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Each Seed Entry (from page 100)

Euterpe edulis

Jussara

[pronunciation: ju-sa-ra] Jussara is a palm tree native to the Atlantic Forest and in danger of extinction. The pulp of the Jussara fruit is similar to the açai berry, and from its trunk is where heart of palm is extracted. It is highly nutritious and appreciated, its cultivation is responsible for guaranteeing income to agroecological farmers, mainly in the southeast and south of Brazil. This seed was collected from a site in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro.


Jussara without pulp

This seed is pulpless, from the Jussara palm. The Jussara is an endemic species of the Atlantic Forest under risk of extinction due to the extraction of its heart of palm. Palm cultivation to extract the fruit pulp has been encouraged as an agroecological alternative to increase the preservation of the species. This seed was collected from a farm in the mountainous region of the State of Rio de Janeiro.


Jussara, germinated

This Jussara palm seed is in the process of germinating. The germination of the Jussara palm occurs thanks to the moisture present in the forest environment, the cover provided by the tall tropical vegetation, and the accumulation of organic matter in the soil. After approximately 10 years, the palm tree breaks this cover as it seeks direct sunlight and starts to produce fruit. The name “Euterpe”, in the scientific term for this plant, refers to a Greek goddess, one of Zeus’ daughters, “the giver of delight” that presides over the world of music.


Croton urucurana

Dragon's Blood

Croton urucurana is also known as Dragon's Blood because its latex is blood-red, and it is normally found in humid terrain and swamps. This reddish latex of its trunk has healing and antifungal medicinal properties, capable of stopping wounds from bleeding. In Pará, Brazil, the Xipaya people retain knowledge of the medicinal properties of this plant unanimously, especially among women. When considering the constant growth of the pharmaceutical sector, few communities are able to preserve this knowledge, passed on “orally, from generation to generation”, as has been done in the Xipaya Indigenous Land of Tukamã. This seed was donated to members of the Mário Lago Settlement, in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


Enterolobium contortisiliquum

Pacara earpod tree

This species of Enterolobium contortisiliquum is from the Brazilian savanna and was acquired from a collective responsible for gathering and selling seeds native to this biome for preservation purposes. A protein present in this seed has the ability to inhibit the growth of tumors, which offers great potential for research into the behavior of cancer cells and possible cures. Its fruits are ear-shaped, which gives rise to one of its names, monkey's ear.


Moringa oleifera

Moringa

Moringa is a species of tree that is incredibly relevant to humans and the environment due to its medicinal properties and the fact that it is capable of purifying underground water reservoirs. Through its natural coagulating characteristics, it promotes water filtration by removing contaminants. Its origin is from India, south of the Himalayas, but today this tree is present in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Therefore, several cultures use this highly nutritious plant in their cuisine, especially in Africa and India, as oil and curry. In addition to cooking, this plant treats vitamin A deficiency, is antioxidant, antiviral, cardioprotective, liver protective, among several other medicinal properties. Known as 'kelor' in Indonesia, it is used locally in a spiritual way, to scare away or remove mystical agents from the body through baths and branches at the entrances of houses. This moringa seed was donated by a farmer from the Mário Lago Settlement in Ribeirão Preto, a municipality of São Paulo.


Hymenaea courbaril

Stinkingtoe (with pulp)

On this Stinkingtoe seed, there are still remnants of its pulp. Not everyone finds the odor of the pulp unpleasant, but many say the taste is better than the smell, hence the name. For the quilombola populations of the Brazilian savanna, the Hymenaea courbaril has a cultural significance to be preserved, especially in communities around Chapada dos Veadeiros, in Goiás. Beyond its consumption as food, this plant is used in various ways, but mainly as medicine, as cures for the flu and anemia. Quilombos were communities formed by enslaved Africans who ran away. They were highly organized, militant, autonomous, and posed a great threat to the Portuguese and Dutch authorities of the time. Today, there are more than a million Quilombolas still fighting for their right to territory throughout the country. This seed was collected in the city of São Paulo, from a beautiful century-old tree located at the ‘Sunset Square’ (Praça Pôr do Sol) in the neighborhood of Pinheiros.


Stinkingtoe

This seed was collected in the middle of the city of São Paulo, from a beautiful centenary tree that is located in the ‘sunset square’ (Praça Pôr do Sol) in the neighborhood of Pinheiros. From the fruit of this tree, traditional Xingu populations make a highly nutritious and protein-rich flour. Its bark resin can be used as varnish, fuel and incense, and its wood is coveted in the production of furniture and canoes. Not everyone finds the odor of its pulp unpleasant, but many do argue that it tastes better than it smells.


