For the Tibetan village see Ombu, Tibet
The ombu is a massive evergreen herb native to the Pampas of South America. The tree has an umbrella-like canopy that spreads to a girth of 12 to 15 meters (40 to 50 feet) and can attain a height of 12 to 18 meters (40 to 60 feet). The ombu grows fast but being herbaceous its wood is soft and spongy enough to be cut with a knife. Because of this, it is also used in the art of bonsai, as it is easily manipulated to create the desired effect. Since the sap is poisonous, the ombu is not grazed by cattle and is immune to locusts and other pests. For similar reasons, the leaves are sometimes used as a laxative or purgant. It is a symbol of Uruguay and Argentina, and of Gaucho culture, as its canopy is quite distinguishable from afar and provides comfort and shelter from sun and rain. The fireproof trunk also stores water for the large fires.
The tree is categorized in the same genus as the North American pokeweed. The species is also cultivated in Southern California as a shade tree.
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