Saturday, August 30, 2008

Muiratinga, continued

Hang on folks! Don't click on that "inappropriate material" button provided by your blogger company. This isn't jungle porn. It's only part of tropical biodiversity in the world of trees. As explained in the previous post, the muiratinga trees lose their branches, much like plants, i.e., the branches disconnect themselves from the trunk of the tree taking with them the nodule that for the world takes on the image of a penis. Obviously, mankind makes of it what they want, including stories, legends, jokes and even porn. When I came to Santarem in 1979, I remember it was quite common for local folks to present me with the muiratinga oddity, in great jest of course. The local name is caruara, which comes from the Indian language. Strange enough, I haven't been able to find reference to this word anywhere on the internet or in my library. As a matter of fact, there is almost nothing on the topic. The only reference I found was a book of Indigenous stories written by Betty Mindlin, called Barbecued Husbands And Other Stories from the Amazon. The excerpt from the book is explicit enough that I need not say anything else. Only that the word muiratinga means "the white tree". At least that's the best translation I could concoct from the words muira (tree or wood) and tinga (white). A word about the image: the tree is muiratinga, from which the branch fell.

7 comments:

mary said...

Could it be Maquira coriacea (coriacea means "white")?

See this blog post.

http://singingtotheplants.blogspot.com/2007/12/male-potency-enhancers.html

Steven Alexander said...

Mary, I had a look at the link. All very interesting. That's the only image I've ever seen of a carauara, other than the ones on my blog. The author states that Maquira coriacea is a palm, which is wrong of course. The little bit of research that I've done indicates that Maquira coriacea is a floodplain tree. Our Bosque Santa Lucia is located in the planalto, highlands. There are species native to that environment. The forester and classifier who did my botanical listing more than 10 years back, didn't specify the species, unfortunately. Many thanks and cheers.

SAPhotographs said...

It actually looks more like a fungi than a nodule Steven. I would think that in the jungle there would be many interesting and un-named plants and trees.

Steven Alexander said...

> Saphotographs, my plan was to show the carauara and the muiratinga together. Unfortunately, the presence of fungi on both made for a blended soup. I'll get another pix of the carauara.

mary said...

Steven,

It completely escaped me that the singing to the plants guy called this tree a palm! I think the genus Maquira is in the fig tree family, isn't it?

Anyway, I also saw that M. coriacea was almost always called a floodplain tree. Maybe you have another species. :-)

Steven Alexander said...

> Mary, yes it's the same family, Moraceae. I spotted at least three different Maquira species on the internet search, listed for the highlands. It appears there are more. It would be interesting to know if all species present that kind of branch detachment as the one at the Bosque.

Steve Beyer said...

Steven -- Hi! I'm the Singing to the Plants guy, and I believe that you are correct. Maquira coriacea is not a palm -- at least it is not listed in Henderson, Galeano & Bernal's Field Guide. I apologize to all the taxonomists out there. Whatever it is, it sure does look a lot like a penis. :-) And, in the most friendly spirit, I should add that the correct term is penis glans, not penis gland. :-)