Nature offers wonderful treasures and Quebracho colorado is perhaps one of the most interesting due to its uniqueness.
Its scientific name is Schinopsis Lorentzii and it is an evergreen plant that grows wild in the Chaco, a region between northern Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, where it can grow up to 30 metres!
It is universally known as one of the strongest trees in the world: its name in fact comes from two Spanish words, quebrar and hacha, meaning the “axe breaker”, denoting its exceptional strength and resistance.
The colour of the wood is a yellow ochre with a red brown area in the centre, rich in tannin.
Due to its characteristics and its key role in the local ecosystem and economy, the Quebracho colorado Chaqueño was declared Árbol Forestal Nacional in 1857.
How is the Quebracho wood used?
When reached the end of their productive life, trees are ready to be felled following a selective thinning procedure, making space for the new ones.
The wood slowly dries outdoor for several months in order to stabilise its characteristics. Given its value and exceptional resistance, it is mainly used for the production of wheels, furniture, handles and tannins.
Today there are very strict rules about how and when to cut the trees, as well as intensive reforestation programmes, which help to preserve the future of this botanical species.
The local forest management law (Ley del Bosque Nativo), introduced in 2007, protects Quebracho forests in the Chaco region with the aim of regulating tree cutting: it establishes the maximum number of Quebracho trees that can be felled per hectare annually and the minimum diameter of their trunks, implementing a traceability system that helps to keep the origin of the wood under control. Moreover, the local tannin industry has set up a nursery with more than 200,000 Quebracho seedlings, which are transplanted each year to further develop the forest.
Quebracho tannins and their health benefits
Quebracho wood is mainly used for the extraction of tannin, destined to the vegetable tanning leather process and the wine industry. Quebracho is very rich in tannin: it contains about 20%.
Today, Quebracho tannin is used to produce a wide range of leathers for bags, belts, wallets, saddles and shoe uppers.
Its colour, beauty and naturalness make it a first-class component of luxury leather goods, the typical vachetta. Quebracho based tanning also means warmth, fragrance, softness, resistance, the charm of products that gain beauty over time and recall unforgettable moments in our lives.
This type of tannin is also highly valued by wine producers: it is able to bind the anthocyanins in the must and stabilise them, preventing the colour loss that can occur during clarification.
Furthermore, tannins are widely used in animal nutrition, acting as a natural growth promoter, helping to balance the intestinal microbiota and strengthen the immune system.
Thanks to the presence of the tannin industry – with production sites located close to woodland areas in harmony with the environment – the link between the local communities and Quebracho tree is still strong, a delicate balance that protects both the nature and the local economy. Would you like to know other vegetable sources from which tannin is extracted?