A few Chilean plants

During a recent family holiday to central and southern Chile, I was able to do a bit of botanising. In addition to several plants endemic to Chile, we also saw several with a Pacific connection. First stop was a day trip to the National Botanic Gardens at Viña del Mar to check out some native plants.

Here I am with some of my family in front of a specimen of Jubaea chilensis, the native Chilean palm, with its uniquely stout trunk. Photo © Mauricio A. López L.

Here I am with some of my family in front of a specimen of Jubaea chilensis, the native Chilean palm, with its uniquely stout trunk. Photo © Mauricio A. López L.

Several young Jubaea chilensis growing at the botanic gardens. It is possible to see these plants in the wild in the hills along the highway that links Santiago with Viña del Mar. Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.
A native cactus in the botanic garden. We also saw several other candelabria-type cacti like this one on the highway between Santiago and Viña del Mar. Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.

The gardens also housed many exotic plants, including several from New Zealand. Note for example the Phormium tenax (harakeke, New Zealand flax) on the left of this photo of the lake inside the gardens.Lake inside the botanic garden. Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.

We noticed that harakeke and also Cordyline australis (cabbage tree) are frequently planted and appear to be thriving in urban areas and along roadsides throughout Chile.One of my favourite parts of the botanic garden was the small area dedicated to the endemic flroa of the Juan Fernández Islands, which contains several threatened species.The shrub Rhaphithamnus venustus (Verbenaceae). Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.

Ochagavia elegans (Bromeliaceae). Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.
The Juan Fernández cabbage tree, Dendroseris litoralis (Asteraceae). Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.

An excellent article about Dendroseris litoralis can be found here.About 1000 km south of Viña del Mar in the beautiful Chilean lake district, we visited a southern beech forest in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park (Chile’s oldest national park).Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, with Osorno Volcano in the background, and native Nothofagus forest. Photo © Mauricio A. López L.

Although it was only early spring, I was able to find a few (quite colourful!) shrubs in flower inside the forest.Gaultheria sp. (Ericaceae). Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.

Notro, or Chilean fire bush, Embothrium coccineum (Proteaceae). Photo © Heidi M. Meudt. Michay, Berberis darwinii (Berberidaceae). While beautiful in its native Chile, it is an invasive pest in New Zealand. Photo © Heidi M. Meudt.

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