The Ancestral Tree of The Heights: Queñua

The queñua tree is one of the most representative trees of the high Andean regions. It grows in the altiplanic zones of Peru, Bolivia and Chile, being Bolivia the country with the most varieties.

This tree is known by different names such as: queuña, kewiña, queñoa etc.

Among its most outstanding features is that it grows at the highest altitudes of any tree in the world and has the ability to provide oxygen in high places exceeding 4,000 meters in altitude. This is because it has a thick and foliated trunk, several layers of reddish color that cover the trunk, these layers are called ritidoma and protect the tree from low temperatures and in turn enrich the earth because when falling these layers of the tree mix in the soil they mix with the dry leaves and form a humus that fertilizes the earth.

Another characteristic that stands out is that this tree only uses 5% of the water of a eucalyptus uses, a tree that is originally from Australia and that here in the Peruvian highlands is planted in large forests because its trunk is straight and it grows fast. People sell the wood to build houses.

However, they do not realize that this tree impoverishes the earth. Its roots erode the soil and absorb all the nutrients they can so that nothing can grow around them.

On the other hand queñua enriches the earth, regulates the climate, prevents soil erosion, retains water and, although it is true that its trunk is not straight and its height is between 3 to 7 meters, its wood is used as fuel in the preparation of food and it is a great source of heat.

You can see this ancestral tree in the different squares of the city of Cusco and in greater quantity in the high parts of the sacred valley, in Urubamba and Calca.

On some occasions, the Municipality of Cusco has organized the reforestation of the tree of queñua in different places like in Saqsayhuanan, where at the moment one can appreciate a very big forest. It is a beautiful attraction for the tourists.

Despite these reforestation campaigns, people continue to plant eucalyptus instead of these native trees because they generate money.

We lack more campaigns to raise awareness among the population of the importance of this tree and the benefits it can provide.

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