DixPix Photographs





The order Malpighiales has an impressive number of botanical families, but in the case of the Southern Cordillera in general, and this photo collection in particular, it is dominated by the Spurge and Violet Families.  Also included are the St. John's Wort and Flax Families, and another latin-tagged Malesherbiaceae.

EUPHORBIACEAE or Spurge Family is a large one with perhaps 7500 species hiding out in all corners of the world.  It is also extremely varied, with many unusual species, including the 'old world' answer to the Cacti of the Americas.  In fact it is so diverse, that it would not be surprising if the 'Lords of Phylogeny' someday tear it asunder.


The Colliguaja genus tends to be called Colliguay locally.  Click to see big picture (387x480 pixels; 70 KB)
This Colliguay would be Colliguaja odorifera, which may be found from central Chile, likely up into Peru. Click to see big picture (414x480 pixels; 87 KB)
In truth, the seed pods of this genus are more interesting than the flowers.  Here is Colliguaja odorifera again. Click to see big picture (465x480 pixels; 74 KB)
The the pods of another species, Colliguaja integerrima.  This is a major citizen of the Patagonian steppes. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 121 KB)
An unidentified species from the hills of west-central Peru. Click to see big picture (640x438 pixels; 103 KB)
And while in those Peruvian mountains, this is some species of Croton, which is locally referred to as Calibra, and honored in folk medicine. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 171 KB)
Trigonal pods and a white sap are classical indications of the Euphorbia family.  This weed from the San Juan area appears to be Euphorbia eichleri, in view of the long leaves and hairy pods, etc.
Back west to the Copiapo region of Chile, this is the Lechero bush, which translates as milkman.  (There was a day when milkmen delivered milk to people's houses.)  When cut, copious white fluid erupts, which is both an irritant and inflammable.  The latin name, Euphorbia lactiflua. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 129 KB)
An invasive weed from the general region of the Mediterranean, Petty Spurge, Euphorbia peplus, pops up in agricultural and waste areas through much of the world, here in Curico.  The sap is toxic, in fact used to remove warts. The local name for this and similar species is Pichoa.  It is being investigated for use against cancer. Click to see big picture (418x480 pixels; 81 KB)
This photo of typical Euphorbia flowers is from an alpine mat.  It is likely one of the three official varieties of Euphorbia portulacoides. Click to see big picture (640x472 pixels; 121 KB)
The Higuera del zorro (fox fig), found on Jatropha macrocarpa trees, from northwestern Argentina up into Bolivia and Peru.  This from Chiran Mita cactus garden in Chilecito. Click to see big picture (463x480 pixels; 84 KB)
The red-flowered Jatropha excisa is largely confined to northwestern Argentina, and carries the same local name of Higuera del zorro.
And from high in the Cordillera Negra of Peru, a sprawling species of Jatropha, locally known as Huanarpo. Click to see big picture (640x458 pixels; 168 KB)
This looks a lot like the flower of Huanarpo Macho (Jatropha macrantha) which is widely exported as a libido enhancer. Click to see big picture (546x480 pixels; 96 KB)
From the western mountains of Peru, a giant nettle, with striking flowers. chilte
Familiar but outrageous, the widely planted/escaped/invasive Eurasian traveler, the Castor Oil PLant (Ricinus communis).  It's "beans" are the source of castor oil, and (terrorists take note) its seed pods are loaded with  Ricin, one of the world's most deadly poisons. Click to see big picture (271x480 pixels; 61 KB)
Here is the social structure.  The dull, white male flowers form bunches below the  female pods-to-be.  (The arrangement of the sexes is reversed in the above-noted Coliguay). Click to see big picture (491x480 pixels; 121 KB)
All going well, the final seed pods look like this.  With all this show, the latin name is derived from the fact that the seeds themselves look a bit like the common tick. Click to see big picture (359x480 pixels; 88 KB)
For the voyeurs, an intimate look at the female flower/pod, and the male counterpart. Click to see big picture (640x328 pixels; 90 KB)

Now given their own family status, the HYPERICACEAE no longer have to recall if they were a subfamily of the Clusiaceae or the Guttiferaceae.  Now known as the St. Johns Wort Family, some members have found their place as 'weeds of the world'.


