DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  THE ORDER ERICALES  

 

The Ericales is a botanical order named for the Heath Family, Ericaceae.  It contains many and varied families, but the only others of any importance in the Southern Cordillera are the Phlox Family (Polemoniaceae) and the Primrose Family (Primulaceae).

ERICACEAE can boast roughly 3000 species, mainly adapted to temperate or colder climates and acid soils.  Many are at home at altitude.  The Southern Cordillera has only a few species and dominantly of the genus Gaultheria.  Locally, these tend to go by the name of Chaura.

 

Due mostly to its colorful berries, Gaultheria mucronata has traveled from its home in south and central Chile as a garden plant under the name of Prickly Heath.  In wetter climates it has become invasive, and in my back yard near Vancouver it is fighting it out with a native Gaultheria called salal. Click to see big picture (640x458 pixels; 69 KB)
And here is Gaultheria mucronata in its home range, from Volcan Villarica in the Chilean Lake district.
Gaultheria erecta doesn't have to travel, it is native from Mexico to northern Argentina.  In Peru it is called Papacusa.  Univ. Berkeley Bot. Garden. Click to see big picture (371x480 pixels; 67 KB)
Gaultheria phillyreifolia, a Chaura at home in the Chilean Lake District.  Its range is central and southern Chile and Argentina. There are those who would class this as G. poeppigii. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 125 KB)
A closer look at the flowers of G. phillyreifolia.  The small bell-shape is typical of many species of the family. Click to see big picture (479x480 pixels; 65 KB)
Gaultheria phillyreifolia var. alba on Volcan Osorno.
A plant with the characteristics of a Heath -- from the Maule Valley, Chile. Click to see big picture (591x480 pixels; 81 KB)
The Van Dusen Gardens classify this as Gaultheria insana, which is called Hued-hued in its native range of southern Chile and Argentina.  Click to see big picture (640x383 pixels; 105 KB)
Gaultheria pumila var. crassifolia, from timberline on Volcan Villarica of the Chilean Lake District.
Empetrum rubrum is known as Red Crowberry, or in its native Patagonia as Murtilla de Magallanes.  The red berries eventually turn black, and are edible.  The genus used to have its own family, but its genes landed it in with the Ericaceae.

POLEMONIACEAE, the Phlox Family, is thought to have somewhere between three and four hundred species.  Most of these are annuals, and they mainly hang out in North America.  The few species in the Southern Cordillera are dominated by the genus Cantua, beautiful flowers from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. 

 

 
Behold the Cantua (Cantua buxifolia), national flower of both Peru and Bolivia.  It was sacred to the Quechua, who call it Qantuta. Click to see big picture (640x473 pixels; 151 KB)
A closer look at the Cantua flower, here far from the Andes in the Univ. Berkeley Bot. Garden. Click to see big picture (640x420 pixels; 83 KB)
Cantua caerulea of Peru, according to the San Francisco Bot. Gardens, but that name is in question. Click to see big picture (510x480 pixels; 91 KB)
And Cantua quercifolia, found in northern Peru and Ecuador. Click to see big picture (506x480 pixels; 89 KB)
Collomia biflora is sometimes called Coxinea.  An alpine plant, it may be found in the central and southern Andes. Click to see big picture (406x480 pixels; 89 KB)
Another plant of the high Andes, Navarretia involucrata. Click to see big picture (640x395 pixels; 100 KB)

PRIMULACEAE, the Primrose Family has roughly a thousand species on the world stage.  Several are garden favorites.  It is definitely not a major item in the Southern Cordillera, however.  The Anagallis genus are dainty weeds from Europe, and some authorities think it really belongs in the Myrsinaceae, another family with about a thousand species.

 

 
Anagallis arvensis is a widespread but welcome weed through much of the southern Cordillera.  It has many names in English, of which the Scarlet Pimpernel seems the most interesting, even though it is usually orange. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 88 KB)
Locally, Anagallis arvensis is simply known as Pimpinelia.  A closer look at the flowers. Click to see big picture (461x480 pixels; 65 KB)
And there is a blue form of Anagallis arvensis.   Sometimes called variety azurea, sometimes subspecies coerulea, also written caerulea.  Lacking  overlapping petals, this looks more like Anagallis foemina, but that is not supposed to be here on the coast of Central Chile.  Let's just call it Pimpinelia Azul. Click to see big picture (587x480 pixels; 89 KB)
Sapotaceae, the Zapote Family, is also housed in the Ericales order.  This is the flower of Pouteria splendens from coastal Chile.  It is called Lucumo Sylvestre, but is largely known for its red fruit which goes by the name of Chilean Lucuma.