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Did anyone ever hear of Argentine timber? Few people indeed; though a good many more know that both of the River Plate Republics are large importers of wood from the North of Europe. That they need not be so, because they have all they, and a good many other countries besides, can possibly need already growing in their own territories (and as much more as may be wanted, only for the trouble of planting under highly favourable natural conditions), will come as a surprise even to some Argentines and Uruguayans; so accustomed are they to import all their building timber and furniture. Yet the above are facts.[46]

The only well-known forestal products of the River Plate are the logs of and extract from the Quebracho (Aspidosperma Quebracho, Schlet). The wood of this tree is very hard—hence its name quebra-hacha, break-axe—and is valuable for cabinet-making, fine carving, and engraving, etc.; but it rots quickly when exposed to the influences of weather. Notwithstanding this, on account of its hardness, it is in large demand for railway sleepers. The extract is very largely used for tanning.

The following lists and descriptions given by Se?or Fernando Mauduit in his erudite Monograph on “Arboriculture in Argentina,” attached to the Argentine National Census, 1908, cannot, certainly, be improved on by the present author. These lists, although confined to the enumeration of the chief classes of trees only, are at the same time[278] fully indicative of the general nature of forest vegetation not only in Argentina but also in Uruguay.

A glance at the map of both Republics will show that, from geographic and climatic distribution, they may practically be reckoned as one country in this regard. Indeed, as will be seen, Se?or Mauduit specifically includes Uruguay in what he terms the Riparian Region. He says that the configuration of the different zones and the fertility of their soil allow of the cultivation of every product of the two Americas, Asia, Europe and Australia, with the exception of those of the torrid zone.

The following enumeration of “regions” and of the chief kinds of trees found and capable of being grown in the River Plate countries, with the respective descriptions, are taken from the Monograph above referred to:—

1. Subtropical, comprising the plains of Santiago del Estero and the Chaco, the lowlands of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy, North Corrientes and Misiones.

2. Northern Andean, stretching along the Andes, from San Juan to the Bolivian frontier, comprising Catamarca, Salta, Jujuy, Los Andes and part of Tucumán.

3. Southern Andean, from San Juan to Neuquen.

4. Northern Pampean, from Santiago del Estero to Buenos Aires, wherein the eucalyptus trees do not suffer from frost, and comprising Córdoba, San Luis, part of Santa Fé and Buenos Aires.

5. Southern Pampean, comprising Córdoba and San Luis, where the eucalyptus freezes, Southern Buenos Aires and the Pampas.

6. Austral, composed of the territories of Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz.

7. Riparian, comprising the islands of the Paraná, Entre Rios and the shores of the rivers Plate, Paraná and Uruguay.

8. Maritime, stretching along the Atlantic coast in a belt three leagues wide, more or less, according to the configuration of the soil.

9. Straits, consisting of the shores of the Straits of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego.


The confines of all these regions cross and merge into one another, at times, on account of the altitude in their different zones. The vegetation typical of one zone is often scattered through one or more neighbouring ones, so that they cannot be exactly defined. The greater or lesser altitude of a place often goes towards modifying the uniform character of the vegetation.

In the first region the forests contain the best timber in the Republic, cedar or hardwood, so-called (cedrela) quebracho white and red, lapacho, algarrobo (carob), acacia, ibirá, molle, ?andubay, different woods, Misiones pine, Brazilian araucaria, tarco, urunday, aguaribay, cebil, timbó, palm trees, etc., and the fruit trees of the region, orange, lemon, pomegranate, guava, chirimoyas (custard apple) and pantas.

Fruit tree planting, though seldom, is more carefully done than formerly, and its products inundate the markets of Buenos Aires, Rosario and Santa Fé.

The Paraguayan tea tree, or rather bush (mate), is grown in many places and cultivated rationally. Mr. Thays’ experiments give room for hoping that this precious bush may become a certain source of future wealth, whereas the old system of cultivation was bound to entail, early or late, the total extinction of the product.

All kinds of eucalyptus trees grow well, and the extensive planting of these trees in the Chaco, Misiones, in Tucumán, Corrientes and Santiago del Estero is a consummation devoutly to be wished for.

The same trees are found in the second region, but fewer in number and smaller in size, orange, lemon, fig, plum, peach and pomegranate trees, also the vine can be successfully grown, and in the valleys guayavos, chirimoyas, pantas, avocados and persimmons. Plantations of mate and eucalyptus could also be tried.

