ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL amazônicos antigos tiveram um papel signiﬁcante no estabelecimento dessa paisagem amazônica emblemática. Key Words: Amazonia, non-timber forest products, plant genetics, landscape domestication, historical ecology, historical linguistics, Amazonian archeology. Introduction cent areas in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa Humb. & and the Guianas. The Brazilian state of Pará containsBonpl.) is a signature Amazonian species and an the largest populations (Müller et al. 1980). Brazilimportant resource for local populations. Brazil nut trees are found in groves (Fig. 1) of 50–100nut’s nutritious, oil-rich seeds are eaten fresh, individuals known as castanhais (Portuguese),roasted, or pressed to produce a milk-like extract. manchales or castañales (Spanish), with grovesThe colossal trees reach up to 60 m in height and separated by considerable distances of compatible16 m in circumference (Pires 1984; Villachica et al. habitat where the species is completely absent (Peres1996). The Brazil nut family, Lecythidaceae, and Baider 1997). This patchy distribution ledincludes the oldest known tree in the American Adolpho Ducke (1946) to suggest that Brazil nuttropics, a specimen of Cariniana micrantha Ducke groves might be plantations left by ancientdated to 1,400 years old (Chambers et al. 1998). Amazonian peoples. This “anthropogenic hypoth-Brazil nut trees ~150 cm in diameter have been esis” has been echoed by numerous authors sincedated to 270 years (Chambers et al. 1998), while (Balée 1989; Müller et al. 1980; Posey 1985;the largest individuals (~500 cm in diameter) may Tupiassú and Oliveira 1967) without empiricalbe over 1,000 years old (Pires 1984; cited in Peres test or systematic review. Here we review theand Baider 1997). literature and present new results from the authors’ Carbonized Brazil nuts were identiﬁed at Pedra studies of Brazil nut ecology and genetics, manage-Pintada, an upper Paleolithic cave site in the ment practices by local people, and linguisticcentral Brazilian Amazon that was occupied some analysis of indigenous terms for the species.11,000 years ago by ancient hunter-gatherers Based on these ﬁndings we suggest that the Brazil(Roosevelt et al. 1996). Although archeologists nut was spread or facilitated throughout much ofhave found a diversity of oily seeds, especially its current distribution by ancient indigenouspalm nuts, in Paleolithic sites throughout lowland populations.South America (e. g., Morcote Ríos et al. 2006),Pedra Pintada is the only one where Brazil nutconsumption is clearly documented. Botany, Taxonomy, and Ecology Brazil nuts were introduced to Europe in the late Bertholletia is a monotypic genus of Lecythida-18th century by Dutch traders, with trade increas- ceae, a pantropical family of small to very largeing greatly in the late 19th century (Mori and trees. Lecythidaceae in the Americas are foundPrance 1990a). Today, Brazil nut is Amazonia’s from Mexico to Paraguay and southern Brazil,most important non-timber forest product. It is with diversity and abundance centered on Ama-also the only globally-traded seed crop collected zonia. The family includes about 200 speciesfrom natural forests (Clay 1997). Historically, divided among ten genera; however, recentBrazil has been the leading producer, but Bolivia genetic studies demonstrate that major taxonomichas now taken the lead, with 2004 exports valued revisions are needed in at least four of them (Moriat $50 million, compared with $15 million for et al. 2007). Bertholletia excelsa was named inBrazil and $10 million for Peru (Wander et al. 1807 by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé de2008). From 2002–2006 annual harvests in Bonpland in honor of the chemist L. C.Brazil have varied from 24,895 to 30,555 metric Berthollet; the species epithet refers to its loftytons (IBGE–Instituto Brasileiro de Geograﬁa e stature. A second species, Bertholletia nobilis,Estatística 2004, 2007). Overall, the industry described by John Miers in 1874, was lateremploys some 200,000 people, mostly forest- rejected as synonymous with B. excelsa. Morpho-based extractivists (Peres et al. 1997). logical features place Bertholletia closest to the Brazil nut grows in well-drained terra ﬁrme genus Lecythis, with afﬁnities to L. lurida (Miers)forests throughout the Brazilian Amazon and adja- S. A. Mori (Mori and Prance 1990a:135), but
ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOLagouti scatter-hoarding would presumably lead to germinate within the fruit cases. Peres and Baiderthe establishment of a new grove. (1997:599), citing de Souza (1984), claim that Several published studies as well as our own seeds left inside unopened Bertholletia pyxidiaﬁeld observations indicate that human disturb- rarely if ever germinate, succumbing to fungus.ance and intervention greatly facilitate Brazil nut Perhaps the drier climate or high levels of humanregeneration, and may be crucial for the establish- disturbance in Alter do Chão facilitate germina-ment of new groves. Indeed, the weakness of tion in these circumstances. Notably, Alter doPeres and Baider’s (1997) argument is that, while Chão is within the proverbial stone’s throw of thescatter-hoarding agoutis are ubiquitous in Ama- Pedra Pintada site where Roosevelt et al. (1996)zonia, Brazil nut saplings are exceedingly rare in discovered the earliest evidence of Brazil nutprimary forest habitats (Pires 1984), requiring consumption in ancient Amazonia.signiﬁcant canopy gaps to develop (Myers et al. Associations between Brazil nut groves and1996). Peres et al. (2003) have argued that anthropogenic dark earths have been mentionedcommercial over-harvest may be responsible for in the literature (Balée 1989; Conklin 2001), anda “demographic bottleneck,” though this inter- we found similar associations in our ﬁeld expedi-pretation has been criticized in the light of tions. In the Amanã Sustainable Developmentsigniﬁcant human facilitation of Brazil nut Reserve of Brazil, the community of Boa Esper-recruitment (see Stokstad 2003). Agoutis appear ança harvests Brazil nuts from a large andto disperse Brazil nuts preferentially into garden productive grove nearby known as “Castanhalfallows, where densities of seedlings and saplings are Urumutum.” The community is located within amuch higher (two and four times, respectively) than patch of anthropogenic dark earths where overin undisturbed forest (Cotta et al. 2008). Human 200 pre-Columbian funerary urns were discov-predation of agoutis—an abundant game species ered, indicating a signiﬁcant ancient occupationoften hunted by indigenous peoples in their (Shepard 2001). Guix (2005) found high den-gardens (e. g., Ohl-Schacherer et al. 2007)— sities of useful, large-seeded plants includingwould only tend to magnify the agouti’s impor- Brazil nut in soils rich with archeological remainstance as a seed dispersal agent, freeing more along the Rio Negro River. Similar observationsabandoned scatter hoards for germination. have been made in recent archeological and In the basin-wide survey of Brazil nut pop- botanical surveys in the Rio Trombetas (Magalhãesulations published by Peres et al. (2003), by far 2009). Guix (2005) suggests that humans maythe highest densities of saplings and trees overall have replaced extinct Pleistocene megafauna spe-were registered by Shepard (2002) in a small, ﬁre- cies in dispersing a number of economically useful,impacted grove near Alter do Chão, Pará, with 50 large-seeded tree species that might have otherwiseindividuals/ha, mostly in the size class of 10– gone extinct or suffered range reductions in the60 cm diameter. This was a clear outlier in the sudden climatic and ecological changes thatdataset, where most groves had 10–100 times occurred approximately 10,000 years ago (Pipernolower densities of Bertholletia, and the majority of and Pearsall 1998). Brazil nut trees have also beenindividuals were larger than 100 cm in diameter. found in association with geoglyphs—square orWhat made the Alter do Chão site unique was its circular man-made trenches dated to betweensituation in a drier, central Amazonian climate 1,000 and 2,500 years ago (Pärssinen et al. 2009;zone with high susceptibility to ﬁre. Local Ranzi et al. 2007)—that have become visible ininformants reported that the region suffered a newly deforested areas in Acre. Similar formations,major ﬁre in the 1980s, which cleared away also rich in Brazil nut trees, were observed insigniﬁcant areas of forest understory but also Riberalta, Bolivia, near the junction of the Benicompletely exterminated the local agouti popula- and Madre de Dios rivers (H. Ramirez, pers. obs.).tion. This was the only region surveyed where Field observations made during a year-longmulti-trunked Brazil nut individuals were found: survey of Bertholletia populations throughout thenearly 50% of the trunks surveyed at the site (45 Brazilian Amazon by Shepard (2002) revealedof 93 trunks) were fused in groups of 2–5 speciﬁc ways in which local populations haveindividuals (see Shepard 2002). This was puzzling promoted Brazil nut stands through managementuntil multiple seedlings were observed emerging and direct plantation. For example, Ponta dafrom single, unopened seed cases. Without Castanha is a managed Brazil nut grove on Teféagoutis to open and disperse the seeds, the seeds lake near the Mamirauá Sustainable Development
