With 54 known species of orchids in Chile alone, 27 of which are native to the country, it’s no wonder that this nation is an exciting destination for botanists. Although the largest concentration of orchid species is found in the central regions of the country (from V to IX regions), others such as the porcelain orchid (chloraea magellanica) are known for their hardy temperament, meaning that they can survive even the most extreme conditions of the far south of the country.
In fact, most Chilean orchids are able to cope with cold temperatures and can adapt to the different water and soil characteristics of their habitats, making them easy orchids to cultivate.
Porcelain orchid (chloraea magellanica)
This perennial plant grows in the high-altitude mountain regions of forests and shrubland in Chile, including places such as Torres del Paine National Park. The porcelain orchid (chloraea magellanica) is able to withstand temperatures as low as -4˚F (-20˚C) and can survive despite being covered by snow for up to eight months of the year.
This plant grows up to 14-in. (35cm) tall and blooms in spring after the snows have melted, producing around 12 scentless, white flowers marked with an intricate pattern of green lines. The porcelain orchid (chloraea megallenica) is thought to be the first albino species in Chile.
Gavilea araucanaAnother orchid species that is found in the south of Chile, the gavilea araucana is a perennial plant that can grow between 20-in. (50cm) and 28-in. (70cm) in height.
It lives in valleys and mountainous regions at altitudes between 1,600-ft. (500m) and 6,500-ft. (2,000m). It prefers areas out of direct sunshine, such as steep, southern-facing slopes and Valdivian Temperate Rainforest where there is dense vegetation cover.
It flowers in summer, growing 10 to 15 blooms that are a pale yellow in color and have dashes of verdant green.
Fragrant Gavilea (gavilea odoratissima)
Another native orchid, the fragrant gavilea (gavilea odoratissima) grows in the south of Chile.
It can reach heights of 32-in. (80cm) and blooms several yellow flowers in the late spring or early summer. It prefers altitudes of between 4,000-ft. (1,200m) and 4,200-ft. (1,300m).
Orquidea de flor verde (chloraea viridiflora)
This medium-sized orchid prefers cold climates and grows in the south of Chile at altitudes of between 5,000-ft. (1,500m) and 6,500-ft. (2,000m), from the volcanic mountains of the central regions to areas of alpine steppe and clearings in nothofagus woodland.
In spring, the orquidea de flor verde (chloraea viridiflora) blooms white flowers with green marks on the petals, which look similar in coloring to those of the porcelain orchid.
Chloraea cristataFound living in coastal areas of central Chile at altitudes of between 1,600ft. (500m) and 5,000-ft. (1,500m), the chloraea cristata is another native species of orchid.
It enjoys cold climates with little annual rainfall and can grow up to 12-in. (30cm) in height. Its flowers are small and green with dark green lines emanating from the stigma.