Patagonia Flora And Fauna

The following are examples of plants and animals found in the Manso Valley of Patagonia, Argentina and Chile. Days four, five and six of the adventure tour are set in some of the most remote sections of Patagonia. While hiking and horseback riding through virgin rainforest, we encounter old-growth groups the trees listed below. The animals of Patagonia listed generally avoid human contact, but may be sighted.

Patagonia Flora

Patagonia Flora, Trees

Patagonia Flora, Lenga Lenga (Nothofagus pumilio) Lenga is unique to the sub-antarctic forests of Southern Argentina and Chile. Lenga grows at higher altitudes than the coihue, but when high in the mountains, it grows as a bush. In lower elevations, it grows into trees. Its leaves are small, shiny and dark green, but turn yellow and red in autumn. It is used in construction as flooring, doors, beams and furniture. Lenga reaches a height of 90 feet (30 meters) with a trunk diameter of 4.5 feet (1.5 meters).

Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides) The alerce is unique to the temperate rainforests of southern Chile and western Argentina. Sometimes called "the redwood of South America," it is more accurately described as a relative of the cypress. Alerce is currently protected by a law, which allows one to utilize only already dead trees which aren't standing. Alerce is the most expensive native wood of Chile. It is used in building for posts, shingles and musical instruments. Alerce grows to a height of 240 feet (73 meters) with a diameter of 15 feet (5 meters). A specimen in Chile has been dated to the age of 3,622 years.

Nothofagus Genus The Nothofagus genus is one of the oldest flowering trees in the world once covering Gondwana. Gondwana split into separate continents 100 million years ago forming South America, South Africa, Antarctica, New Zealand, Australia and New Guinea. The genus Nothofagus is composed of 40 species and some natural hybrids found only in the Southern Hemisphere. Some of these species are evergreen and others deciduous. The three most encountered species of this genus in Southern Chile and Argentina are Ñire, Lenga and Coigüe.

Coigüe or Coihue (Nothofagus dombeyi) Also known as a Southern Beech, coigüe comprises of about 38 percent of the Chilean timber industry. Coigüe is a red hardwood that lives only in Southern Argentina and Chile, where it is the predominant species of the Andean Patagonic forests. Its leaves are small, shiny and dark green color and don't change color in autumn like the lenga and ñire. Its branches are frequently affected with a mushroom (which is found on all Nothofagus trees) called llao-llao (Cyttaria darwinii), which causes rough rounded growth in them. Coigüe is used in construction as beams, flooring, siding and furniture. Coigüe reaches a height of 135 feet (45 meters) with a trunk diameter of six feet (two meters).

Patagonia Flora, Ñire
(Nothofagus antartica) Living only in the high forests of Chile and Argentina, ñire grows in humid places, and forms forests called "ñirantales". Its leaves are small and turn yellow and red in autumn. It is usually found as small trees or bushes growing alongside lenga trees. Far in the South, it grows at high altitude. Though ñire is usually the height of a small shrub, it can reach a height of 45 feet (15 meters) with a trunk diameter of two feet (60 centimeters).

Canelo (Drimys winteri) For the Mapuche, canelo has magical powers, is a symbol of peace and can cure many ailments. Canelo is a yellow hardwood, whose habitat lies between sea level and 3600 feet (1200 meters) in elevation. It lives only in Southern Chile and Argentina where there is plenty of rainfall. It makes up about 14 percent of the Chilean timber industry and can be used for shingles and general construction. In the past, it was exported for its vitamin C content used to prevent scurvy. It is also used medicinally for rheumatism as well as stomach and throat pain. Canelo grows up to 90 feet (30 meters) in height.

Mañiu (Podocarpus nubigenus) Usually found living among canelo and coigüe. Manio thrives in the Southern Chile. mañio is a conifer with uniform yellow wood, thin bark and a convoluted trunk. When its berries are mature, they are deep red. It is sought for manufacturing furniture, cabinets, and veneer. It constitutes about three percent of the Chilean timber industry. It can reach a height of 75 feet (25 meters).

Patagonia Flora, PLants

Patagonia Flora, Copihue

(Lapageria rosea) Considered one of the most beautiful flowers of Chile, copihue, also known as the Chilean bellflower, is also the national flower of Chile. Copihue has large hanging red flowers, which bloom individually in the summer and in clusters in autumn. Its roots can be used as a substitute for sarsaparilla. The shrub can grow to a height of 15 feet (five meters). The flowers are about two inches (four cm) long.

Maqui (Aristotelia maqui) Maqui is a native evergreen bush with many branches that grows in dense thickets. It flowers between September and December and produces black berries in February. The berries are made into jam and medicinal wines. The wood can be used to make musical instruments. Maqui can reach 12 ft (four meters) in height.

Colihue (Chuscuea coleou) A cane of the bamboo family, colihue grows in thickets, forming a dense, almost impassable undergrowth. It can be found from sea level up to 1200 meters altitude. Colihue has a solid trunk, which the Mapuche utilized for spears that were up to 12 feet (four meters) long. Bases of the small stalks are edible. Colihue can grow up to two inches (four cm) in diameter and 18 feet (6 meters) high.