Tamarindus indica

Tamarind

The Tamarind is native to tropical Africa, and when brought to Brazil, it adapted particularly well in the Northeast and was absorbed into local cuisine in various sauces and sweets. The name Tamarind comes from Persian, meaning "date of India". In the Indian subcontinent, tamarind is used medicinally and spiritually. There is a famous tamarind tree in Gwalior, India, at the tomb of a renowned singer from the time of Emperor Akbar named Tansen. The tree's leaves are said to be small because classical singers ate the leaves to make their voices sweet, like Tansen's.


Cymbopogon densiflorus

Nagô lemongrass

Cymbopogon densiflorus originates from Africa, and has strong ties with the culture and religion of the African diaspora in Brazil. The name Nagô was given to enslaved black people of Yoruba origin. During population trafficking, several plant species were brought to Brazil, including oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), varieties of beans such as Mangalô, okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), and nagô(lemon)grass, which is normally used for protection rituals, and as a medicine for inducing sleep and healing bone fractures. This plant also has anti-cancer and insect-repellent properties, which makes it incredibly useful for wide-ranging purposes.


Ricinus communis

Red castor bean

The red castor bean is increasingly used in agroforestry projects thanks to its rapid growth, allowing the development of more sensitive species under its protection. It is a variety that tolerates degraded soils, creating desirable conditions for the development of other species. From its root, a component with anti-inflammatory properties can be extracted, and for millennia this plant has been used medicinally by peoples in North Africa, India and Asia. Castor bean seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs from 4,000 years ago, and Cleopatra used castor bean oil as a beauty product.


Luehea divaricata

Açoita-cavalo

[pronunciation: ‘asoitah-cavahloo’; meaning: ‘whips horse’] Luehea divaricata is a tree native to South America, typical of the Brazilian savanna and caatinga. Its popular name "açoita-cavalo" comes from the fact that its branches are so flexible that they can be used as a whip. In folk medicine, this plant has been used for its antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and immunostimulant properties. In more recent scientific studies, these properties have been confirmed, in addition to revealing that a new tormentic acid can be extracted from the leaves. This acid belongs to a class of chemical compounds that have fantastic medicinal abilities for humans, including cancer-fighting potential. Isolating these chemical components from plants is in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry, but credit must be given where it is due. This component plays a key role in defending this plant against pests – it is a biotic technology. Native peoples developed this technology for the benefit of human beings, knowledge that is particularly present in the epistemology of various ethnic groups in Paraná and Santa Catarina states in Brazil.


Cannabis sp.

Hemp

As of 2023, this seed is considered illegal in most countries, and this plant's dried parts are the most consumed illegal drug in the world. But extrajudicial recreation is not its only use. The stems of the hemp plant consist of remarkably durable fibers, which have a wide range of industrial uses, from fabrics to construction materials. It is also one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. Ancient civilizations across the millennia and across the planet have been known to cultivate and consume this plant spiritually. One of the earliest documentations of it stems from nearly 3 thousand years ago in Chinese medicinal records, Hindu legends, as well as Buddhist, Germanic and Sufi literature.


Achyrocline satureioides

Macela

The process of photographing this seed was one of the most complex, due to its multiple layers. This plant grows in “sandy or stony soils”, is native to South America and the official medicinal plant symbolic of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Its medicinal properties are described as purifying, not only as possessing antiviral and antibacterial properties, but also as having the ability to treat neurodegeneration.


Stryphnodendron adstringens

Stryphnodendron adstringens

The Stryphnodendron adstringens is endemic to Brazil, specifically the Brazilian cerrado (or savanna). The bark and leaves of this tree can be processed in different ways and used as medicine for various health issues. The tea of the bark can be consumed to treat tissue injuries, relieving infections and inflammations. The soap containing the bark extract has remarkable antibacterial properties. The bark powder can be used to make antidiuretic tea. Its ointment heals wounds. And so on. Forest species such as the Stryphnodendron adstringens are important for guaranteeing medical treatments in regions where the state’s public health system does not operate effectively.


Poincianella pluviosa

Caesalpinia pluviosa

The Caesalpinia pluviosa is a tree native to the tropics of the Americas with lush yellow flowers, loved by butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. In urban contexts, this tree is immensely useful for the protection and survival of bees. Red flowers from the subfamily Caesalpinioideae, the Peacock Flower, were described by a German botanical illustrator in the early 18th century as medicinal for the people enslaved by the Dutch in Suriname. Indigenous and African women in Suriname used this flower as an abortifacient, as they did not want their children to be born into the paradigm of colonial exploitation.


