Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona


The NAT Venues Jardí Botànic de Barcelona Chile

The Chilean Mediterranean area is formed by a narrow coastal strip, some 100 kilometers in length, which corresponds approximately to Central Chile. Its surface area (some 140,000 square kilometers) represents less than 5% of the total biome. Climatically, this is a rather cool region owing to marked oceanic influence, with abundant incidence of coastal mists. Some 2,400 species are known, of which 23% are endemic. An important ecological characteristic of this area is the historic absence of fires, as well as the marked presence of herbivores, especially camelids (llamas and guanacos). As a result, the Chilean Mediterranean area is abundant in spiny bushes, while plants adapted to fire are not found.

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In the Garden, subtropical habitats are represented that are typical of the desert and sub-desert regions in the north of the country. The Chilean Mediterranean has a large variety of sclerophyll landscapes (plants with hard, rigid leaves), with woodland and shrubland formations that range from the sclerophyll forest to the coastal “matorral” and including the ‘espinal’ or spiny hillside shrubland. Many Chilean plants have names of Iberian plants because the first colonists compared them with the plants they knew from home. Plants such as the ‘algarrobo’ (Prosopis chilensis), the ‘espino’ (Acacia caven), the ‘belloto’ (Beilschmiedia sp.), the ‘murta’ (Ugni molinae) and the ‘arrayán’ (Myrceugenia obtusa) give the Chilean phyto-scenarios their own distinctive air. Worthy of highlight is the exotic nature of the Cactaceae (genera Trichocereus and Echinopsis) and of the Bromeliaceae (genera Puya and Fascicularia) of the ‘espina’, and the singular nature of the Escalloniaceae (Escallonia sp.).