Mistol cuaresmillo, sacha mistol
The Mistol tree (Ziziphus mistol) is also commonly called mistol cuaresmillo, sacha mistol, and mistol of the forest. It is a fruit producing plant that is native to provinces of north central Argentina. It is a typical tree for the ecosystem of the Chaco Seco ecosystem in north central Argentina, where it is part of the forest that is suffering from deforestation. It is also widely found in northern Argentina from Correintes a Salta, Jujuy, north of Santa Fe to Córdoba and Rioja, as well as in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
It is a spiny tree that has a short and bendy saddle and simple leaves. It produces small flowers and drupe like fruit that is 1.5 cm in diameter and reddish-brown when mature. The fruit has a pasty and sweet pulp, and can be eaten fresh, sundried (pasa de mistol) or boiled.
The fruit that is cooked for longer than 10 hours produces arrope, a kind of homemade sweet. In Santiago del Estero the fruit is used to prepare bolanchao, a much-liked candy. Patay is a paste made with the ground, dried fruit, and is an ingredient in many Argentine dishes. The plant is also used to make a mistol liqueur. The native Toba people, when there is a shortage of yerba mate, add dried mistol leaves or ground mistol to their yerba mate without altering the authentic taste of the yerba mate.An infusion of the fruit is said to have medicinal properties, helping to drain mucus from the lungs and protect the liver. The indigenous Toba and the Wichí people drink the juice released from the soaked pulp to fight against constipation, mixing it with the flour made out of the fruits of the algarrobo (a tree of the Prosopis genus) or tusca tree in order to reduce its laxative effects.?Mistol has also been used in domestic settings. For many years the roots and the bark of the tree have been used as a soap substitute or have been used as dye. In Formosa, it is known as jabón de palo (stick soap).
When cooked, the leaves produce pink dye while the wood produces yellow dye, and the roots and bark make a dark brown dye. Since the pre-Colombian days, the Toba have always considered this tree a species of much greatness. Groups of women of various ages used to carry out the daily task of collecting the fruit and wood supplies. Based on the season of the year, they had a great variety of products such as: wild fruit, roots, stalk, carob tree husk or pod (hamap), pears (tacala), mistol (na’allic) and chañar (tacaic) that they used to transport in big caraguatá bags or on their shoulders. Although the fundamental goal of their hunt for the tree was to obtain food, many parts were gathered for domestic purposes, medical uses, and dye production. Currently, the mistol contributes to the food supply of numerous indigenous and local generations. It integrates all of the so-called ‘fruits of the mountain’. Today, products from the mistol are made primarily in the provinces of Santiago del Estero and Chaco, and are traded in small quantities at regional fairs.