Tachigali aurea

Tachigali aurea

The Tachigali aurea is common in the Brazilian ‘sertão’, or savanna hinterland. There was an erasure of the term sertão which was “directly proportional to the consolidation of the term cerrado”. This consolidation of the focus on the biome and botany, instead of the focus on the cultural or ancestral characteristics associated with the biome, happened when the demarcation of the Central Plateau began to be planned for the development of what would become the capital of the 'United States of Brazil'. The construction of this narrative aimed to place the capital in the Center of the country, and not in the Hinterland. As such, the geopolitical conceptualization of Brasília's symbolic power needed to marginalize the term 'sertão', and incorporate ‘cerrado’, or savanna. A parent tree of the Tachigali family (synonymous with Sclerolobium), and two medium-sized Tachigali aurea can be found in Parque Olhos D’Água in Brasília. The grayish-white trunk of the parent tree, with wide and irregular branches, guarantees unique characteristics. Due to the beauty of this trunk, it was widely exploited for its wood. The fruits of this evergreen tree are winged and dispersed by the wind.


Calophyllum brasiliense

Guanandi

This seed is from a species of evergreen tree considered one of the firsts to be named “wood of law” by the Portuguese crown, alongside Brazilwood (Pau Brasil). These hardwoods became symbols of Portugal's economic, and juridical, monopoly on raw materials from the new land conquered by the crown, which today we call Brazil. As such, the term for hardwood in Portuguese became madeira de lei (“wood of law”). They were used for the building of colonial enterprise infrastructures, such as in the construction of railways and ships. Brazilwood (Paubrasilia echinata) as timber was so central to this process that it named the country. Meanwhile, Calophyllum brasiliense was named Guanandi, which in Tupi means “what is sticky”, due to the balsam in its bark that operates like natural latex. The Guanandi's perfectly straight log also provided excellent posts for Portuguese colonizers' vessels. A wild parent tree in Brasília-DF provided this Calophyllum brasiliense seed for the Seeds and Tales project.


Paepalanthus chiquitensis

Paepalanthus chiquitensis

The Paepalanthus chiquitensis is a type of Gramineae endemic to the Brazilian cerrado (or savanna), which can be used to restore areas degraded by fires. The Gramineae family is also known as grass, and this species of grass is a spectacular, evergreen bloomer. Evergreen flowers, after being harvested and dried, do not lose their color, and many of these species are threatened with extinction due to their unsustainable export. This seed was acquired from the Cerrado de Pé initiative, which is responsible for collecting, protecting and dispersing seeds native to the Brazilian cerrado biome.


"In fact, Paepalanthus is not Poaceae (Graminae), but rather part of the Eriocaulaceae family. However, due to its habit and size, it can be considered "graminoid" or from the stratum graminosa." (@salve_cerrado, June 19, 2024)


Ormosia arborea

Olho de cabra

[pronunciation: ohlio gee kahbra; meaning: ‘goat’s eye’] Ormosia arborea is an evergreen tree with a dense, wide, roundish crown, which can grow up to 20 meters tall. It can be grown as a pioneer species for restoring woodland and is a tree that provides good shade for smaller plants. The leaves of evergreen plants don’t fall according to the seasons, so in Nordic, European and Christian cultures, these trees symbolize immortality by remaining green in winter. The olho-de-cabra, on the other hand, is “exclusive” to Brazil, and its seeds are used as amulets by African diasporic religions. This beautiful seed can vary between shades of red and orange, clearly delimited by a black section. It was acquired from seed guardians and donated to the Mário Lago settlement in Ribeirão Preto, in the inland of São Paulo State, for the reforestation and agroforestry project led by settlers of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil.


Schizolobium parahyba

Brazilian firetree

The Brazilian firetree is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, reaching 3 meters of growth per year and easily reaching 20 meters in height. Therefore, it is considered a pioneer species in reforestation projects. This tree was used in the manufacturing of caiçara canoes (pronunciation: cais-sa-ra), and today heirs of this culture do what they can to preserve this aspect of their ancestry. On the coasts of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, caiçaras embody the typical European and indigenous miscegenation of Brazil, which retains a unique fishing tradition. The name given to this tree in Brazil, Guapuruvu, means "canoe that comes from the earth" in the Tupi language.


