Llareta: Hard As Rock, Old And Evergreen Desert Plant Of The Andes

Llareta is an intriguing South American living desert plant and one of the oldest known in the world.

It gives an impression of being soft like a cushion, but it is not. It is hard as a rock and very solid to the touch.


One of the most bizarre sights in the high, dry and cold Andes of South America, Llareta (Azorella compacta) – also known as ‘yareta’.

The bright green, coral-like heads of this mostly bizarre plant can astonish in desolated places of the Andes, where temperatures reach 10 to 12 degrees C on sunny days and drop below freezing almost every night.

Llareta can live thousands of years but it grows very slowly (a little over one centimetre) a year.

It can be found at high altitudes from 10,500 and 14,800 ft (3,200 and 4,500 metres) throughout the Andes in South America, for example in Chile’s extremely dry Atacama, Bolivia, Peru, and western Argentina.

It usually grows low to the ground, near and over rocks.

This fascinating plant belongs to Apiaceae family and is related to parsley, fennel and carrots. Llareta is very dry and composed of thousands of densely packed small pink or lavender flowers. The flowers create a solid and very hard surface.

According to Cath Kleier at the Regis University, Denver, Colorado, who is studying llareta plant in Chile, researchers analyze the chemical compounds found in the plant—for anti-cancer and HIV-fighting properties.

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