|Luma apiculata forest, in Los Arrayanes National Park, Argentina|
Luma apiculata (Chilean myrtle) is a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family, native to the central Andes between Chile and Argentina, at 33 to 45° south latitude. Growing to 10–15 m (33–49 ft) tall and wide, it is a vigorous, bushy, evergreen tree with fragrant flowers.
Names and synonyms
Synonyms include Myrtus luma Mol., Eugenia apiculata DC., Myrceugenia apiculata (DC.) Niedenzu, and Myrceugenella apiculata (DC.) Kausel. Common names include Arrayán (from a Spanish name for the related European myrtle), Kelümamüll (orange-wood) (the Mapuche Native American name), Shortleaf Stopper, Palo Colorado and Temu.
The Chilean myrtle grows slowly, forming a small tree of around 10 to 15 metres, rarely 20 metres. Its trunk appears twisted and contorted and has smooth bark, coloured grey to bright orange-brown, which peels as the tree grows. It is evergreen, with small fragrant oval leaves 2 to 2.5 centimetres long and 1.5 broad, and profuse white flowers in early to midsummer. Its fruit is an edible black or blue berry 1 centimeter in diameter, ripe in early autumn.
The Chilean myrtle grows along water currents in the Valdivian temperate rain forests in Chile, while in Argentina it grows from Neuquén south to the Chubut River. The main forests are on the Quetrihué Peninsula (Mapuche for 'myrtles') and on Isla Victoria on the Nahuel Huapi Lake, within the Los Arrayanes National Park and Nahuel Huapí National Park, respectively, in Argentina. It can be also found in lesser numbers along the Arrayanes River in Los Alerces National Park. Trees in these protected areas are up to 650 years old. The notable Chilean myrtle forest of the Los Arrayanes National Park covers 20 hectares of the Quetrihué Peninsula, where the cinnamon coloured myrtles leave almost no space for other trees.
Cultivation and uses
Its fruit is appreciated in Chile and Argentina and its flowers are important for honey production. The Chilean myrtle has medicinal uses for the Mapuche people. It is also kept as bonsai and cultivated in gardens for the contrast of the glossy foliage and slender red stems. It has become naturalised in parts of Ireland and western Great Britain and it has been planted in Spain.
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Luma apiculata". Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Luma apiculata 'Glanleam Gold'". Retrieved 22 May 2013.
Arrayán in Los Arrayanes National Park.
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