2011] SHEPARD & RAMIREZ: HUMAN DISPERSAL OF THE BRAZIL NUT Fig. 5. Distribution of the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa). Data synthesized from Mori and Prance (1990a:-137), a spatial analysis of RADAM-Brasil (1973–1981) inventory data conducted by Desmoulière (n.d. -a, b), andauthors’ pers. obs. Comparing the geographical distributions of in Bertholletia compared with other tropical treesspecies within the sapucaia group (Fig. 6) with (Buckley et al. 1988; Kanashiro et al. 1997).that of Brazil nut (Fig. 5), a strikingly different Though Buckley et al. (1988) originally attrib-pattern emerges. The sapucaias are distributed uted this result to special ecological characteristicsamong well-deﬁned and geographically distinctive of the species, Kanashiro et al. (1997) noted thepopulations, as might be expected of a lineage hypothesized interventions of indigenous peoplewith a long history of dispersal and geographical as a more likely explanation (see also Mori andisolation between populations. Brazil nut, by Prance 1990a). Both studies, which used nuclearcontrast, demonstrates an extensive geographic DNA markers, found far greater levels of geneticrange—equal to or exceeding that of the two diversity within Brazil nut groves than betweenAmazonian sapucaias, L. zabucajo and L. pisonis them, a result that is uncommon for wild woodyssp. pisonis—and yet shows no internal taxonomic plant species (see Buckley et al. 1988) butdifferentiation as might be expected of an ancient common among cultivated species such as Euca-evolutionary lineage. Given the cumbersome lyptus globulus Labill. and Camellia sinensis (L.)dispersal mechanism of Bertholletia, compared Kuntze (Kanashiro et al. 1997). Curiously,with the dehiscent and more easily dispersed Kanashiro et al. (1997) found the highest levelsseeds of the sapucaias, one would expect Berthol- of within-grove phenotype diversity for the centralletia to show more rather than less geographical Amazon Santarém population (adjacent to Alter doisolation between populations, unless of course Chão and Pedra Pintada) and the lowest diversitythe Brazil nut’s evolutionary history has been for populations from Acre in the western Amazon.more recent, and its dispersal process more rapid. Though the authors do not comment on this fact, Reinforcing this conclusion, two prior studies the data might suggest a central Amazonian centerfound exceptionally low levels of genetic diversity for Brazil nut genetic diversity.
ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL Fig. 6. Distribution of Lecythis spp. in the “sapucaia” or pisonis group. Data adapted from Mori and Prance(1981:72). A Brazilian research group led by Rogerio cant geographical structuring, with 93% of theGribel and Maristerra Lemes used contemporary genetic variation found within populations, rein-chloroplast gene (cpDNA) sequencing and micro- forcing the prior ﬁndings of Buckley et al. (1988)satellite markers to study genetic diversity of the and Kanashiro et al. (1997) using differentBrazil nut (Gribel et al. 2007; Shepard 2002). techniques. If Brazil nut distribution dependedThe chloroplast genome, analogous to the mito- mostly on short-distance seed dispersal by agoutis,chondria genome in animals, is transmitted along with rare, long-distance dispersal events of singlematernal lines and thus relevant to studying seed seeds to form new groves, the process would havedispersal. The results of this study revealed no taken a very long time, and a geographicallyvariation for six non-coding cpDNA markers coherent pattern of genetic variability should haveampliﬁed and sequenced for eight widely sepa- emerged, as is the case for other Lecythidaceae.rated (up to 2,800 km apart) Brazil nut popula- Instead, low genetic variability at a large geo-tions (Gribel et al. 2007). This result contrasts graphical scale suggests a recent and rapidwith cpDNA sequence variability documented at irradiation of the species from a geographicallylocal scales (populations separated by as little as limited population origin.30 km) for other Lecythidaceae, including Lecy- Hans Carlos Müller, who has spent decadesthis zabucajo (Hamilton et al. 2003). Micro- gathering Bertholletia throughout Amazonia forsatellites are highly variable regions of DNA agronomic experimentation (see Müller 1981;used to study genetic diversity within popula- Müller et al. 1980), suggests the phenotypictions, analogous to paternity testing in humans. variation he has observed may be the result ofUsing eight microsatellite markers, Gribel et al. human selection (H. C. Müller, pers. comm.).(2007) identiﬁed 21 haplotypes for 116 individ- For example, the Brazil nut variety known asuals from the eight widespread populations. An abufari produces extremely large seeds (aboutanalysis of molecular variance revealed no signiﬁ- 7 cm in length) arranged like the individual slices
