Our final look at Peru - the plants and flowers. Peru is an extraordinarily varied country in terms of climate and ecology – coast, desert, jungle, high mountains and the altiplano, a high plain of short grass. I went in the wet season, and although that description mainly applies only to the jungle, that meant that I saw a lot of plants in bloom, including cactuses.
Many of Peru’s plants and trees are unfamiliar, but I was struck by how many common species I recognised, often wild versions of our garden plant, including begonias, lupins, and pernettya. Other familiar plants included the potato, available in a staggering variety of textures, colours and flavours, unheard of here in Europe, and forming decorative fields of blue, mauve, yellow and white flowers in soils varying from heavy loams to sand. Many of the famous tropical trees and climbers are well represented, and a very common tree is the eucalyptus, an import from Australia – valued here for its resilience, fast growth, and usefulness. Finally, at height especially, there are many versions of the yucca, the hundred year plant, and so on, tall, spiky and statuesque.
From a huge number of photographs I took, I have chosen just nine, although I’m afraid I can’t identify many of them:
· Fearsome cactus spikes
· Cactus flowering in red and in yellow, a common sight in some areas
· Lupins and begonias from steep meadows at 14,000 feet
· A drift of red flowers on a scree slope
· A vigorous bush, also from highish altitudes covered in white flowers
· Pernettya ... and a charming, frail looking ground plant, perhaps an anemone of some kind?