DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  MYRTLES and LAURELS  

 

The Myrtles (Myrtaceae) and the Laurels (Lauraceae) are two families which each have their own botanical Orders, but here we are talking trees.  Also included is a tree from the Monimiaceae family, which is closely related to the Laurels.

The MYRTACEAE family is said to contain somewhere between 3000 and 5000 species-- obviously there is some confusion about what is in and what is out, but it is mainly a tropical family anyhow.  The flowers tend to be marked by large numbers of stamens.

 

In central and south Chile there are several Myrtle trees, but the classic is known as Arrayan Rojo (Luma apiculata).  With its red bark, it stands out. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 161 KB)
Arrayan Rojo is one of those complex trees that invite kids (of any age) to climb up.  The bark is not only red, it peels like the arbutus (madrona) trees of North America. Click to see big picture (640x399 pixels; 118 KB)
The flowers are typical of myrtles, four-petals and a great many stamens. Click to see big picture (387x480 pixels; 65 KB)
And this is the fruit of Arrayan Rojo.  Note the peeling bark in the background. Click to see big picture (640x429 pixels; 88 KB)
The fruit of Luma chequen, known as Arrayan Blanco or White Arrayan will never win a beauty contest, but it is edible.  The tree grows in the mountains of Chile and Argentina, but has been planted more widely. arrayan blanco
Amomyrtus meli is simply known as Meli.  It becomes a very large tree in the forests of southern Chile. Botanical gardens, San Francisco. Click to see big picture (446x480 pixels; 90 KB)
These are the seeds of a tree known as TepuTepualia stipularis is found in southern Chile, and to a lesser extent in Argentina.  The seeds will turn red. tepu
We catch up with Tepu bushes in flower beside Lago General Carrera in Chilean Patagonia.  The red anthers are unusual.
There are several Myrceugenia species in the Southern Cordillera, especially in central and southern Chile.  Their flowers are similar but the fruit often more distinctive.  This is the fruit of Raran (Myceugenia obtusa), which stays on the branch over winter. Click to see big picture (251x480 pixels; 55 KB)
And the double-jointed fruit stems here suggest Myrceugenia exsucca, known as Petra or Pitra.  This tree may be found in central and south Chile and in southern Argentina. Click to see big picture (401x480 pixels; 69 KB)
Blepharocalyx salicifolius would really prefer the tropics, but climbs up along the eastern edge of the Cordillera in Bolivia and northwestern Argentina, where it goes by names such as Anacahuita.  The fruit will darken as they ripen.
Ugni molinae in its native range of central to southern Chile is called Murta or Murtilla, but the indigenous names is Uñi Click to see big picture (640x375 pixels; 103 KB)
In English, Ugni molinae tends to be called the Chilean Guava, and these fruit have a strawberry flavor.  In fact, they are used commercially to flavor food products. murta
Ugni candollei goes by the name of Murtilla Blanca or Tau-tau.  It is at home in southern Chile, but here is caught at the UBC Bot. Gardens. Click to see big picture (376x480 pixels; 94 KB)
Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia, but have been planted as silvaculture over wide areas of Chile and elsewhere.  They produce excellent pulp, but are a forest-fire hazard due to their flammable oils and distinctive, shredded bark. Click to see big picture (476x480 pixels; 95 KB)
Several species of Eucalyptus have been planted, and their seeds are more distinctive than the flowers.  This appears to be the most commonly employed species, Eucalyptus globulus. Click to see big picture (461x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Also borrowed from Australia is the Bottlebrush Tree.  This one appears to be the Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis approx.) and seems to have gone native in northern Bolivia. Click to see big picture (458x480 pixels; 92 KB)

The Laurel Family, LAURACEAE, has somewhere between two and four thousand species on the world stage, depending on who is counting.  It has very little footprint in the Southern Cordillera, however.

 

 
Known as Belloto del Norte (Beilschmiedia miersii), this seedling is on its way to becoming a large but rather dull tree, restricted to central Chile. Click to see big picture (622x480 pixels; 141 KB)
This is the southern cousin, Belloto del Sur (Beilschmiedia berteroana) which normally braves the cold winds of southern Chile, but this one has escaped to the botanical garden at Univ. of Berkeley.
The flowers of the Peumo tree (Cryptocarya alba) are minute, but the fruits are striking.  They are also edible, and the wood of excellent quality. Peumos are native to central Chile. Click to see big picture (456x480 pixels; 82 KB)
The flowers of the Peumo tree are nothing much to look at, but here they are.
Peumo fruits could easily be confused with these haws of some hawthorns (rose family), if it were not for the distinctive leaves. Click to see big picture (446x480 pixels; 98 KB)
Avocados (Persea americana) are also of the Laurel Family.  They are native to the Neotropics, but have been widely planted in the southern Cordillera, where the fruit typically goes by the name of Palta, rather than the term Aguacate used elsewhere in Latin America. Click to see big picture (318x480 pixels; 57 KB)
The Avocado flower, not much to write home about. Click to see big picture (530x480 pixels; 108 KB)
There is also a native of that genus in central and southern Chile.  Persea lingue is a tree that goes by the name of Lingue, and unfortunately is in danger due to the fine quality of its wood. It is toxic to cattle but used in folk medicine.  The fruit will be blue-black when ripe. lingue

The MONIMIACEAE family is a small one, roughly 200 species, mostly in the tropics of the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Although poorly represented in the Southern Cordillera, its one member known as Boldo (Peumus boldus) is a major constituent of the forests of central and southern Chile.  This is the only species in the Peumus genus.

Click to see big picture (639x480 pixels; 101 KB)
While both the flowers and fruit of Boldo trees are moderately attractive, it is the leaves by which the species is best known.  These are used as a tea and as flavoring, both domestically and as an export. Click to see big picture (628x480 pixels; 94 KB)