Torres del Paine has four different types of vegetation:
- Pre-Andean Shrubland - Evergreen shrubs like the edible calafate
- Magellanic Deciduous forest - Deciduous Antarctic Beech trees lining the park’s gorges
- Patagonian Steppe - Desert shrubs and tuft grasses resistant to harsh winds & weather
- Andean Desert - Species tolerant to low temperatures and high precipitation
This type of vegetation is found on river banks and lake edges, particularly in the Sarmiento lake and Salto Grande (Great Falls) area and at the Nordenskjold viewpoint. The plants housed in pre-Andean scrubland have adapted to save water and survive the fierce Patagonian wind.
Chilean Firetree (Notro)
Known as the Chilean Firetree. Small evergreen tree which blooms every spring with deep red flowers. Grows up to 15m tall and can reach 20cm in diameter, with bark famous for its beauty and ease to work with.
Box-leaf Barberry (Calafate)
The Calafate shrub is a typical evergreen found in clearings in forest steppe and Southern Beech (Nothofagus) trees. It has yellow flowers and edible fruit which are small bittersweet blueberries, used for making jam and liquor. Symbol of Patagonia, with legends stating that those who eat Calafate return to Patagonia at some point in their life.
Prickly Heath (Chaura)
An evergreen shrub native to Southern Chile and Argentina, known by the name Chaura. Reaches a maximum height of 2 meters and grows near Southern Beech (Nothofagus) forests. Has edible plum-like fruit which is sometimes used as an ornament.
Holly-lead barberry (Michay)
Yellowy-orange flowers, dark shiny green leaves and dark purple berries.
Dwarf barberry (Calafatlillo)
Yellowy-orange flowers, fleshier lighter leaves than Holly-lead and dark purple berries.
Crimson Spire (Siete Camisas)
Evergreen shrub with white & pink flowers and long fruit capsules.
Porcelain Orchid (Orquide Porcelana)
Fleshy green stem, white flowers with green veins and fruit in late summer.
Muddy Shrub (Mata Barrosa)
Shrub with hard branches, sharp leaves and clusters of yellow flowers.
Magellanic Deciduous forest
Deciduous forest lining the park’s gorges and hillsides, receiving over 600mm of rain per year. Found in the Grey lake and Grey glacier area, Laguna Azul, Laguna Amarga and French Valley. Home to different Southern Beech tree species (nothofagus), namely Lenga (Nothofagus pumilio), Coihue (Nothofagus betuloides) and Ñirre (Nothofagus antártica).
Southern Beech (Lenga)
Reaches up to 30m in height (stunted growth in Andean desert). Grows in abundance in southern Chile and its wood is used for construction due to its strength and durability.
Southern Beech (Coihue)
Evergreen tree reaching 25m, with glossy leaves. Grows in humid areas. Also grows in Scotland and its wood is used for furniture.
Southern Beech (Ñirre)
Deciduous tree, growing up to 20m (stunted growth in Andean desert). Native to southern Chile and Argentina and is one of the southernmost trees on earth.
Winter Bark (Canelo)
Sacred tree of the Mapuche, Chile’s indigenous population. Reaches up to 20m with shiny green leaves.
Dog Orchid (Palomita)
Herb with erect stems and three white leaves arranged in a whorl with white inner petals dotted with purple.
Old Man’s Beard (Barba de Viejo)
A specie of Lichen which grows on bark and branches on Southern Beeches (Nothofagus).
Chinese Lantern (Farolito Chino)
Grows as mistletoe on various species of Southern Beeches (Nothofagus). Colour changes from green to yellow to reddish brown throughout its life cycle.
Darwin’s fungus (Pan de Indio)
Parasite which appear on Southern Beech (Nothofagus) branches and can lead to the breaking of branches or stems in strong wind. Certain species of Cyttaria are used in gastronomy.
Shrub with narrow branches and pendant-shaped red flowers with purple petals.
Rainberry (Miñe/Frutilla de Magallanes)
Small herb plant with white flowers and red Magellanic raspberry fruit hidden by leaves.
The flora in the Patagonian Steppe includes desert shrubs and tuft grasses (Coirón) resistant to harsh winds & weather and bent-over bushes in pastureland. The steppe is mainly in the Eastern sector of the park in areas where there are no trees due to the poor humidity and harsh winds.
Black Shrub (Mata Negra)
Forms dense communities in wet areas in the steppe. Petals are white-pink and fruit is capsular.
Fachine (Mata Verde)
Has white petals with yellow disc and its flowers were used medicinally by the Patagonian natives due to their antiseptic properties.
Guanaco Bush (Neneo Macho)
Cushion-like shrub in rocky soils in the steppe with red-orange flowers.
Streaked Maiden (Campanilla)
Herb with flowering stems and white flowers with small yellow fruit capsule.
Shrub with bright yellow flowers growing in arid and exposed areas of the steppe.
Purple-spored Puffball (Hongo de polvera)
Fleshy texture and cracked surface.
Edible when young, smooth and
purple, but matures to become pear
shaped and darker in colour.
Lady’s slipper (Capachito)
Herb with leaves in rosette and distinctive yellow slippershaped flowers.
Species in the Andean high desert are tolerant to low temperatures and high precipitation but vegetation is very underdeveloped due to harsh
weather conditions. Very stunted trees and shrubs growing on rocks are characteristic of the landscape and vegetation decreases with altitude due to the adverse weather conditions.
Cushion Plant (Llaretilla)
Herb with dense shrubs and yellow flowers, found in a wide range of habitats including at high altitude.
The Devil’s Strawberry (Frutilla del Diablo)
Found on hillsides at over 600m above sea level, with petialated leaves and bright red fruit.