|Maqui tree with fruits|
|The native area of the rainforest|
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Aristotelia chilensis, known as maqui or Chilean wineberry, is a tree species in the Elaeocarpaceae family native to South America in the Valdivian temperate rainforests of Chile and adjacent regions of southern Argentina. Small numbers of trees are cultivated for their small fruits, known as maqui berries.
Aristotelia chilensis is a small dioecious evergreen tree that can reach 4 to 5 metres (13 to 16 ft) in height. Its divided trunk has a smooth bark. Its branches are abundant, thin and flexible. The leaves are simple, opposite, hanging, oval-lanceolate, naked and coriaceous, with serrated edges. The leaf venation is well visible and the leaf stalk is strong red.
In the beginning of spring, the tree sheds the old cohort. The old cohort is used as a carbohydrate source to form the new leaves and flowers.
Flowers and berries
When Aristotelia chilensis flowers at the end of spring, the white flowers are unisexual and small, but they eventually yield a small edible fruit. The small purple-black berries are approximately 4 to 6 millimetres (0.16 to 0.24 in) in diameter and contain 4 to 8 angled seeds. With a taste similar to blackberries, the species is also known as the Chilean wineberry, and locally in Spanish as maqui or maque. A seven-year-old tree can produce up to 10 kilograms (22 lb) of berries per year.
Only limited polyphenol research has been completed on the maqui berry, which showed its anthocyanin content to include eight glucoside pigments of delphinidin and cyanidin with the principal anthocyanin being delphinidin 3-sambubioside-5-glucoside (34% of total anthocyanins). The average total anthocyanin content was 138 milligrams (2.13 gr) per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of fresh fruit (212 milligrams (3.27 gr) per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of dry fruit), ranking maqui low among darkly pigmented fruits for anthocyanin content (see anthocyanins for tabulated content data). One study found that anthocyanins are also present in maqui leaves.
Maqui berries are a favored food for birds at the end of summer. Deforestation of the Valdivian temperate rainforests in Chile suppresses seed dispersal by birds and leads to inbreeding depression.
Harvesting and cultivation
Berries are collected from wild plants December to March of each year by families, mainly Mapuche, who collect their harvest near the Andes Mountains. The process involves collecting the side branches of trees, shaking them to separate the berries, and then employing a mechanical process to separate the berries from the leaves. The stored fruits are sold in local markets, with prices ranging from $6.5 to $15 per kilogram ($2.9 to $6.8/lb). The average area yield is about 220 kilograms (490 lb) per hectare annually, with an estimated harvested yield of only 90 short tons (180,000 lb) due to its remote access and difficulty for transportation.
Maqui is planted in home gardens and is not grown on an orchard scale. Most of the fruits on the market come from the wild. Maqui is frost sensitive and fairly tolerant of maritime exposure. It prefers a well-drained soil in full sun with a protection against cold drying winds. The soil should be slightly acidic with moderate fertility.
The seeds germinate without cold stratification. In zones with the possible appearance of frost, it is recommended to sow in spring in a greenhouse. The plants are planted in autumn into individual pots if they are grown enough. The pots are still in the greenhouse for the first winter.
After the last expected frost in spring, the plants can be planted out into their final positions. In their first winter outdoors, a frost protection is required. For further propagation, a vegetal reproduction is possible: cuttings of wood with a length of 15 to 30 cm can be planted into pots. These cuttings normally root and can be planted out in the following spring.
- "Aristotelia chilensis (Molina) Stuntz". Plants of the World online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
- Prado, C. & Damascos, M. (2001). Gas exchange and leaf specific mass of different foliar cohorts of the wintergreen shrub Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) stuntz (Eleocarpaceae) fifteen days before the flowering and the fall of the old cohort. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology, 44(3), 277-282.
- Fredes C, Yousef GG, Robert P, Grace MH, Lila MA, Gómez M, Gebauer M, Montenegro G (2014). "Anthocyanin profiling of wild maqui berries (Aristotelia chilensis [Mol.] Stuntz) from different geographical regions in Chile". J Sci Food Agric. 94 (13): 2639–48. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6602. PMID 24497378.
- Escribano-Bailón MT, Alcalde-Eon C, Muñoz O, et al. (2006). "Anthocyanins in berries of Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz)". Phytochem Anal. 17 (1: Jan-Feb): 8–14. doi:10.1002/pca.872. PMID 16454470.
- Suwalsky M, Vargas P, Avello M, et al. (Nov 2008). "Human erythrocytes are affected in vitro by flavonoids of Aristotelia chilensis (Maqui) leaves". Int J Pharm. 363 (1-2): 85–90. doi:10.1016/j.ijpharm.2008.07.005. PMID 18687390.
- Nahuelhual L.; Carmona A.; Lara A.; Echeverría C.; González M. E. (2012). "Land-cover change to forest plantations: Proximate causes and implications for the landscape in south-central Chile". Landscape and Urban Planning. 107 (1): 12–20. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2012.04.006.
- Valdivia, C. & Simonetti, J. (2006). Decreased frugivory and seed germination rate do not reduce seedling recruitment rates of Aristotelia chilensis in a fragmented forest. Biodiversity and Conservation, 16(6), 1593-1602.
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- Bean W. 1981. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
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Media related to Aristotelia chilensis at Wikimedia Commons