The story goes that the native Ecuadorians were not quite aware of the uses of its rainforest nut often referred to as vegetable ivory and also called corozo among several other names, that popped off the huge palm trees in the tropical forests of the fourth-smallest country in South America. Found mainly along the Ecuadorian coast and the Amazon forests, Germans are credited with the discovery of the corozo, but they kept it a secret for long until the Italians also unearthed it. There are records showing the use of corozo as buttons as early as the 1850s.
The commercialisation of the tagua seed button began in the middle of the 19th century but lost out soon after World War II as advances in technology meant development of new materials in a shorter time and the advent of low-cost synthetic plastic buttons.
Once again as the demand for planet-friendly materials surges in a rapidly increasing do or die global climate crises scenario, the corozo — where each corozo blank becomes a button — offers to the fashion world just what it is looking for to reduce its carbon footprint and also promote and conserve tropical forests and its biodiversity in some regions, especially Ecuador, supposedly the only country in the world that produces and exports this product.