The pine nut is the seed of Araucaria araucana. It is an extremely nutritious seed which is a staple food for the Mapuche community of southern Argentina and Chile, who eat it boiled or toasted. Pine nuts are also used to produce fermented drinks and numerous recipes such as purée, cazuela (a traditional soup), empanadas (filled pastries), sopaipillas (fritters). Pine nuts are harvested in April and May. The gatherers usually wait until the cones—which are at a height over 20 m—fall to the ground; otherwise a rope with a stone can be used or a pole with a curved end which they use to hit the cones and make them fall. Other gatherers climb up the trees to shake the branches with cones on them so that they break off. Araucaria araucana is a traditional tree of Neuquén Province (Argentina), which extends from Copahue as far as Lake Huechulafquen and the south of Chile. The Mapuche consider it to be a sacred tree able to bring humans into contact with spirits and give them inner peace. In the past pine nuts were eaten within families and used as a means of barter enabling the community to obtain corn and wheat, cereals which are hard to grow in this area due to the climate. At the beginning of the 19th century serious degradation of the Araucaria araucana areas began, with trees cleared to provide open areas for livestock farming.