Vegetal ivory

Vegetal ivory (Phytelephas sp.) is a substance that can be used to replace animal ivory that for years has seriously endangered elephants and threatened them with extinction. Vegetal ivory nuts are extremely hard and can be carved to produce a number of items as well as powerful abrasives and phytochemicals. In addition, this substance, before being hardened, has a creamy texture and is quite tasty. The leaves of this plant are also used to make packaging straw. This substance was most commonly used in 1929 and Ecuador was the greatest exporter. In 1941 the trade of this substance slumped and exports dropped to one quarter. Today, however, the trade of vegetal ivory has recovered thanks to the increased “ecological awareness”, even if it is very expensive: a button of vegetal ivory costs 25% more than a plastic one. Today, Ecuador produces approximately 2,300 kg which are mostly exported to Italy, Japan and Germany.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

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Facts