DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Flora:  THE POTATO FAMILY  

 

SOLANACEAE is most commonly referred to as the Potato Family, although the terms Tomato and Nightshade are also used.  The specific potato and tobacco genera (Solanum and Nicotiana) have their own page for the Southern Cordillera-- this one deals with the other genera..

One of the most diverse and confusing genus in this category, in Argentina especially, is Lycium.  The general term for these in English is Wolfberry, and the most common one in Latin America is likely Coralillo.  In lieu of detailed data, these plants are often passed off as Lycium chilensis, and with eight subspecies, there is a reasonable chance of being right.  No species names will be attempted here, only some appreciation of the variation.  For anyone with a real plant in hand (as opposed to a photo), who truly wants to get into the genus, there is a key to South American Lycium on the web.

 

Typical Lycium flowers from the Mendoza area.  Berries tend to start off red, some turn black. Click to see big picture (640x322 pixels; 67 KB)
Some species are thorny.  Most have berries which are oval, rather than round. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 130 KB)
On the steppes of southern Argentina, Lycium is often called Monte Negro, and as with other bushes in the area there is a tendency to develop galls. Click to see big picture (640x396 pixels; 113 KB)
A sparsely foliated species from Patagonia. Click to see big picture (598x480 pixels; 104 KB)
In the northern deserts, the genus has made some adaptations, in this case by becoming resinous. Click to see big picture (454x480 pixels; 86 KB)
And here by becoming a succulent. Click to see big picture (640x460 pixels; 121 KB)
Grabowskia boerhaviifolia (alias G. glauca) may be found in Peru, Bolivia and northwest Argentina.  In Chile it seems confined to the Atacama coast, including here at Taltal. The genus is known as Boxthorn in English. Click to see big picture (514x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Apparently the same species of Grabowskia from the drylands of northern San Juan Province, Argentina.  Clearly visited by large moths. grabowskia
The Mini-angel's Trumpet is native to Bolivia and northwestern Argentina, although here viewed at UBC Bot. Gardens.  It is likely best passed off as Iochroma australe, although other genera such as Dunalia, Acnistus and Eriolarynx have been proposed. Click to see big picture (640x449 pixels; 102 KB)
Iochroma cyaneum, in the San Francisco Bot. Gardens.  This lovely bush is native to Ecuador and northern Peru, and the name Violet Churcu has been applied. Click to see big picture (640x397 pixels; 100 KB)
With very similar flowers, but a thorny bush, this is Dunalia spinosa, near the town of Chachas in southern Peru.  The species is also found in Bolivia and northernmost Chile. dunalia
Known in English as the Marmalade Bush, Streptosolen jamesonii also has a native range extending into open woodlands of northern Peru.  It is a favorite with gardeners, as the flowers change from yellow to reddish as they mature, providing a variety of colors. Click to see big picture (432x480 pixels; 95 KB)
It looks like some kind of Browallia blooming around the town of Catamarquillo, high in the mountains of western Peru.  Likely just Browallia americana. Click to see big picture (640x443 pixels; 101 KB)
Vestia foetida (also V. lycioides) is native to central and southern Chile, where it is given names such as Huevil and Chupli.   The English name of Chilean Yellow Fuchsia is misleading. Click to see big picture (505x480 pixels; 87 KB)
Returning to the mountains of western Peru, this would be Jaltomata biflora, judging from the twinned flowers. Click to see big picture (554x480 pixels; 96 KB)
There are a huge number of Jaltomata species in Peru.  This one from near the town of Aija with the blue anthers is likely J. bicolor, a variable species.  The typical Jaltomata fruit on right. jaltomata
This is Fabiana imbricata, thriving at the UBC Bot. Gardens.  It ranges through much of Chile, mainly at altitude, and spills over into Argentina.  The local name is Pichi, which means 'small' in an indigenous language. Click to see big picture (510x480 pixels; 103 KB)
But when it comes to small, there are some Fabiana species of much reduced stature, such as this one eking out a living in Patagonia.  Quite possibly F. nana. Click to see big picture (386x480 pixels; 90 KB)
