Beagle Channel in the Patagonia

Beagle Channel in the Patagonia

April 03, 2013

THE COPIHUE, CHILE'S NATIONAL FLOWER


HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF THE COPIHUE?



The Copihue flowers on a vine that grows within the dense indigenous forests of the south of Chile.

It is a beautiful sight for anybody lucky enough to see it in its natural habitat, with its thick waxy ruby red petals and elegant shape.

The flower can be found under various names:

  • Copihue, derived from the Mapudungun word kopiwe. That’s the language spoken by the Mapuche, the native inhabitants of the area where the Copihue grows.
  • English speaking botanists refer to it as the “Chilean Bell flower” because of its bell-like shape.
  • The European naturalists who traveled through Peru and Chile at the turn of the nineteenth century chose to give the Copihue the scientific name of “Lapageria Rosea”.

THE BEAUTIFUL COPIHUE





Source: Ashley Bailey from UK, CC BY 2.0. Wikimedia Commons


THE STORY BEHIND THE SCIENTIFIC NAME



There is a story about the origin of the scientific name. The word is derived from the maiden last name of the beautiful Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s first love. She was Josephine de La Pagerie, and from this last name, the word “Lapageria” was formed.

The idea was to relate Josephine’s legendary beauty to the beauty of the Copihue. A just tribute to both of them!

Josephine actually included the Copihue in her Malmaison gardens, and the plant is still cultivated in France.


SOME FACTS ABOUT THE COPIHUE.


Lapageria Rosea is an evergreen climbing plant reaching over 10 meters high among the foliage where it grows.

The leaves are placed alternately along the thin vine, which twists counterclockwise in the Southern hemisphere and clockwise in the Northern hemisphere (due to the movements of the sun).

The flowers have six tepals, which are mostly ruby red spotted with white at the tips.

The fruit is an elongated berry that contains numerous seeds and is edible.

An interesting fact is that due to its long, bell-like shape, the plant is pollinated by hummingbirds.

The plant is slow to grow and can take as many as ten years to begin to flower, a fact that contributes to its scarcity.

Another important element that contributes to the fact that the Copihue is becoming ever more difficult to find, is the gradual replacement of the indigenous forests formed by native species that contribute to maintaining a damp habitat that also provides a good upper layer of fertile soil with just the right pH level.

At present Chile’s forestry industries are focused on plantations of the Radiata Pine and the Eucalyptus Globulus, both of which are exotic species that have been introduced relatively recently. These non-native species produce a much drier environment and the Copihue sadly does not grow on these trees.


THE COPIHUE, ONE OF CHILE'S NATIONAL EMBLEMS



The decree which officially names this lovely flower as the national flower of Chile, was signed by General Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s President during the military dictatorship during the 1970 and 1980s.

But this flower had been a symbol since long before that date. It was sacred to the Mapuche race.

In the Mapuche lore:

  • The Copihue is a symbol of happiness, friendship and gratitude.
  • Warriors venerated the flower as an emblem of courage and liberty
  • It was also considered a symbol of love and therefore used in wedding ceremonies



THE COPIHUE, AN INSPIRATION FOR POETS, MUSICIANS AND WRITERS



The beauty of the Copihue has inspired verses and songs in its honor. There are also several lovely legends referring to its color and shape.

It is fitting to reserve a place of honor for these inspirational verses, and legends, and there is also a video with the most famous song dedicated to the Copihue and composed at the beginning of the twentieth century.

I will be writing about them in a future post, so stay tuned!



CHILE'S NATIONAL FLOWER: THE COPIHUE






Source: Inao Vasquez, Santiago Chile, CC BY SA 2.0. Wikimedia Commons



DELICATE COLORS OF THE COPIHUE







Source: Fritz Vincentz, CC BY SA 3.0. Flickr


THE VERY RARE WHITE COPIHUE WITH PINK BLUSHES






Source: Ashley Chile, CC BY 2.0. Flickr.



SPANISH VERSION



(This Blog is bilingual)


EL COPIHUE, LA FLOR NACIONAL DE CHILE



El Copihue es una enredadera que crece en medio del bosque nativo de la región centro sur de Chile. Su flor es muy bella.

Se le conoce por varios nombres, siendo el término Copihue una derivación de la expresión Kopiwe, que proviene del Mapudungun, la lengua ancestral de la raza Mapuche, una de las principales razas originarias de Chile.

El nombre científico es Lapageria Rosea, término que fue derivado del apellido de soltera de la bella Emperatriz Josefina, el gran amor de Napoleón Bonaparte. Los expedicionarios naturistas de la época lo determinaron así como un tributo a la belleza tanto de Josefina como del Copihue.

El Copihue es una enredadera perene cuyo fino tallo puede crecer por sobre los 10 metros de longitud. Su fruto es una baya alargada. Como una particularidad debido a su forma alargada, el Copihue es polinizado por el colibrí.

La planta crece muy lentamente y puede demorar más de diez años en florecer, lo que contribuye a hacerla bastante escasa.

Otro factor importante de su escasés, es el reemplazo del bosque nativo, húmedo y con un pH adecuado, por plantaciones basadas en Pino Radiata y Eucaliptus Globulus, especies exóticas que hacen variar el hábitat de los bosques.

El Copihue es la flor nacional de Chile y fue oficializado como tal por decreto durante la dictadura militar de los años 1970 y 1980.

Sin embargo esta bella flor fue símbolo de la raza originaria desde siempre, representando valores tales como la felicidad, la amistad, la gratitud, la valentía, la libertad y el amor conyugal.

Por tanto, para los Mapuches constituía un símbolo sagrado de su raza noble.

En épocas más recientes, el Copihue ha sido inspiración de poetas, músicos y escritores en general.

Estas creaciones serán tema de otro post en este Blog, de modo que ¡les sugiero permanecer atentos!




More about similar topics in a future post.    Más sobre temas similares en un próximo post.



LANGUAGE TIPS FOR ENGLISH



Words that go together!  * Do your homework   - * Catch a thief   - * Take a rest   - * Catch the flu    – * Save electricity




LANGUAGE TIPS FOR SPANISH.



Expresiones de uso frecuente: * Ponerse las pilas - * Por supuesto  - * Quedar en el tintero



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© 2013  joanveronica  (Joan Robertson)




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