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The Lost Woodlands of Ancient NascaA Case-study in Ecological and Cultural Collapse$
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David Beresford-Jones

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264768

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264768.001.0001

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The Huarango: The Genus Prosopis on the South Coast

The Huarango: The Genus Prosopis on the South Coast

(p.129) 7. The Huarango: The Genus Prosopis on the South Coast
The Lost Woodlands of Ancient Nasca

David Beresford-Jones

British Academy

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

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