DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  ALSTROEMERIAS  

 

The floral family Alstroemeriaceae is a bit schizophrenic in being divided into two rather different forms.  One is the lovely variety of flowers that you can buy at any florists (albeit in hybridized and bastardized forms), and the other is a group of vines under the genus Bomarea which bloom mainly in the tropical regions beyond the range of the Southern Cordillera.  In English, the flowers go by names such as Inca Lily and Peruvian Lily, but their greatest concentration and diversity is in central Chile, ranging from the sea shore to the high Andes.  In local context, these flowers are often referred to as Lilies (Lirios), or with more flare as Flor del Gallo (Rooster Flower).

The nomenclature is messy, despite an informative book Alstroemerias de Chile by Melica Muñoz and Andres Moreira.  There are subspecies, hybrids and a wide range of variation within species.  But the damn flowers are just so beautiful that it is worth showing some of their variation before they were shuffled into cultivars for mass consumption.

John and Anitia Watson have kindly reviewed and corrected this section.

 

Alstroemeria pulchra is sometimes known as Mariposa del Campo.  This photo is from west of Santiago, but its range extends well to the south.  There are at least three subspecies of which this may well be maxima. Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 77 KB)
A broader look at Alstroemeria pulchra from near the town of La Ligua. alstroemeria
A pinker version of Alstroemeria pulchra from Melon Pass.  With this coloration it might be either the magnifica or pulchra subspecies.
An unusual Asltroemeria from the Chilean coast, perhaps a hybrid. Click to see big picture (555x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Alstroemeria aurea is likely the most widespread species, found in the south of both Chile and Argentina.  It goes by names such as Liuto Amarillo and Amancay.  Here from the Petrohue Valley of southern Chile. Click to see big picture (549x480 pixels; 111 KB)
A close look at the remarkable flowers of Alstroemeria aurea Click to see big picture (640x411 pixels; 108 KB)
And the seed pods of Alstroemeria aurea are striking in their own right.  No wonder this species has become popular far beyond its native range. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 106 KB)
Alstroemeria ligtu ssp. splendens, from the Rio Melado area of central Chile. Click to see big picture (580x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Another view of A. ligtu ssp. splendens from the Rio Teno valley, which is also in the Cordillera of central Chile. Click to see big picture (408x480 pixels; 92 KB)
This is also from the Teno drainage.  It is apparently just a light phase of the same Alstroemeria ligtu. Click to see big picture (519x480 pixels; 93 KB)
Alstroemeria ligtu has a number of subspecies.  This one is likely A. ligtu ligtu, although there is also a white phase of this flower. The local name 'Liuto' is applied to this and related species.  It occurs in south-central Chile. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 103 KB)
A somewhat similar flower from Peru.
Alstroemeria ligtu simsii  is of more restricted range south from Santiago.  It is also known as A. haemantha. Click to see big picture (640x456 pixels; 99 KB)
Alstroemeria ligtu splendens again, from U. Berkeley Bot. Gardens.  It is at home in central Chile. Click to see big picture (640x451 pixels; 145 KB)
Alstroemeria exserens has a restricted range in the moutains of south-central Chile. Click to see big picture (607x480 pixels; 82 KB)

From the Andes farther south, this unusual Alstroemeria may be a hybrid between the pelegrina and cummingiana species according to the experts.

Click to see big picture (521x480 pixels; 87 KB)
Alstroemeria pelegrina or simply Pelegrina is at home on the coast to north of the latitude of Santiago.  This photo is from near the town of Los Molles, and the flower is sometimes known as 'Mariposa de Los Molles' Click to see big picture (562x480 pixels; 131 KB)
In some areas, such as Pichidenqui, the Pelegrinas develop a turbine-like twist to their leaves. pelegrina
Looks like Alstroemeria "mars".  So what is a cultivar doing planted on the Chilean coast when there are so many natural species at hand? cummingiana
Returning to the high Andes, Alstroemeria exserens is locally referred to as 'Lirio del Monte'.  Click to see big picture (445x480 pixels; 130 KB)
And this is a dwarf species from high altitude near Lago Teno which appears to be an alpine adapted A. exserens again. Click to see big picture (448x480 pixels; 105 KB)
Another dwarf alpine inhabitant is the Tigrina (Alstroemeria versicolor) which graces the high Andes from the latitude of Santiago, well to the south. Click to see big picture (489x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Still in dwarf species but coming down to a more reasonable altitude in north-central Chile, this is Alstroemeria kingii or some cross of this with A. chrysantha.  The complex is still being investigated. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 104 KB)
A frontal photo of A. kingii from near the town of Combarbala.  The species has a scattered range and is likely hybridizing. Click to see big picture (470x480 pixels; 86 KB)
One more dwarf species, likely Alstroemeria hookeri, subspecies recumbens perhaps crossed with the maculata subspecies, from low altitudes in central Chile. Click to see big picture (633x480 pixels; 131 KB)
This freckled yellow example looks half way between an alstroemeria and a lily. Click to see big picture (588x480 pixels; 110 KB)
The Salcilla or Zarcilla vine (Bomarea salsilla) is the only Bomarea in south-central Chile. Click to see big picture (640x280 pixels; 84 KB)
Turning to the high and dry mountains of the Cordillera Negra, central Peru, for another non-tropical Bomarea vine.
There are said to be over 40 species of Bomarea in Peru.  This one is from high in the Cordillera de Condor in the north, and while that might be thought of as part of the Southern Cordillera it is biologically part of the Amazon flora, as are the other Bomarea species. Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 72 KB)
Even stranger is Luzuriaga marginata from the valley of Rio Exploradores in patagonian Chile.  This retiring genus attaches itself to the bark of trees, epiphytic fashion.  The local name is Quilineja. Alstoemeria dulcis