The aguaribay, the sacred tree of the Incas, is native to the Andean region of Peru and from there it spread through the warm areas of our country. It is known as molle, pepper and Castile pepper.
The place names Horco Molle, Mollar and Tafí del Valle refer to this Tree of Life so named for its numerous medicinal properties.
The Aguaribay is a tree that belongs to the Anacardiaceae family, genus Schinus, molle species.
- Height: 6 to 10 meters.
- Diameter: 8 to 10 meters.
- Growth: fast.
- Soil: well drained.
- Temperature: moderately resistant to cold.
- Transplantation: poor tolerance.
- Uses: ornamental.
- Origin: Argentina.
The aguaribay has persistent foliage. The light green leaves, composed of between 5 and 9 pairs of leaflets, are small and fall downwards. Its dense and wide crown is formed by hanging twigs that are reminiscent of weeping willows. They are dioecious plants, that is, they have different sexes. The yellowish flowers gather in panicles, as well as the fruits where the showy clusters resemble amber pearls that, when ripe, turn pink and then red. The birds eat the fruits and are responsible for their dispersal.
It lives in any type of soil, as long as it is not very heavy and, above all, that it does not retain moisture. It is also a species that supports drought very well.
Its use is merely ornamental. It reproduces by seeds and can be planted alone or in groups, but its large diameter must be considered.
This species, which is also commonly known as the pepper tree, is fast-growing and weeping-like bearing that does not acquire great height, but has a considerable diameter.
Uses and properties
With the fruits a drink similar to corn chicha is prepared. The ripe fruits are squeezed with the hands in hot water, then the liquid is filtered and left to ferment for 3 or 4 days.
The medicinal virtues used by the Incas detail the use in infusions for kidney and bladder diseases. The fragrant resin was used to heal wounds and ulcers, it also served to fill teeth. The young leaves relieved liver ailments and stomach cramps.
The Andean people mixed the juice of the leaves with milk and applied it as eye drops on conjunctivitis. The cooked fruits served as diuretics. The fresh leaves were used in poultices for sciatica and rheumatic pain.
The inflammations of the lower limbs were relieved with fresh boiled leaves and the ashes were used in the preparation of soaps.
When the leaves and bark of this tree are cooked, an intense yellow liquid is obtained, which is used as an input to dye various fabrics.
The branches and fruits of the aguaribay, when mixed in water, together with the corn seeds, allow obtaining a fertilizer.
In the time of the Incas they were planted around all of Cusco, and the resin obtained from its trunk was used to embalm corpses, as well as to heal wounds, it comes from the inter-Andean valleys of central Peru, especially from arid regions. and semi-arid of the steppe mountains and the lower montane forest.
From the remarkable medicine applied by the Incas we pass to the Christian legend that justifies its virtues.
He says that so many benefits were the award received for saving La Sagrada Familia from Herod's persecution. Mary, Joseph and the Child fled through landscapes of sun and stones. Seeing a group of soldiers approaching, and since there was no time to flee, José asked a fig tree for protection. In response the tree dropped its leaves and refused to hide them. María spoke with a neighboring aguaribay and he lowered his branches and squeezed them. Thus he completely covered the travelers and the pursuers continued on their way. Mary blessed him saying that he would be like the pepper of the East and that he would have many virtues for his piety.
The antimicrobial properties of the oil are currently being studied.
In some northern towns, they advise burning sugar on a can with hot coals and throwing a handful of green leaves over it.
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