The Endemic Plants of Chile

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Mountain matorral & sclerophyllous forest

Matorral is a term used for Mediterranean shrubland and in Chile this vegetation type extends approximately from the regions of Coquimbo to Biobío where it is concentrated in the coastal mountain range and in the Andean foothills. It forms part of the sclerophyllous vegetation comprising plants with hard and leathery leaves. On north-facing sunny slopes the scrub formation is open and includes cacti and bromeliads. On the wetter and shadier southern slopes, the shrub and low tree cover is much denser. Today, only a small percentage of this type of vegetation remains intact due to human intervention. The sclerophyllous forests of central Chile are distributed from sea level to 1300 m in the coastal mountains, and from 1400-2200 m on the slopes of the Andes. Common trees include Crinodendron patagua, Cryptocarya alba, Lithrea caustica, Persea lingue, Peumus boldus and Quillaja saponaria. The moister forests have almost closed canopies with trees attaining heights of between 8-12 m. Under drier conditions the canopy has a lower stature and is more open as seen on the Andean slopes, where dominant species include Kageneckia angustifolia, Guindilia trinervis, and Colliguaja integerrima. These forests are almost entirely evergreen with the notable exception of Nothofagus species, especially N. macrocarpa. One of the best examples of unmodified sclerophyllous forest can be found in La Campana National Park. This protected area is home to the largest population of the palm, Jubaea chilensis, once widely distributed, but currently reduced and threatened by commercial exploitation of its sap and fruits.

Endemic Taxa in Mountain matorral & sclerophyllous forest