The third region is warmer and partly covered with vineyards. Here the vine is in its native element.

On the slopes of the Andes the soil is admirably suited for the planting of forest trees, such as pines, firs, beeches, and all others peculiar to mild, dry climates; as well as for that of fruit trees, such as the walnut, chestnut, apple, cherry, pear and peach trees … the vine where late frosts are not very frequent.

In the Northern Pampas, or the fourth region, all kinds of fruit trees can be grown, soil permitting, orange, fig, persimmon, vines, mulberry, almond, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, walnut,[280] chestnut, pear and quince trees. This is the forest tree region of the plains: hardwood, native willows, the paradise tree, ombú, laurel, sequoia, cypress, sycamore, maple and many others. The caldén tree covers immense stretches, likewise the carob tree.

The fifth or Southern Pampean region differs from the preceding one in the cooler and even colder climate in its southern part. Apart from the trees which suffer from frosts this is the most favourable zone for tree cultivation in general. All forest trees which resist 10° below zero grow well here, the oak, beech, ash, maple, pine, fir, spruce, poplar, elm, sycamore and such fruit trees as the peach, cherry, plum, apricot, quince, pear and apple tree.

These two regions are those containing the largest plantations of trees of all kinds, millions of eucalyptus trees, farms, parks and gardens, richly stocked, representing millions of dollars, and ever-increasing and multiplying orchards and groves which bring in thousands, but whose output could be increased tenfold without succeeding in ousting the preserved fruit imported from Europe and North America.

The sixth or Austral region, as its name indicates, is exposed to the south winds. It is the cold region which excludes the eucalyptus, the Californian pine, and peach tree, the vine, etc., but where in sheltered spots the cherry, plum, pear and apple tree can be grown, the last especially. This, once known, would make the fortune of this region. Cider manufacture would furnish a wholesome, pleasant beverage, much cheaper than wine.

Moreover, the preparation of apple preserves of every kind will one day be like that of North America. The man who plants apple trees, beginning from 38° S. latitude to the south, secures for himself and his children returns proportionate to the outlay made.

The seventh region is very fertile and suited for the planting of willows, poplars, alders, cryptomerias, cypresses, sycamores, magnolias, palm trees, orange trees, tangerines, persimmons, etc. Peach and quince trees are grown here on a large scale to supply the markets of the capital. It has been the cradle of fruit-growing, and as it has been endowed with a mild climate and a generally humid soil everything grows luxuriantly and produces abundantly, though the general quality of its products is not equal to that of the fruit grown in the fifth region.

The eighth region is arid in certain places, and always exposed[281] to the winds and sea fogs which are so harmful to the growth of the trees. The winds from the south blow throughout the year on nearly all our sea coast. The only trees that can be grown successfully are the eucalyptus (E. globulus), the Canadian and other poplars, the tamarisk, cypress, lambertiana, maritime pine, Pinus insignis, and all must be planted very thickly in order to resist the impetuous attack of the winds and the fogs.

In the ninth and last region we have included the shores of the Straits of Magellan as far as Gallegos, and inland as far as the hills; and on the other shore Fireland (Tierra del Fuego). Fruit tree planting cannot be thought of there for the present, the only thing to be done is to propagate largely the native growths, and where the climate permits it to plant spruces, pines, firs, birches, beeches, hazels, currant bushes, yews, all of which are sturdy growths of the colder countries.
Chief Indigenous Species of Forest Trees

Quebracho, Aspidosperma Quebracho, Schlet.—A tree 20 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter, with very hard wood, greatly valued for certain purposes. Does not resist exposure to the elements, however, and rots easily. Greatly prized for engraving and cabinet-making and for fine wood carving, etc. The bark and leaves are rich in tannin. It appears that there are some varieties which do not possess so large a percentage of tannin.

It grows easily from seed which is sown in beds when ripe, where it must be nursed before sowing in beds. Its growth is slow at first, but once the roots have taken well in a soil rich in humus it attains a great size. It multiplies naturally from its seeds and should form a third as a stock tree in the afforestation of the subtropical regions.

Boldu, Boldu chilanum, Nees.—Grows to a height of 15 metres in the Andean regions, where its timber is used for various purposes. It multiplies from seed and should be sown in beds in holes. Can be utilized as an auxiliary in afforestation of its native region.

