DixPix Photographs



  Flora:  PEA Family- FABOID HERBS  


The Pea Family is known as FABACEAE, or sometimes as Leguminosae.  It is huge, and commonly split into three sub-families.  The largest of these divisions is the FABOIDEAE (also called PAPILIONOIDEAE), which at roughly 14,000 species is almost twice as large as the other two divisions combined.  This page treats some of the genera which are largely herbaceous (not woody) from the Southern Cordillera.

The majority of these plants might be considered weeds, and are indeed widespread and invasive.  In many cases however, they have been introduced on purpose, some as livestock forage and others because they enrich the soils by nitrogen fixation.


Surely one of the most widely distributed European plants is the Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), locally known as Trebol Rosado.  There is also a native pink trifolium, but it is smaller and less aggressive. Click to see big picture (640x372 pixels; 100 KB)
And of similar extraction and distribution, Trebol Blanco, the White Clover, Trifolium repens. Click to see big picture (640x416 pixels; 108 KB)
Trebol Blanco has found Patagonia much to its liking and is spreading widely.  Here it has colonized a roadside near the Chilean town of Coyhaique.
Trifolium hybridum has also been introduced in central and south Chile and Argentina.  Known as Alsike Clover, the "hybridium" term is due to it once being thought of as a hybrid between red and white clovers. Click to see big picture (640x413 pixels; 84 KB)
In the southern parts of Chile and Argentina, a yellow clover, Trifolium aureum, has also become naturalized. Click to see big picture (315x480 pixels; 63 KB)
Within the southern Cordillera the large and attractive Trifolium angustifolium seems to be mainly found in central Chile.  Its name of Narrowleaf Clover seems to overlook its better qualities. Click to see big picture (560x480 pixels; 118 KB)
this is a more common view of Narrowleaf or Narrow Clover near Pencahue, Chile.  On the left displays its minute red blooms and on the right the skeleton than remains.   It is native to Eurasia, but has spread to many temperate parts of the world.

Trifolium dubium (approx.) is one of the Hop Clovers, likely Low Hop Cover.  It is a sprawling and invasive weed of little value, and probably introduced accidentally. 

Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 166 KB)
The 'sweet clovers' likely derive there name from their smell.  Sweet White Clover (Melilotus alba), is known as Trebol de Olor Blanco, and it is very widespread in the southern Cordillera. Click to see big picture (538x480 pixels; 73 KB)
For some reason, the Sweet Yellow Clover, Trebol de Olor Amarillo (Melilotus officinales), although common in southern Argentina, has been reported in fewer sites elsewhere. Click to see big picture (634x480 pixels; 94 KB)
On the other hand the Eurasian import Melilotus indicus, seems to have adapted throughout much of the southern Cordillera.  It is often simply called Trebillo.  In English it is strangely known as both Sweet Clover and Sour Clover. Click to see big picture (363x480 pixels; 71 KB)
The Lotus genus tends to go by names such as Lotorus or Alfalfa Chilota.  Flowers typically form in a circular head as shown.  This is likely the most common species, Lotus corniculatus. Click to see big picture (640x455 pixels; 74 KB)
This is likely Lotus pedunculatus, a European invasive found here by Lago Villarica in Chile.  The splay of seed pods shows why lotus plants are often referred to as Birdsfoot Trefoils Click to see big picture (617x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Some lotus species turn red as they age.  This one has actually dwarfed down and adjusted to living in a lawn near Curico, Chile.
Although known as Goats Rue, Galega officinalis is prime fodder, found in central Chile and both south and central Argentina.  It originates from the Middle East, but here is growing lushly in Chile's Melado Valley. Click to see big picture (640x447 pixels; 117 KB)
When it comes to fodder, there is none so famous as Alfalfa (Medicago sativa).  To that purpose it is widely grown as a cash crop.  There are a number of varieties and color variations. Click to see big picture (339x480 pixels; 51 KB)
Of the same genus is Medicago lupulina.  This low plant is widely known as Black Medic (or medick).  The "black" clearly refers to its seeds.  It is usually considered a Eurasian weed, but can be used for ground cover. Click to see big picture (640x370 pixels; 69 KB)
The Perennial Pea (Lathyrus latifolius) is common in Europe and North America.  It has been introduced into south and central Argentina, and is also reported from parts of Chile.  Likely introduced as a garden flower. Click to see big picture (546x480 pixels; 80 KB)
Lathyrus latifolius also comes in almost white forms.  The photo on the right shows the beans with their unusual hooked ends. Click to see big picture (640x368 pixels; 68 KB)
There are a few Lathyrus species native to the southern Cordillera, where they are called Clarincillo or simply Clarin.  This is Lathyrus magellanicus, the pink form (there are three varieties recognized). Click to see big picture (618x480 pixels; 125 KB)
And this is the blue and white form of Lathyrus magellanicus.  Despite the name, this species may be found in temperate areas through much of South America.  This photo however, is from Tortel, in Chilean Patagonia.
Lathyrus japonicus is widely known as Sea Pea or Beach Pea.  It occurs on the south coast of Chile and is considered introduced, but as the seeds float and it is common on temperate beaches in many regions, this seems questionable. Click to see big picture (457x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Lathyrus macropus, a lovely sky-blue Lathyrus from the mountains of La Rioja Province, Argentina.  It is locally known as Agua de Nieve, perhaps because it tends to be found near mountain stream. Click to see big picture (566x480 pixels; 88 KB)
And from the lowlands of south-central Chile, a large, unidentified Lathyrus. Click to see big picture (532x480 pixels; 115 KB)
Astragalus cruckshanksii (approx.) is one of the alpine plants called Hierba Loca.  It is native to the central and northern Andes, in this case not far from Aconcagua.  Click to see big picture (640x387 pixels; 109 KB)
Another alpine mat with purple flowers, and with hairy leaves; this time from 4000 meters elevation in the mountains southeast of Lima. astragalus
And while up in the Peruvian ranges, here is a white astragalus from the Cordillera Negra.
This appears to be Astragalus bustillosii with bladder pods, from the northern altiplano. Click to see big picture (640x419 pixels; 71 KB)
This bladder-pod from the Patagonian steppes of Argentina is l Astragalus pehuenches.  The unusual species name is taken from that of the local indigenous tribes. Click to see big picture (493x480 pixels; 134 KB)
Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) has been introduced into central and south Chile and Argentina.  The vetches in general tend to be called Arvejilla in the region. Click to see big picture (549x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Vicia benghalensis goes by names such as Bengal Vetch and Red Tufted Vetch.  It has mainly been introduced into central and south Chile. Click to see big picture (606x480 pixels; 111 KB)
Vicia villosa is known as Hairy Vetch, although one needs a close look to see the hairs.  A Eurasian import, it is also called Winter Vetch.  It has mainly been reported from central Chile, in this case just south of Santiago Click to see big picture (640x441 pixels; 119 KB)
Vicia nigicans approx. is found from Santiago south in Chile, spilling over into southern Argentina.  It is one of the plants locally called Arvejilla and considered endemic, although usually associated with western North America.  A white version has been called V. magnifolia. nigricans
The tiny Vicia hirsuta is so insignificant that it was likely introduced into central and south Chile by accident. Click to see big picture (283x480 pixels; 43 KB)
Far from the lowly vetches, Bush Lupine (Lupinus arboreus) is large and striking.  Click to see big picture (331x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Flourishing beside Lago General Carrera in southern Chile, Bush Lupine looks perfectly native, but not so.  She is a California girl.  Nonetheless, the plant is a common sight in southern to central Chile and Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x447 pixels; 128 KB)
Lupinus microcarpus, on the other hand, is native to much of southern and central Chile and Argentina; and comes with a fur coat.  Local names for lupines include Chocho and Altramuz. Click to see big picture (504x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Following a rain on the coast of Chile, this is a wet version of Lupinus microcarpus.  The species also occurs in western North America, however, with several varieties recognized, and they look different from those of Chile and Argentina. native lupin
Another view of Lupinus microcarpus, this one from the beach at Iloca in central Chile.  More properly these South American versions should be Lupinus microcarpus var. microcarpus, but they have those n North America too.
Many of the lupines seen in southern Chile especially are Lupinus polyphyllum, the "garden lupine" from western North America.  They come in a variety of colors and sometimes fill open areas. Click to see big picture (640x330 pixels; 114 KB)
White lupine also occur in Patagonia, and there has been Lupinus Alba reported there, but this example from the shores of Lago General Carerra is likely just another color of L. polyphyllum, judging by the leaves. Click to see big picture (351x480 pixels; 73 KB)
Lupinus angustifolius is a blue-flowered species which has also been introduced into south Chile. Click to see big picture (381x480 pixels; 91 KB)
An unidentified species from near Quintay on the coast of central Chile, locally called Lupina Armarga. Click to see big picture (359x480 pixels; 97 KB)
Lupinus paniculatus is a very special three-colored lupine with whitish leaves and pods.  It seems to be widespread in the south and central mountains of Peru, but within a restricted altitude range.  Click to see big picture (640x455 pixels; 129 KB)
Starting above the range of the last lupin, at about 3800 meters altitude, this outstanding Lupinus weberbauerii starts to appear. super lupin
Even above 5000 meters altitude in the Chila Range of southern Peru there is still one more lupin.  It is too cold and windy to allow a flower stalk above the protection of the leaves, so it just huddles down.
And while in the mountains of western Peru, here is a bright red pea flower growing from a crack in a crag.  Whatever it is would look good in any garden.  Click to see big picture (472x480 pixels; 102 KB)
From northern Peru, a pea flower which is dark maroon, almost black.  This is Macroptilium atropurpureum, and it is at home from here up to Mexico. Click to see big picture (563x480 pixels; 106 KB)
From the same area, the bothersome beggar lice or Tick-trefoil, locally called pega-pega, Desmodium sp.  These are widely confused with Stick-seed. beggarlice