Calafate, the indigenous name for what is known in English as the box-leaved barberry (Berberis buxifolia), is Patagonia’s best-known plant. The bushes are protected by vindictive thorns, and the wood contains a substance known as berberina, which possesses medicinal properties and is used as a textile dye. From late October onwards, the bushes are covered with exquisite little bright yellow flowers. Depending on where they’re growing, the berries mature between December and March. Once used by the indigenous populations for dye, they’re nowadays often employed in delicious ice creams, appetizing home-made preserves or as a filling for alfajores. Remember the oft-quoted saying: “Él que come el calafate, volverá” (“Eat calafate berries and you’ll be back”).

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