Very interesting looking, fast growing, beautiful shade tree, the Ombu can be found in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. It is uniquely swollen at the base, which may grow to 12 ft in diameter, spreading above the ground so that the tree appears to be standing on a mound. The trunk and branches contain up to 80 percent of water.
It is a fast-growing and long-lived evergreen tree with a domed crown. Its height can reach 40 to 60ft. It grows rapidly and is nearly indestructible. Its wood is soft and spongy, soft enough to be cut with a regular knife. The Ombu often has multiple trunks. Its sap is poisonous, therefore the bush is not browsed by cattle. It is also immune to locusts and other pests. It has greenish-white flowers that grow in long clusters. These clusters droop from the weight of the crimson, ripe berries that develop from these flowers.
The Ombu's massive, fire resistant trunks contain water storage tissue, an excellent adaptation for intense grassland fires which are common in its natural region. The trees have enlarged bases in which they store water. An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils, though preferring a moisture retentive fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. This species tolerates temperatures down to 15F. It does not need much water considering there is only 10-30 in of rainfall a year in its natural habitat.
The tree is sometimes harvested from the wild as a source of food, medicines and other commodities. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant, capable of providing an excellent shade in areas where other trees will not grow.