DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  BUCKWHEAT AND POKEWEEDS  

 

The Buckwheat and Pokeweed Families are both of the Botanical Order of Caryophyllales, and also share the stigma of being present in the Southern Cordillera almost entirely as weeds.  Another family, the Frankeniaceae of that order is also included, having only one photo.

The Buckwheat or Knotweed family, POLYGONACEAE, has little to recommend it in the area of concern, being comprised almost entirely of small-flowered weeds intruding from Eurasia or North America.

 

There is one common native, a weedy vine known as Quilo (Muehlenbeckia hastulata) which tends to make a mess of open spaces through most of Chile and also in parts of Peru and Argentina. Click to see big picture (574x480 pixels; 112 KB)
A closer look at Quilo leaves and flowers. Click to see big picture (607x480 pixels; 126 KB)
A European invader, Black Bindweed (Polygonum convolvulus) is a vine  which produces many black seeds, a reminder of the closely related buckwheat from which buckwheat groats are derived.  It has taken root in south and central Chile and Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x363 pixels; 47 KB)
One of the most widespread of weeds is known as Lady Fingers in English and Duraznillo locally, Polygonum persicaria. Click to see big picture (437x480 pixels; 68 KB)
There are a wide number of Polygonum sp. weeds in wet areas.  This example from central Chile is likely the widespread Swamp Smartweed, Polygonum hydropiperoides. Click to see big picture (390x480 pixels; 98 KB)
The Common Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) or one of its mimics.  These form forgettable mats in most parts of the world, including many habitats of the Southern Cordillera. Click to see big picture (452x480 pixels; 108 KB)
Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is a bit more interesting, having a distinctive leaf which is sour tasting due to oxalic acid.  This is the source of its local name, Vinagrillo, a name more commonly associated with the Oxalis genus. Click to see big picture (640x418 pixels; 104 KB)
Docks of the genus Rumex are large, invasive weeds which tend to go by the name of Romaza in Latin America.  This one with long leaves just south of Santiago is likely Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) Click to see big picture (353x480 pixels; 115 KB)
The Common or Broadleaf Dock (Rumex obtusifolius) is a large and very successful weed on the world stage.  Click to see big picture (372x480 pixels; 89 KB)
A closer look at its "flowers" and seeds shows why the docks are widely called Lengua de Vaca (cow's tongue) in Latin America. Click to see big picture (636x480 pixels; 139 KB)
Rumex longifolius is native to Europe, but has spread to temperate parts of the world.  It is known as Northern Dock, but it is here growing in Lago General Carerra in Chilean Patagonia.  An unusual answer to a crowded shoreline.

The PHYTOLACCACEAE or Pokeweed Family is not a large one, with perhaps a hundred species world wide.  Mostly these are weeds, although often large ones with unusual flowers and berries.  In several species, this fruit is poisonous raw, but edible when cooked.

 

 
A good look at the flowers and fruit of Phytolacca icosandra, thanks to the Univ. Berkeley Bot. Gardens.  This species ranges from the southern U.S. into Peru.  Click to see big picture (537x480 pixels; 90 KB)
Another Peruvian pokeweed, this one from the Cordillera Negra.  In South America the term Pircun is often applied. Click to see big picture (284x480 pixels; 55 KB)
And there are even pokeweed trees.  This one is Phytolacca weberbaueri from Peru and Bolivia, and its strange shape is similar to the better known Ombu of eastern Argentina.  Quail Bot. Gardens. Click to see big picture (500x480 pixels; 115 KB)
But the flowers of P. weberbaueri are typical of the pokeweeds.

Click to see big picture (361x480 pixels; 83 KB)

More common in northern Argentina is the Ombu, Phytolacca dioica. This is a giant tree, commonly planted in towns. These attractive flower racemes are one reason for its popularity. ombu
Older Ombu are also noted for their huge bases.  The seeds are typical of the family. ombu
Trichostigma peruvianum is a pokeweed which has taken on some unusual forms at the Denver Bot. Gardens. At home, it is an andean species. Click to see big picture (609x480 pixels; 114 KB)

Like the Pokeweeds, FRANKENIACEAE is a family of about 100 species, but less well known.  A few of its Frankenia genus are native to the Southern Cordillera.

 

 
This is likely Frankenia chilensis of the Atacama area, in this case a beach in northern Chile.  Its local name is Hierba Salitre. Click to see big picture (640x439 pixels; 140 KB)
This much rosier specimen from the coast near Pichidengui, Chile is also classified as Frankenia Chilensis, although far from the salitres from which it is named.  The species may be found from here northward, likely into Peru.  Frankenia