From Tamboril to Brauna: Talks with Tree Lovers

Enterolobium contortisiliquum, From the collection of: Inhotim
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The tamboril or pacara earpod tree, an iconic tree at Inhotim and especially loved for its majestic aspect and leafy crown, observes the creation and development of our Institute throughout the years, offering shelter and inspiring plants, animals, employees, and visitors. The trees have the ability to change the surroundings by adding organic matter to the soil with the fall of their leaves or through the action of their shade, which increases the dampness of its surroundings and reduces temperatures. With the tamboril, things are no different: its shade is a place of rest, and the trunk is home to tens of other plants known as epiphytes, for they live on top of trees. When its fruits are ripening, the time comes for the pionus to make a fuss as it eats the seeds still soft from inside the typical black, twisted, crescent-shaped fruits. One can easily realize that trees are fantastic beings, full of ecological roles and stories to tell. Yes, this is not an exclusive attribute of the tamboril, and that’s why the exhibition “From Tamboril to Brauna: Talks with Tree Lovers” seeks to gather knowledge around some of the most precious trees of the botanic collection of Inhotim, so that, by knowing more about these majestic beings, we can contribute to their preservation.

Cecropia hololeucaInhotim

The silver leaves of this species of embaúba stand out in any forest. For a few years now, this feature arouses great interest of Pedro Nehring, landscape designer at Inhotim, who started to add it to the Shade and Fresh Water Garden from 2020 on. The Botanical Garden team at Inhotim undertakes an effort to collect seeds and produce seedlings of this native endemic tree to the Atlantic Forest, an effort that starts by monitoring matrix trees spread throughout the Institute to collect its fruits.

Cecropia hololeuca (leafs)Inhotim

The next step takes place inside the Botanical Laboratory at Inhotim, where the seeds are extracted and go through an acid treatment. Such procedure is a simulation of what happens in nature: when the fruits of embaúba are eaten by birds, bats, and primates, the gastric acid of these animals “awake” the dormant seeds. After germinating, the seeds proceed to the nursery greenhouse, where they are kept until their actual transfer to the gardens. Such was the procedure experienced by the embaúba shown in the picture – a tree of merely one year old and 1.5 meter high.

Cecropia hololeuca (detail)Inhotim

Just like other ones in its taxon, this young embaúba will grow. Its long and hollow trunk might become home to a colony of Aztec ants, in one of the most famous relations of cooperation: a tree providing shelter to the ants, as they protect the trees from herbivore attacks.

Cariniana estrellensisInhotim

This giant can exceed 45 meters in well-preserved forests. A tree of this size is capable of pumping from the ground and transpiring around 1000 liters of water in a single day. Tree roots are sophisticated and extremely intelligent suckers. Their trunks act as tubes that reduce the pumping water to the leaves. When perspiring, trees make the air more humid, transforming the surrounding climate and increasing environmental comfort.

Cariniana estrellensis (detail)Inhotim

For this reason, a tree can be considered as an air-conditioning system of nature, and a forest is capable of producing aerial streams. A major tree like this might still be home to several animals, like the rufous-fronted thornbird, who found a place to settle his home in this jequitibá.

Cedrela fissilisInhotim

In the Jardim Sombra e Água Fresca, the cedar is a relic of a perhaps a little distant forest past. In the recent past, the forest gave way to pasture and pasture gave way to garden. Inhotim's history is based on the transformation of the landscape, which over the years has fostered a trajectory of multiple objectives and uses. Today, the cedar and Inhotim meet, where one offers enchantment and magnificence and the other offers a safe place to live.

Plinia caulifloraInhotim

“Behind the school lay the jabuticabeiras.
We do study, indeed. But after,
hey folks: let’s steal jabuticaba.
Jabuticaba you have to eat by the tree.(...)”
Carlos Drummond de Andrade (Fruta-furto [Fruit-pilfering])

The childhood tricks narrated by this poet from Minas Gerais are also part of the memory of many Brazilians. The Brazilian grapetree is one of the most popular native trees in domestic backyards all over Brazil, in many different seasons and regions. Native to the Atlantic Forest, its consumption is a heritage of the indigenous people.

Plinia cauliflora (detail)Inhotim

Moreover, the jabuticaba occupies a special place in the tables of Minas Gerais. Other than its natural consumption, the fruit is the basis for jams, sauces, liqueurs, juices, and other preparations. One hour and a half away from Inhotim is the land of jabuticaba – the city of Sabará. Sabará produces jabuticabas since the colonial period, and is famous for the ancient practice of renting trees for visitors. By paying a certain amount to the owner, you can eat as much as you want and even take some home if you wish.

Mangifera indicaInhotim

The mango tree was introduced in the city of Belém back in 1780 by the Italian architect and naturalist Antonio Landi. Faced with the social situation of the time, a “landscape policy” was developed in the city’s urban space. For this reason, it became known as “the city of mango trees,” and even the local soccer arena was nicknamed “Mangueirão” [Big Mango Tree]. The mango tree is also famous in domestic backyards for its ornamental qualities, in addition to making shade and producing tasteful fruits.

Mangifera indica (detail)Inhotim

Sword-mango, coconut-mango, pink-mango, manguito, Tommy Atkins mango… These are just a few among more than 1,500 mango varieties. The mango is one of the most important commercial cultures in the world in terms of production, marketing, and consumption. Brazil is among the main mango-producing countries in the world, and most of its production is destined to local consumption. Mangos can be consumed in natura or used to make ice-creams and other sweet preparations.