Lignum Vit? (Palo Santo), Bulnesia Sarmienti, Grisb.—20 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter. Grows plentifully in the Chaco and Misiones, Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy, gives a timber, heavier than water, which is used for cabinet-making[282] and various ornaments. Multiplies easily from seed as an auxiliary in subtropical woods.

Palo Blanco, Calycophyllum multiflorum, Grisb.—About 15 metres in height, gives very fine timber, yellow in colour, used for different joinery purposes. Multiplies from seed like the preceding tree and used also as an auxiliary in the same regions.

Horco Molle, Bumelia obtusiolia, Roem and Schlet.—12 metres in height by O·50 metre in diameter. Furnishes excellent timber for cabinet-making and coach-building. Multiplies from seed sown in rows as soon as ripe. In mixed subtropical woods, it serves as an auxiliary for afforestation and reafforestation.

Guaicum, Cesalpina melanocarpa, Grisb.—From 10 to 15 metres in height. Gives nice veined timber, used for cabinet-making and ornaments. Its bark, as well as the seed pods, contains a large percentage of tannin. It multiplies from seed and is a secondary tree throughout the subtropical zone.

Red Cedar, Cedrela brasiliensis, A. Juss.—30 metres in height by O·75 metre in diameter, and sometimes more. Furnishes very fine light timber of a nice colour and easy to work. Much used for joinery work. One of the best stock trees in the subtropical zone, where it should be used for reafforestation in the existing woods, and afforestation throughout the subtropical region. To be sown in rows as far as possible and with seeds in layers.

Tala, Celtis tola, Gill, Celtis sellowiana, Miq.—From 10 to 15 metres in height. This tree is of slight importance for afforestation, although its timber is good for posts, cart-trees, handles for tools, etc. Grows in the first, second and third regions. Multiplies from seeds in layers as an auxiliary in mixed woods and woodlands.

Palo de Lanza Amarilla (Yellow Lancewood), Chuncoa trifolia, Grisb.—Same height and regions as the preceding tree. To be planted in the same woods. The timber is useful for joinery work.

Laurel, Emmotum apogon, Grisb.—One of the finest trees of the subtropical region; over 25 metres in height by O·50 metre in diameter. The timber is very fine and good, and is useful for carpentry work. One of the best kinds for reafforestation and as stock for afforestation. Sown in rows in little holes with seeds in layers as far as possible.


White or Yellow Laurel, Oreodaphne suaveolens, Meissn.—30 metres in height by 0·50 metre in diameter. Furnishes light timber, aromatic, easily worked and suitable for joinery. Is a good auxiliary for reafforestation and for afforestation in the first region. Sown like the preceding one.

Black Laurel or Mountain Laurel, Nectandra porphyria, Grisb.—Same height as the preceding trees and 1 metre in diameter. Gives fine yellow timber with a black grain like walnut, but requiring a long time to become seasoned, and splitting when worked before being quite seasoned. Employed in hydraulic works, as it keeps well in water. A good auxiliary kind for afforestation in the first, second and fourth regions, the seed to be sown in little holes, in rows and in layers.

Timbó Pacará, Enterolobium timbouva, Mart.—A very leafy tree of the subtropical region, from 15 to 25 metres in height by 1 to 1·50 metres in diameter. Furnishes timber used for carpentry and different household purposes, for boats, casks, etc. The bark contains tannin, and the sawdust of the dry wood causes sneezing. This is a good auxiliary kind for woods in the first, second and fourth regions. Multiplies from seeds sown in holes in rows. It can also be grown from twigs to be planted at the end of May, a metre apart, in rows of from 1 to 3 metres apart.

Beech, Fagus antarctica, Mirb., F. betuloides, Mirb., F. oblicua, Mirb.—A tree of 20 to 30 metres in height, peculiar to the austral regions, where it forms forests and woods. Its timber does not resist damp greatly, but is much prized for box-making and internal woodwork. Multiplies easily from its seeds, which grow naturally in its shade. When they are gathered to be used for afforestation they must be sown at once in layers, or in little holes, as their germinative power is soon lost. Is one of the best kinds of stock trees for afforestation in the 6th and 9th regions and for reafforestation where it already grows.

