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The Calden - sacred tree

Sacred tree of the Mapuches (native people), the caldén is a native species of the central region of Argentina. In addition, it is part of the graphics that we can see on the shield of the state of La Pampa (Argentina).

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The Mapuches used to say "huichru", whose phonetics are "huitru". It has alternate, compound and bipinnate leaves about 3.5 cm long. It is structured with small oppositely dark green leaflets. The foliage is deciduous and reappears after flowering.

The flower spikes are protective and show a bright yellow-orange color. It produces a fruit called chaucha. It is a legume that measures between 10 and 15 centimeters in length by 5 to 8 millimeters in thickness. When ripe, it has a yellowish-orange color. Inside it has seeds (up to 40 per chaucha) of a sweetish taste. This is a large tree that reaches up to 12 meters in height with a robust trunk of 1.5 to 2 meters in diameter. It is the dominant species of the caldén district (Espinal Phytogeographic Province). It inhabits the south of San Luis and Córdoba, the central part of La Pampa, southwest of Buenos Aires, and there are those who claim that it reached the northeast of Río Negro and southeast of Mendoza.

The wood is semi-heavy, thick texture, high quality (similar to carob) and with great resistance to wear. The greatest use is for making furniture, poles, paving stones, parquet, wine containers and in construction.

Currently, work is being done to ensure that the exploitation of wood responds to sustainable management and that it achieves an environmental certification.

The Mapuches considered the caldén as a sacred tree. In the summer, they harvested the beans and made "chicha", a fermented alcoholic beverage.

 

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