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Candelabra tree

Latin name: Araucaria angustifolia

Areas: | Brazil |

IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Candelabra tree

Instantly recognisable from its characteristic umbrella-shaped crown, the candelabra tree is highly valued for its timber, medicinal properties and tasty seeds.

However this is also one of Brazil’s most threatened trees. Severe deforestation throughout the 20th century led to the loss of 97% of the species’ original habitat, while its columnar trunk (which offers an imposing sight) means that since the 1500s the species has been valued as Brazil’s most important timber tree. As a result, the species is now listed as Critically Endangered.

Candelabra tree facts:

  • Candelabra trees are gender specific with male and female cones occurring on separate trees.
  • The seeds are known as pinhões. Roasted pinhões are a popular winter snack in southern Brazil, often eaten with salt and honey. Their cultural significance is so great that there are a number of festivals during May and June to celebrate the pinhõe harvest.
  • The tree’s seeds, which are part of giant pine cones, are also a popular food source for a range of wildlife from birds (such as the beautiful azure jay) to squirrels and other rodents, domestic pigs and peccaries.
  • The tree is a symbol for the State of Paraná, which is known as Terra do Pinhão (Land of the Pine Nut).
  • The tree’s leaves, bark and resin are used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments from rheumatism and anaemia to wounds and sexually transmitted infections.

Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forests are considered to be among the world’s top five biodiversity hotspots. The candelabra tree is an integral part of the Araucaria forest ecosystem, providing food and services to animals and people alike.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working with agricultural businesses and local farmers to conserve and restore the last remaining Araucaria forest. With its partner Sociedade Chauá, FFI’s Global Trees Campaign is supporting the restoration of these forests by growing and planting a range of threatened species including the Candelabra tree.

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