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Piptocarpa discolor      Family: Asteraceae     Kichwa: Pihui/Pivi/Pibi Yura    Shuar: Winchip

Fast growing second growth tree that often dominates the skyline in previously deforested areas of the upper Amazon.  People from that part of the world know they are home when they see the unmistakeable branching of Pollalesta discolor against the evening sky.  Pihui is valued by Pastaza Runa women as wood for firing ceramic bowls called mucahuas.  It burns evenly into a fine white ash.  The current preference for firing with pihui may be a recent adaptation after the loss of other woods due to deforestation.  Pihui is also in high demand for making crates for shipping naranjillas to market in the sierra. The name “discolor” comes from the strange color of the wood which is often cream colored mixed with interesting blue and blackish patterns that make it apper discolored.

Clara Santi on the value of Pihui for firing pottery

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