Tataré – Chloroleucon tortum

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Tataré

The tataré is a deciduous tree, with a perennial life cycle, ornamental, with a characteristic trunk, tortuous and with marbled tones. It is native to the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro, and is found in the coastal region, between the forest and the restinga. It is currently considered “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Detail of the inflorescences. photo by Pedro Ivo

It can reach up to 12 meters in height, but usually no more than 7 meters. It has a low, wide, open, rounded crown with a tortuous trunk, which reaches up to 50 cm in diameter. The branches have many branches and may or may not be thorny. The bark of the trunk is greyish, smooth, flaky, so that it stands out, revealing the hidden white surface. The final aspect is a beautiful marbled one, which also resembles another tree of the same family, the ironwood (Caesalpinia leiostachya).

The tataré leaves are green, oval, leathery, compound bipinnate, with 3 to 4 pairs of pinnae and up to 8 pairs of oblong leaflets.

The inflorescences appear in spring-summer, are of the glomerulus type and group together delicate white to yellow flowers. They assume a globose shape, resembling a pompom, with many stamens and a strong aroma. They attract many bees that feed on nectar and abundant pollen. With regard to the fruit, maturation occurs between late winter and early spring. Known as the “monkey ear”, it is a vegetable type, flattened and twisted in a helical or spiral shape. It presents a reddish-brown color when mature and contains oval, flat, pale yellow seeds, numerous, but with low germination capacity.

Fruit detail. Photo of Barry Stock

Tataré became popular as an ornamental tree through the projects of Roberto Burle Marx, who used it in Aterro do Flamengo.

It is an ideal tree to be applied in the afforestation of streets, parks, squares and in the city in general. Thus, it can be used for landscape reconstruction of degraded areas, since it is not demanding on the soil. The crooked and marbled stem has a great sculptural appeal, bringing differentiation to residential or institutional projects. Using tataré in gardens as well as in urban afforestation offers both aesthetic and ecological benefits, since it is a threatened species that attracts pollinators. It’s the kind of tree that you’ll love to sit under its canopy and read a good book, have a picnic or just contemplate your garden. It can also be grown in pots to decorate balconies, patios and terraces. Another interesting use is to train it as a bonsai, since the crooked trunk, the small leaves and the horizontal crown are very desired characteristics in this art. The tataré also has very resistant and beautiful wood, and for this reason it is used in woodworking and crafts.

It should be grown in full sun and appreciates sandy, drainable soils rich in organic matter.

Raquel Patro’s photo

Despite its appearance reminiscent of the resistant trees of the Cerrado, the tataré
prefers places with higher rainfall. When potted, water regularly, so that the substrate
does not dry out completely between one watering and another, but never allow it to
become soggy. Once established in the garden, it tolerates short periods of drought
and watering should be complementary. Fertilization should take place during the
growing season, as soon as new leaves begin to appear. Use fertilizers in NPK f
ormulations suitable for trees, respecting the manufacturer’s recommendations, and
add organic matter to the soil. It is recommended, before applying the fertilizer, to
water the soil well, both to facilitate absorption and to avoid burning the roots. It is propagated by seeds, set to germinate soon after harvest during spring and summer.
Use a sandy and light substrate and keep it damp in a shady place. Germination occurs
in up to 30 days and is low (20%).

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Alert:

This species has thorns, be careful when handling it.