Platycyamus regnellii

Platycyamus regnellii, Pau Pereira

Pau Pereira is a species endemic to southeastern Brazil. During flowering time, it attracts several pollinators, especially bumblebees (Bombus brasiliensis). It fixes nitrogen in the earth and is capable of thriving in degraded and stony soils, which is why it can be considered a pioneer in reforestation projects. The ash from the bark of Pau Pereira is one of two ingredients in the indigenous tobacco called rapé Tsunu, from the Yawanawa people. For millennia, tobacco has been used by people native to Central and South America for spiritual and medicinal purposes. A flask from the Classic Mayan period, for example, was not only found with nicotine residue, but the label in Mayan hieroglyphic text evidences its use for this purpose. This practice was naturally “integrated into the culture of the tribes of the northwestern Amazon”, and beyond. This specimen was acquired from seed guardians in Minas Gerais.


Albizia pedicellaris

Albizia pedicellaris

Albizia pedicellaris seeds grow in pods, and it has been reported that only 4% of them germinate without human intervention. This dormancy has been overcome through scarring, water soaking and even acid immersion. Such processes are worthwhile because this tree is incredibly useful in the restoring of areas damaged by mining, due to its ability to thrive in soaked as well as firm soils, fix nitrogen and grow rapidly – she is a pioneer species. For these reasons, this plant is commonly found in coastal areas of the restinga biome. The restinga biome has a crucial ecological role, as it stabilizes coastal dunes, and as such, prevents the erosion caused by the tides.


Libidibia ferrea

Brazilian ironwood

Libidibia ferrea is an imposing tree, reaching 30 meters in height. Its grayish-white trunk is beautiful and used for ornamentation. The name Pau ferro (‘iron wood’ in Portuguese) comes from the high density of the wood and the difficulty in cutting it. Furthermore, the sound emanated by the axes during cutting is similar to the sound of the hammer on the anvil. Its seed is impermeable, which causes dormancy, or delayed germination. This dormancy can help in the natural distribution of the species over large areas, but it can also “hinder the production of seedlings”. Since the Brazilian iron wood is useful for infrastructure and carpentry projects, effective reproduction is essential to ensure the longevity of this species. Still, it has also demonstrated another skill – when fed to ruminant animals, such as cattle in “semi-arid regions”, it can help reduce the release of methane into the atmosphere.


Apuleia leiocarpa

Garapa

The Garapa is native to South America. It is threatened with extinction, but is still commercialized as timber. In Brazil, the concepts of ‘wood’ and ‘timber’ exist in the same word: madeira. There is no distinction between the material and how the material is used by humans — we do not specify its usefulness in the definition. Wood is, however, used frequently throughout the world. The seed of this tree is prone to dormancy, that is, for internal or external reasons, it takes time to germinate.


Anacardium occidentale

Cashew nut

The cashew nut isn't technically a nut. It's native to South America, so the word cashew comes from the Brazilian Portuguese word 'caju', which comes from the indigenous Tupi word 'acajú', meaning "nut that produces itself". Such description is scientifically apt considering that a nut is a fruit whose hard shell does not open on its own to release the kernel seed, it relies on predation or decay. The cashew, however, is a true dried fruit, that grows on the outside of its fleshy false fruit, whose kernel seed detaches marvelously on its own from the outer shell as it sprouts.


Acrocomia aculeata

Macaúba palm

This macaúba palm seed was acquired from farmers selling their products on the road outside São Luís in the state of Maranhão, in Brazil. It’s a common species in the Brazilian Northeast region, and its fruit feeds several animals of the Brazilian fauna. From the straw of its leaves, fishing nets can be made, and from its nut, an oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids can be produced. In Mexico, a fermented drink is traditionally produced from the trunk of the palm, named coyol wine.


Dicella bracteosa

Guaiaqui

This Dicella bracteosa seed, also called Guaiaqui or, in Tupi-Guarani, "almond of the fruit that irritates", was acquired from the biggest collector of rare fruits in Brazil. The Guaiaqui is a vine that produces an edible kernel, which can be consumed after removing the small hairs that surround its thick shell. Its flavor resembles peanuts.


Cordia goeldiana

Freijo, Jenny Wood

The Freijo is from the Amazon and a species commercialized for its wood. So-called “timber” species, like Cordia goeldiana, are in theory genetically equipped to survive the industry created around them. In Pernambuco and Paraíba, states in Brazil, this wood is traditionally associated with making arrows. Its record is attributed to the botanist Huber, in Belém in the first decade of the 20th century.


