Wednesday, April 24, 2019

U is for Ugni Berries and Ulmo Trees (A to Z Challenge 2019: Fruit Folktales)

This one was not easy at all, but I managed to pull a few fun things out of Google Books! Get ready, I am going to hit you with some little known flora.

The fruit for today is the Ugni molinae, known in South American Spanish as uñi, murta, or murtilla, and in English as strawberry myrtle or Chilean guava. It belongs to the myrtle family. Ugni fruit was introduced to Europe in 1844, but has been a staple in indigenous Araucano and Mapuche cuisine for centuries. The fruit is used for making desserts and liquor (chicha), and it is famous for being a favorite delicacy of two important people: Queen Victoria of England, and the thrauco.

Picture from here
The thrauco (trauco or chauco) is a mysterious being of Chilean folklore and mythology. It is a small creature, usually between 50 and 85 cm tall. He wears clothes woven from quilineja (Luzuriaga radicans), and a cap or hat made from the same material. He always carries his stone axe (toki), and usually walks leaning on a twisted walking cane. He might be small, but he is certainly not weak: Using his stone axe, he can fell a three in three strokes, even if it is a gigantic ulmo (Eucryphia cordifolia). In fact, the sound of three axe chops is what usually signals to people that a thrauco is nearby.

The thrauco loves two things more than anything: Climbing trees, and eating ugni berries. As for climbing, he enjoys being high up in the branches of tique (Aextoxicon punctatum) trees. He surveys the landscape from up there, as he really loves looking at nature. He hates people, however. If he sees a human from his perch, his evil eyes might twist the person's mouth permanently.
As for the ugni berries: It is his main source of sustenance, and his favorite delicacy. People in rural Chile warn their children about going into the ugni bushes to pick berries. The thrauco scares children away from his favorite food - but even worse, if he encounters a maiden, he might get her pregnant (pregnancies out of wedlock are often blamed on the thrauco).

(You can read - in Spanish - more about the thrauco here, here, and here.)

Guardian of Nature? Story to scare the children? Mythical being to blame for pregnancies?
And why ugni berries, out of all the things that grow in the forest?...


  1. I wonder how many of those babies blame on the thrauco ever resemble him...

  2. This one seems like a confused creature. Definitely an introvert. But also confused. Doesn't like human males and children, but not so with the maidens, ah!

    Find my U post @ How Often Should You Update Your Blog

  3. I've heard some excuses for unexpected pregnancies but never that one! What an unpleasant little creature.

    My A-Z of Children's Stories

  4. Wow, that was all new to me - new fruit, new creature... I'm sorry he hates humans and attacks them, because otherwise I feel like we might get along. Also, I'm really curious to taste ugni berries.
    Black and White: U is for Umbrellaphant

  5. Never had the fruit but it looks lovely. And handy to have a convenient monster to blame for unwanted pregnancies :)

  6. Oooh it's a great day when you can discover a new fruit AND a new creature. I'm thinking the ungi berries must be might tasty to inspire parents,in an effort to keep the fruit to themselves, to create tales to frighten children and maidens. :-)

  7. The fruit looks colourful and succulent.The folktale is so interesting. I love to read tales of far-off lands.

  8. Another lovely story from you. Wonder what those ugni berries taste like. Are they tart or sweet?

  9. I came to know about a new fruit today!
    Guess Thrauco could not keep Queen Victoria from liking his favorite fruit! But why does he not like humans? Great folk tale.

    Read my U post here UBUNTU

  10. Fun story (love the pregnancy blame!), and congratulations on finding a story about a fruit starting by U!

  11. I don't think I've heard of ugni berries before, but they look delicious. The only U fruit I know off the top of my head is ugli fruit.

  12. Sounds like a mixture of ALL the things you suggest, Zalka! I don’t suppose I could get any of these berries at my local greengrocer? No?

  13. I'll definitely stay out of those bushes!

    DB McNicol, author
    A to Z Microfiction: Unicorn

  14. Interesting!

    Ronel visiting with the A-Z Challenge music and writing: The Gifted and Unusual