Hi everyone! Today we’ll discuss a bit of the genealogy of Baru trees. A lot of people ask how close they are to other Legumes, particularly peanuts and soy, or even tree nuts due to allergy concerns. Is baru cross-allergenic towards peanut and tree nut sensitive people?
Well, short answer, no, and the answer to the Legumes question: barely related. Why? Bear with us. There’s more!
Our baru branch, Dipterygeae, is one of the basal tribes of the Papilionoid or Fabaceae family (the Legumes mega-branch). Dipterygeae branched out really early, and one could say baru is an “ancient” or “primitive” Legume! Check out the graph below to understand their branching:
You can see more familiar Legumes, such as peanuts and soy, sharing a common ancestry and being phylogenetically “more recent” (~50 million years) in comparison to baru (~60 million years ago).
Having evolved in relative isolation from other branches, the baru tree developed its own traits, narrowly adapted to the savanna. It co-evolved over millions of years with local pollinators (Cerrado bees), and seed dispersers (birds and bats). It’s a one of a kind tree, completely immersed and woven in its ecosystem, the Cerrado.
Baru tree (Dipteryx alata)
Ok. What about tree nuts?
“Tree nut” is an umbrella term that includes species from mainly Fagaceae (walnuts and hazelnuts), but also orders Rosaceae (almonds), Sapindaceae (cashews) and Ericaceae (Brazil nuts). Other than sprouting from the ground, they have no relation with Dipterygeae or even Papilionoid, with distinct fruits (or not even), very different seeds and distinct physiologies.
It’s essentially comparing a bee to a bat and a bird: they all fly, but use very different means for that. Due to this genetic distance and unique nature, there are no known cases of cross allergies of baru and other Legumes or tree nuts. One could say they’re peanut-free and nut-free by default, but that also depends on how and where they’re processed along the supply chain.
Did you know? Baru Baron’s baru seeds are certified peanut-free and nut-free!
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