DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  PEA Family, MIMOSOIDS  

 

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 the MIMOSOIDEAE,  which fields about 80 genera and roughly 3200 species.  The two most important genera in the Southern Cordillera are Acacia and Prosopis, the latter generally being known as Mesquites in English.  Both have minute flowers arranged as either balls or elongated "catkins".

 

When you think of Mimosoids, think thorns!  Here in central Chile they are planted in places as impenetrable fences. Click to see big picture (616x480 pixels; 151 KB)
Flowers and beans from that thorn fence show it is an Acacia, likely one imported for its spiny nature. Click to see big picture (640x459 pixels; 134 KB)
In southern Argentina, the thorn bushes are a major hazard to driving off paved roads.  They puncture tires with ease.  Often as nature tries to reclaim gravel roads, the first thing to erupt are thorns.  This one is likely Prosopis alpataco. Click to see big picture (640x414 pixels; 83 KB)
Even Barba de Chivo (Prosopidastrum globosum), whose range extends from Patagonia into Bolivia, may look friendly when green, but dries to be a dangerous thorn plant. Click to see big picture (362x480 pixels; 102 KB)
And Peru should not be left out, for example this unidentified species with giant thorns and giant beans from the northern wilds of the country. Click to see big picture (603x480 pixels; 169 KB)
Many species lack thorns of consequence, however, and are planted for their shade and the beauty of their flowers.  Mesquites such as this are widely known as Algarrobos in the Southern Cordillera. Click to see big picture (560x480 pixels; 105 KB)
Widely planted and widely invasive, especially in central Chile, is Acacia dealbata, an Australian immigrant.  It is the most common of the trees referred to as Aromos.  In Australia it is known as Silver Wattle. Click to see big picture (556x480 pixels; 125 KB)
A closer view of Aromo flowers shows one of the reasons for its popularity.   In addition, it grows fast, blooms early in Spring, and the wood is excellent. Click to see big picture (488x480 pixels; 95 KB)
Alas the Aromo beans are nothing to write home about. Click to see big picture (452x480 pixels; 92 KB)
On the other hand the beans of Acacia melanoxylon put on quite a display.  It is a widely planted species from southern Australia, and here in Chile is referred to as the Aromo Australiano.  In its home turf it is known as Blackwood.
Acacia caven, known as Espino in Chile and Espinillo in Argentina, is almost symbolic of the semi-arid lands of the Southern Cordillera.  The more native name is Churque. Click to see big picture (423x480 pixels; 50 KB)
Espino flowers adorn regions where color is often lacking, the spiny branches are used for fences and the wood is often turned into charcoal. Click to see big picture (631x480 pixels; 118 KB)
Espino pods are woody, and lack elegance They are sometimes referred to as Quirinchas. Click to see big picture (503x480 pixels; 96 KB)
Acacia furcatispina, known as Teatin or as Garabato Negro, ranges from Bolivia down to west central Argentina. Those double-tipped thorns are designed specifically for tearing clothing-- or skin. acacia
Most flowers of this group are either yellow or white.  Acacia visco can be both, but in this photo only a bit of the yellow remains.  It ranges over much of Peru and Bolivia, and down into northern Chile and Argentina. Click to see big picture (639x480 pixels; 80 KB)
White Ball Acacia (A. angustissima) is found mainly in Central America, but also in parts of Peru and Bolivia and into northwestern Argentina.  Its fine leaves have given it the alternate name of Fern Acacia, and over much of its range it is called Huaje. Click to see big picture (504x480 pixels; 118 KB)
The Cebil tree (Anadenanthera colubrina) is found climbing into the northeastern Cordillera of Bolivia and northwestern Argentina from the jungles to the east.  It is prized for its excellent wood. cebil
Prosopis chilensis is a thornless Algarrobo, sometimes referred to in English as the Chilean Mesquite. Despite the Chilean name, this species ranges into Peru, Bolivia and northwestern Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 120 KB)
The pods of the Chilean Mesquite tend to be curled and of bleached appearance.  Their mesocarp is said to be edible, and judging by the holes, some sort of insects are already installed.
Prosopis argentina is native to the northwest of that nation.  Its impressive pods provide food for the wild cameloids, giving it the local name of Algarrobo del Guanaco. Click to see big picture (291x480 pixels; 71 KB)
Prosopis denudans, the Algarrobo Patagonica, comes in three subspecies, which mainly hang out in southern Argentina.  Click to see big picture (313x480 pixels; 68 KB)
Two photos of the beans of Algarrobo Patagonica.  It is not clear if this is two different stages, or two subspecies.  When dry, the pods smell like coffee. Click to see big picture (640x354 pixels; 95 KB)
The long flower of Prosopis pallida.  Native from Columbia to Peru, and a pest in some localities, it comes with names such as Kiawe and Hurango. Click to see big picture (567x480 pixels; 105 KB)
The jumbled pods of Prosopis torquata, known in its native north and central Argentina as Tintitaco beans. Click to see big picture (525x480 pixels; 99 KB)
The flower of Prosopis torquata deserves a photo in its own right.
But when it comes to wierd pods, the screwbean of Prosopis strombulifera takes the prize.   It is found in Peru, and northern Chile and Argentina.  In some areas it is known as Retortuño. screwbean