During the last years, we have made a large number of trips through Patagonia, exploring its flora, its aromas and its stories. We had many of these experiences with Don Pangui, a wise botanist from Neuquén, who accompanied us sharing his knowledge of the deep south.
There, we share some of those stories and knowledge that have inspired us in the creation of our fragrances.
The invitation to explore the botany of the south of the world is also a call to take care of the biodiversity in our lands since it is the only possible way for life.
The Adesmia Boronioides, also known as Paramela, was called "Yakeñ" by the native people who used it for medicinal purposes.
It has one of the sweetest and most feminine fragrances of Patagonia but, at the same time, rough and wild notes summarizing the essence of the pure Patagonia: wild and friendly in unison.
It grows throughout the fringe of the foothills along the subantarctic forests.
It can be seen shy and opaque on the side of the roads although, when its flowering occurs in December, a real chromatic marvel is generated with its small yellow flowers contrasting the elongated and resinous green leaves.
It is burned to perfume and cleanse the houses of negative spirits.
Senecio, in latin, means "aged man" and refers to the whitish traces or ash roots of some specimens that resemble the head of a grown being.
There are species all over the world, and 120 of them inhabit Patagonia.
They grow in small or large populations. However, as can be appreciated in one of the pictures, we have seen it growing in solitude near Lago Gray in the South of Chile.
The fragrance goes from the wildest and more herbaceous to the sweet. Not only each species has its different aromatic characteristics but, within the same species, the aroma can change by region, time of the year, or because nature provides so, making each plant unclassifiable and unique as equal as each human being.
Nothofagus, which means false Beech, are the main species of the subantarctic forests of Tierra del Fuego.
Magellan's Coihues (Nothofagus betuloides), the Lengas (Nothofagus pumilio) and the Ñires (Nothofagus antarctica) create incredible figures resisting the icy winds. Many call them flag trees. They are found throughout the Canal de Beagle, but the most eye-catching grow in the vicinity of Puerto Almanza and Harberton.
In these trees can be found different types of fungi, which were very important in the diet of the Patagonian peoples. The Haush, Yaganes and Selknam could distinguish between more than 20 kinds of edible mushrooms. Each was recognized and differentiated by name. Cuturan, Usuf, Aguachich, Suchipoo and Ahman were the preferred ones, according to Thomas Bridges in one of his 19th-century manuscripts.
Likewise, those forests are the habitat of The Old Man's Beard (Usnea Barbata), a lichen (a mixture of algae and fungus) that grows in these forests. It is so sensitive to pollution and to the human traces that, is the best indicator of a place with clean air.
The Mulinum Spinosum, also called Neneo, is a very aromatic and spiny plant that grows throughout Patagonia.
The Aonikenk or Tehuelches, in their transhumance through the southern plains, knew this plant and used its root or leaves as medicine. Also, due to its resins and oils, the Neneo was used to make smoke signals.
Its penetrating and green aroma usually varies by region and rain regime. In the south of Chile, the specimens compact into a uniform mass although, it is less aromatic than in other latitudes.
In one of our trips, the infinite steppe of Santa Cruz gave us a beautiful surprise: a group of Anarthrophyllum desideratum or male Neneos flowered in fire red, illuminating a monochrome sea of Coirones.
Most of the species in Patagonia are the descendants of Gondwana, the lost continent that united South America with Antarctica, Africa and Australia 200 million years ago. Each plant contains in its DNA that valuable symbiosis of evolution and history.
Don Pangui told us that in the past, in some areas in the deep Neuquén, the Acantoliphia seriphioides or Andean Tomillo was used as perfume. Its grainy and oily stems were rubbed in the bodies of those people. Living that ritual is an amazing aromatic experience.