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Chile 3 - Non Woody Plants From Central Chile


By AndrewR


Having covered trees and shrubs in my last blog, we now turn to everything else!

I’ll start with the climbers. We didn’t see many of these and several that we did see weren’t in flower. The first one we came across was bomarea salsilla, a climber usually growing over shrubs in open, sunny positions (although the first plant we found was growing in woodland, showing plants will grow anywhere when they are happy)

There are several mutisias in Chile which are impossible to identify if they are not in flower. They climb by means of tendrils (like sweet peas). This one is probably mutisia cana

And this is mutisia obligodon

As well as climbers, we found a few clingers – parasites. The most common one reminded me of mistletoe but this is another one, tristerix verticillatis, with yellow flowers (we also saw a form with red flowers)

Possibly the plant that most readily springs to mind when you think of Chile is alstroemeria, the so-called Peruvian Lily. Many of the plants we grow in gardens have been bred from alstroemeria ligtu which commonly grows on roadsides

I was very taken with this slender plant, growing a couple of feet tall in lightly shaded copses. It is conanthera bifolia but does not appear to be for sale in the UK

By way of contrast, salpiglossis sinuata is an annual for full sun

Rhodophiala advena is a bulb, related to the amaryllis, but not hardy in the UK

If you like dwarf sweet peas, how about lathyrus multiceps? This grows at altitude but further south, we saw lathyrus magellanicus, with darker purple flowers, growing at lower levels

One of the star plants of the holiday was ourisia poeppigii. It was always growing beside fast-moving streams, often with its roots between rocks

Not all the plants we grow as alpines come from areas high in the mountains. Nierembergia repens carpeted the ground at one campsite, looking like crocus in the grass

We also saw alpines growing in old lava flows. This is oxalis squamata; the flower colour varied from light to quite dark pink

There also a couple more violets. The first was a semi-succulent, viola cotyledon. The flowers are usually mauve although there were one or two plants with white flowers

And to remind us of our find on the first day, we also saw viola rosulata

Just when we thought Chile could have no more surprises for us, we found a couple of cacti. Our local guide was a cactus fanatic and was able to identify them quite easily. He kept a large pair of tweezers in his shirt pocket for collecting any ripe seed – we thought they would also come in useful for getting tourists out of cacti! This is eriosyce curvispina, growing in a rocky spot beside our cabins

The other is maheunia poeppigii, also found on an old lava flow where the drainage was very fierce

One final surprise awaited near another campsite. Puya berteroniana is a tall bromeliad carrying flowers of an amazing turquoise colour. The plant we saw had stems ten feet tall and was in full bloom

To be continued …

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Previous post: Chile 2 - Trees And Shrubs From Central Chile

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absolutely incredible ~ left me open-mouthed! thank you for putting these beautiful photos on here ~ i would never see them otherwise and they are amazing!
does that little oxalis really grow just on pebbles?
ive added this blog to my favourites.

7 Jan, 2011


Well done, Andrew... The "old" camera didn't let you down ;o)
Fantastic pics... Were these plants spread out over quite a number of miles ...? In other words ... lots and lots of walking ?

7 Jan, 2011


AndrewR that was some trip I Tried the Violas when they first came to this country but did not have much success they were from seed and i did not know enough about them.
Appologies for the comment below Sticki will know what I mean
Sticki I was bound to laugh first part of your comment summed up your cake.

7 Jan, 2011


my mouth is empty bjs ~ the cake is all gone!!

7 Jan, 2011



7 Jan, 2011


Wonderful flowers ... the maheunia looks very fragile whilst the turquoise puya looks almost solid ... I love them both. Thanks for sharing these photos. : o ))

7 Jan, 2011


Fantastic pictures Andrew, hard to pick a favourite plant, but I think Ourisia poeppigii is quite a find. This is a trip you will not forget in a hurry.

8 Jan, 2011


Great photos Andrew, am following this with great interest, wonderful to see plants from far away.

8 Jan, 2011


Sticki - yes, the oxalis appeared to be growing in old lava and nothing else. It obviously liked it there because there must have been around one hundred plants in just a small area

TT - these were just some of the plants we saw over a period of about ten days. Sometimes we would stop and do a walk of up to six kilometres, sometimes we would just botanise an area beside the road - it all depends on where the plants are known to be growing

Bjs - we were over there for three and a half weeks so covered a lot of ground from Santiago right down to Patagonia

Richard - certainly the ourisia is a cracking plant (ourisia ruelloides is very similar, having a green calyx instead of a red one) but sadly, neither seem to be for sale over here. I'll have to check for seed suppliers

8 Jan, 2011


incredible! thanks again for this blog, i hope you will do more.

8 Jan, 2011


Sticki - I'm planning three more blogs - better make another cake :-)

8 Jan, 2011


i shall look forward to them all. have i got to make a cake for each one?

8 Jan, 2011


That depends on how fast you eat them ;-)

9 Jan, 2011


i should make a chilean cake?? or a chilli cake??
oh just realised it should be chilli con carne?

9 Jan, 2011


Fantastic holiday Andrewr. Thank you for sharing an experience and photographs of plants which most of us will never be able to see for ourselves.

9 Jan, 2011


I guess you returned home very fit after lots of walking ;o)
Looking forward to more blogs ...

9 Jan, 2011


Eriosyce curvispina very intiguing very different from the norm.

30 Jan, 2012


Fantastic series of blogs Andrew!

It is easy to get hooked on Chilean flora. I am growing Bomarea salsilla from seed - it is much slower growing than B.edulis. And my first Puya berteroniana seed germinated this week.

5 Feb, 2015


Meanie - I look forward to seeing a picture of your puya when it gets to flowering size. Isn't it great to try something different?

5 Feb, 2015


"Meanie - I look forward to seeing a picture of your puya when it gets to flowering size."

See you in eight to ten years then!
I have a couple of other seed grown Puya that I hope to bloom in 2015 &2016.

Something different is a prime requirement here.

5 Feb, 2015

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