DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  ICEPLANTS AND 4 O'CLOCKS  

 

The Four O'clock Family, Nyctaginaceae, and the Iceplant Family (Aizoaceae) may not look much alike, but they are both part of the Caryophyllales botanical order. 

Nyctaginaceae is a family of moderate size, perhaps 300 species, and mainly tropical.  It is poorly represented in the Southern Cordillera in terms of natives, but there are a few, and some widely planted (and escaped) floral species.

 

Allionia incarnata may be found from the southern U.S. to northern Chile and Argentina.  This is from La Rioja Province of Argentina.  The English name for the flower is Windmills. Click to see big picture (640x391 pixels; 112 KB)
Among the species of Mirabilis, the widespread M. jalapa may be recognized by having five stamens and a long, thin flower tube.  It has been widely planted and escaped.  This is the classic Four O'Clock. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 108 KB)
Mirabilis jalapa also comes in yellow, with the same characteristics. Click to see big picture (542x480 pixels; 102 KB)
A closer look at M. jalapa with its colorful anthers.  The general name for Mirabilis flowers locally is Dengue. Click to see big picture (640x361 pixels; 76 KB)
Mirabilis elegans is native from Peru down into central Chile. Click to see big picture (226x480 pixels; 43 KB)

And this is likely Mirabilis ovata, which occurs in Peru and Bolivia down into central Chile and northwestern Argentina.  It seems that it is now called Oxybaphus ovatus.

Click to see big picture (640x418 pixels; 78 KB)
The world-famous Bougainvillea genus is also of the Four O'Clock Family, and native to South America.  There are white-flowered species that extend southward well into Argentina, but the various varieties have been so widely planted that it is not something taken seriously. Click to see big picture (609x480 pixels; 89 KB)

Welcome to the Iceplant Family, AIZOACEAE.  This family has about 2000 species, but virtually all have erupted from South Africa.  How a few species arrived on coastal Chile before the earliest botanists is still a bit of a mystery.

Adapted to sandy soils of beaches, several species have proved useful in stabilizing loose coasts, but this has usually been followed by trying to control the damn things.

 

 
It is called Carpobrotus chilensis, although many still use C. aequilaterus.  Locally, this and related species are called either Doca or Frutilla del Mar.  It can be found along beaches over much of Chile, and is considered endemic.  It has spread up the Pacific coast, and in English has taken the name of Sea Fig. Click to see big picture (377x480 pixels; 83 KB)
The Hottentot Fig , (Carpobrotus edulis) has a larger and pinker flower than the native C. chilensis.  The term 'hottentot' refers to its South African origin.  It has been widely planted and widely become a problem.  Click to see big picture (640x380 pixels; 102 KB)
A closer look at the flower.  Despite its weedy nature, it is much appreciated and used to stabilize sandy soils.
Carpobrotus edulis also comes in yellow, which helps  identify it from the local species.  Both this and C. chilensis have edible fruit. Click to see big picture (443x480 pixels; 70 KB)
Oh yes, Carpobrotus edulis even comes in white for the purists.  This unusual form graces the beaches of Iloca, central Chile.
In English it is the Baby Sunrose (Aptenia cordifolia), known to have escaped from captivity in northwestern Argentina, in this case Mendoza Province. Click to see big picture (573x480 pixels; 88 KB)
But here it is on the beach in Illoca in south-central Chile. Click to see big picture (558x480 pixels; 115 KB)
And here comes the next generation of invasives.  Flowers of the Lampranthus  genus have been planted along the north Chilean coast.  Likely Lampranthus roseus.   Garden stuff from South Africa. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 118 KB)
This is the Iceplant or Hierba de Hielo.  The reason for these strange names comes from the crystals shown here.  The Latin name is a tongue-twister, Mesembryanthemum crystallinum. Click to see big picture (588x480 pixels; 142 KB)
The Tetragonia genus can be found in northern Chile and into Peru, mainly coastal.  The local name for them is Escarcha, which means 'frost'.  This is likely Tetragonia ovata. Click to see big picture (530x480 pixels; 98 KB)
And finally, a photo of the unusual flower of the Hierba de Hielo. Click to see big picture (610x480 pixels; 86 KB)