The greenish-yellow flowers on this example from Rio Negro Province suggest that it is Fabiana foliosa, but some would say that this is the foliosa variety of F. Patagonica. fabiana
Known as Palqui or Parqui, Cestrum Parqui is common as a weedy bush through much of the southern Cordillera.  Click to see big picture (539x480 pixels; 94 KB)
Palqui has been exported under the misleading name of Chilean Jassamine, and has proved an invasive problem in some areas.  All parts of the plant are poisonous. Click to see big picture (548x480 pixels; 81 KB)
It is not clear if Datura stramonium originated in South America or Asia, but along with other Datura species it has widely been used in shamanic rites.  The local names are Chamico and Miyaya. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 95 KB)
"Eat a little-- you sleep; eat a little more-- big dreams; eat a little more-- never wake up", goes a native description.  The level needed for hallucinations is not far from that which is fatal.  The pods give the common English term Thornapple Click to see big picture (640x475 pixels; 118 KB)
Datura ferox is native to the southern Cordillera although some give it a Chinese origin.  Its flowers are similar to the above species, but the longer pod spikes give it the names of Long-spine or Fierce Thornapple. Click to see big picture (463x480 pixels; 90 KB)
A third species of Datura, D. inoxia, is also widespread, and can be identified by the large, circular bract which envelops first the base of the flower and then opens below the pod.
Nierembergia repens is a meadow flower, known as Estrella de las Vegas through its range in southern Chile.  Click to see big picture (476x480 pixels; 67 KB)
N. repens is amazing where it occurs in masses, covering moist meadows or "vegas".  In English it should be classed as some type of meadowfoam, but instead seems to have drawn the unimaginative name of White Cup Flower. Click to see big picture (487x480 pixels; 142 KB)
Turning now to the Schizanthus genus, of largely alpine plants. Their bright flowers bobbing in the andean winds likely give rise to the two most common names, Parjaritos (little birds) and Maripositas (little butterflies).  This is likely Schizanthus grahamii. Click to see big picture (478x480 pixels; 83 KB)
A closer look at Schizanthus grahamii, found in both the central and southern Andes. Click to see big picture (372x480 pixels; 52 KB)
Schizanthus hookeri, ranges to 3000 meters altitude, mainly in the central Andes of Chile and Argentina.  Here are two different color variations.  It likely hibricizes with S. grahamii. Click to see big picture (640x384 pixels; 84 KB)
Schizanthus sp., from the headwaters of the Teno River, Chile. Click to see big picture (640x456 pixels; 119 KB)
Schizanthus alpestris approx., from north-central Chile. Click to see big picture (640x351 pixels; 72 KB)
Not all of the genus are mountaineers. Known as Mariposita Costera, Schizanthus litoralis hugs the coast of north-central Chile, in this case near the town of Los Vilos, Click to see big picture (640x330 pixels; 108 KB)
Salpiglossis sinuata is an unbelievably variable species.  It is also attractive and quite widespread, with a range of central Chile and Argentina, and into the south of Chile.  Native names include Palito Amargo and Pancita de Burro Painted Tongue is a gringo garden handle. Click to see big picture (333x480 pixels; 85 KB)
Salpiglossis sinuata most commonly seems to come in colors ranging from off-white to light blue. Click to see big picture (640x406 pixels; 80 KB)
Yellow colors often blend in, this being a pure yellow form. Click to see big picture (588x480 pixels; 116 KB)
The red forms of Palito Amargo are perhaps the most striking, this from the Ancoa Valley of Chile. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 94 KB)
A closer look at the red flowering form, with a little yellow creeping in. Click to see big picture (640x310 pixels; 69 KB)
The red form might be considered for subspecies status.  This example from the Maule mountains is over two meters tall, far larger than it should be to blend in with the species. Click to see big picture (244x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Thanks to John and Anita Watson, this perky roadside weed in La Rioja Province was identified as Sclerophylax kurtzii, which seems confined to this and San Juan Province.  Some would give this small genus its own family, Sclerophylacaceae