Photographer's Note

Salar de Surire - La Llareta

At first sight this might look like round rocks covered with moss. But this is actually a plant: the ‘Llareta’ (Spanish) or officially the Azorella Yareta.

Although the plant feels very hard, there’s absolutely no rock underneath. The llareta grows on sandy soils and often close to rocks.
Under the green surface layer (which blooms in season) you will find a lot of strong branches that are very suitable as fuel. In the past, this plant was often used as firewood. But its slow growth (15 mm per year) has resulted in the fact that it has been reduced greatly in number and now the llareta is a protected plant.

The plant grows only on altitudes between 3.200 and 4.500 meters and on the northern sunny mountain slopes because it absolutely needs the sunshine. (Northern slopes as Chile is in the southern hemisphere)
Many llaretas are estimated to be over 3.000 years old.

You will find this plant only in northern Chile, western Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
I found the llareta particularly beautiful and fascinating because of its shape and because it presents a fresh green colour in the arid landscape.

Information from our tour guide and from Wikipedia.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5077 W: 17 N: 12169] (49028)
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