Los Arrayanes National Park (Argentina)

Los Arrayanes National Park (Argentina)

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 12:22
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Los Arrayanes National Park is located in the southern part of Neuquén Province, Argentina. It is situated on the Quetrihué Peninsula which penetrates Lake Nahuel Huapi and is part of the Patagonian Forest ecoregion. The park gets its name because it was created to preserve a myrtle forest.

Los Arrayanes National Park

Los Arrayanes National Park is located in the southern part of Neuquén Province, Argentina. It was created to preserve a myrtle forest from which it takes its name.

Los Arrayanes National Park occupies the entire Quetrihué Peninsula which stretches south into Lake Nahuel Huapi. It covers 1,753 ha (4,332 acres); however, its namesake forest covers only about 20 ha (or 50 acres).

The Quetrihué Peninsula was an integral part of the Nahuel Huapi National Park since its creation. Then, due to technical and legal considerations, it was considered appropriate to assign the peninsula as a separate protected area, hence the creation of Los Arrayanes National Park.

Now, together with the jurisdiction of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, they are part of a single conservation and management unit, whose administrative center is found in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche. Along with four other national parks, it also comprises a part of the Andino Norpatagónica Biosphere Reserve.

The rest of the peninsula bristles with trees like the maitén and the southern beeches coihue and ñire, as well as colorful shrubs like the notro and chilco, as well as dense bamboo thickets of colihue. The floral standout is the arrayán, whose individual specimens can reach up to 25 m (82 ft) and 650 years of age.

Arrayan / Chilean Myrtle

The Arrayan tree: also known as quetri, cuthu, or red tree, belongs to the Myrtaceae family. These species are some of the most characteristic and beautiful in the lake region of the Patagonian Andes.

Its scientific name is Luma apiculata. The Arrayan is a tree or bush, whose foliage is persistent, and the forests they make up are classified as "evergreen forests," since its foliage does not fall during the winter.

It can be found in humid lands and along the banks of rivers and lakes. Its growth process is slow but it may reach a height between 8 and 15 m (26 and 49 ft) and its trunk, which is twisted, multiple, and with an extraordinary amount of branches, may reach a diameter of between 28 - 68 cm (11 - 27 in).

A very important characteristic of this tree is its bark, which is cinnamon or brick red in color, as a product of the tannin concentration, and it is silky-smooth and cold. When it falls off, it produces the characteristic whitish spots of the Arrayan tree.

Arrayan wood is a high-quality wood, which is semi-hard and semi-heavy. In order to preserve it, it is not used in Argentina.

Their leaves are evergreen; opposing, dark-bright green on their superior face and light green on the lower one. Its flowers are little, white-colored, and hermaphrodite. They provide the tree with beautiful colors and pleasant scents during the summer.

Arrayan: Luma apiculata, flowers and bark

Flowers and bark of the Arrayan (Luma apiculata)

Its fruits appear by the end of the summer and are present until autumn. They are fleshy berries with a kind of spherical shape, whose color is black-purplish.

They contain between two and four small seeds, however, this number may vary between one and fifteen. These fruits are edible, stimulating, and soothing, along with healing properties for sores and wounds.

Of all the trees in this forest, the Arrayan is the last one to bloom, from the beginning of January until the end of March, while other species finish their bloom period in December at the latest.

Even though the flowers are essential for the reproduction of the trees, the Arrayan also multiplies thanks to its roots, which give out numerous stems or shoots. Also, a fallen branch may give out roots and these produce new branches in the areas, which are exposed to sunlight.

These small stems, when they grow, form arboreous bushes, which are at times impenetrable, and they also cast a very thick shadow. Due to these conditions, lack of sunlight, and space, the development of other nearby species is difficult.