Attalea maripa

Maripa palm

The straw from this plant is an architectural feature for the Kawaiwete people, who use it to make roofs. It is native and present throughout the Amazon region, and its fruit has great potential as a biofuel. However, the creation of pasture and monoculture threaten its population.


Carica papaya

Papaya

Papaya is one of the most common trees in domestic Brazilian orchards, although it’s not technically a tree. Its trunk is not made of wood. In the world, only India produces more papaya than Brazil. In addition to the flavor and nutritional value of its fruit, its seeds have the potential to treat cancerous cells, including prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer. Scientifically known as Carica papaya, this plant is believed by some to have originated in the Upper Amazon Basin, where its maximum genetic diversity occurs. During the colonial period, the exchange of species between colonies was common, so papaya was sent to Africa, Southeast Asia and Polynesia, resulting in several regional varieties.


Ceiba pentandra

Kapok tree

In the small seeds of the Ceiba pentandra resides the power of one of the largest living beings in the forest. This tree can reach 70 meters in height, its crown emerges above the forest canopy. The Kapok tree is interpreted by native Amazonian cultures as a portal used by deities in their passages through the forest. For the Mayan civilization, its base was the underworld of the gods. It is sacred to many peoples of the Amazon, named the "tree of life" or mother-of-trees, it provides shelter to various animals, collects clean water in the soil around its deep roots, and unites the earthly realm with the realm of the gods through its immense trunk.


Schizolobium amazonicum

Schizolobium amazonicum

This tree has a major role in reforesting the Amazon, and as such, mitigating the effects of deforestation and climate change. The Amazon Forest has been undergoing high rates of anthropization, meaning, significant eroding transformations caused by humans. Ancient indigenous peoples are believed to have inhabited remote regions of the Amazon for more than 13 thousand years, carefully crafting what we now erroneously perceive as ‘untouched’. The Schizolobium amazonicum symbolizes how humans are as capable of building forests as they are of destroying them.


Schinus terebinthifolia

Brazilian peppertree

Red-aroeira is a vulnerable plant in its native region of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, but it has enjoyed prominence in regions where it is considered exotic, such as the United States. Its leaves have antimicrobial properties, and its pink-peppercorn seed is a sweet and fruity culinary treat. This tree has been a valuable resource for Indigenous Guarani communities, and was traditionally used in the treatment of rheumatic pains and dislocations through leaf compresses.


Peltophorum dubium

Yellow poinciana, Yvyrá Pytã

Yvyrá Pytã, in Guarani, means ‘red wood’. In Paraguay, it was considered a “symbol of the forest's resilience”, when it won the 2021 “Colosos de la Tierra” competition. This competition, which was in its tenth edition in 2021, aims to raise awareness of biodiversity in Paraguay. Yvyra Pytã from Alto Verá was one of more than 600 trees registered based on their height and trunk diameter. In 2022, the contest had its first international edition, where a 61-meter-tall Brazilian Samaúma (Ceiba pentandra) won as “the largest tree in Latin America and the Caribbean”. These Yvyrá Pytã seeds were purchased from seed keepers in the state of Minas Gerais.



Arachis hypogaea

Bicolored Paraguayan peanut

The peanut is a seed native to South America, its center of origin probably being the Chaco region of Paraguay. In the Tupi language, Mãdu’bi means ‘buried’, and several popular names for this plant are derived from this indigenous concept – Minduim, Minduí, Mindubi. That's because this legume grows underground in pods of one to three edible seeds. Due to its high content of proteins and fats, peanuts are a food with the humanitarian potential to combat hunger and child malnutrition. That's why peanut butter forms the basis of therapeutic foods used in actions with this purpose. A creole seed variety such as this bicolored Paraguayan peanut is native, free from genetic manipulations, and unknown to modern agro-industrial technologies.


Syagrus oleracea

Syagrus oleracea

The Syagrus oleracea is a palm tree native to the Cerrado (the Brazilian savanna) and the Caatinga (a Brazilian semi-arid tropical biome), and is also known as ‘bitter heart of palm’, or guariroba – from the indigenous Tupi term 'gwarai-rob', which means "the bitter individual". The cerrado has had 50% of its vegetation destroyed in the last 40 years, therefore, the harvesting and extraction of this palm tree must be accompanied by diversified cultivation. Initiatives by farmers to plant genetic varieties of Syagrus oleracea are the primary solution to the challenges not only of conserving this particular tree, but to combat the deforestation of the cerrado biome as a whole. This seed was acquired from an organization that promotes the reforestation of areas in the Brazilian Cerrado, mainly those degraded by intentional fires triggered by the agribusiness sector.


