Alstroemeria magnifica subsp. magnifica

Thank you to Eric La Fountaine, UBC Botanical Garden’s accessions technician, for today’s write-up and photographs from one of his recent trips:

The Elqui Valley, Chile, lies south of the driest region on earth, the Atacama Desert. Rainfall is very limited in the area. Just once or twice per decade enough spring rains fall to bring the desert into bloom — a phenomenon referred to as el desierto florido. This was one of those years, and in October I was lucky enough to visit the area on a tour lead by the Fundación RA Filippi de estudios naturales.

The glowing pink flowers of Alstroemeria magnifica subsp. magnifica stand out from the blue-grey cactus (mostly Echinopsis deserticola, I believe). Alstroemeria magnifica grows to 80 centimeters and blooms in rich shades of pink. The large flowers are so heavy that they sometimes topple their stems.

A favourite of the cut flower market, alstroemerias are native to South America. The fifty or so species are found primarily in two zones. Alstroemeria species in central Chile are winter-growing and those from eastern Brazil are summer-growing. Crosses between species from the two zones have resulted in hybrids that flower all year or nearly all year long.

Alstroemeria magnifica subsp. magnifica
Alstroemeria magnifica subsp. magnifica

20 responses to “Alstroemeria magnifica subsp. magnifica”

  1. Debby

    Eric, did you gather seeds? Will they grow at UBC?

  2. Eric La Fountaine

    I did not collect any seeds on this trip. It is unlikely that very many plants from this area would do well in Vancouver, I think. The climates are so different. The Elqui Valley is desert and never goes below zero, unlike our wet climate and currently frozen conditions.

  3. Christine

    Lucky you to have made such a trip. Your photos are beautiful. Thank you for bringing them to us. No wonder I can’t grow Alstromeria where I live, on the northern California coast.

  4. C.C.

    Wow! I’ve never thought about where Alstroemeria might be from, it’s one of my favorite cut flowers. So interesting that it’s from near such a harsh landscape – it seems odd with cactus.

  5. Earl Blackstock

    Awesome Pics. I can see what it looked like to see this beauty. If only I would feel the wind,the sun and the sound of such a beautiful place.

  6. Lynne

    So very interesting, seeing such a popular florist’s flower growing in the wild. I agree with C.C. that it is odd to see it paired with cactus, but I suppose that’s only because we usually see it bunched with ferns, roses, and chrysanthemums. I think I like it better in its natural habitat.

  7. JOan

    Ahhh Alstromeria.. the prettiest weed in my garden. I made the mistake of planting it about 15 years ago.. still fighting it..

  8. Michael F

    “Alstroemeria species in central Chile are winter-growing and those from eastern Brazil are summer-growing”

    Aren’t there also some summer-growing species from cool temperate southern Chile?

  9. elizabeth a airhart

    this is indeed a favorite cut flower
    i live in florida too wet here ?
    next time i go to the market i will
    look at the flowers with a differnt
    mind set- i know where this flower
    comes from and hopefully not bore the
    clerk with my new information and photo
    thank you

  10. Alex Jablanczy

    Unfortunately or fortunately Canada doesn’t permit any plant or animal material to be imported privately. Yet they are of course as produce and zoo or agricultural animals. From loosestrife to zebra mussels to many insects there were numerous harmful exotic imports causing havoc. Finally it’s a lost cause anyway as you will import microbes pollen in the mud on your shoes in your hair amongst the creases of your clothes willy nilly. And still in wood crates and ship ballast. And in and on the recesses of your body. So much for travel to exotic places. However these flowers are beautiful.

  11. Eric in SF

    Alex – I find that to be an interesting statement as I know there are orchid enthusiasts who regularly legally import plants into Canada.

  12. Ruth

    Enjoyed your shots of the Alstroemeria the closeup looked like a florists pick,so beautiful, but I especially liked the second shot showing the Alstroemeria growing with other plants.

  13. David Sutton

    Stunning photos Eric, do you know what the green leaved plant in the foreground of your second picture was, it looks as though it might have some interesting flowers on it too?

  14. Laura Henderson

    Great pic Uncle Eric. I’ve enjoyed looking at the ‘photo of the day’ every day since I saw you last. I’m also growing a greater appreciation for the local flora and fauna when I travel. Happy Holidays!

  15. Eric La Fountaine

    “Aren’t there also some summer-growing species from cool temperate southern Chile?”

    Yes, there are summer growing species in southern Chile as well.

    “do you know what the green leaved plant in the foreground of your second picture was?”

    I don’t know for sure, but the plant in foreground with small yellow flowers might be Oxalis gigantea, but you are getting ahead of me, because that is a later entry.

    Hey Laura (and Michael)! Happy holidays!

  16. A

    Oh goodness the color! Amazing color combination for a flower!

  17. Patricia

    Eric: I was taken aback by the beauty of the flower. Then I looked at the larger picture and realized that the flowers are only part of a beautiful blend of greens and greys. Nature has it over any landscape designer!!!!

  18. Pamme

    Wonderful photos Eric. I have had success in flowering many cacti & succulents. Most proud of the 5.5 foot aloe spire with greater than 100 flowers – all from my home in Vancouver, BC. Shall you ever get seeds of unique cacti, I would be interested to try my ‘thumb’ with growing.

  19. Mary

    With all that vicious looking cactus, I’m amazed anyone was able to get close enough for the first picture!

  20. A. Yarrow

    They have finger sized tubers.
    There are varieties that can take below freezing temperature

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