The Huarango: The Genus <i>Prosopis</i> on the South Coast

David Beresford-Jones

in The Lost Woodlands of Ancient Nasca

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264768
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754005 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

The Huarango: The Genus Prosopis on the South Coast

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The huarango are a species of the genus Prosopis, one of the most common plants found along the watercourses of New World deserts and members of a family of nitrogen-fixing, bean-producing plants — the legumes — whose importance to humankind is second only to that of the cereal grasses and with which our relationship is even older. Today, perceptions of the genus are deeply divided between appreciation of its value on the one hand, and intense dislike of it as a thorny, invasive weed on the other. This chapter sifts through the reasons for this and a history of misidentification, in order to identify the particular characteristics of the huarango and, thereby, its true value as a human resource in the past. It suggests that thousands of years of co-evolution with humans have left their mark on the tree's form on the south coast of Peru.

Keywords: New World deserts; co-evolution; huarango; Peru

Chapter.  8895 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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