Patagonia is a large land area comprising the southernmost region of South America. Situated in Chile and Argentina, Patagonia connecting the Andes Mountains to Argentina’s Colorado River. Many plants and animals live in this geographic region; some are indigenous only to this area.
The warm climate of Patagonia supports several tropical plants and flowers. The copihue, also known as the Chilean bellflower, is the national flower of Chile. The maqui is an evergreen bush that is native to Patagonia; the plant is cultivated, and its berries are made into jam and used in medicinal wines. The colihue, a cane plant of the bamboo family, can reach heights of 18 feet at maturity. Natives previously used colihue wood to make spears up to 12 feet long.
The huemul, a large mammal of the deer family, lives in the mountain rain forest of Chile. It is extremely rare, with a worldwide population less than 2,000. The jabali, commonly called wild boar in North America, can be found in the mountains of Patagonia. They are nocturnal omnivores that live off a diet of roots, insects and tubers. Other mammals in Patagonia include puma, jaguar, raccoon, ocelot, fox, hare and several species of monkeys.
The lenga is a tree that is indigenous to the sub-Antarctic forest of Patagonia. At high altitudes, the lenga grows as a thick bush; at lower altitudes, it is a tree that can reach a height of 90 feet. Its wood is used in flooring, doors and furniture. The maniu, a conifer with bright yellow wood, makes up 3 percent of the Chilean timber industry. Its wood is used in furniture and cabinets. The alerce is native only to Patagonia. It is a relative of the cypress and is often called the “redwood of South America.” This tree can reach a height of 240 feet and a diameter of 15 feet. It is the most expensive wood native to Patagonia.
The Andean condor is the largest bird of prey in the world, living on a diet of carrion, newborn animals and dead flesh. They are usually spotted in large groups. Several bird species are indigenous to Patagonia, such as the Patagonian yellow-finch, Patagonian tinamou and the Patagonian mockingbird. Other bird species in the region include the peregrine falcon, the band-winged nightjar and the flamingo.