The Endemic Plants of Chile

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Coquimbo is one of the most mountainous regions in Chile. In the province of Illapel is where the narrowest distance (90 km) between the sea and the highest peaks occurs. The Region has transverse mountain ranges which join the coastal mountains with the Andes and with many deep river valley systems, one of which is the Elqui Valley. The highest Andean peaks can exceed 6,000 metres (Cerro Las Tórtolas), while in the coastal mountain range, the highest peaks exceed only 800 metres (Cerro El Tofo). The temperatures and humidity increase towards the coast where an almost permanent fog, known locally as the camanchaca, occurs. Cloud banks help to sustain the growth of small trees and shrubs which survive in a unique habitat surrounded by semi-desert. These relict forests occur just south of the city of Coquimbo at Fray Jorge and Talinay. The flowering desert phenomena of the Atacama also occur in the Coquimbo Region, where a myriad of annual and perennial herbaceous species germinate and flower following extreme rainfall events. This Region has the highest number of endemic species (861) and the number of regional endemics exceeds 100; among them is Puya gilmartiniae, four species of Schizanthus, and the beautiful Nolana reichei. The National Seed Bank near Vicuña is located in this region and forms part of the Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA). Here, almost 1250 native Chilean species are stored to preserve their genetic diversity for the long-term future. This corresponds to c. 27% of the total native species (Pañitrur et al., 2020).

Endemic Taxa in Coquimbo

Endemic taxa only occurring in Coquimbo