This week I finished this really fun and bold necklace made with coconut caps and anahaw seeds. I will soon post it for sale -- but first I have to come up with a name as interesting as the necklace...

The Jatobá: Tree, Fruit, and Seed

Hymenaea courbaril
Also known in Brazil as jataí, farinheira, and imbiúva.
family: Fabaceae-Caesalpinioideae
English common names: Brazilian Cherry, South American Locust, Stinking Toe, Brazilian copal and various other names.

The name of the tree, Hymenaea, refers to the way it displays its leaves in matching pairs, for Hymen is the Greek god of marriage.

The jatobá is a canopy tree indigenous to the Amazon rain forest and tropical areas in Central America. It is a tree that grows to about 60ft and its wood is hard and heavy -- it is grown commercially for its high value timber. It produces a high-grade resin known as "copal" that is dug up from the base of the trunk and used in the making of varnish and for glazing pottery; the resin is aromatic and it is also used as incense.

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The jatobá's large brown fruits contain a flour that is rich in minerals and calcium. It is food to animals and humans. Its resin, leaves, and seeds are employed medicinally in the treatment of respiratory illnesses. The bark is this Amazon tree has a delicate spicy flavor and is a popular energy drink in Brazil. In health stores and websites in the U.S. one can buy jatobá in liquid or capsules form; it is claimed as being a digestive and liver tonic, with antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti yeast properties. Like most herbal products, it has not been tested by the FDA.
For more information check

The jatobá tree is also used in landscaping, for it produces clusters of beautiful white flowers.

interesting links:

Creature: The Horned Frog

When I read the article in the National Geographic website I was surprised to learn that a frog can be carnivorous. The horned frog has sharp teeths and eats anything that will fit into his mouth: "They are aggressively territorial and voracious to fault. Some have been found dead in the wild with the remains of an impossible-to-ingest victim still protruding from their mouths," the article says. Click on the picture if you would like to know more about this interesting creature.

The Amazon's Countries

The Amazon rainforest spreads into nine countries:

Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana

Seeds in the Website

I added a list of the seeds I use the most in my designs to the spora website. I got the information about the seeds from this gorgeous book that has just been published in Brazil: Sementes Ornamentais do Brasil / Ornamental Seeds of Brazil, edited by Francisca Portinari Leåo, published by Reler Editor Ltda, Rio de Janeiro, 2008.

It is very nice to have an "official" guide to the seeds. My experience is that people tend to be very creative when they don't know the name of the seeds they are selling!

Check it out:

Why "Amazon"?

Dying Amazon
by Franz von Stuck,1905
(Harvard University)

The name of the Brazilian rainforest comes from the Amazons of Classical and Greek mythology. The Amazons was a nation of brave female warriors who formed an independent kingdom under the government of a queen. In some versions of the myth, no men were permitted to have sexual encounters or reside in Amazon country; but once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out, they visited a neighbouring tribe.

As per wikipedia, the name Amazon for the rainforest is said to arise from a war which Francisco de Orellana had with a tribe of Tapuyas and other tribes from South America. The women of the tribe fought alongside the men, as was the custom among the entire tribe. Orellana's descriptions may have been accurate, but a few historians speculate that Orellana could have been mistaking indigenous men wearing "grass skirts" for women.

It is interesting that in this painting the amazon is holding her right breast. Wikipidia:

"One of the versions of the myth tells that the roots for the word amazon is from a-(privative) + mazos, "without breast," connected with a tradition that Amazons had their right breast cut off or burn out, so they would be able to use a bow more freely and throw spears without the physical limitation and obstruction; there is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the right is frequently covered."

In this painting the right breast is not covered and on the contrary, it is emphasized by light and by the fact that the Amazon is holding it.

What can Franz von Stuck be trying to tell us...