|Luma apiculata forest, in Los Arrayanes National Park, Argentina|
Luma apiculata, the Chilean myrtle or temu, 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.
The Chilean myrtle grows slowly, forming a small tree of around 10 to 15 m, rarely 20 m. Its trunk appears twisted and contorted and has smooth bark, coloured grey to bright orange-brown, which peels as the tree grows - giving a two-tone appearance of rich cinnamon colour, contrasted with cream. It is evergreen, with small, fragrant, oval leaves 2.0 to 2.5 cm long and 1.5 broad, and profuse white flowers in early to midsummer. Its fruit is an edible black or blue berry 1.0 cm in diameter, ripe in early autumn.
Names and synonyms
Synonyms include 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.
Luma is a derivation of a vernacular Chilean name for this species, while apiculata means 'with a small, broadly pointed tip'.
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 Argentinian myrtle forest of the Los Arrayanes National Park covers 20 ha 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. Also suspected to be naturalising in New Zealand.
Arrayán in Los Arrayanes National Park.
- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Luma apiculata". Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
- Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 52, 243
- "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 62. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
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