Larch, Fitz-roya patagonica, Hook.—This conifer of the woods of the south attains a height of 30 metres, and the timber given by it is equal to pinewood and used for similar purposes. Is very suitable for afforestation intermingled with wild pines in the austral region, and with spruce in that of the straits. It might also be added to the araucaria in the extreme south of the Southern Andean region.

Quillay (Soap Bark), Garugandra amorphoides, Grisb.—This[284] is a very thorny tree and can be used as a protective belt round large orchards or plantations for industrial purposes, in places where animals trespass, and there is no other way to prevent it. It attains a height of 15 metres by 0·75 metre in diameter and multiplies naturally from seed. Its timber seems to be of good quality, and its bark is used as soap in cleaning woollen and cotton fabrics.

It can be planted as indicated above in regions first, second and third; and, should it become a nuisance, it may be rooted out when the plantations are strong against trespass.

Cha?ar, Gourlien decorticans, Gill.—Whole woods of these trees are to be found in regions 1, 2, 3 and 4. Its fruit is edible and animals crave for it. Its timber is used for various household purposes.

Walnut (Cayuri), Juglans australis, Grisb.—15 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter, with timber equal to European walnut. This valuable tree, which ought to be cultivated on a large scale, is gradually vanishing from our woods without any attempt at reafforestation. We shall become aware of its industrial value only when it has completely disappeared. It is suitable as a stock tree in afforestation and as an auxiliary in reafforestation.

Red Quebracho, Loxopterigium Lorentzii, Grisb.—A valuable tree, 15 metres in height by 2 metres in diameter, its timber is greatly prized for building purposes, and possesses so much tannin that it is largely exploited in the Chaco forests. It is slow of growth, and, therefore, measures for its multiplication are indispensable, so as to avoid exhausting this source of wealth. It is one of the best stock kinds for reafforestation, a third being planted with species of a more rapid growth. It multiplies naturally if care is taken to prevent forest fires and to leave always a few full-grown trees standing. Red Quebracho timber is hard, heavy, and not easily worked. It is used especially for railway sleepers, posts, columns, frames, etc. It is nicely veined, and heavy furniture can be made from it. Buried or in water it keeps for many years.

Tipa (Hardwood), Mach?rium Tipa, Benth.—A tree from 20 to 25 metres in height, very leafy. Its timber is used for different household purposes. A splendid avenue tree, but very third-rate as a forest tree. The seeds are sown in rows, once ripe: 1st and 4th regions.


Mora (Mulberry), Maclura Mora, Grisb.—From 15 to 20 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. Furnishes yellowish, fine-grained timber, which is used for the manufacture of elegant furniture. Well seasoned, the wood is the colour of mahogany. An excellent auxiliary tree in the subtropical, Pampean and Northern Andean regions. In mixed woods it may be stock or prevailing tree, according to the kinds grown with it. It may also be used for woodland cutting. It is sown in rows, or grown in nurseries for two years, when the young plants are transplanted.

Palo de San Antonio, Myrsine floribunda.—15 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter, with a straight trunk and springy wood, which is used principally for making staves. To be sown in rows as an auxiliary, in mixed woods, in the 1st, 2nd and 4th regions.

Cebil, Piptadenia Cebil, Grisb., P. communis, Benth.—A tree of 20 to 25 metres in height by over 1 metre in diameter. Grows in the subtropical Andean and Northern Pampean regions. Excellent timber, but can only be utilized when quite seasoned, and is used principally for joinery. To be sown as stock trees in furrows or small holes.

Algarrobo (Carob Tree), Prosopis alba, Grisb.—From 15 to 20 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter, with timber much used in carpentry, and bark possessing a large percentage of tannin. A good kind for afforestation in regions 1, 2 and 4; to be sown as stock trees in furrows or small holes.

?andubay, Prosopis algarrobilo, Grisb.—About 10 metres in height, with hard timber, generally used for large stakes and posts. Grows well throughout the northern and even in the third region. To be sown as an auxiliary in mixed woods.

Irirarú, Virarú, Palo de Lanza (Lancewood), Ruprechtia excelsa, Grisb.—10 to 15 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter; giving excellent timber for various household purposes. To be sown as an auxiliary in woods of the northern regions, predominating among timber for cutting.