Patagonia Fauna

Patagonia Fauna, Puma
, Mountain Lion (Felis concolor patagonica) Pumas live solitarily in the mountainous areas of the Americas. It feeds mainly on rodents and occasionally feeds on birds, guanacos (in the llama family) and deer. Opportunistic hunters, pumas will eat anything they can catch. A female puma can kill a bull elk seven times its own size, crushing its trachea with its teeth. They have also been reported to prey on livestock. Pumas avoid humans and incidents of them killing people are extremely rare. Argentinean folk tales emphasize the harmless nature of the puma. Puma can be as long as nine feet (2.8 meters) and weigh 170 lbs (80 kg).

Patagonia Fauna, Huemul
(Hippocamelus bisulus) Though the huemul is one of Chile's national symbols, it is rare and poorly studied. It lives isolated in the mountainous temperate rain forests of South America between approximately 1300 feet (440 meters) and 4000 feet (1,300 meters) in elevation. Its world population is believed to number 1,000 - 2,000. In Chile, it is classified as an endangered species. Its skin color varies with the seasons between a dark brown to a lighter brown or yellow with grey stripes. The male body can reach a length of six feet (two meters), with a short tail. It can weigh up to 250 lbs (120 kg), though the females are generally smaller.

Patagonia Fauna, Pudu

(Pudu pudu) The smallest deer of the Americas, pudus live in dense thickets of the rainforests between the latitudes of Curicó and Aysén of Chile. Pudus are solitary and nocturnal, thus rarely encountered. The male and female are only together during the mating season. They can weigh up to 25lbs (10 kg) and can live to be nine years old.

Patagonia Fauna, Jabali
(Sus scrofa) Commonly known in English as a wild boar, jabalí are found in the mountainous forest regions of the Americas, New Zealand, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe. They are nocturnal omnivores with a consistent diet of roots, tubers and insects, which they dig up. Though they have terrible vision, they have a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing. The males have large teeth, which grow throughout their lives. Jabalí are found living in groups of up to 30, but the older males tend be solitary. During mating season, the male jabalí battles ferociously to mate with the females. Jabalís grow to a height of 2 1/2 feet (80 cm) and can weigh up to 250 lbs. (120 kg).

Patagonia Fauna, CondorCondor
(Vultur gryphus) The Andean condor is the largest bird of prey in the world. Condors are usually seen in the air in numbers ranging from one to sixty or more. Its range is now reduced to only several South American countries including Chile. They roost and nest in the mountains, although not usually above 18,000 feet (5,500 meters). Their normal food is carrion, dead, dying or sometimes newborn animals. Condors have heads that are bare of feathers - an adaptation for feeding on carcasses. Both parents incubate and care for the young. The chick cannot fly for about five months, and not for any distance until seven months. By ten to twelve months of age the young condor can fly well enough to forage, but the parents still feed it. Young are produced only every other year, and usually only one at a time. A condor reaches sexual maturity only after six years of age. Condors have commonly been killed for their feathers (used for decoration) as well as for being considered pests. Some Indian religions considered a hunted condor a rite of passage for men. In captivity condors have reached ages in excess of 70 years. Condors have wingspans exceeding 12 feet (four meters) and weigh up to 25 lbs. (11 kg).

Patagonia Fauna, Fish

Coho Salmon - Silver Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Coho salmon migrate from the ocean into the fresh water streams and rivers of their birth. They are semelparous, which means they spawn only once and then die. Coho salmon spend the first half of their life rearing in streams and small freshwater tributaries. The remainder of the life cycle is spent foraging in marine waters of the Pacific Ocean prior to returning to their stream of origin to spawn and die. Most adults are three year-old fish, however, some precocious males known as "jacks" return as two-year old spawners. A returning adult may measure more than two feet in length and weigh an average of eight pounds.

Chinook Salmon - King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Chinook salmon are the largest of any salmon, with adults often weighing more than 40 pounds. Like the Coho, Chinook salmon migrate from the ocean to fresh water streams and rivers of their birth and are semelparous, which means they spawn only once and then die. Chinook salmon spend one to eight years at sea before returning to natal streams to spawn.

Steelhead and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Rainbow trout and steelhead are the same species of fish. The two names reflect different life histories. Rainbow trout live a non-anadromous life, meaning they live their whole lives in fresh water. Steelhead trout live an anadromous life, which means they return from the ocean to fresh water to spawn. Both steelhead and rainbow trout are born in fresh water streams, where they spend their first one to four years of life. Similar to salmon, steelhead migrate to the ocean where most of their growth occurs while the rainbow never leaves. After spending between one to four growing seasons in the ocean, steelhead return to their native fresh water stream to spawn. Unlike salmon, steelhead do not necessarily die after spawning and are able to spawn more than once.

Brown Trout (Salmo Trutta) Brown trout naturally occur throughout Europe and western Asia. Introduced throughout the world, they were first placed in Canadian waters in 1890. Today they are found in rivers, lakes and coastal areas in much of North and South America. Brown trout can vary considerably in size and coloration depending on the waters they inhabit and the available food. Most river brown trout spawn during early winter migrating upstream to the shallow gravel runs of the main river or the feeder streams. Later, they drop back downstream. Through spring, brown trout are solitary and will compete with other browns for a territorial eddy. The same browns can be found foraging in the same eddies for days and sometimes even years. A brown trout can weigh up to 35lbs.

It is believed that rainbow and brown trout eggs were first imported from New York and stocked successfully in Lago Naguel Huapi, Argentina and other lakes in the early 1900's

Adventure Tours Argentina Chile