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Taique (Desfontainia spinosa)

Desfontainia fulgens


Family: Desfontainiaceae
Order: Gentianales
A fascinating and unusual plant with colourful flowers which can be found growing in the wild in the South American Andes, from Colombia to southern Chile. Desfontainia spinosa has remarkable tubular, scarlet and orange flowers throughout late summer which stand out well against the dark green, glossy leaves.
These flowers are colourful, eye-catching and when not in flower this superb, slow growing, evergreen shrub could be easily mistaken for a holly.
Height: 2-3m
Growing: medium
Foliage: evergreen
Flowers / Fruits: long tubular-shaped, drooping, reddish yellow flowers
Site: sun to shade
Soil: acidic to slightly alkaline
Irrigation: regular
Hardiness: hardy -8ºC
Desfontainia spinosa also known as is an evergreen shrub with small, spiny, rigid, glossy green leaves. Desfontainia bears tubular-shaped, scarlet flowers, which are tipped with a bright yellow edge.
Very liked in gardens for it ornamental value and sturdiness.
USDA Hardiness Zone 8. The plant tolerates low temperatures (-8° C), can tolerate occasional snow cover for up to a couple of weeks per year.
Low germination, less than 30 %


Can be found growing in the wild in the South American Andes, from Colombia to southern Chile.
According to altitude:
Medium altitude up to the timber line 500 - 2000 m.
Watering conditions:
Humid areas, with almost constant rainfall. Short dry periods are possible (generally not longer than 1 month).
Light conditions:
Some shadow. Some protection against direct sunlight, some shadow from vegetation, filtering about 20 - 40 % of light. <vr> In shadow. Steep slopes facing south or a vegetation cover which filters 40 - 80 % of light.
In deep shadow. Deep ravines facing south with additional shadow from trees, or where there is a very dense vegetation cover which gives 80 - 100 % shadow (for instance, the Valdivian forests)

Presente en Los Andes desde Colombia hasta el sur de Chile.
En Chile, El Taique representa un género monotípico y se distribuye desde la VII hasta la XII región, en ambas cordilleras llegando hasta el límite altitudinal arbóreo.


Many of these pictures aren't what I expected when I took them.
This is a personal favourite.
With this plant my grandmother taught me about binomial nomenclature in latin.

Especie muy hermosa, cotizada para jardinería en muchos países. Las hojas se utilizan para teñir de color amarillo.
Desfontainia, en honor a R. L. Desfontaines (1750-1833), autor de la Flora Atlántica. Espinosa, debido al carácter de sus hojas. Taique, nombre Mapuche que hace referencia a sus hojas relucientes. Trau-Trau, nombre Mapuche que significa "bien unido". Chapico, nombre Mapuche que significa "agua de ají", haciendo referencia a lo amargo de su sabia.

Sinonimia: Desfontainia spinosa

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1 Comment

craigwilliams 12 years ago

Great! Thanks Agustin, it's so good to see this in the wild. Looks like a wonderful place too!

Lago Ranco, XIV Región de Los Ríos, Chile

Spotted on Feb 6, 2012
Submitted on May 10, 2012

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