And none have been more successful than Hypericum perforatum.  It  is so common in the western United States, that it is known there by the local designation of Klamath Weed.  In Latin America, it is more commonly translated as Hierba de San Juan. Click to see big picture (560x480 pixels; 111 KB)
And here is a look at the plant, and the flower. Click to see big picture (640x402 pixels; 107 KB)
Another Eurasian that has colonized central and southern Chile is known to gardeners as Tutsan, but here in southern Chile as Todo Bueno or Todo Sano. All three names refer to its reputed ability to cure many ills.  In latin, Hypericum androsaemum. Click to see big picture (640x375 pixels; 90 KB)
In gardens, Tutsan is appreciated more for its colorful berries and leaves than for the flowers.  Widely planted for medicinal reasons, it has become a problem weed in some parts of the world. Click to see big picture (386x480 pixels; 74 KB)
Perhaps the next invasion.  This appears to be Hypericum calycinum, referred to as the Rose of Sharon, although that name is also applied to a tropical hibisus.  It is known to escape gardens weedily in other regions, and here it is in a field near Curico, Chile. Click to see big picture (484x480 pixels; 71 KB)

The LINACEAE once had their own botanical order, but have now been demoted to a family in the Malpighiales.  There are about 250 species, but the great majority are in the genus Linum, the Flaxes.  The family is poorly represented in the Southern Cordillera.


Linum chamissonis may be found through much of Chile, where it is known as Ñancolahuen, or simply Ñanco.  These look a bit thirsty. Click to see big picture (480x480 pixels; 147 KB)
A healthier patch of Ñanco after a rainstorm near the coast.  This red-bud variety would be Linum macraei. nanco

The MALESHERBIACEAE is a small family, roughly 27 species, that is endemic to the Atacama and Altiplano. 


Malesherbia linearifolia seems to be the species most mentioned, and this appears to be it.  The local name is Estrella Azul (blue star). Click to see big picture (378x480 pixels; 80 KB)
And this has a family resemblence.  It is from a bog at over 4000 meters altitude in the Yauyos Range of Peru.  OOPS!  it turns out to be Gentiana Sedifolia, which many now call G. arisanensis.  I also met this is a paramo in Colombia. malesheriba
Apparently Malesherbia paniculata, a light blue species from central and northern Chile. Malesherbia

VIOLACEAE, the Violet Family, like the Flaxes, once had an Order of their own, but now are thrown in with the Malpighiales.  There are some 900 species, but around half of these are of the genus Viola.  This is largely a family of temperate climates, and in the Southern Cordillera is represented by the usual pansy-like flowers, and by unusual alpine species forming mats or clubs in the high Andes. 

This section has been examined and the taxonomy corrected by John and Anita Watson.  Many thanks.


Viola portalesia is at home in central and southern Chile, where it is known as Viola Arbustiva, referring to its woody base or bush-like habit. Click to see big picture (508x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Small, but invasive and widespread, Viola arvensis is a weed from Eurasia, know by names such as Field Pansy.  In Chile, the term Pensamiento might be applied by anyone who notices the small blooms.
An unidentified sky-blue violet at the Univ. of Berkeley Botanical Gardens, said to have come from the Concepcion area of southern Chile. Click to see big picture (640x450 pixels; 92 KB)
Another type of bush-violet, photographed in the mountains of northern Peru. Click to see big picture (501x480 pixels; 106 KB)
The renown Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor) is a garden escapee which is now widely established in both Chile and Argentina and likely farther north. Click to see big picture (458x480 pixels; 101 KB)
The high mountain species are strikingly different, but not always easy to identify to species.  This is thought to be a hybrid between Violas rosulata and congesta  These alpine violets often go by the local name of Escarapela. Click to see big picture (628x480 pixels; 138 KB)
The sutured leaves here suggest Viola congesta, sometimes given the name Violeta de los Volcanes (violet of the volcanoes). Click to see big picture (601x480 pixels; 163 KB)
This one proves be be an unusual form of Viola escarapela again from the high andes. Click to see big picture (640x370 pixels; 113 KB)