DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  THE ORDER OXALIDALES  

The Oxalidales is a botanical order named after the Oxalidaceae or Wood Sorrel Family. Of interest in the Southern Cordillera, it also includes a small number of tree species from the Cunoniaceae and Elaeocarpaceae Families.

OXALIDACEAE, the Wood Sorrel Family, contains approximately 900 species world-wide, and about 800 of these are in the genus Oxalis.  The Southern Cordillera is a center of diversity for Oxalis, which may be roughly translated as a center of nomenclature confusion.  There are reported to be 91 species described in Chile alone and telling them apart is strictly for specialists.  The usual term for this genus in South America is Vinagrillo, referring to the sour or vinager-like taste of the leaves due to oxalic acid.  The more indigenous name Culle is also still used in the south.

 

One of the species most easily recognized is Oxalis adenophylla.  Native to central and southern Chile and Argentina, it ranges to altitude in the Andes.  It has had the opportunity to visit many of the temperate regions of the world, however, as a garden flower known as Chilean Oxalis or even Silver Shramrock. Click to see big picture (529x480 pixels; 107 KB)
The leaves of Oxalis adenophylla are unusual for the genus.  This photo also shows the twisted form of the closed flower which is typical of many Oxalis, and does not allow flower shape to be of much use in identification. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 139 KB)
The Botanical Gardens at UBC identify this as Oxalis squamata, which in its native home of the central and southern Andes is known as Ojos de Agua-- a name also given to Chile's highest mountain. Click to see big picture (604x480 pixels; 175 KB)
And here is a very similar plant in the central Chilean Andes.  If the usual sources can be believed, however, Oxalis squamata can be an extremely variable species. Click to see big picture (521x480 pixels; 116 KB)
This Vinagrillo Rosado is likely Oxalis rosea of central and southern Chile. Click to see big picture (640x341 pixels; 57 KB)
Another pink vinagrillo with leaves narrower than rosea, but otherwise similar. oxalis
While this example from near Santiago is likely Oxalis arenaria in the process of opening.  The species is native to central Chile. Click to see big picture (640x356 pixels; 89 KB)
A blue oxalis??  I have never come across such a thing.  Hiding amid the rocks in the upper Maule Valley, Chile. Click to see big picture (640x382 pixels; 74 KB)
A widespread weed, known as the Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae), despite the fact that it is African in origin.  It may be found in south and central Chile and Argentina. Click to see big picture (601x480 pixels; 94 KB)
Oxalis pes-caprae may be recognized by the spots on its leaves. Click to see big picture (517x480 pixels; 103 KB)
But how about this example from the "Norte Chico" coast of Chile, with a single spot on each leaf. Click to see big picture (640x311 pixels; 65 KB)
While on that beach, this used to be called Oxalis carnosa, the Vinagrillo Gordo.  Both terms refer to the succulent leaves.  It is now apparently properly called Oxalis megalorrhiza, and ranges from south-central Chile up likely into Peru. Click to see big picture (640x419 pixels; 82 KB)
Again along the Atacama coasts, there are Oxalis which sprout from thick, woody stems.   Several species are involved, but this one is vacationing at the San Francisco Bot. Gardens where it is identified as Oxalis gigantea. Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 85 KB)
And while garden-hopping, the KEW defines this as Oxalis Chrysantha, which has since been switched to Oxalis conorrhiza.  Others toss it into the O. priceae comples. At home it seems to be largely a species of the Amazon Basin, but ranges up to 3600 meters in the Andes of Bolivia and northwestern Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x316 pixels; 102 KB)
Apparently this is Oxalis tortuosa, and the leaves do indeed look like they have been tortured.  It is said to be confined to central Chile, but this was caught vacationing on the beach somewhat farther north. oxalis tortuosa
Every Autumn, the forests and open areas of central Chile sprout low vinagrillos with minute leaves and bright red streaks on the flowers.  Oxalis perdicaria, formerly known as O. mallobolba. Click to see big picture (640x384 pixels; 116 KB)
In fact in Autumn, some upland fields in central Chile turn yellow with the massed blooming of small yellow vinagrillos.
While at the same time in the south, this micro species with folded leaves appears, here near Lago Villarica in the Chilean Lake District.
Unidentified Vinagrillo near Santiago with grey-green streaks and only slightly notched leaves. Click to see big picture (531x480 pixels; 73 KB)
Another example with browning streaks and veined leaves. Click to see big picture (591x480 pixels; 112 KB)
This species from near Melon Pass, Chile, is different in having red stems and small, droopy leaves.
From high in the western mountians of Peru, an Oxalis that grows from a tall, thin woody stem. Click to see big picture (517x480 pixels; 70 KB)
And from the same area, a species which erupts from a low, broad, woodly base. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 132 KB)

The CUNONACEAE comprise a family of roughly 350 species, mainly of trees and shrubs and mainly in scattered parts of the southern hemisphere.

 

 
Tineo (Weinmannia trichosperma) is a tree, found mainly in southern Chile.  Its flowers are attracative and the leaves distinctive. Click to see big picture (640x464 pixels; 124 KB)
The fruit of Tineo is even more colorful than the flowers.  The wood is considered to be of excellent quality, and the bark has been used for tanning hides. Click to see big picture (440x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Here is a closer look at the Tineo seed pods, from Caleta Tortel in Chilean Patagonia.  The tree is also known as Palo Santo.
Eucryphia cordifolia is another citizen of southern Chile and Argentina, where it is known as Ulmo.   It is a tree which can reach 40 meters in height, with strong wood and unusual fruit. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 84 KB)
Ulmo also has an attractive flower, which makes a very special honey.  Some taxonomists have not recognized the submerging of its ex-family Eucryphiaceae into Cunoniaceae, I doubt if the trees are concerned.

ulmoflwr

Another view of Eucryphia cordifolia, with the fruit emerging from the flowers. ulmo
Eucryphia glutinosa is a smaller cousin of Ulmo with serrated leaves, which goes by the name of Nirrhe.  It is a citizen of southern Chile, but has become somewhat of a garden item.  Some authorities do not consider it a separate species.

ELAEOCARPACEAE is another family of trees and shrubs of the Oxidales Order.  The roughly 600 species are largely tropical, with only a very few in the Southern Cordillera.

 

 
Aristotelia chilensis is known locally as Maqui and in English as the Chilean Wineberry.  It is native to south and central Chile and also found in southern Argentina.  The edible berries are used for jams, juice and fermented into Chicha. Click to see big picture (628x480 pixels; 115 KB)
Crinodendron patagua is known simply as Patagua in its range from central to somewhat southern Chile.   It is prized for making furniture, honey and tanning. Click to see big picture (454x480 pixels; 67 KB)
The flowers of Patagua are sufficiently striking, that it has gained international attention as the Lily of the Valley Tree.  The seed pod on the right, however, is less inspiring. Click to see big picture (397x480 pixels; 60 KB)
Crinodendron hookerianum is native to the Valdivian forests of southern Chile, but has gained attention as the Chilean Lantern Tree.  At home it is called either Chaquihue or Polizonte, the latter often shortened to Polizon. Click to see big picture (390x480 pixels; 67 KB)