Jubaea chilensis

Fam. Arecacee

The tall trunk without branches of the palm tree would have been ideal for transporting and erecting the statues and building large canoes. Some have wondered why they didn't look around, didn't notice what they were doing, and didn't stop before it was too late? What were they thinking when they cut the last Jubaea?
The forest that the islanders depended on for reels and ropes has not simply disappeared in a day, but has gradually vanished over the course of decades. The first explorer to land on the island was a Dutchman, on Easter Sunday in 1722, which is why it was baptized Easter Island.

The Jubaea chilensis or Palm of Chile is considered one of the most beautiful palms in the world and originally called the "pillar of paradise", it is characterized by a slow growth and is very long-lived. In fact, it takes several years to reach an average size of the plant, even more than 20 years.

The palm is also a valid source of food, since the Chilean equivalent provides both edible fruits even when fresh, and the sap from which Chileans obtain sugar, syrup, honey and wine. The latter is extracted from incisions made on the trunk; the liquid thus obtained is then collected in a container and, following a fermentation process, will turn into an aromatic and sweet alcoholic drink.

The sap, after boiling, is sold in the countries of origin as "Miel de Palma". The genus name of this palm is dedicated to Juba II, who was ruler of Numidia and Mauretania in ancient times, while the specific epithet derives from the area of ​​origin.

After this botanical setting of the Jubaea, it is curious to tell a story set on an oceanic island of volcanic origin, with a territorial extension of about 166 km2, 3200 km away from the nearest continent. The geographical position helped to maintain a temperate climate, and a fertile ground for its origins.

About 2000 years ago this was a subtropical forest of trees and shrubs and rich in undergrowth vegetation. The most common tree in the forest was a species of palm, at that time so abundant that the lower layers of the sediment column were crammed with its pollen. The palm of the island was closely related to the still existing wine palm of Chile, Jubaea chilensis.

Then around 400 AD. the settlement of man, the exploitation of the ecosystem, mythological beliefs and the stupidity of man led to the erection of over 900 monumental stone statues on platforms. Over the years, the statues and platforms got bigger and bigger, and only after 400 years were there any changes in the quantity of plants, until their definitive disappearance in 1400.

Several explorers who followed him defined it as desert and of little interest. The ecological disaster caused by the indigenous tribes made it no longer habitable.

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