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Espeletia in Páramo de Guerrero (Colombia)
Scientific classification


Espeletia, commonly known as 'frailejones', is a genus of perennial subshrubs, in the sunflower family.[2] The genus, which is native mainly to Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, was first formally described in 1808.[3] The genus was named after the viceroy of New Granada, José Manuel de Ezpeleta.

Espeletia grandiflora

The plants live at high altitude in páramo ecosystems. The trunk is thick, with succulent hairy leaves disposed in a dense spiral pattern. Marcescent leaves help protect the plants from cold. The flowers are usually yellow, similar to daisies.

The frailejón plant is endangered due to destruction of the páramo for agricultural purposes, especially potato crops. This activity continues, despite the Colombian government declaring it illegal.

The Espeletia is well known for contributing to the world in water sustainability by capturing water vapor from passing clouds in its spongy trunk and releasing it through the roots into the soil[citation needed], thus helping to create vast high-altitude subterranean water deposits and lakes that will eventually form rivers.

Espeletia schultzii
Espeletia, El Cocuy, Colombia
Espeletia pycnophylla
Espeletia pycnophylla



Further reading[edit]

  • Padilla-González, G.F., Diazgranados, M., Da Costa, F.B.(2017) Biogeography shaped the metabolome of the genus Espeletia: a phytochemical perspective on an Andean adaptive radiation. Scientific Reports: ISSN 2045-2322 volume 7, Article number: 8835. pdf doi:10.1038/s41598-017-09431-7

External links[edit]