Alpamato

Ark of taste
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The Alpamato (Myrianthes pseudomato) shrub is also called laurel, alpa mato, sachamato and guili. It is a wild plant that grows in the mountainous regions of Jujuy, Salta, and Tucuman in the northwestern part of Argentina.

The shrub’s leaves are simple, oblong, and sharp and have a paper-like consistency, with wavy edges and no bristles. The plant can grow up to ten meters tall and its trunk is a clear grey color with brown spots. When fully ripe, the tree’s fruit is black berry and the seeds are generally brown.

The leaves are dried and used to flavor yerba mate infusions and tea, or is used as a substitute for yerba mate. These peculiar infusions are often used in traditional medicine to cure renal problems and as a digestive drink.

This plant is linked so closely to local tradition and culture that it is even referred to in a chacarera (a popular kind of song from northern Argentina) that contains the verse: let’s go to the ravines covered in underbrush, and we’ll fill our baskets with almamato and tamales (a traditional dish).

As this is a wild product the exact amount harvested each year is not precisely known, as it is used only for personal consumption. The product risks disappearing because young people are no longer taking part in the tradition of harvesting it and therefore also of drinking it in infusions and as a natural medicine.

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Territory

StateArgentina
Region

Jujuy

Salta

Tucumán

Other info

Categories

Spices, wild herbs and condiments

Nominated by:Graciela Beatriz Di Benedetto Puerto