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sp.), Family Apocynaceae
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G.
Explanation: What good is a wrinkled tree? This is an interesting evergreen tree -- variously known as Aspidosperma Quebracho, Quebracho Bark, Quebracho Blanco, and Brazilian Box Tree -- photographed here in a remote timber concession in the upper Amazon Basin of Bolivia.
Also found in western Argentina, Chile, southern Brazil, and other South American countries, this tree has very hard wood; the name quebracho is taken from two Spanish words quebrar and hacha, meaning "to break the axe." The dense wood and extreme wrinkling or fluting of the bark mean that this tree is not used for commercial timber purposes. So what "good" is it?
The bark of Quebracho is comprised of a thick corky layer that has been used for many years in South America as a febrifuge, that is, a medicine that lowers body temperature to prevent or reduce fever. It is also used to relieve dyspnea (difficult or laboured breathing, as from emphysema and asthma). The bark and especially heartwood are used for tanning hides as the tree contains tannins and little or no alkaloids. And the heartwood can be used for small-scale carpentry and cabinetry.
Also, apparently unstudied, the deep furrows of the thick, wrinkled bark may very well provide refuges for a variety of insect, invertebrate, and vertebrate wildlife species. For these ecological values alone, as feasible, it is recommended to leave the tree standing in commercial timber operations.
Next week's picture: Forest Fire at Treeline in the Andes
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