DixPix Photographs





BORAGINACEAE the Borage Family, is presently in somewhat of a taxonomy pergatory.  It has been assigned to no botancial order, and accused of incohesive, in fact uncooperative, genes.  It is rumored that the dungeon masters in Missouri are preparing to dismember the family, if they could only decide where to file the pieces.  In the Southern Cordillera, it can still boast a few invasive weeds and a few native genera.


Here is the godfather of the Borage family, Borago officinalis.  Originally imported as a herb, a (hairy) vegetable, and a folk medicine, it was widely planted in bygone days , and locally naturalized.  Syrian by origen, it is now mainly harvested for the oil of its seeds.

Click to see big picture (472x480 pixels; 90 KB)
But Borage has some more agressive relatives.  Meet Echium vulgare, better known as Viper's Bugloss (an intriguing name).  It was originally another oilseed crop from Eurasia, but now a major weed in the Southern Cordillera, and indeed in much of the world.  Local names include Viborera (a reference to vipers). Click to see big picture (559x480 pixels; 85 KB)
Another local name for Echium vulgare is Pa'que te Quiero, literally "why do I like you".  This captures the conflict.  On one hand this is a problem weed, on the other it is a handsome flower. Click to see big picture (532x480 pixels; 74 KB)
And the Viborera has another attractive cousin which is starting to make inroads.  This appears to be Echium plantagineum, also of Eurasian extraction, enjoying the environment near Laja in Chile.  Its most common global name is Patterson's Curse. Click to see big picture (307x480 pixels; 64 KB)
Although widespread in the southern Cordillera, and although there is another plant of this genus which is native, Cynoglossum creticum is an introduced species with a wide range in temperate parts of the world.  Here it goes by the name of Trupa.  Internationally, Hound's Tongue is common. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 122 KB)
As the flowers age, they change from blue to a red-brown.  This shows the final stage, with reddish flowers above a line of seeds or nutlets. Click to see big picture (508x480 pixels; 84 KB)
Another Eurasian weed is the thoroughly neglectable Gromwell (Lithospermum arvense), which has taken hold in southwest Argentina and likely elsewhere. Click to see big picture (311x480 pixels; 76 KB)
And then there are the Forget-me-nots or No-me-olvides.  There are reported to be a couple of native species in Patagonia, but most are garden escapees.  This one in a wet habitat of south-central Chile is likely the Water Forgetmenot (Myosotis scorpioides). Click to see big picture (502x480 pixels; 76 KB)
Moving on to the native members of the Borage Family, this cheerful and widespread herb is Amsinckia calycina, which goes by local names such as Cuncuna amarilla (also a caterpillar and pop song), and Hierba rocilla. Click to see big picture (266x480 pixels; 42 KB)
On the Patagonian steppes of southern Argentina, this form of the plant is usually called Ortigilla (little nettle) in view of its many hairy spines.  It used to have its own species, Amsinckia hispida, but that now seems to have been rolled into A. calycina. Click to see big picture (299x480 pixels; 65 KB)
Another hairy family member, Cryptantha sp., in the mountains above Mendoza. There are many species in the region, so no guesses. Click to see big picture (329x480 pixels; 65 KB)
And one more Cryptantha from south of Santiago.  These damn things all look the same.  That's enough of them. cryptantha
There are also many species of Heliotropium in the region, especially in the semi-arid areas. This appears to be the most common in the "Norte Chico" of Chile.  For some unfathomable reason it is called Palo Negro (H. stenophyllum). Click to see big picture (640x398 pixels; 112 KB)
Heliotropium curassavicum ranges all the way from Canada to Argentina, in this case the latter.  It goes by many names some related to monkey tails.
Two other yellow-centrered Heliotropiums from central Argentina.  The flowers all look about the same, but the leaves are more species-specific. Click to see big picture (640x417 pixels; 91 KB)
Heliotropium arborescens has become a bit of a globe-trotter in the garden circuit, adopting names such as "cherry pie".  This appears to be it, however, wild in its native range in Peru. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 107 KB)
And another bush heliotrope from the ranges of west-central Peru. This is locally called Hierba Alacran (scorpion herb), and has reputed medicinal value. Click to see big picture (604x480 pixels; 127 KB)
Phacelia secunda (or heterophylla) is reported to be native to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and southern Chile.  Flor Cuncuna is one of its better known local names.  Until recently, the Phacelias were part of a now defunct Hydrophyllaceae or Waterleaf Family. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 152 KB)
Phacelia secunda also comes in white, here by Lago Villarica in the Chilean Lake District.
There are many species of Phacelia in the region.  This one from the mountains of Rioja Province in Argentina has unusual leaves and appears to to Phacelia setigera. Click to see big picture (327x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Surely the most striking member of the Borage Family in the southern Cordillera is Carbonillo (Cordia decandra). Click to see big picture (640x362 pixels; 92 KB)
Carbonillo is common as large bushes in the sectors of Chile just to north of Santiago. Click to see big picture (579x480 pixels; 169 KB)
Leaving the family on an attractive note, with a close-up of the Carbonillo flower. Click to see big picture (475x480 pixels; 71 KB)