FLORA ANDEAN PATAGONIA
The hard weather conditions in the higher Andean region of the Patagonia, determine that the flora of the area grows only scattered, despite its being widely varied and rich.
There are some small plants already adapted to the rigorous conditions, such as the "chaetanthera villosa", a perfumed flower with white petals that grows between 1800 and 1900 m above sea level.
In the rain forest region there are big trees like the "coihue" and the "lenga", which make up dense forests that turn into a beautiful reddish and orange during fall.
The cypress grows in drier areas within the transition forest, and the "ñire" is found in different habitats always in the company of other arboreal species.
Finally, a wide variety of hard grasses and small bushes are found in the immense steppe that stretches all throughout this region.
In the area known as "valdiviano" forest (humid and transitional), there are "raulí" cypresses, "coihues" and "pellín" oaks. Other abundant species are: "ñire", "maitén", "amancay", "calafate", "mutisia", cypress, "araucaria" or "pehuén", and larch.
This last one, also called "leguen", is an American coniferous that may reach seventy meters in height, and provides excellent quality wood.
The "araucaria" or "pehuén" has a seed called "piñón", rich in proteins and carbon hydrates, which used to be of great importance in the diet of the well-known "mapuches", early residents of this area.
Outstanding as well are the "quetri" or "arrayán" forests, with their nine-meter high trees with yellowish, reddish and cinnamon-colored bark and medicinal leaves. These trees are unique in the world, since in other places they grow only as small bushes.
The sparse and stunted vegetation is surprisingly adapted to the rigorous environmental conditions; vegetables of the most diverse taxonomic position adopt compact forms, ranging from cactus with big orange flowers to varieties of yellow and even white-rosy daisies.
In the wind-protected canyons one may find bushes such as "molles", "duraznillos", "colapiches" and "calafates", the latter producing some edible fleshy fruits.
Ferns, mosses, lichens and mushrooms are abundant on the ground, among branches and fallen trunks or at the foot of the trees. Among the mushrooms, the "llao-llao" stands out due to the yellow/orange prominences it forms in the branches and trunks of "coihues", "ñires", "lengas" and "guindos".
The lichen, known as "old man's beard", is greenish/ white and it hangs down from trees.