Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/414

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

peach palm on account of its pulpy fruit. In the highlands of Brazil a small palm, a species of coco, known as the 'chifre do boi' or 'oxhorn' has a nut about the size and shape of a nutmeg. There is but little hull or flesh on the outside of it, but it is thick, black and very hard—almost impossible to crack. These pits are utilized by jewelers to make brooches, pendants and such like ornaments. For these purposes they are carved into attractive shapes, usually flower-like, mounted in gold and set with diamonds. The jewelers of Diamantina, in the State of Minas Geraes, are very skilful in the manufacture of this kind of jewelry.

Urucury Nuts.—One of the most peculiar uses to PSM V60 D414 Nuts of the urucury used for smoking rubber.pngFig. 22. Nuts of the Urucury used for the smoking of rubber. which a plant fruit is put is in the preparation of rubber in the valley of the Amazonas. It is the nut of a particular species that is used for this purpose—that of the urucury (Attalea excelsa).[1] When the milk of the rubber tree is gathered it is consistency of thick cream. It is prepared for the market by being dried in the smoke of a fire made of the nuts of the urucury palm. A flat paddle-shaped board is wet in the milk and then held over the smoke as it issues from the top of a chimney-pot-like tile a foot or so in height, resting upon stones and with the fire built beneath it. The nuts of this palm are often carried long distances for this rubber smoking.

Many of the palm nuts yield rich oils, and these are used to a greater or less extent, especially in the interior, in cooking, in the manufacture of soap and for illuminating purposes.

Special Gases.—The carnaúba palm (Copernicia cerifera. Mart.) grows naturally on the marshy uplands of northeastern Brazil, where it is put to many uses by the natives. The trunk is split for rafters, posts and fences; the leaves are used for food for cattle, for thatch, for cordage and for hats; the fruits and the growing bud are eaten; the roots are used for medicinal purposes, and from the leaves is prepared a yellowish wax that is used for candles,[2] The same palm is abundant through the Gran Chaco region of the Rio Paraguay, where it forms immense open forests that stretch as far as the eye can


  1. The nut of this palm is about the size of a man's fist, dry and without a pulpy covering, and the shell is very thick and hard. Whether there is a real virtue in the smoke of the urucury nuts, I do not know; the rubber gatherers insist that smoke made by other palm nuts or with wood will not answer the purpose.
  2. 'Notice sur le palmier carnaúba.' Par M. A. de Macedo. Paris, 1867.