Lapacho, Tabebuia Avellaned?, Lorentz, Tabebuia flavescens, Benth.—This beautiful tree is covered with blossoms in spring time, the former with pinky mauve and the latter with yellow blossoms. In the northern forests it grows to a height of 25 metres, its wood is very fine-grained and very much prized for all sorts of fine carpentry. Two excellent kinds for stock in tall[286] mixed woods, 1st and 2nd regions. To be sown in rows, in furrows or small holes.

Coco (Cocoanut Tree), Zanthoxylum Coco, Gill.—From 10 to 12 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter. The wood is very pretty and fine, valued for elegant furniture. To be sown in rows, furrows or small holes as an auxiliary in mixed woods and plantations in the 1st and 2nd regions.

Urunday, Astronium juglandifolium, Grisb.—A splendid tree from 25 to 30 metres in height by 1·50 metres in diameter, common in the Chaco. Its timber is very hard and richly coloured, it is used for furniture, ship-building, etc. One of the best kinds for stock and reafforestation in the first region. Multiplies naturally from seed if care be taken to leave a few trees standing at suitable distances for producing seeds, which scatter easily. In the warm valleys of the 4th region, as well as in the 2nd, to be sown in furrows with other auxiliary species for afforestation.

Alder Tree, Alnus ferruginea, Kth.—From the Northern Andean region, where it grows to a height of 15 metres by 0·75 metre in diameter. Gives white, very easily worked, damp-resisting timber, used for joinery work. A good auxiliary kind for afforestation in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th regions. To be sown in rows, in furrows or in plots with other species, one being the stock tree.

Native or Red Willow, Salix Humboldtiana, Witti.—15 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter. Grows well in all regions where the eucalyptus does not freeze, gives timber for carpentry and multiplies from seed. A good auxiliary in mixed woods and timber for cutting, and for reafforestation on damp soil, where it is planted from twigs towards the end of the winter. For afforestation it is sown in plots when the seeds are ripe, in regions 4 and 7 and the more temperate part of region 3.

Southern Pine, Araucaria imbricata, R. and P.—A tree 50 metres in height of our southern forests. Its timber is equal to the best pine, and it is one of the best stock kinds in the 6th region. To be sown in rows or in little holes when the seeds drop naturally in the 5th and 6th regions.

Misiones Pine, Araucaria brasiliensis, A. Rich.—This conifer grows to a height of 50 metres by 1 metre in diameter in certain valleys of the northern regions 1, 2, and part of 3, 4, 7 and 8, as far as Mar del Plata. Its timber is equal to that of the[287] pine, it is used for joinery and building. Sown like the preceding tree.

Cypress, Libocedras chilensis, Endl.—From the Andes, where it grows to a height of 25 to 30 metres by 0·70 metre in diameter. Its wood is fine and excels for furniture and veneering. A good auxiliary kind for the dense woods of the south.
Chief Species of Exotic Forest Trees Grown in the Country

Fir, Abies Nordmanniana, Spach.—From Asia Minor, where it grows to a height of 40 metres by 1·50 metres in diameter at least, 5th and 6th regions, in tall woods consisting of firs alone.

Acacia Olive, Acacia melanoxylon, R. Br.—From Australia, where it attains a height of 15 to 20 metres by 1 metre in diameter; very branchy, and giving very hard wood known as iron wood. A good stock kind in acacia, mimosa and laurel groves in regions 4, 5, 7 and 8, as far as Mar del Plata. To be sown in rows or in furrows.

French Mimosa, Acacia dealbata, Link.—Likewise from Australia; it attains a height of 20 metres by 0·50 metre in diameter, but breaks easily. A good predominating species and for reafforestation of timber for cutting, in regions 4, 5, 7 and 8, as far as 38° S. latitude.

Maple Tree, Acer pseudo platanus, L.—A European tree 20 to 30 metres in height by 0·75 metre in diameter, growing as rapidly as the sycamore maple. An excellent auxiliary kind for tall woods of trees with deciduous leaves, in regions 4, 5, 6 and 7. To be sown in rows, in furrows or one-year-old saplings 2 metres apart.

Heavenly Tree, Ailanthus glandulosa, Desf.—From China, from 25 to 30 metres in height by 1 metre in diameter; very sturdy, and multiplying on all sides from the numberless saplings which grow from its roots; furnishes fine, hard, well-veined timber. A good kind for mixed woods and for stock timber in regions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. To be sown in rows or plante............
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