Argentina has a varied climate that supports a wide range of plant life. Tropical plants and palms thrive in the warm humid areas of the northeast. Grasses wave across the Pampas. Forests flourish in the Andean foothills of Patagonia. Cactus dominates the arid regions of the Andes in the northwest. Many plants native to Argentina are cultivated world wide as ornamentals.
Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)
Pampas grass is a popular ornamental grass valued for creamy white flower plumes that rise on thick stems above the dark green leaves. Plumes similar to feather dusters appear in late summer and early fall; the plumes of the female plants are more attractive than the plumes of the male plant. Pampas grass is a clumping grass, meaning that it grows in a circular cluster that grows wider in a symmetrical fashion rather than spreading. Pampas grass is a perennial and the clump will be slightly larger each year until it reaches about five feet in diameter. In Argentina, pampas grass grows in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)
Native to northeastern Argentina, the queen palm thrives near large rivers in humid forested areas. It grows taller and thinner in areas where it is shaded by other trees and develops a thick trunk in full sun. The queen palm has a smooth gray trunk and graceful leaves that resemble those of a coconut palm and form symmetrical canopy. The leaves are dark green. The tree produces large, cream colored flower stalks followed by copious amounts of small, round yellow to orange fruits. The fruit is edible but not very palatable. In cultivation, the queen palm is valued for its drought resistance and cold hardiness.
Amazing cactus plants over 300 years old can be found high in the Andes Mountains of northern Argentina. These cactus colonies thrive in the rocky, sandy soil found at elevations of 6,500 to 11,500 feet. The cardon cactus reaches maturity at 40 to 50 years old, producing a bright white flower followed by seeds. They reach heights of 22 feet. There are two types of cardon cactus. The single stemmed plant grows as one tall column. The multi-stemmed plant has branches which project out, then bend up at a right angle giving it a candelabra appearance. These cacti are cultivated in drier regions as ornamentals.
Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana)
The monkey puzzle tree grows in the Andes Mountains of southwestern Argentina in mixed forests or in stands where it is the primary tree. The leaves of the tree are thick triangles arranged in tight whorls around the branch and trunk. The appearance is striking and almost comical making them popular ornamentals. Monkey Puzzle trees reach heights of 130 feet and can live more than 1,000 years.