In the middle of the harsh sandy plains of South America are plants that are so green and luscious that they look surreal amid their surroundings. And while these surreal green structures may look like moss-covered rocks, they’re actually plants!
That's not a moss-covered rock in the middle of the desert; that's a Yareta plant!
The Yareta is a flowing plant that has lived for three thousand years. They're known as llareta in Spanish, and their scientific name is Azorella Compacta.
These plants are found in the Puna grasslands of Andes, Peru, Bolivia, Northern Chile. They may also be found in western Argentina at altitudes of 3,200 to 4,500 meters! Just imagine these lush green Yareta plants living in conditions where the wind and cold can crack granite!
If you want to see a Yareta plant for yourself, you'll have to travel to the dry, cold Andes in Northern Chile to find them!
So how can these Yareta plants survive in those cold and windy conditions for thousands of years? Their stems are so strong that they can effortlessly carry a full-grown adult human. And on top of that, they also grow in dense packs and stay close to the ground to avoid losing heat. That’s how they avoid getting uprooted by strong winds that blow in their natural habitat. And to protect their foliage from drying out, the Yareta plants’ leaves are covered in wax!
Up close, the leaves of the Yareta plant look like little succulents.
Growing in dense packs close to the ground with wax-covered leaves – that’s the secret to the long life of Yareta plants.
Yareta plants were once harvested for fuel, but since they grow so slowly (15mm a year to be exact), they’re considered a non-sustainable source of fuel.
So today, they’re mostly left alone to grow for years and years!