Quebracho Colorado (Schinopsis lorentzii). The name derives from the Spanish quiebra-hacha (axe-breaker), alluding to the hardwood properties of this useful and much-storied tree of northern Argentina and Paraguay. Colorado ("red" in Spanish) refers to the wood's color. The strong, durable wood is useful in buildings and for railway ties. Tannin, essential to the important hides industry, is extracted from the tree. The tree's juice produces a serious skin irritation (called paaj in Santiago del Estero). According to one legend, a woodsman tied his vain, flirtatious wife beneath a quebracho tree. After becoming covered with disfiguring eruptions, she promised to change her ways. Like the Ceibo and Ombú, other native South American trees, the quebracho has inspired wonder and fear, and it figures in folklore. It is also widely used in folk medicine to lower fevers and treat respiratory ailments.
Félix Coluccio, Diccionario folklórico argentino, vol. 2 (1964), pp. 342, 392.
Richard W. Slatta