Country Guide

Argentina vegetation

Ranging from the sub-tropics to the Antarctic there is a wide range

Being such a large country, to discuss the vegetation of Argentina in any huge detail will take plenty of time and so, as such, we have put together a bit of a brief overview for what the various regions generally offer the visitor…

The Northwest

The northwest of Argentina is a fairly dry and desert-like region. Part of this is due to its altitude, high up in the Andean foothills, and in part due to the aridity of the soil, which is predominantly red sandstone.

With this climate and location, comes the plant species that thrive in these dry climes. Many types of cacti are found at the higher altitudes where rainfall is rare, in particular the famous candelabra cactus known locally as the Cardon. (with a lack of trees at these altitudes, this cactus has provided for much of the building material for the roofs of northern Argentina).

This being said, however, in between the Andes and the Chaco lies one of the country's most diverse areas of vegetation known as the "Yungas". This subtropical region benefits from plenty of summertime rainfall and, as such, hosts a wide variety of species ranging from grasslands to gallery forests.

Featured plants: Cardon Cactus, quebracho colorado, caranday palm

Featured parks: Parque Nacional Los Cardones

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Misiones Province

Misiones Province (along with the other "between rivers" provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes) is part of "La Mesopotamia", one of Argentina's most verdant and diverse vegetation.

The finger that shoots northwards from the main body of Argentina into Brazil, is a region of almost constant rainfall and, as such, it supports dense, subtropical forest. The climate is humid and dank year round, although the temperature does drop in the winter months and can become quite chilly. In the forests that roam wild across the horizon, all types of indigenous hardwoods and softwoods can be found, amongst them giant mahoganies, palms, rosewoods and jacarandas.

Featured plants: Cockspur coral, Palo Rosa

Featured parks: Parque Nacional Iguazu

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Esteros Del Ibera

Also included in the "Mesopotamia" region of north eastern Argentina, the Esteros are a fine example of the swampy lowland and open savannah that this abundant rainfall also produces.

Similar to other major wetland areas in the world, this vast body of freshwater is a great source of sustenance for vegetation. Across the horizon plenty of palms can be seen, sprouting out of the small islands that have formed over the years. In-between these small areas of dry there float a myriad of small floating islands that have formed out of the tangle of water plants that has been pushed together by the wind created currents. While much of the water borne plant life is low lying such as the lily or reeds, it can still be hugely difficult to navigate a path and so the interior of the wetlands is rarely visited.

Featured plants: water hyacinth, jacaranda

Featured reserve: Esteros del Ibera

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The Pampas and Cordoba

The lowland regions that surround the river Plate and its tributaries as they meander their way inland are fairly simple grasslands on the whole.

This area has been heavily grazed and farmed over the centuries and, as such, it is not one of the areas in Argentina that is famed for its indigenous vegetation. The "pampas" grasses that stretch out as far as the eye can see are punctuated by the occasional poplar that has been introduced into the area to protect from the winds (as has happened in Patagonia, to the south).

Featured plants: poplar tree

Featured region: The Pampas

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The area that surrounds Mendoza is a fascinating mix of desert and poplars. On the whole, everything that now exists in the area has, at one time been introduced and cultivated rather than occurring naturally due to the nature of the climate here.

As you move further up into the mountains the vegetation becomes less and less apparent with only the smaller, hardier grasses and occasional cactus prevailing. Down in the valleys, with the unique system of irrigation that it has, the rolling lands give way to vines for as far as the eye can see.

Featured plants: vines

Featured parks: Parque Provincial Aconcagua

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Bariloche and the Lake District

Similar to Mendoza to the north of Argentina, the region around Bariloche, while still being flanked by the Patagonian steppe, is a unique location for vegetation. Here, in the small valleys and hills that make up the Lake District, vegetation has been able to flourish with many different types of pine, fir and cedars in abundance. Often compared to the Alps in Europe, this area is superb for wildflowers as well in the spring months.

Featured plants: Chilean myrtle, monkey puzzle

Featured parks: Bosque de Arrayannes, Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi

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The vast, windswept plains of Patagonia would not generally be the sort of place to witness much vegetation, and this is probably true on the whole, although there are quite a few hardy scrub and bush species that battle on. Part of the reason for this lack of real vegetation, apart from the wind conditions, is also due to the soft, sand soil that is characteristic of the area.

This being said, however, due to the occasional winter storms that make it over the Andes from the Pacific, it is still possible to see forests of beech and coniferous woodland in patches.

Featured plants: southern beech, conifer

Featured parks: Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

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Tierra del Fuego

Right at the foot of Argentina, the Tierra del Fuego, while cold, is actually quite a good growing location and where the famous “Lenga” is found in abundance (the fruits from this small tree are often used to make a type of jam that is produced in the area. The trees themselves can be found as far north as El Chalten in Patagonia). On top of this, there are many evergreens found down in the region.

Featured plants: Lenga

Featured parks: Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego

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Further reading...

  • › Where to go in Argentina
  • › Argentina wildlife