2011] SHEPARD & RAMIREZ: HUMAN DISPERSAL OF THE BRAZIL NUTof a grapefruit. He describes other varieties that innovations (Balée 2000; Balée and Mooreproduce exceptionally large or numerous seeds, 1991; Comrie 2002; Urban 1992).that have exceptionally low tree crowns, or that Henri Ramirez has collected a large database ofpresent variable fruiting and maturation dates, vocabulary words in numerous South Americancharacteristics which are reproduced in offspring, languages, including botanical and zoologicalruling out mere ecological variation. Such phe- terms (see also Ramirez 2001). Results for thenotypic variables (fruit size, low crown, etc.) are Brazil nut, published and analyzed here for thetypical of traits selected for by humans in ﬁrst time (Appendix), suggest an intriguingincipient domestication of managed species pattern (Figs. 7 and 8). Of the three major(Clement 1990). language families within Brazil nut’s range— Arawak, Carib, and Tupi—only Arawak and Carib have terms for Brazil nut that reconstruct Linguistics and Cultural History to the respective proto-languages. Tupi, on the Historical linguistics has been used to shed other hand, shows variable terms for Brazil nutlight on the dispersal of ancient peoples and their across different subfamilies that do not appear tocrops, languages, and genes (Bellwood 2001; reconstruct. The suggested proto-Arawak term forBellwood and Renfrew 2002; Brown 2006; Brazil nut is *maiña or *maina, while theComrie 2002). Though caution is needed in suggested proto-Carib word is *tutka or *tutukainterpreting such data (Campbell 2002; Moore (the asterisk denotes hypothetical proto-vocabu-and Storto 2002; Roosevelt 1992), proto-language lary terms deduced from modern forms). Whenreconstruction and the study of loan words can speciﬁc vocabulary items (plants, animals, tools,provide evidence about the timing and direc- etc.) reconstruct to the proto-language (barringtion of agricultural, technological, and cultural recent loan words, which can be detected through Fig. 7. Indigenous terms for Brazil nut in the Amazon, showing approximate geographical location of eachgroup, color-coded for language family.
ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL Fig. 8. Preliminary historical/geographical analysis of indigenous terminology for Brazil nut.careful study), it is presumed that these items 2005). Regardless, the relatively close linguisticwere present in the cultural and environmental proximity among existing Carib languages sug-milieu at the time the proto-language was spoken gests a relatively recent common ancestor, with(Facundes 2002; Moore and Storto 2002). perhaps only half the time depth of the Arawak or Contradicting earlier hypotheses, which were Tupi language families, estimated to have begunbased on fragmentary or ﬂawed evidence (Noble internal diversiﬁcation more than 3,000 years ago1965; Schmidt 1917), more recent archeologists (Payne 1991; Rodrigues 1999). Wherever proto-and linguists propose that Arawak peoples origi- Carib speakers found themselves some 1,500 tonated in the northern portion of the Amazon 2,000 years ago, Brazil nut appears to have been abasin, though opinions are divided as to the salient element of their environment.precise center of origin, whether in central The Arawak and Carib cases contrast with that(Lathrap 1970; Ramirez 2001:26) or northwest- of the Tupi family, for which a proto-word forern Amazonia (Heckenberger 2002:99; Oliver Brazil nut does not appear to reconstruct.1989). Arawak speakers began a vigorous expan- Variable proto-words for Brazil nut reconstructsion approximately 3,000 years ago and came to for some of the Tupi subfamilies (Tupi-Guarani,occupy a vast region from the savannas of Tupari) and perhaps other intermediate group-southern Brazil, to the Caribbean, to the Andean ings (see Appendix). This speculative linguisticfoothills of Peru and Bolivia (Hill and Santos- evidence suggests that the earliest proto-TupiGranero 2002; Payne 1991). Carib languages speakers might not have known the Brazil nut,were long thought to have emerged in the but came to know it (either through migration orsouthern Amazon (Rodrigues 1985; Steinen interethnic contact) after certain subfamilies had1894). However, a more recent internal classi- diverged. Both linguistic and archeological dataﬁcation by Meira (2006:200) suggests a northern provide strong support that the Tupi languageorigin in the Guianas (see also Heckenberger family originated in the southern Amazon, likely in2005; Lathrap 1970; Meira and Franchetto the upper Tapajos and Madeira rivers in what is
