Boldo (Peumus boldus)
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Boldo (Peumus boldus Molina, the only species in the genus Peumus) is a tree native to the central region of Chile. Together with litre, quillay, peumo, bollén and other indigenous plants, it is a characteristic component of the sclerophyllous forest (hard leaves that resist long dry summers and cold rainy winters) endemic to central Chile. Its leaves, which have a strong, woody and slightly bitter flavor and camphor-like aroma, are used for culinary purposes, primarily in Latin America. The leaves are used in a similar manner to bay leaves, and also used as an herbal tea, primarily in Chile and Argentina but also in other bordering countries.
Not too well known, but very tasty and nutritious, Boldo fruits, which appear between December and February, are small green edible spheres that contain lots of sugars and aid the traveler for refreshing himself on those sunny and dry days.
Boldo’s assertive flavor comes primarily from the presence of the chemical ascaridol, which is also present in the epazote plant.
In Latin America and Spain, boldo is also used as a form of herbal medicine, particularly to support the gallbladder, but also to calm upset stomachs. In Chile, it is frequently mixed with yerba mate or other teas to moderate its flavor. In Brazil, many families keep a boldo plant at home for this purpose, although boldo teabags are readily available in nearly all supermarkets.
Boldo is in the family Monimiaceae, which is closely related to the family Lauraceae (which includes many other plants used for their aromatic leaves, such as cinnamon, cassia, bay leaf, and camphor laurel.
Boldo has also been introduced to Europe and North Africa.
Categories: Laurales | Flora of Chile | Trees of Chile | Medicinal plants | Dietary supplements | Herbs | Fruit tree stubs