The Spring Wilderness of NW Argentina by Kay Quijada

Last November, Joe and I joined a group of plant enthusiasts from California and flew to Cordoba, Argentina, for a cactus, bromeliad and birding expedition. Boarding a small bus with two Argentine guides, a botanist and a biologist, we headed into the less populated regions of NW Argentina all the way to the frontier border area with Bolivia.

Traveling over 2,800 miles in 10 days, we visited the Provinces of La Rioja, Salta and Jujuy, enjoying the rainbow hues of mineralized earth splashed on the arid mountainsides all the way to the greenish-glow of a wet and muddy jungle-like rainforest. Our guides located numerous species of cactus, bromeliads, and even orchids by using GPS (global positioning satellite) readings. Many of the cactus and other plants were in their full dress uniform of springtime easily spotted by their colorful blooms.

We were privileged to see many unusual plants, such as the high altitude-growing Puya with metallic blue-green colored flowers, the rare, newly-discovered cactus called Yavia growing at 12,400 feet elev., the unbelievable raspberry-colored flowers of the tall cactus, Trichocereus tarijensis, and wild avocados and strawberries growing in the rainforest jungle.

Beautiful Argentina: I had to pinch myself a few times to make certain I wasn’t dreaming.

Highly mineralized Andean foothills
The rare Yavia cryptocarpa cactus in Jujuy
Puya dyckioides flower
Wild Strawberries, Calilegua N.P., Jujuy

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