Bixa orellanaInhotim

The urucum or annatto is a famous plant for providing seeds broadly used by indigenous communities. Such use is described by Pero Vaz de Caminha in the letter he wrote in April 1500: “Some of them bore green hedgehogs taken from trees, wanting to resemble in color to chestnut trees, although much smaller. And those are filled with small red grains that, when crushed with the fingers, produced a red paint, with which they color themselves. And the more they got wet, the more red they became.”

Bixa orellana (detail)Inhotim

The pigment contained in the fruits is much appreciated for its red color. The body painting used in dances, rites, and parties is a recurring practice among several ethnic groups. The annatto paint is also very important to protect the skin against the sun and insects.

Crescentia cujeteInhotim

The popular name coité comes from Tupi and stands for “vessel” or “pot.” That’s because the calabash tree bears a fruit with very stiff rind that is used as a container. The unripened fruits can be consumed cooked or in soups; the ripen fruits, on their turn, have only their rinds used to produce handicrafts and kitchen utensils.

Crescentia cujete (detail)Inhotim

Calycophyllum spruceanumInhotim

Of rapid growth, the pau-mulato is used to make lampposts, firewood, and charcoal. Yet, this Amazonic species really stands out for its landscape purposes. The smooth, bronze-colored trunk finds success in the composition of tree-lined avenues, very used in the landscape of Inhotim. As its bark peels over the year, it also presents different colors, which increases even more its ornamental value. It is a good option for the forestation of central gardens or beds, as long as there is no electric wiring above it.

Calycophyllum spruceanum (detail)Inhotim

Dalbergia nigraInhotim

The quality of the wood of Dalbergia nigra is already present in its popular name. Jacarandá comes from the Tupi term iakarandá, meaning “the one with a stiff head.” This name is common to several plants that provide excellent wood for furniture or other fine woodworks. Its very beautiful wood is used for the production of luxury joinery and music instruments, like pianos. Commercially known for more than 300 years, it is one of the most valuable wood species occurring in Brazil.

Dalbergia nigra (detail)Inhotim

Paubrasilia echinataInhotim

Subject to exportation since the colonial times, the intense and disordered extractive process of it caused a major decline of the species’ population, currently considered an endangered species. Such is the reality of several species of fine woods. Therefore, sustainable exploration, appropriate handling, and effective conservation actions are crucial to protect them. Although broadly cultivated, and despite being the symbol tree of Brazil, it is still little known by Brazilians.

Paubrasilia echinata (detail)Inhotim

Action plans to preserve the brazilwood might also consider different climate change scenarios. A 2019 study indicated a gradual reduction of the climatically appropriate area in and outside protected regions. Not only the brazilwood will suffer from climate changes, and that is why our society needs to rethink the means of production and consumption so that we can conserve the most biodiversity possible, as well as the feasibility of humankind itself.

Zeyheria tuberculosaInhotim

Zeyheria tuberculosa (detail)Inhotim

Zeyheria tuberculosa (detail)Inhotim

Another way to protect species is through 𝘦𝘹 𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘶 collections. These conserve the germplasm of species, which in the case of trees, can be the living individual, a piece of tissue or a seed. At Inhotim's Botany Laboratory, two cold rooms store seeds from native trees, including ipê seeds. Despite being a very rustic pioneer species, it is threatened with extinction due to intense exploration. So, to ensure its protection, it is essential to keep it in collections like this one.

Melanoxylon braunaInhotim

To master the knowledge on the production of a plant species is also a way to ensure its protection. Studies are developed in this sense at Inhotim to contribute to the preservation of brauna. This Atlantic Forest tree is known for the quality and durability of its wood, as well as for its amazingly beautiful flowering. It has been rarely noticed in nature, which makes it vulnerable to become endangered. To know the best way to propagate this species is a way to protect it and use it sustainably.

Melanoxylon brauna (seeding)Inhotim

Melanoxylon brauna (seeding)Inhotim

Credits: Story

Antonio Grassi – Presidente Institucional

Henrique Cunha – Vice Presidente Executivo
Allan Schwartzman - Diretor Artístico
Felipe Paz - Gerente Executivo
Lorena Vicini - Gerente de Comunicação
César Timóteo - Gerente de Educação
Andreza Marinho - Gerente de Financeiro
Arthur Castro - Gerente de Jardim Botânico
Cristiano Maciel - Gerente de Operações
Eduardo Silva - Gerente de Compras
Paulo Soares - Gerente Técnico
Raquel Murad - Gerente de RH


Paisagista: Pedro Nehring
Curador Botânico: Juliano Borin
Gerente de Jardim Botânico: Arthur Castro
Coordenadora do Jardim Botânico: Sabrina Carmo
Bióloga do Jardim Botânico: Nayara Mota
Analista Ambiental: Bárbara Sales
Projeto: Juliano Borin, Sabrina Carmo, Nayara Mota e Bárbara Sales
Fotos: João Marcos Rosa
Textos: Nayara Mota, Juliano Borin, Bárbara Sales e Sabrina Carmo
Áudios: Harri Lorenzi – Engenheiro Agrônomo, autor de uma série de livros sobre Botânica e fundador do Instituto Plantarum
Arthur Castro – Gerente do Jardim Botânico do Inhotim
Juliano Borin - Curador Botânico do Instituto Inhotim
Laís Diniz Silva - Educadora do Instituto Inhotim
Walter Silva - Viveirista
Pedro Nehring - Paisagista do Instituto Inhotim
Projeto Digital: Pedro Dillan

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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