythis hians A.C.Sm. Lecythis lecomtei Pamp. Lecythis tumefacta Miers. Lecythis validissima Miers.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Seed - raw. Of excellent quality[46 ]. Rich in oil, they are similar to the Brazil nut in size and shape[301 ]. When ripe, the ivory-white kernels have a delicious flavour with a soft, almost creamy texture[63 , 301 ]. The seeds are said to be sweeter than Brazil nuts, with a superior flavour and easier to digest[63 ]. A very nutritious seed, containing about 63% oil or fat and 20% protein[63 ]. Seeds are about 5cm long and 2.5cm thick[63 ]. The shell is thin and easily broken, when quite fresh, however, this shell is said to contain a poisonous principle[63 ]. An edible oil can be obtained from the seed[63 ]. Pale yellow in colour, suggestive of almond oil in both taste and smell[63 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The plant is used for treating liver problems[348 ]. The part used is not specified[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Design: Large flowering and fruiting tree; Public open space; Botanical collection; Humid shade garden. An oil obtained from the seed is used for making soap and as an illuminant[63 ]. The hard wooden 'fruits' that contain the seeds are put to various domestic or kitchen uses[63 ]. By cutting them away slightly at the stalk end they can be made to stand upright[63 ]. Wood - tough and difficult to work so it is not extensively used[63 ]. Hard and durable, it is much desired[307 ]. A general description of the wood from this genus is as follows:- The heartwood is light to dark salmon; the sapwood is creamy-yellow. The texture is medium fine and uniform; the grain fairly straight or slightly interlocked; lustre is mostly low but high in some species; there is no distinctive odour or taste. the wood is reported to be very durable upon exposure to both a white-rot and a brown-rot fungus confirming its reputation for high resistance to decay; it is also highly resistant to dry-wood termites and is reported to be moderately resistant to marine borer attack. It is rated as easy to moderately difficult to air season, depending on species; a slow to rapid drying rate is reported; warp and checking ranged from slight to moderate. The wood is moderately difficult to work because of its high density; however, surfaces obtained in planing, boring, sawing, and shaping were smooth and rated as good to excellent. Silica content varies with species and dulling of cutters is also variable. The wood is used for purposes such as heavy construction, ship keels and beams, railroad crossties, industrial flooring and other uses requiring high impact resistance (wagon wheels, tool handles), turnery[316 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Protein-oil

A plant of the hot, humid, lowland tropics[335 ]. Probably not very fussy as to soil type[63 ]. Prefers a deep, rich, fertile, moisture-retentive soil[307 ]. Prefers a sunny position[63 , 307 ]. Unlike the related Brazil nut, which only produces its seeds towards the top of the tree, this species can fruit right down to the lower branches[63 ]. It has been estimated that individual trees could produce about 80 kilos of seeds per year[63 ]. The seeds take 18 months to mature after flowering[200 ]. The fruits, which are suspended from the ends of branches, develop a perfectly fitting 'lid', which drops off as the nuts ripen, thus scattering the seeds[63 , 200 ]. These fruits have been used as monkey traps. A bait is placed inside the empty fruit, which the monkey puts its hand inside to grab and then finds it cannot withdraw its hand (unless it releases the bait of course)[200 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Protein-oil  (16+ percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Annuals include soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Perennials include seeds, beans, nuts, and fruits such as almond, Brazil nut, pistachio, walnut, hazel, and safou.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it only has a short period of viability so should be sown as soon as it is ripe[63 ]. Trees have been known to produce their first crop in less than ten years from seed[63 ]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood[307 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Kume, Olla de mono, Nuez de paraiso, Nuez sapucaia, Sapucaia, Wadaduri, Monkey Pot.

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil*, Ecuador, French Guiana, Ghana, Guianas, Guyana, Pacific, South America, Suriname, Venezuela, West Africa

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Lecythis corrugataMahot rouge, GuacharacoTree25.0 10-12 MLMHNM304
Lecythis minorCoco de monoTree15.0 10-12 MLMHNM402
Lecythis ollariaMonkey Pot. Sapucaia nut, Pot nutTree35.0 11-12 SLMHNM303
Lecythis pisonisParadise Nut. Brazilian Monkey PotTree40.0 10-12 MMHNMWe323

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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