Tagua nut, or vegetable ivory, is the kernel of the fruit of a palm tree of the genus Phytelephas. The six species of this plant grow in South America, thriving in areas from southern Panama along the Andes to Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, northwestern Brazil, and Peru. The name means “Plant Elephant”, and this nut is widely used as a substitute for ivory in jewelry and musical instruments. It is very dense, hard, and waxy, and varies in color from a pale white to translucent beige. As these nuts dry, they often develop a crack in the center radiating out in three directions, so carvings made from this material must be designed to allow for this naturally occurring flaw.