Annona mucosa

Wild sweetsop

The Annona mucosa, also known as Rollinia delicious or Biribá, is native to tropical South America, whose fruit and leaves contain chemical components that are useful in combating cancer, parasites, harmful bacteria and fungi. There is a level of toxicity in the leaf extract that can kill parasites in rice crops. And from the inner part of the bark, the indigenous Pataxó people made clothing, as it forms a soft fabric. In the 2003 Hollywood film The Rundown, starring Dwayne Johnson, a fruit from the Annona family was portrayed as paralyzing, but this is a myth. This myth probably arose from the fact that an experiment was carried out where the extract from the bark of this tree, when injected into a toad, caused paralysis of one of its hind limbs.


Leucochloron incuriale

Leucochloron incuriale, Angico

This variety of Leucochloron incuriale provides excellent quality wood with an incredible and unmistakable striped pattern. The Seeds and Tales project provided these seeds for the reforestation initiative of the Mário Lago Settlement, as this tree has the potential to restore degraded areas. The Leucochloron incuriale is attributed as published and named by 2 botanists associated with the New York Botanical Garden. This garden contains the largest remaining area of the old-growth forest which covered Manhattan before the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century. This land belonged to the indigenous people named Lenape, before their forced displacement during colonial wars. Today, this area represents the ever-changing characteristic of old-growth forests, which by nature demonstrates its antiquity through “constant change and variation.


Copaifera reticulata

Amazonian Copaiba

The Amazonian Copaiba differs from its relative Copaifera langsdorffii mainly due to its size, as it can reach more than 40 meters and live for more than 400 years. The name Copaíba comes from the Tupi word ‘Kupa'iwa’, which means “deposit tree”, referring to the deposit of oil or resin in its trunk. This oil has several medicinal uses for people and plants, among other things, it acts as a biological fungicide – it is harmless to the environment when “compared to synthetic fungicides”.


Syagrus romanzoffiana

Queen palm, Jerivá

In Guarani-Mbya mythology, the Queen palm was raised by Nhanderu Pa'i, a central figure in the creation of the universe. The orange fruit of the palm was designed for human consumption, symbolizing an original creation, not a copy. However, it is said that the name “romanzoffiana” comes from a Russian Count who financed an expedition where a German poet collected a sample of this tree and recorded it in mid-1815. This tall palm tree can be found in virtually all Brazilian biomes, providing large pollen reserves for native bees and the fruits are consumed by magnificent birds such as parrots, toucans and macaws.


Pisum sativum

Pea

Pisum sativum, better known as pea, is a herbaceous plant species that belongs to the legume family. Originally from the Mediterranean region, the pea is an ancient crop that was domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. It has been grown and transported around the world for millennia, in part because it’s nutrient rich and potentially nonperishable. As a leguminous plant, the pea develops a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in its roots, which leads to the conversion of Nitrogen that’s in the air into a resource for plants in the soil. This process, named nitrogen fixation, represents vital transformation.


Cicer arietinum

Chickpea

Cicer arietinum, also known as chickpea, originates from Western Asia (or the Middle East), but is cultivated in more than 50 countries and has more than 3 thousand varieties. Chickpeas are used in the cuisine of many cultures around the world, as they are considered a rich source of vegetable protein and have nutritional properties that are highly beneficial to human health. The region called the Fertile Crescent, place of origin of Cicer arietinum more than 10 thousand years ago, is considered a cradle of human civilization. The coiner of this term began an era of archaeological research focused on the region in 1919, which questioned the Western theory of the time that human civilization was born in Europe. Today, this theory is also critically examined, as it has fueled narratives that if Europe is not the cradle of civilization, it is its pinnacle. While defining what is considered ‘civilized’ is a subjective exercise, this region called the Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamia, or, nowadays, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and other neighboring countries, retains an objectively exceptional history. On fertile lands, which generate surplus agriculture, society was able to flourish culturally, and develop complex agricultural and urban structures.


Passiflora ambigua

Injo passionflower

The Passiflora botanical family, of which passion fruit is a part, is made up of more than 520 species, most of them originating from Tropical America. Brazil has the greatest genetic diversity of this family of plants, where more than 140 different species of passion fruit can be found and more than 80 of them are endemic to this territory. Passion fruit pollination relies on bees of the Bombus genus, and this symbiosis between the two organisms demonstrates the coevolution of these species. Butterflies also contribute to the genetic formation of the Passiflora family, because when choosing where to feed and lay eggs, they develop a preference for the leaf shape of the most abundant variety of passionflower in the location. In this way, the rarest genetic variety is protected.


