A quote that another blogger posted about trees prompted me to create this post as my contribution to the 9th day of Becky’s July Squares, with the topic of trees.
The author of this quote, Jaime Lerner, is a Brazilian who in the early 1970s was the mayor of the city of Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, a state in southern Brazil. Anyone who has been to Curitiba will recognize how appropriate this quote is for his city and his impact as urban planner and mayor. Between my first visit in 1971 and my last, five years ago, the city has not only grown to over 1 million inhabitants but also contains a number of beautiful parks, including several dedicated to ethnic groups in the city, a pedestrian area in downtown, and a comprehensive system of rapid transit buses (BRT), among many other innovations which began during Jaime Lerner’s tenure as mayor.
I hold Curitiba in my heart as my favorite city in Brazil, and one of its attractions that I am particularly fond of is a tree native to southern Brazil, araucaria angustifolia, better known as o pinheiro do Parana’ although it is not actually a pine. It belongs to the conifer family. I had never seen a tree like it before; it is so unique and is found only in southern Brazil and some parts of northern Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. All over Curitiba are these wonderful trees, which I feature in square photos below.
The Wikipedia article about this araucaria species says that it is critically endangered, having lost 97% of its habitat to logging and agriculture.
The species is spread via its seeds, called the pinhão, by Parana’s state bird, the azure jay, and other animals.
The article also says that this tree is dioecious – some are male and some are female. The male produces an oblong cone (the photo below shows how they look when they are dried up). The female’s cones are spherical and quite large, and inside are the pinhão seeds (100-150 per cone), which are about 2 inches long and taste sort of like pine nuts or chestnuts.
The shell of the pinhão is also used to make small crafts.