2011] SHEPARD & RAMIREZ: HUMAN DISPERSAL OF THE BRAZIL NUTnow the Brazilian state of Rondonia (Heckenberger Madeira, the Takana-speaking Esse-Eja refer toet al. 1998; Métraux 1928; Rodrigues 1964). This Brazil nut as xiwiwi, more similar to the Muraregion currently contains large and important and Matanawi words than the cluster of termspopulations of Brazil nut; thus the absence of a (moke, moje, muihe) used by their Takanaclear proto-word is striking and anomalous. neighbors. The Mura and Matanawi terms (tihii,Indeed, Eurico Muller, the preeminent arche- txipii) bear at least superﬁcial resemblance toologist of Rondonia’s prehistory (see Miller nearby Carib forms such as tetkï, and even to the1992), remarked on the curious absence of Brazil word for peanut, dihi, among the Leko in thenut remains (though charred palm nuts are upper Madeira (see discussion below about pea-common) from 4,000-year old sites he has nut/Brazil nut associations). The Iquito term sahiiexcavated in regions where Brazil nut groves are (Peruvian Amazon), Katawixi sákodia (centrala dominant element of the current landscape Amazon), and Asurini sa (Tupi-Guarani of(E. Muller, pers. comm.). Tocantins) also show a superﬁcial similarity. Diverse language groups near the limits of the Similarity among vocabulary items can alsocurrent distribution of the Brazil nut refer to it emerge by chance, and thus more systematicusing loan words from neighboring languages. investigation would be required to test theseFor example, the Arawak-speaking Lokono in the speculations.Guianas call the Brazil nut tutuka, clearly a loan A stronger case for chains of linguistic borrow-word from neighboring Carib speakers. Likewise ing can be made for a cluster of unrelatedthe Tupi-speaking Tembé in Pará (eastern language families located in the Purús basin andAmazon) call it teko-ingwer, the ﬁrst element of Madeira headwaters in the southwest Amazon.which may be a loan from Carib (an alternative Terms in the Arawá (not be confused with thename for Brazil nut in Tembé, zapukaza’i refers Arawak) language family such as mowe and moi’dito Lecythis pisonis, an example of naming by are strikingly similar to the Tupian Arara termanalogy; see below). The word for Brazil nut in mowi, and also resemble nearby Arawak termsTikuna, ñoo, appears to be a loan word from the such as Kaixana maihu and Marawá manazi.reconstructed Tupi-Guarani ña, associated with Further south in the Madeira headwaters betweenthe late western expansion of Tupi speakers Bolivia and Perú, the reconstructed proto-Takanaalong the main Amazon channel (Rodrigues term *moike is similar both to these modern1999). Other indigenous groups along the Arawá terms (mowe, moi’di) and to *maïkï asfringes of its distribution refer to the Brazil nut reconstructed for the proto-Piro-Apurinã subgroupwith regional vernacular terms: the Yekuana of Arawak (see Fig. 8, Appendix). The Harakmbut(Carib) term, wuﬁa, is a loan word from the word morikke is a clear loan word from the proto-regional Venezuelan term, jubia, while multiple Takana *moike.groups in southern and eastern Brazil have terms The Harakmbut presents a particularly inter-derived from the Portuguese castanha or the esting case, since Brazil nut is virtually absentregional term tocari, probably of Carib origin from their current territory on the Manu and(see Appendix, Figs. 7 and 8). upper Madre de Dios rivers in Peru (upper In the Tupi-Guarani subfamily of the Tupi Madeira tributaries). A few isolated individualsfamily, the reconstructed proto-term for Brazil of Brazil nut are currently found in the forestnut, *(i)ña, is close enough to the proto-Arawak interior several kilometers from the Pakitsa guard*maiña to warrant further scrutiny. The term post of Manu National Park (G. Shepard, pers.minata in Kamayurá (within Tupi-Guarani) is obs.), far from the commercially viable Brazil nutespecially similar to the Arawakan form. Maneéh groves on the lower Madre de Dios that havein Maku (northwest Amazon) and méhe in been considered the southernmost distributionTaruma (Guiana region) are more clear-cut cases limit (Mori and Prance 1990a). These isolatedof Arawak loan words to unrelated languages. Brazil nut trees in Manu are not likely to have In some cases, regional loan word patterns arrived at Pakitsa by natural dispersion, and weresuggest longer chains of interethnic contact or instead probably brought by indigenous peoplemigration. For example, along the Madeira River, such as the Harakmbut-speaking Toyeri whothe Mura word for Brazil nut, tihii, is similar to occupied Manu before being decimated by rubberthe word among the unrelated but neighboring tappers beginning in the 1890s (Shepard et al.Matanawi, txipii. In the headwaters of the 2010). The Harakmbut word for Brazil nut, and
ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOLthe Brazil nut trees themselves, appear to have reminiscent of the word for peanut, wai-se,been acquired either through downstream trading among the neighboring Arawak-speaking Pareci.with the Takana, or as a result of an earlier The peanut, curiously, was probably ﬁrst domes-upstream migration. In the latter regard, Adelaar ticated nearby in the dry south Amazon border(2000) suggests tentative linguistic connections region (see Piperno and Pearsall 1998).between Harakmbut and the Katukina language Among the more northerly Tupi groupsfamily of Brazil. This example suggests a link (Tupi-Guarani subgroup), the word for Brazilbetween processes of linguistic borrowing and nut in some languages is closely related to theactual plant dispersal. general word for “seed,” even showing systematic A number of unrelated, geographically sepa- sound correspondence between for example ñarated languages in the southern and western (“Brazil nut”) and—a’ïña (“seed”) in Wayampi-Amazon appear to have named the Brazil nut Kawahip-Apiaká, and sa (“Brazil nut”) and—through analogy to some other edible nut (see a’ïsa (“seed”) in Asurini. Likewise the Chapa-Appendix), particularly the peanut (Arachis hypo- curan (Rondônia/Bolivia) terms tokwe, tokä, tike,gea L.). Novel plants or animals are often named teke are very close to the general terms for “seed”by analogy with more familiar local species (tokwin, toki).(Berlin 1992; Witkowski and Brown 1983). Linguistic borrowings depend upon complexThe Portuguese and Spanish words for Brazil factors involved in sociolinguistic contact (Campbellnut represent precisely such a case, where the 2002; Comrie 2002; Dixon 1999), and interpre-terms castanha and castaña referred originally to tation of such data presents numerous challenges.the chestnut (Castanea spp.), and later came to We speculate, based on analysis of loan words andrefer to the Brazil nut through analogy. The semantic extension (“nut”/“peanut”), that someMatsigenka (Arawak) live in the Andean foothills of the language groups around the fringes of theoutside the Brazil nut distribution, and came to Brazil nut distribution, and along certain key riverknow it only in recent decades through trade; they routes (e. g., upper Madeira, western Amazon),refer to Brazil nut either as inke, literally “peanut,” encountered the Brazil nut relatively recentlyor else use the Spanish term castaña. In a similar through migration, trade, or contact. The Tupifashion, the linguistically unrelated Sharanahua case is particularly important, since they are(Panoan) and Kokama (Tupi), who live near the presumed to have originated in the uppersouthern and western limits (respectively) of Madeira/Tapajos region, which currently containsBrazil nut distribution, refer to it as “large vast, commercially productive Brazil nut groves.peanut” (see Appendix). These groups, like the Our preliminary linguistic analysis suggests thatMatsigenka, appear to have encountered the some four millennia ago, when the Tupi languageBrazil nut relatively recently. Among the Panoan family emerged, the Brazil nut may not have beenlanguages there seems to be thorough interchan- present in their environment.geability between terms: while the Sharanahua Recent archeological studies (Arroyo-Kalincall the Brazil nut “large peanut” (tama wan), the 2008; Neves et al. 2003) have demonstrated thatChacobo call the peanut a “ground Brazil-nut” the large patches of anthropogenic dark earths, or(mai tapa). terra preta do índio, found mostly in the Brazilian Among multiple subgroups of southern Tupi Amazon, resulted from the intensiﬁcation oflanguages, the word for Brazil nut is suspiciously agriculture and the emergence of sedentary life-similar to the word for peanut: in Makurap, arao styles, especially during the ﬁrst millennium C.E.(where arawï is “peanut”); in Mondé, mam Arawak peoples have been implicated in the(where mam kap is “peanut”); Karitiana, mijo spread of sedentary agriculture in the Amazon(where mĩ’ĩ is “peanut”); and Munduruku, wenïj/ (Schmidt 1917), the generation of these darkwenã (where wenã-bïn ñe is “peanut”). The iso- earth soils (Arroyo-Kalin 2008), and the forma-lated languages Kanoe and Rikbaktsa (Rondônia) tion of large-scale interethnic trade networks (Hillshow a similar semantic overlap between Brazil nut and Santos-Granero 2002). Sedentary lifestylesand peanut (see Appendix). Likewise in the two and dark earths are especially associated with theNambikwara dialects (southern Amazon), Brazil cultivation of bitter manioc, which requires labor-nut is wana’ and wanakka, respectively, while intensive processing that generates large amountspeanut is waiki and waikki. In the related of charcoal during the cooking and toasting ofSabanê language, kwaiki for Brazil nut is various kinds of manioc ﬂour and other byprod-
