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The Endemic Plants of Chile

Region: Tarapacá

The Tarapacá Region (I) is located in the north of Chile between the Regions of Arica-Parinacota to the north and Antofagasta to the south, it has a surface area of 41,800 km². The region has isolated fog oasis or lomas formations and although these are relatively species-poor, compared with those along the southern coast of Antofagasta Region, they do support important assemblages of endemic plants species. One such fog oasis is Alto Patache which has a flora of about 54 species including one of the few populations of Alstroemeria lutea and the recently described Nolana patachensis. Separating the coastal mountain range and the western slopes of the Andes is the vast plain of Pampa del Tamarugal. This green oasis is the home to a single species - Prosopis tamarugo is a leguminous tree endemic to northern Chile where it once formed an extensive forest. This extremely arid habitat has little or no rain, therefore, the Prosopis trees have extensive root systems which tap into 20 m deep aquifers. Many of the 149 species endemic to the region grow along Andean-fed watercourses and at higher altitudes (2800-3900 m) where the rainfall is sufficient to support shrubland habitats.

Prosopis tamarugo growing on the Pampa del Tamarugal
Prosopis tamarugo growing on the Pampa del Tamarugal
Photo: P.Hechenleitner

Endemic Taxa in Tarapacá

Endemic taxa only occurring in Tarapacá