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Vegetation of Arequipa

Cotahuasi: The Cotahuasi Scenic Reserve includes numerous life zones notable for their great diversity of flora and fauna. There are just over 450 known species of plants in the reserve, with many more yet to be discovered. Points of interest include the site known as Judiopampa, with its forest of cacti (Weberbauerocereus rauhii, Browningia candelaris), and the stone forest in Huaynacotas, surrounded by lakes and bofedal wetlands. In Alca, the stands of Puya raimondii bromeliads host an unbelievably rich diversity of flora and fauna. Countless species endemic to Arequipa have been discovered at Sipia, such as the Abutilon arequipense, a plant in the mallow family that is only found in the Cotahuasi Canyon.

Andagua: The Andagua Valley offers us an impressive variety of volcanic landscapes and gorgeous waterfalls, not to mention a significant number of little-known plants. Less than a year ago, a new species named Echeverría vulcanicola was discovered. Perhaps the most notable endemic plant in the Andagua is the Paquirea lanceolata, known locally as chojo. The bush, which has only been found in this zone, may be the most iconic species of flora in Andagua.

Coastal hills: The coastal lomas can be found along much of the Peruvian coast at altitudes of 100 to 1,100 m (328 to 3,609 ft.) above sea level (with the exception of Atiquipa, which ascends even higher). These lomas are perhaps the habitat with the most endemic species, as a percentage of their total floristic diversity. In the lomas of Yuta alone, located in Islay province, one can find 184 species of plants, many of them restricted to these ecosystems. There are numerous examples of endemism, including the plant genii Nolana, Tiquilia, Palaua, Weberbauerella, Islaya, and Spergularia, among others. The lomas may look like desert, but they are in fact an essential dormant seed bank awaiting the right levels of moisture to germinate.

Majes valley: The Majes Valley is extremely arid, with mountains and ravines that run down to the Majes River. Here, there is practically no vegetation at all. In the rainy season, however, one can see the seed bank emerge, displaying an unimaginable variety of Arequipa’s endemic and native plants.

Colca canyon: The diversity of plants in the Colca is truly impressive. Between Huambo and Sibayo alone, over five hundred species have been found, many of them endemic and even restricted, as in the case of the Puya colcaensis. And there are more that have yet to be discovered. Only recently, Sedum ignescens was described as a new species endemic to the Colca and Arequipa. The range of medicinal plants is also extensive, with up to four types of muña, as well as the yareta, whose resin is used for medicinal purposes. Recently, a new species was announced in Toccra.