DixPix Photographs



  Flora:  SUSPIROS  


The term SUSPIRO means 'sigh' in Spanish, but in the Southern Cordillera it is also applied to two types of flower.  One is the Morning Glories, vines of the family Convolvulaceae.  The other is the Nolana genus, which now has its own family, the Nolanaceae.  These two families are related in more than the shape of their flowers, both being under the order Solanales,.

The NOLANACEAE is a small family dominated by the Nolana genus of herbs and low bushes which is centered on the west coast of South America, largely between central Chile and southern Peru.  Many species are coastal in prefered habitat.  There are roughly 45 species involved, and some measure of the difficulty in separating them is reflected in that at the time of writing, only 10 of the 25 Nolana species in the Chileflora database (see flora overview) have been identified (2010).


The best known Nolana on the world stage is N. paradoxa, which has become somewhat of a globe-trotting garden favorite.  At home, it prefers beaches, and is called Suspiro del Mar.  Unlike most others of its family, it ranges well into southern Chile, this photo coming from the beach at Illoca. Click to see big picture (555x480 pixels; 143 KB)
The colors of Nolana paradoxa range from purple to dark blue.  It appears that resident beetles here have eaten the stamens. Click to see big picture (507x480 pixels; 89 KB)
Nolana acuminata is another coast-loving, tri-colored species. Its range is from central to northern Chile. Click to see big picture (436x480 pixels; 70 KB)
With the variation in flower shape and color, in many cases it is easier to guess the species from the leaves, but it is still a guess.  N. acuminata again. Click to see big picture (423x480 pixels; 78 KB)
Nolana coelestis is characterized by long, snakey branches with short, succulent leaves. Click to see big picture (640x457 pixels; 102 KB)
A closer view of the flower, and there are those beetles again. Click to see big picture (478x480 pixels; 77 KB)
There are at least two Nolanas of this type, and they are known as either Sosa Brava, or Hierba de la Lombriz.  Since a lombriz is a worm or grub, this is not very flattering.  The latin name, Nolana crassulifolia, doesn't sound much better. Click to see big picture (400x480 pixels; 78 KB)
The other Sosa is Nolana sedifolia, but it has a larger range than the previous species, from central Chile up into Peru. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 106 KB)
Another view of these unusual succulent Nolanas. succulent
A struggling bush of the high deserts, this is likely Nolana leptophylla, one of the few of its genus to be found at altitude.  It also comes in light pink. Click to see big picture (568x480 pixels; 104 KB)
Most nolana have succulent leaves, but this case from the Vallenar region has just the opposite. Nolana rostrata. Click to see big picture (620x480 pixels; 128 KB)

CONVOLVULACEAE is the Morning Glory Family, which boasts roughly 50 genera and maybe 1500 species around the world.  Very few of these are native to the Andes, but are found in the adjacent tropical forests.  Several are vines which are attractive enough to have been planted, but weedy enough that they have aggressively spread.  The Dodders have now been placed in this family, but are treated here under the heading of parasitic plants.


Beginning with one of the few native species, which may be found over much of the length of Chile.  Convolvulus chilensis is one of the more striking of its tribe, and often referred to as Correhuela Rosada. Click to see big picture (640x453 pixels; 76 KB)
Calystegia sepium is the infamous Hedge Bindweed, an extremely aggressive Eurasian, which besides the name Suspiro is betimes called Correhuela or Carricillo.  It is virtually pandemic. Click to see big picture (640x393 pixels; 81 KB)
The same names and same description can be used for Common Bindweed or Creeping Jenny (Convolvulus arvensis), which can be found over almost the entire Southern Cordillera, and up to over 3000 meters altitude. Click to see big picture (469x480 pixels; 95 KB)
When there is nothing to climb, bindweed can just sprawl, taking over a field.  This has made it compatible with rangeland.
Somewhat less aggressive, but more widely planted for its appearance, is Ipomoea indicia.  It is actually a neotropical native and may be found from Salta Province of Argentina, northward along the skirts of the Andes. But it is also doing nicely here in forests west of Santiago.  Note the distinctive trident leaves.  Some would change the name to Argyreia mollis. Click to see big picture (533x480 pixels; 79 KB)
And here is that leaf shape again with a totally different color of flower.  Ipomoea indica can range from sky-blue to deep purple, but there is a good chance that this is the Japanese Morning Glory, Ipomoea nil, which has been very widely planted and escaped. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 137 KB)
This is likely Ipomoea indica, thriving in foggy Lima. Click to see big picture (640x399 pixels; 123 KB)
Ipomoea purpurea can look much the same as indica, but has heart-shaped leaves.  The color can range through blue, pink and purple.  It prefers the tropics, but is thriving here near Salta, Argentina. Click to see big picture (583x480 pixels; 117 KB)
This lovely morning glory looks a lot like the widely popular "skyblue" cultivar, but the leaves are different.  It graces both gardens and forests in the Valle Fertil area of San Juan Province.
Ipomoea carnea is more of a scrambling bush than a true vine.  A product of the neotropics, it is said to be closely related to the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatus). Click to see big picture (640x429 pixels; 100 KB)
Perhaps the best known of the I. carnea, is its subspecies fistulosa, which ranges from the southern United States to Northern Argentina, in this case La Rioja Province. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 95 KB)
The Scarlet Morning Glory, Ipomoea hederifolia, is a native of the Americas, but has been planted widely in gardens.  Here, however, it is gracing the roadsides in the Valle Fertil region of Argentina.
From northern Peru, this yellow morning glory, found close enough to the town of Jaen that it might have been a garden escapee. Click to see big picture (640x376 pixels; 88 KB)
And finally the vine that ate Miraflores, Lima. Click to see big picture (640x372 pixels; 114 KB)