FLORA ATLANTIC PATAGONIA
Patagonian steppe extends from the Andes Cordillera to the Atlantic Ocean, in southern Argentina. This vast region looks like a succession of plateaus and flat or slightly wavy terraces, covered by low bushes and grasses.
The vegetation adapts so as to survive to the strong winds and to long periods of draughts.
Grasses, such as "coirón", usually grow as low bushes and they have hard and compact leaves. To defend themselves against the herbivores they grow thorns, resins and essences that make them unpleasant to eat.
Since this region is so vast -about 750,000 km2-, the shrub-like steppe composition is varied.
Vegetation in the province of Chubut is mainly very sparse and low, leaving 65% of the ground naked; further south, in the province of Santa Cruz, an open steppe appears where the "quilembai" is replaced by the "black bush", a dark foliage bush over half a meter high.
Higher in the cordillera, the bushy steppe disappears giving way to extensive pastures of white "coirón".
The aquatic habitats of the steppe concentrate an intense bio-diversity. Fertile low lands or "mallines" are characterized by the permanent presence of water, which allows the development of a dense green carpet of jonquils and other tender grasses of minor size. They have their particular fauna as well: birds like Seedsnipes and Snipes are predominant.
Among the bushes with attractive flowers and edible berries, the "calafate" (Berberis Buxifolia) stands out. A legend narrates that whoever dares to eat its delicious bays in spite of its long thorns, will return to the place.