Thursday, April 12, 2007


Bosque Santa Lúcia isn't a botanical garden but I like treat it as if it were one. Can you imagine your guide at the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro whacking away at the trees with a machete as he shows you around the place? But in the forest environment it is quite common for everyone to remove pieces of bark for the purpose of identifying trees and at times gashing the tree for latex and resins. I know some woodsmen who whack away at trees just for the hell of it. The tree in the image is amapá-doce, which immediately bleeds a latex the consistency of milk when slashed with a knife. Tour guides know the value of showing their clients things like this, a show-and-tell approach, which is always better than the bla bla bla show. I suppose this is valid in a forest the size of the Tapajós National Forest, where I took the picture. Sr. Francisco, our guide, was at the other end of the knife and he knows what pleases visitors. Nevertheless, I ask the woodsmen and English speaking guides coming to the Bosque not to cut the water-vines, amapá-doce trees, palms and other flora because our area is relatively small, much like an over-seized botanical garden. Not only does it look bad for the next visitors but exaggerated cuts are harmful for the trees. By the way, the latex of amapá-doce (Brosimum perinarioides) is considered to be both nutritional and medicinal by the scientific community conducting research in this area. Some local people report that they mix the "milk" with farinha (meal of the manioc root) and sugar for treatment of respiratory ailments, like tuberculosis. As one might suspect, the Territory of Amapá, later to become the State of Amapá, got its name from the tree.

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