Chile's 2000 yr.old Llareta Green Blob Plant
If you hike or wander about in the Atacama Desert in Chile, it is fairly bleak and devoid of color. Most of it is gray. There is a alien-like look about it that has its own beauty to it, much like Yosemite National Park in the USA with its massive amounts of granite.
Sooner or later, you will encounter a surreal living parsley-like plant called Llareta (Yareta) that appear like a green alien. The plant has thousands of small flowering buds on long stems that is so compacted it can hold a human being. Its bulbous look is attributed to the boulders that it grows on and over thousands of years, takes on the the shape of them. They can grow to 12 ft. thick density.
To find them, you will have to go to at least 9000 ft. altitude. The plant is hermaphroditic and blooms with lavender and pink flowers and grows only 1.5 cm a year. It prefers total sun and can grow in a wide variety of soil types.
Visiting the Atacama Desert in Chile is an out of this world experience. So much so, it has been compared to parts of the planet Mars.The area is so dry that evidence suggests that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971! By significant, we mean over .25". It is also the oldest desert being 3 million years old. The desert is west of the Andes and stretches 600 miles. The area does have a few copper mines and small towns. NASA has used the desert to test their Mars rover instruments, as well.
If you like strange out of this world places on Earth to trek or explore, the Atacama Desert would be a great choice for the vastness of the high desert with 20,000 ft. mountain peaks and the Llareta. Most tourists stay in the town of San Pedro de Atacama (5000 pop.), which was founded in 1577 and is at the 7,000 elevation. The weather very dry and temps in the summer seldom rise above 90F. Even their winters are mild, 50-70F.
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