DixPix Photographs



  Flora: PEA Family, CAESALPINOIDS  


The Pea Family is known as FABACEAE, or sometimes as Leguminosae.  It is huge, and commonly split into three sub-families.  One of these is CAESALPINIOIDEAE, and although the smallest of the three sub-families, it can still boast some 2000 species.  Most of these are tropical trees, the best represented genus in the Southern Cordillera being Senna, which some authors use as equivalent to Cassia.  These are typically shrubs of the semi-arid zones, with flowers of similar appearance.  Senna species are not easy to tell apart, and the terms Quebracho and Alcaparra are widely applied.


This is Senna birostris, according to the Botanical Gardens and Univ. of Berkeley.  Its native terrain is from Peru down into northern Chile and northwestern Argentina.  Click to see big picture (408x480 pixels; 99 KB)
A closer look at the flowers of Senna birostris, shows the features typical of flowers of its genus. Click to see big picture (595x480 pixels; 111 KB)
Senna candolleana (was S. closiana) is sometimes referred to as the Golden Senna, and is mainly found in central Chile. Click to see big picture (582x480 pixels; 117 KB)
Turning to the deserts of northern Chile and Peru, this is likely Senna brongniartii approx. Click to see big picture (638x480 pixels; 162 KB)
In the arid and semi-arid zones, there are four varieties (sub-species) of Senna cumingii recognized.  This one from the vicinity of Coquimbo, appears to be var. Coquimbensis. Click to see big picture (640x394 pixels; 69 KB)
These striking pods are likely Senna arnottiana, from central parts of Chile and Argentina. Click to see big picture (615x480 pixels; 138 KB)
And from the La Rioja province of Argentina, the somewhat atypical Senna known in those parts as Pichanilla.  This could be S. aphylla or S. trichosepala. Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 97 KB)
But this more erratic-stemmed example from the deserts of northern San Juan Province is more distinctly Senna aphylla. sen.aphy
Senna spectabilis is a tree, rather than a bush, and it occurs along the eastern edge of the Southern Cordillera, from northwest Argentina northward.  In some regions it is known as Carnival. Click to see big picture (633x480 pixels; 148 KB)
An unidentified quebracho from the Combarbala area of north-central Chile. Click to see big picture (503x480 pixels; 78 KB)
And another species from the same region. Click to see big picture (569x480 pixels; 98 KB)
This is a typical Senna bush, which you might also find filed under the genus Cassia.  There are, however, dozens of species and most of them look damn near the same, so except for the forgoing exceptions, it is best to leave them to the experts. senna
With a flower somewhat similar to the sennas, this is Caesalpinia angulata. Within its range in northern to central Chile, it is one of the plants known as Retamilla, but this one has the more specific name of Sanalotodo. Click to see big picture (567x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Caesalpinia gilliesii is the Yellow Bird of Paradise bush.  It may be found over much of Argentina, in northern Chile and northward.  It has adapted to both the Amazon jungle and the dry forests of the eastern Cordillera. Click to see big picture (504x480 pixels; 117 KB)
Caesalpinia gilliesii is a roadside weed through much of northwestern Argentina.  The seeds and pods are poisonous, and the roots have been used to induce abortion in Amazon folk medicine.
Cercidium praecox goes under the name of Palo Brea over much of its range. It is at home in the mountains of Bolivia and Peru and into northwestern Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 91 KB)
Gladitsia triacanthos is native to the south-central U.S. where it is known as the Thorn Locust or the Honey Locust.  It has been widely planted for its ornamental value, and has proved invasive in places.   Photo from near Teno, Chile.
The distinctive flowers of the Mexican Paloverde, Parkinsonia aculeata.  Although mainly from Central America, its range extends into northern Argentina.  This, however, is from the Desert Botanical Gardens.  Click to see big picture (560x480 pixels; 99 KB)
Zuccagnia punctata is a resinous bush with furry seeds found in semi-arid areas of both Argentina and Chile.  Known as Jarilla Macho, it has been used both in folk medicine and as a source of dyes.
Not all of this sub-family are trees and bushes.  This is Hoffmannseggia trifoliata, known in its native Patagonia as Pata de Perdiz (partridge foot). Click to see big picture (640x459 pixels; 139 KB)
And from La Rioja province of northwestern Argentina, another Hoffmannseggia, likely H. doelli, or maybe H. glauca. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 92 KB)