2011] SHEPARD & RAMIREZ: HUMAN DISPERSAL OF THE BRAZIL NUTucts; bitter manioc cultivation predominates in some already published and some presented herethe eastern half of Amazonia, the Orinoco basin, for the ﬁrst time, lends credence to some degreeand the Guianas (Arroyo-Kalin 2008). Sweet of human involvement in the dispersal of themanioc (“yuca”), by contrast, requires no special Brazil nut to its current range. A review of theprocessing other than simple cooking, and is geographic distribution of B. excelsa, and compar-predominant in the western Amazon where semi- ison with that of several Lecythis species withnomadic shifting cultivation is the norm, and similar, more easily dispersed seeds, suggest awhere both the Brazil nut and anthropogenic number of anomalies that are consistent with adark earths are mostly absent. The intensive relatively recent colonization of Bertholletiaagriculture practices required to create large throughout Amazonia. The dispersal ecology ofpatches of anthropogenic dark earths provide the Brazil nut renders it highly responsive to andexactly the combination of anthropic factors that perhaps largely dependent on anthropogenicwould have facilitated the establishment of Brazil disturbance for the establishment and expansionnut stands. Brazil nut groves are often associated of groves, at least given post-Pleistocene ecologicalwith anthropogenic dark earths, and Arawak conditions. Field observations and a review oflanguages appear to represent an important hub ethnographic examples suggest how speciﬁc cul-of loan words for Brazil nut to other language tural practices might have facilitated the expan-families. Indeed, the distribution of Brazil nut sion of Brazil nut populations from ancientshows striking similarities with the distribution of through recent times. Phenotypes observed inknown dark earth sites in the Amazon basin certain Brazil nut populations suggest a degree of(see Kern et al. 2004:54). selection and incipient domestication. Past Several authors have noted the conspicuous genetic studies suggesting low degrees of inter-absence of the Brazil nut in the Juruá basin (Mori population genetic diversity were conﬁrmed andand Prance 1990a; Fig. 5). While soil conditions made more emphatic by our own more recentmay be a factor, the Juruá is also a region of studies of chloroplast DNA, suggesting a recentcultural disjunction between more geographically and rapid dissemination from a restricted pop-circumscribed Arawá and Panoans, surrounded to ulation of origin.the north and south by suggested routes of Arawak Historical linguistic analysis of indigenousand multiple Tupi expansions along the Madeira terms for the Brazil nut reinforces our inter-and Amazon proper (Aikhenvald 1999; Hornborg pretation of previously published genetic2005; see also Heckenberger 2002:105). Thus the (Kanashiro et al. 1997) and archeologicallimits of the Brazil nut distribution may represent at (Roosevelt et al. 1996) data, suggesting a northern/least in part the limits of various cultural-linguistic central Amazonian origin for Bertholletia, with“diasporas” (Heckenberger 2002) associated with a more recent spread of Brazil nut distributionthe intensiﬁcation of agriculture, especially begin- (and cultivation?) to the south and west. Such anning in the ﬁrst millennium C.E. (Arroyo-Kalin expansion would have been particularly facili-2008; Neves and Petersen 2006). Speculative tated by the emergence of intensive bitterdating of language families (see Appendix) manioc cultivation and networks of interethnicsupports a similar time frame (1,500–2,000 years trade associated with the Arawak diaspora of theago) for the acquisition of loan words or analogy ﬁrst millennium C.E. (see Heckenberger 2002).terms (“peanut,” “seed”) for Brazil nut in several The often-noted association between Brazil nutAmazonian language families in the southern groves and anthropogenic dark earths—themselvesand western Amazon (Tupi, Pano, Takana, a result of intensive pre-Colombian sedentaryNambikwara, etc.). agriculture—lends support to such an interpreta- tion. Our arguments contribute to a body of relatively recent discoveries challenging the long- standing view of pre-Colombian Amazonian Conclusion peoples as small, low-impact nomadic popula- There is so far no “smoking gun” that proves tions, revealing instead the signiﬁcant legacy ofBrazil nut groves are the forest plantations of ancient indigenous peoples in shaping modernancient indigenous peoples, as Ducke (1946) Amazonian landscapes (Balée and Erickson 2006;once hypothesized. However, a preponderance Heckenberger et al. 2008; McCann et al. 2001;of evidence from independent lines of research, Roosevelt 1980).
ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL Acknowledgments to Carlos Peres for sharing data, observations, and The authors wish to acknowledge Rogerio Gribel photographs during various drafts. We thank Scottand Maristerra Lemes for support and research Mori and two anonymous reviewers for their carefulcollaboration in the early phases of this study. We reading of the manuscript and many helpful com-also acknowledge Eduardo Góes Neves and the ments and revisions. We acknowledge Denny MooreMuseum of Archeology and Ethnology at University for urging caution in our linguistic interpretations.of São Paulo for support during a later phase of the Finally, we thank Joshua Birtchall for helpful com-research. We thank Manuel Arroyo-Kalin for many ments on the ﬁnal draft of some ﬁgures. Differentuseful suggestions on a draft of the paper. We also phases of the research were supported by Brazil’sthank Sylvain Desmoulière for kindly sharing Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientíﬁco eunpublished geographical analyses of RADAM- Tecnológico (CNPq) and Fundação de Amparo aBrasil inventory data on the Brazil nut. Thanks also Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP). AppendixRegional, vernacular, and indigenous terms for Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa), researched andorganized by H. Ramirez. All vernacular terms were collected in the ﬁeld except where bibliographicalsources are noted.REGIONAL AND VERNACULAR TERMS:& noix du Brésil (French) < *Latin nuc(e) “fruit of a european tree (Juglans regia), or any similar kind of fruit with an almond” < *Indo-European knu(t).& Brasil nut (English) < *Germanic knut “hard seed” < *Indo-European knu(t). NOTE: The German and English words for the peanut (Arachis hypogaea) have been formed from the same linguistic root: pea + nut in English and erd + nuβ nut of earth in German.& castanha (Portuguese), castaña (Spanish) < *Latin (nux) castanea “nut of the chestnut tree (Castanea vesca) or any similar kind of fruit < *Greek kástanon < Asiatic language (cf. English chestnut < *Old English chesten nut < *Old French chastaigne “chestnut”).& almendra (Spanish, cf. Portuguese amêndoa, French amande, English almond) < *Latin amygdala “almond” < *Greek amygdále “ amygdalis”.& to(ro)cari (Brazil of XVIIIth century) < probable Carib loan, with the non-Carib sufﬁx -ri.& touca (French Guiana) < probable Carib loan: tutuka in Kari’ña.& yuviá, jubia (Venezuelan Spanish) < loanword from an unknown indigenous language.Symbols, abbreviations, and orthography:N.P. Brazil nut not present in locality† extinct language[<...] etymological meaning or loan word—/— synonyms(— yrs.) approximative time depth for the proto-language*— hypothetical reconstructed proto-formÏ high central vowelÄ mid central vowely high round front vowel (like u in French)ñ palatal nasalj palatal semivowel (like y in English)x voiceless palatal fricativetx voiceless palatal affricate’ glottal stopã, ẽ,... nasalized vowel
2011] SHEPARD & RAMIREZ: HUMAN DISPERSAL OF THE BRAZIL NUTINDIGENOUS TERMS:NOTE: Terms are organized by linguistic families. Roman numbers (I, II, III, etc.) indicate thesubfamilies, while letters (Ia, Ib, Ic, etc.) show further subgroupings. New internal classiﬁcations havebeen suggested here by H. Ramirez for Arawá, Arawak, Chapacura, Carib, and Pano families. Whereongoing lexico-statistical study permits, suggestions for language family time depth are provided inparentheses. Supplemental terms for “peanut,” “nut,” etc. are provided where relevant.Aikana jiry (wikere / wita peanut)Arawá (2,000 yrs.) I) PAUMARI moi’di (mowa ﬂower) II) ZOROWAHA namï-wasazu (namï high?, wasazu inajá [Attalea sp.]) III) YARAWARA-DENI IIIa) YARAWARA mowe (mowe ﬂower) (cf. Arara-Aripuanã [Tupi] mowi) IIIb) DENI wato Arawak (Aruak, Maipure) (4,500 yrs.) *maiña/*maina I) KAIXANA maíhu / maikï (sïmi / sumi seed) II) †BAHUANA miñi’i III) WAPISHANA minaï IV) MAWAYANA mija V) †MARAWÁ manazi (usi seed) (data from Tastevin 1920) VI) PIRO-APURINÃ (2,000 yrs.) *maï(-)kï (cf. proto-Takana *moike, Harakmbut morikke, Paumari [Arawá] moi’di) VIa) PIRO mïxi / janajsi (-xi seed) VIb) INAMPARI mïhï (-hï seed) VIc) APURINÃ makï / make / mitjatakuru (-kï seed) VII) LOKONO tútuka (< Carib) VIII) PARECI tokali-se / tokware-se (< Carib) (wai-se peanut) IX) CAMPA/MATSIGENKA inke (= peanut), kastaña (<Sp.)Cahuapana xiwako’, monopi, tanpa’pi nuts spp.Carib (2,500 yrs.) *tut(u)-ka (cf. Mura-Piraha tíihí) I) GUIANA Ia) † PALMELLAS tutuko (data from Fonseca 1880–1881) Ib) WAIWAI tïtko HIXKARYANA tutko KAXUYANA tutko Ic) TRIÓ tuhka / tuuka † OYARICOULÉ tura-tura Id) APALAI tutuko WAYANA tutukä / tutuko WAIMIRI-ATROARI tetkï KARI’ÑA tutuka
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