Corozo, corosso or tagua nut – these words describe the same thing – vegetable ivory. It is a material from the seeds of certain palm trees. Vegetable ivory, as you may guess, is called this way because it resembles real animal ivory. It is hard and white and basically used in the same way as real animal ivory. Back in the end of the 19th century vegetable ivory was used to make buttons – in the same way as animal ivory was used. In fact, before a wide-spread use of plastic, vegetable ivory was the material of choice for button production – around 20 % of all buttons in US were made from this material.
Vegetable ivory was also used to make dice, knife and cutlery handles, pens, chess pieces, jewelry and other smaller objects. It is a very hard material, which is impossible to cut with normal knives or woodworking tools. Instead, masters used files and hacksaws – almost as if they were working with stone.
Dominican Corozo nut is the smaller and the most scarce of all Corozo nuts.