Luffa aegyptiaca

Sponge gourd

The Luffa aegyptiaca is from the same family as the cucumber, watermelon and pumpkin, called Cucurbitaceae. It differs from other members because its fruit, when peeled and dried, can be used as plant-based sponge – a biodegradable alternative to kitchen sponges. Like the other members of this family, the Sponge gourd is a rustic vine that produces large fruits. Throughout Brazil, it is present in many rural backyards, as it plays a useful role in the home and as a source of income. For practitioners of African diasporic religions, such as Umbanda and Candomblé, this loofah is used for ritualistic herbal body washes.


Coffea sp.

Coffee

Humanity has been in a relationship with coffee for over a millennium. This relationship began in the region that is now known as Ethiopia, in the 9th century, when a shepherd named Kaldi noticed that after eating the red fruits of a wild bush, his goats became more active and did not sleep at night. Kaldi then picked and took these fruits to a religious leader, and it was in this kind of monastery that coffee became the most consumed drink in the world. The transformation of this magnificent plant into a drink was initiated by monks and was consumed ritualistically. In a way, it still is today. Coffee was the drink of devotees in rituals of Sufi Islamic mysticism in Yemen. Kave, or "Arabian wine", was popularized throughout the Arab world in a cultural context that prohibited the consumption of alcohol but embraced the stimulation of caffeine. With the expansion of the Arab trade and the Ottoman Empire, coffee consumption followed these routes of propagation around the world. This era of expansion was called the Islamic Renaissance or Golden Age, and it lasted more than half a millennium, between the 8th and 15th centuries. During this period, there was a civilizational and agricultural boom, where literature, navigation and technologies saw unprecedented development – stimulated by the avid consumption of coffee. To ensure the monopoly of this highly demanded product by the West, Arab merchants sold roasted coffee beans, thus avoiding their planting outside Arab domains. It was not until 1616, almost a millennium after Kaldi noticed the change in behavior of his goats, that the first coffee plant was smuggled out of the port of Mokha, in Yemen. Dutch navigators took a seedling to one of their colonies on the island of Java, now part of Indonesia, where they successfully cultivated it and created the coffee variety called Mocca or Mocha Java. About a hundred years after this smuggling by the Dutch, the French court finds a coffee seedling at the botanical garden in Amsterdam. A seedling of this plant is then taken to the island of Martinique in 1730, where the first French coffee plantations are cultivated, and coffee begins to be exported to Europe. The beginning of the relationship between the Arab civilization and coffee corresponds with the beginning of the golden age of the Islamic world. That era comes to an end as the seed of this plant is used by other peoples in building their own empires.


Oryza sativa

Upland rice

Upland rice is one of the oldest domesticated species in the world. In China, between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, the Yangtze River Valley hosted Asian rice alongside millet, and contributed to the expansion of the Chinese population toward high, arid territories, to which these plants were able to adapt. This “double cultivation system” enabled not only population expansion and growth, but also “social complexity”, where cultural, spiritual, architectural and linguistic practices were elaborated and refined. In Brazil, this creole rice adapted to the climate of the North and Northeast regions, and was absorbed into its culinary culture in typical dishes such as rice pudding and garimpeiro risotto. In Santa Catarina, in Southern Brazil, protecting the genetic diversity of this rice not only represents a tradition, but also “food security of rural families”. The Landless Workers Movement in Brazil, which fights for agrarian reform, is the largest producer of organic rice in Latin America. This specimen was acquired from a seed guardian specializing in creole seed genetics.


Theobroma cacao

Cacao

Theobroma cacao, popularly known as cacao, is a species of tree of the Malvaceae family, originating in the tropical region of South America. Cocoa is widely cultivated in several countries with a humid tropical climate, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ghana and Indonesia. By indigenous civilizations of Central America and Mexico, this plant was consumed as a stimulating drink, called tchocolatl. In Aztec mythology, the cacao tree was a gift, or even a manifestation, of the deity Quetzalcoatl to human beings. But it is the Amazon rainforest that has the oldest archaeological sites indicative of extensive cacao plantations, dating back to the Holocene period. In Brazil, cocoa is mainly cultivated in the states of Bahia, Pará and Espírito Santo, and is a significant source of income. Within the field of regenerative agriculture, cocoa is a key species because it can be grown in the shade of other trees. This allows integrated cultivation into already consolidated forests, without the need to cut down existing trees for land clearings.


