The Power of “Podar” – El Poder del Podar


A super pruned Paraguayan tree - un árbol paraguayo recontra podado

A super pruned Paraguayan tree - Un árbol paraguayo recontra podado


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Every winter paraguayans prune the trees in their yards and sidewalks until they are mere trunks with stumpy limbs, nary a leaf or twig in sight. This is called “podando” as in “está podando su ficus” (he’s pruning his ficus) or “necesito buscar alguien para podar mi ficus” (i have to find someone to prune my ficus for me). It is pronounced “po” (police) “dar” (darling).

[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0%”]Cada invierno los paraguayos podan los árboles en sus patios y veredas al tal punto que terminan siendo apenas troncos acortados, sin ramitas ni hojas alguna.[/column][end_columns]

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At first this practice may seem horrifying. But cutting back trees in this drastic fashion serves two important benefits. One is enjoyed in the winter and the other in the summer.

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De buenas a primeras esta práctica puede resultar chocante. Pero podar de estar manera tan drástica tiene dos beneficios importantes. El primero se disfruta en el invierno y el segundo en el verano.


No branches or leaves blocking the precious sunlight - No hay ramas ni hojas bloqueando los preciosos rayos de sol

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In the winter, less shade = more sunshine

Due to the humidity and lack of insulation, it is often colder indoors than outside during the Paraguayan winter. During this season people like to have as much sunshine in their yards and on their houses as possible. In Paraguay the sun continues to be moderately strong in the winter and sitting in the sunshine is an easy (and cheap) way to warm up. Having more sunshine also greatly increases your ability to dry laundry quickly. Towards the end of fall people start “podando” and you will see everyone from young children to old ladies either up in ladders or perched in trees hacking away at branches with a machete. This is a spectacle best watched from a safe distance.

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En el invierno, menos sombra = más sol

Debido a la humedad y la falta de asilamiento térmico, en el invierno paraguayo suele hacer más frío adentro de la casa que afuera. En esta estación a la gente les gusta que la mayor cantidad de sol posible irradie tanto sobre su patio como el en exterior de su casa. El sol paraguayo sigue siendo moderadamente fuerte en el invierno, y salir a sentarse en el sol es una manera fácil (y barata) de calentar el cuerpo. Además obtener mucho sol en tu patio facilita el secado de las ropas. Al término del otoño todos se ponen a podar. Se pueden observar jóvenes, adultos y hasta viejitas trepados en los árboles usando sus machetes sin compasión alguna. Es recomendable observar este espectáculo desde una distancia segura.


árbol paraguayo

New leaves sprout up in no time - Hojas nuevas brotan enseguida

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Pruning in the winter = better shade in the summer

Due to Paraguay’s sub tropical climate trees grow very quickly. New twigs and leafs sprout up within days of being cut back. By the time summer rolls around many of the pruned trees have already regained most of their branches and leaves… and then some. As in the winter, during the summer it is often preferable to be outside than indoors. However in the summer people seek the shade, not the sunshine. By pruning in the winter Paraguayans ensure themselves a dense shade to relax under during the summer. On hot days most Paraguayans seek refuge under the shade of a tree, ice-cold tereré in hand. Mango trees are particularly prized due to the great shade they provide.

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Podar en el invierno = mejor sombra durante el verano

Debido al clima sub tropical del Paraguay los árboles crecen rápidamente. Ramitas y hojas nuevas brotan tan pronto como han sido podados, de manera que cuando llega el verano muchos de los árboles ya han recuperado la mayoría de sus ramas y hojas…. y más aún. En el verano, al igual que en el invierno, con frequencia se hace más placentero estar afuera que adentro. Sin embargo, en el verano se busca la sombra, no el sol. Al podar los árboles en el invierno los paraguayos se aseguran una sombra tupida para el siguiente verano. En días de calor intenso la mayoría del los paraguayos acuden a la sombra de un árbol con el infaltable tereré en mano. Los mangos en particular son sumamente apreciados por la linda sombra que proveen.


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So the next time you see a group of totally bare naked trees remember that by the summer they will be fully regrown and will provide the perfect shade for drinking tereré. In the meantime grab some mate and go warm up in the sun.

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Así es que la próxima vez que observas unos árboles totalmente desprovistos de hojas, acuérdate de que para el próximo verano estarán nuevamente repletas de hojas y proveerán la sombra perfecta para tomar tereré. Mientras tanto prepara tu mate y busca un sitio soleado para ahuyentar el frío del invierno.


Posted in Daily life - vida diaria, Flora y Fauna Tagged with: , ,
5 comments on “The Power of “Podar” – El Poder del Podar
  1. Manuel C says:

    You know. Our Environmental Sector is just flabbergasted and quite horrified, actually, of how podar’ing goes down in this country. But, it was good to get a little cultural insight on WHY it’s done. In retrospect, your points seem obvious, but I’ve never heard them explicitly stated like this.

  2. David says:

    So the story they told me about snakes living in the trees if they didn’t cut them isn’t true?

  3. adam says:

    how did i never decipher this during my time down south?! it’s so simple and logical! i guess my laziness in not tree pruning is to blame for how miserably cold i remained for a few long months every year.

  4. paraguay says:

    Thanks, Manuel! It seems so over the top, doesn´t it! But things just grow so fast here that people really can afford to hack away at will. Feel free to share the post with people in the Env. Sector! It would be interesting to use the practice of podaring as a lesson about deforrestation. To podar, taking in to account how fast things can grow back, is one thing. To deforrest completely is another since the plants just can´t come back from something that drastic.

  5. Drake says:

    Paraguayans are very exotic

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