Editor’s Note: When The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire opens this Friday, early reviews say the dramatic and subversive storyline will not disappoint its ravenous fans. In anticipation, we pulled this article from our archives as a horticultural hat tip to Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games trilogy.
“Plants are tricky. Many are edible, but one false mouthful and your dead” —The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
When first harvested, seeds of the Phytelephas aequatorialis tree are white, though you might be more familiar with them as brightly-colored baubles in your jewelry box. Tagua (pronounced tog-wah) nuts, or "ivory of the rainforest," from the Ecuadorean Ivory Palm, are a sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. The seeds are hard and smooth, as well as being easy to carved and dye. They are lustrous as Bakelite and smooth as ceramic, with a chromatic depth I associate with silk or the complex grain of walnut wood.