Bulnesia retamo

Accession Count: 4
Common Name: Retamo
Family Name: Zygophyllaceae
Botanical Name: Bulnesia retamo
Synonyms:
Botanical Synonyms: Bulnesia macrocarpa, Zygophyllum retama
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics: Bulnesia retamo is an evergreen, perennial shrub that is aphyllous for most of the year. It can reach a height as great as 25 feet, and 3 feet in width (1). Stems are slender and covered with wax (2), with young plants bearing grey-green coloring, and unicellular hairs that are shed from mature stems (3). Branches are woody and pendant, occurring in clusters (1). The leaves are opposite, even-pinnately compound with reduced, short living leaflets; so that photosynthesis can be conducted by young twigs (2). Yellow, hermaphroditic flowers can be present in small groups or as solitary blooms, being dish-shaped, and with ten stamens (4, 2).  Peduncles emerge from the same buds as the leaves (5). The flowers give away to schizocarpic fruits in 5-winged mericarps, each possessing one winged seed. In some cases, fruit may be seedless (4).
Compound: Bul ret
Geographic Origin: South America
Ecozone Origin: Neotropic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: Bulnesia retamo has several botanical synonyms. It was first named Zygophyllum retama by Dr. John Gillies, who included it within Botanical Miscellany 3: 166 (1833) (6). Dr. Gillies additionally collected one of the earliest specimens of B. retamo, in 1867. It was collected in Argentina, from Mendoza to San Juan, at an altitude of 610 – 914 m (1,830-2,742 ft) (7). In 1871, the plant was named Bulnesia macrocarpa, by Rudolf Amandus Philippi, in Sert. Mendoc. Alt. 9. (1871) (8). Then, in 1874, the current accepted name was designated as Bulnesia retamo, by August Heinrich Rudolf Grisebach (9). He published within Abhandlungen der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen 19: 106. 1874. (Dec 1874) (9), placing the other names in synonymy. The genus Bulnesia is named for the Chilean politician Manuel Bulnes (1799 – 1866) (10).
Cultivation Notes: Bulnesia retamo grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 9a to 11, desiring full sun or partial shade. Water regularly, but be careful not to overwater, as B. retamo is a xerophytic plant (11) that requires little water when established (12). Although the exact soil chemical properties that B. retamo tolerates are unknown, shrubs have been found in association with soils having higher carbon and nitrate concentrations (13). Propagation can be done by seed, and self-pollination is possible. However, fertility is rare when selfing, and an inbreeding depression frequently occurs (2).
Ethnobotany: Bulnesia retamo is used to make “retamo wax”, which can replace other waxes such as carnauba and candelilla (14). Retamo wax has been utilized to make shoe polish, leather dyes, printer’s ink, carbon paper, and pharmaceuticals; and is capable of treating wood, leather, and metals. The production and sales of retamo wax serve an additional purpose in Argentina’s economy (14). Natural populations of Bulnesia retamo been diminished by the extensive pruning for wax production, as well as from wood extraction for vineyard posts (2). Mountaineers have used the boughs to thatch their huts, while B. retamo also creates excellent quality charcoal (15). Additionally, a decoction of the bark, wood, roots, or leaves of B. retamo can be treated to obtain a yellow food coloring, which can be used as a substitute for saffron (16). B. retamo may also possess beneficial health properties, such as the ability to improve blood vessels (12). Perhaps from the leaves and twigs, which are often used in medicine (15).

Height: 6 - 10 feet
Width: 0 - 5 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season:
Flower Season: Fall
Color: Yellow
Function: Habitat
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

Citations:
 1. Napp, R. (1876) The Argentine Republic. Sociedad Anonima.
 2. Science Direct. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
 4. Researchgate. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
 5. Hooker, W. (1833) Botanical Miscellany. Murray, 1833.
 6. Zygophyllum retama Gillies ex Hook. & Arn, Tropicos. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
 7. Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
 8. Bulnesia macrocarpa Phil, Tropicos. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
 9. Bulnesia retama (Gillies ex Hook. & Arn.) Griseb, Tropicos. Retrieved March 30th,       2020.
10. Quattrocchi, U. (1999) CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
11. Dave’s Garden. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
12. Desert Tropicals. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
13. Repositorio Institucional CONICET Digital. Retrieved March 30th, 2020.
14. “Utilization Abstracts”, Economic Botany. New York Botanical Garden Press, 1959.
16. Chemical Abstracts, Volume 14. American Chemistry Society, 1920.
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Bulnesia retamo