The tarope plant grows incredibly quickly in water (usually rivers, swamps and lakes) and needs absolutely no soil to take root and expand. It can clog rivers and channels by growing completely across them in a matter of just a couple of weeks.
During a recent trip to Bolivia's northern department of Beni
, where I took a river boat trip
in search of pink river dolphins
, we got stuck in a channel that was completely overgrown with tarope on our way to the Chuchini Eco Lodge
. Because they are not rooted in soil, they float and we were able to push our way through them. However, the density of the tarope and it's weight, plus pushing them against the force of the water made this a very difficult job and we had to be rescued! Read more about my trip to Beni
is from the BBC and tells about how Bolivians in Beni are using the ancient Moxos peoples' irrigation system of man-made hills (camellones) I wrote about in the Beni section of my site. It says: "The system uses natural fertilizers, and in particular an aquatic plant in the canals called tarope which both purifies the water and acts as a fertilizer when spread over the soil." It's a really interesting article - apparently we may be going back to Pre-Colombian wisdom to find solutions for modern problems.