Los Arrayanes National Park, Argentina

Los Arrayanes National Park, Argentina

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 22:34
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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 that penetrates Lake Nahuel Huap 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 is located in the southern part of Neuquén Province, Argentina. It is situated on the Quetrihué Peninsula that penetrates Lake Nahuel Huap and is part of the Patagonian Forest ecoregion. The park gets its name because it was created to preserve a myrtle forest.

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. However, 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.

Los Arrayanes National Park occupies Quetrihué’s entire 1,753 ha (4,332 acres), which stretch south into Lago Nahuel Huapi. Its namesake forest covers only about 20 ha (or 50 acres).

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 reach up to 25 m (82 ft) and 650 years of age.

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 it 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 twenty-six and forty nine feet and its trunk, which is twisted, multiple and with an extraordinary amount of branches, may reach a diameter between eleven and twenty-seven inches.

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. 

The 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 a beautiful color and pleasant scent, during the summer.

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. When mature, they can measure between 0,31 and 0,60 inches. They contain between two and four small seeds, however this number may vary between one and fifteen. These fruits are edible, stimulating, soothing and healing, that is, they heal sores and wounds.

From all the trees in this forest, the Arrayan is the last one to bloom, since it does it from the beginning of January till the end of March, while the other species finish their bloom period in December tops. 

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 the sun light. 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 species is not easy.