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The Endemic Plants of Chile

Habitat

Coastal desert and semidesert

This arid and semi-arid habitat stretches from the extreme north of Chile, south to just north of Valparaíso Region. It encompasses the coast and the western slopes of Coastal Cordillera; to the north permanent vegetation formations at the mouths of rivers and streams where wetlands are formed. In some areas, especially between Chañaral and Antofagasta, water from underground aquifers come to the surface and form small pools of saline water (aguadas). These support a range of halophtyes typically with some arid species also colonising around these wet areas. In the more southerly latitudes, where conditions are sustained by adequate seasonal precipitation (winter rainfall), permanent plant cover is formed by woody or semi-woody and perennial plant species, most of which have succulent foliage. These plant communities can include elements of the coastal matorral of central Chile such as Lithraea caustica and Puya chilensis. The cacti are a major element of the coastal desert where species of Eulychnia and Leucostele forming extensive populations in rocky coastal areas and on the slopes of the Coastal Cordillera.