At Mollesnejta, I am learning a lot about agroforestry, how to prune trees and how to conduct my own experiment. However, that is not all. There are so many interesting plants in this place, some planted and some spontaneously growing. I would like to introduce you to a few plants that have caught my attention. These plants do not only have eccentric looks, they also have extraordinary characteristics that will make me remember them for a long time.
Firstly, the Peruvian pepper (Schinus molle) -it is called Molle here- is a beautiful tree originating from this area, the Central Andes. It is used mainly for its strong wood, but the berries can be used as substitutes for normal pepper. Furthermore, it is used as an ornamental tree, especially in Spain. We have pruned many Molle trees in the past weeks. There are so many Molle trees here, that this place is called Mollesnejta, which is translated “the place where Molle grows” from Quecha
Another plant that has caught my attention is the prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica). Not only because its funny shapes and tasty red fruit, but mainly because of its mean spikes that go through clothes, get stuck in the skin and are horrible to get out. Another funfact: Chaco the donkey really likes to have bites from the prickly pear as snack on his daily walk towards his paradise full of tasty grasses. The result is funny shapes of cacti all around Mollesnejta.
In the fashion of spikes, the muni-muni plant (Bidens pilosa) is a funny weed around here that has three little anchors on its seeds. Those anchors get stuck on clothes, hairs and furs. The poor dogs, and sometimes we as well, walk around like an hedgehog. I think we have spread the seeds all around Bolivia with our weekend trips to La Paz, Sucre and Torotoro. Luckily, I have seen those plants in these areas already, so we are not the cause of a new weed invasion. Perhaps it is a good thing that it has spread so much, because apparently it is a medicinal plant which is important in many rural communities against cramps, nausea and even fever.
A tree that is planted at Mollesnejta is the Japanese plum, Eriobotrya japonica. It is originating from Japan. Although the fruits are normally a bit larger, the tree is doing well with little water in the dry season. Furthermore, it is not frost tolerant, but it can cope well with the night frosts that occur in Bolivia in June and July. The trees are just a beautiful green bush with amazing yellow fruits. Those fruits are a bit sour and have large pits, but the marmalade you can make of them is delicious!
The last plant I would like to introduce to you is Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia). When strolling around in the neighbourhood of Mollesnejta, you will see many of these trees. Mollesnejta is in the area of the Tunari national park. The regional government once established a rule that the geographical contour lines from 2750 m above sea level should be made apparent with Jacaranda trees in order to mark the start of the Tunari national park. Although not many people complied to this strange rule, Noemi thought it would be a nice idea to have a natural fence and therefore she planted a lot of Jacarandas around the perimeter. However, the perimeter of the property changed three times and therefore you can find three beautiful rows of trees. We cut one of those rows recently, which gives the Tunas next to it more sun.
This was a short introduction to some of the plants here. Of course there is much more to see, not only flora, but also fauna. I could tell you a lot more, but the best way is experiencing yourself. If you are interested, you can always come and visit 😉