Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Plants of (Northern) Peru

This post was originally written for, when I was a member of a Rotarian Group Study Exchange in Pery.  I added this post to One Great Dewdrop on December 26, 2012.

Hello, world:

We're here in Piura, "the city of eternal heat." This is the closest that I've ever been to the equator, but the heat doesn't seem to be bothering me much. What is bothering me is my stomach. All of the octopus, guinea pig, and other exotic meats that I don't eat in the United States (oh yeah, and the beef, pork, and chicken, too) have finally caught up to me. Fortunately, my host family is taking very good care of me, with plenty of tea, soup, and Sportade (Peruvian Gatorade).

I think everyone else is feeling more or less ok, although some of us are starting to feel less rather than more. We are one day past the halfway point of the Rotary portion of our adventure. The two weeks we've been here feel like two months... or two years. Fortunately, we have this afternoon to rest and relax, so hopefully the other ladies will have time to chime in with their impressions.

One thing I've enjoyed greatly on this adventure is seeing and learning about plant and animal species native to Peru. I'd like to share some of the plants that exist here, but not in Ithaca. I'll start with some of the trees and succulents. I'll save the tropical fruits and animals of Peru for another post. :)

The tree of the guayanabana fruit is tall, with very large, egg-shaped leaves. The leaves are a lighter green with darker green blotches. The guayanabana fruit grows in a long, green pod; the flesh of th fruit is white, gently sweet, with large black seeds.

More so in Piura than elsewhere, there are a lot of palm trees. This picture is from Sullana, near Piura, I think.
The almendra tree (almond, right?) has light grey, smooth bark with bright green, medium sized, elliptical leaves. The fruit of the tree is small, orange-yellow, and American football shaped, with a large nut in the middle. This picture is from Piura.
The acacia tree has palm-like fronds and very large seed pods. During the summer, it blooms with brilliant red flowers. This picture is from Piura.
The floripondio tree is small, distinguished by large, white, trumpet-shaped flowers that hang downward. This picture is from Trujillo.
This isn't a tree, but I'll include it anyway. Sugar cane is an important crop here. We visited a sugar cane processing plant outside of Trujillo (I think... the days are starting to blur together!).
There are cactuses in the sierra (the mountainous region, such as near Huaraz), as well as the desert areas near the coast (such as Trujillo and Piura). Here is a typical cactus. I took this picture in Huaraz.
This succulent is known as tuna in Peruvian spanish. I believe that this is prickly pear, correct? Apparently, there is a little critter, which I think is the carmine beetle, that lives on this cactus and is used to made pigments, such as for lipstick. This picture is from Huaraz.
This succulent is known as penca or cabulla. These plants are shaped like our common aloe vera plant... on steriods. I've seen some specimens here that are probably as tall as I am! This picture is from Huaraz.
Finally, I'd like to conclude with a picture from a garden in Huaraz. "Vivir sin plantas es como no vivir." To live without plants isn't to live.

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