Medicinal Plants

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In the ethnobotanical garden in Peru where the present selection of plants was made, medicinal epiphytes had been collected from the canopy and attached to wooden stumps. Some of them were placed in the area partly shaded by the first trees surrounding an open space on a ridge in the forest. Others where placed at similar distance to trees marking a path in the generally open area or to the houses that were present as well. Several epiphytes were put away from shading trees or houses, receiving full sunlight during absence of clouds. Naturally, they can establish and develop themselves in the canopy region of trees.

Trees and Lianas
The lianas and trees that have been documented are located on the top and slopes of ridges. These plants established themselves naturally after the Itaya river changed its course, and are 20 to 50 years old, sometimes older (Shuña, pers.comm.). The soil in which they grow is a heavy clay and has been described at one location on the upper slope of a ridge as having an organic top layer of 2-3 centimetres, followed by heavy clay for at least half a metre.



Streams still flow through the valleys that separate the ridges. Alongside these streams, the horizontal or slightly sloping soil may be covered with a thin layer of sand. At one location the stream's bank showed almost one centimetre of sand followed by 2-3 centimetres of organic material. Concentrated organic matter was also present at various heights throughout the rest of the profile, that showed various degrees of a clay loam texture for at least 30 centimetres.

The vegetation observed in these sandy areas is less dense than on the steeper slopes and on top of the ridges. Species of palm, herbs and shrubs have been planted here. Most of the planted shrubs and herbs, referred to as 'plantas casseras' for their presence near houses, are not shaded by other vegetation or structures apart from each other. The ones whose leaves are harvested for the ayahuasca mixture have been planted relatively close together near one of the streams. This is also where the cooking process takes place. The ashes of the wood that provides the fire are placed around the plants or mixed with the soil when cuts of the harvested ayahuasca vine are planted. The leaves and pieces of vine that remain after extraction has taken place, are distributed around the growing plants as well.




Index Introduction Epiphytes Lianas Trees Ayahuasca Links
Índice Introducción Epífytas Parras Arboles Conexiones