Legend of the Bibosi and the Motacú

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Bolivian myths and legends - the bibosi and the motacú

Legend of the Bibosi

The legend of the bibosi and the motacu originates in the Bolivian forest. Around the motacú palm tree grows a corpulent tree called the bibosi. Its scientific name is Ficus boliviana. It grows on rocks and twists around other trees, especially palm trees, as a sort of “parasitic” tree species.

Its roots eventually reach the ground, growing downward along the trunk of its host tree. As the roots extend toward the ground they twist and wrap themselves around the host tree, and eventually the bibosi’s roots and shade kill the tree that supports it.

This gave rise to one of the best known Bolivian legends: the legend of the bibosi and the motacú: a long time ago a strong, hard-working young man fell in love with a beautiful girl. When her parents found out about the romance, they were opposed to the relationship and immediately arranged for her to marry another young man of their own choosing.

When she was told of her impending marriage, the girl met one last time with her beloved. It was nighttime. They talked, they cried. Before saying good-bye, the young man held her in his arms and embraced her so strongly that they both died. It is said that the first bibosi and motacú trees grew intertwined on the spot where the young couple died.

Thanks to Juan Freile for allowing us to use his photo.

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