Cereus jamacaru

Mandacaru

The Mandacaru is a cactus native to Brazil, found mainly in the Northeastern region, such as in Bahia, Pernambuco and Ceará. It is a plant that can reach more than 5 meters, with a branched and thorny trunk. Its flowers are large, white and bloom at night, while its fruits are red and round, containing small black seeds. It is a highly venerated species in Brazil’s northeastern culture, mainly because it tolerates arid soils, common in its droughty hinterland, providing food for humans and their animals in periods of scarcity. This plant is symbolic of the resistance of northeastern people, and is present in the music and poetry of the region. “I [Mandacaru] am a faithful representative Of the strong northeastern people.”– Dalinha Catunda


Ceiba speciosa

Silk floss tree

As a giant, the Silk floss tree is a true creator of forests. Under its extensive canopy, several other species can develop. Its root system is capable of uniting large areas of the forest, as well as providing a home for many animals. Its kapok, the fibrous pulp of its fruit, similar to silky cotton balls, surrounds seeds and helps them to disperse. After the Ceiba speciosa blooms, the soil is cushioned with this material, which is capable of retaining moisture and ensuring the health of the tree. In Bolivia, legend has it that in the trunk of this tree, an important woman hid from evil spirits to give birth to her son. The child grew up to defeat the evil spirits and avenge his mother’s fate, who was trapped in the tree until her death. The tree, also known as the Toborochi, has a bulbous trunk which resembles a pregnant belly.


Schizolobium parahyba [Atlântico]

Atlantic Brazilian firetree

This variety of Schizolobium parahyba from the Atlantic forest belonged to a seed collector from Caxambu, in Minas Gerais. The municipality of Caxambu invests in seed collection and preparation of seedlings for a nursery. This nursery is located in the Parque das Águas Minerals (Mineral Water Park), an area protected as historical and environmental heritage. There is a thermal spring with unique mineral properties, a phenomenon considered rare, and a volcanic hill that provides these properties to the spring water. The guidance is to consume it “in the form of a cure”, and not on a regular basis.


Enterolobium contortisiliquum

Pacara earpod tree

The Enterolobium contortisiliquum, popularly known as Pacara earpod, is a tree native to South America whose trunk is remarkably wide. It was on one of these trunks that a family of Hyacinth Macaws was observed eating termites, where until then they were known to eat mostly seeds and fruits. Humans came to understand scientifically only from the year 2017 that the behavior of this animal vulnerable to extinction includes making nests in trees in the process of rotting due to termite infestation. The role of this tree in the ecosystem in which it exists transcends its life span.


Hevea brasiliensis

Pará rubber tree, Seringueira

Natural rubber can be extracted from the trunk of the Seringueira, an Amazonian tree. This rubber can be used to produce from tires to surgical gloves, it is waterproof and isolates electricity, making it even more effective than synthetic rubbers. Chico Mendes, a notorious Brazilian rubber tapper whose livelihood depended on protecting the forest and native rubber plantations, created one of Brazil's most renowned environmental movements. To combat deforestation caused by the creation of pastures, he confiscated chainsaws, blocked the passage of tractors, founded unions and educational projects. Thus, he gained international recognition, received a UN award, and became a reference in the global civil society sector. However, his murder by farmers in Xapuri in 1988, a year after receiving this award and at the age of 44, prematurely forced his activism to become a legacy for the protection of Brazilian biomes. This seed was acquired from a genetics guardian in Brasília-DF.


Cassia ferruginea

Cassia ferruginea, rain-of-gold tree

During its flowering period, it is impossible not to marvel at the Cassia ferruginea. Living up to its Brazilian name, the rain-of-gold tree attracts attention with its exuberant, golden flowering in the form of a cascade. This tree is native to Brazil but is not endemic, that is, it can be found in several other territories. It commonly populates urban centers, so it has the potential to regulate and remedy several unpleasant and harmful characteristics of the city. “Urban Trees” regulate both air and noise pollution, and cool down streets. Considering that nearly 40% of the world's plant diversity is threatened, non-endemic urban trees like Cassia ferruginea have the power to strengthen conservation efforts.


Não identificado

Unidentified

This highly unusual seed resembles the Cuscuta lupuliformis, as depicted in a Dutch identification guide of invasive species. One way of identifying whether the subject is a seed at all is by looking for a seed attachment scar, called hilum. The hilum signifies that the object being analyzed was once attached to the ovary of a plant, meaning, a botanical reproductive organ.


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