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Peumus boldus: Boldo

Though it reaches a maximum height of 7 meters elsewhere, the boldo tree grows as tall as 20 meters in its homeland of Chile. It has small, fragrant, whitish-yellow flowers, and is dioecious, which means that male and female flowers develop on different individuals.

This evergreen is easily recognized by its unusual leathery, stiff leaves with a deeply veined pattern. The edges of the leaves curl downwards, while the upper surface is covered with small bumps. Whether fresh or dried, the leaves exude an aromatic fragrance that is hard to forget.

Boldo leaves are an important component of South American traditional medicine, used as a diuretic, to promote digestion, and to stimulate the gall bladder. They have anticonvulsant properties, and it is believed that they help against rheumatism and worm infestations. Boldo serves a similar function in homeopathy, where it’s used to treat intestinal disorders as well as liver and gall bladder complaints. Taken in large quantities, boldo has emetic qualities, and its alkaloid boldin can have a paralytic effect. The machi, female shamans of the native Mapuche people of Chile, will also burn boldo leaves as incense. Boldo is even cultivated as a medicinal plant as far away as Algeria. Today, increasing local and international demand is threatening the sustainability of the boldo harvest in its native Chile.



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Peumus boldus: Boldo (MP3, 654 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg