Ark of taste
Back to the archive >


Giant bulrush or totora (Schoenoplectus californicus ssp. tatora) is a plant that grows both in the wild and is cultivated in ponds and wetlands, from sea level to 4000 m of altitude. It is also called chullu in the Uro language. It grows in the area of Puno, southwest of Peru, overlooking Lake Titicaca. One of the main growing areas includes the floating islands of the Uros on Lake Titicaca. These special islands are made of reeds, using an ancient technique, and float on the lake. The Uro people, a small ethnic group, live on these islands, and their diet is based on fish from the lake and the tender shoots of the reed, which they call chullu.   Totora, which helps combat goiter, is rich in iodine and provides a source of this element to the Urus who, living on the islands, wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. Furthermore, the reed is used for crafts and building rafts. Totora is incredibly important to the Uro community as they use it both as staple food and to build their islands.   Totora is mainly present around Lake Titicaca, but there are also wetlands where totora is present, but used as a food source. The reed is harvested when food is required for family use and is not sold in market, but can sometimes be found in hotels, offered to guests. The future of totora is at risk for several reasons, one being its use limited to an indigenous group who, due to urbanization, is progressively losing their traditional knowledge. Overexploitation in certain growing areas as well as water pollution are among other reasons.

Back to the archive >




Other info


Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Indigenous community:Uro
Nominated by:Cecilia Mendiola Vargas