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Lapageria rosea, copihue: the Chilean national flower

Emőke Dénes [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Characteristics of the Lapageria Rosea


The environment in which this flower grows is humid: the areas are those that occupy the central and southern areas of Chile, between Valparaiso and Osorno. Despite this it is possible to find it also in the African regions that have the same climatic conditions. The stem of this plant is twisted, of hard and resistant consistency but at the same time particularly flexible. Even the leaves have considerable resistance and have an oval shape: the outer part is dark green while the interior has a much lighter green gradation. As for the flower, the most frequently encountered color is a bright red hue, but at the same time you can find pink or some shades of white and ivory. The campanula is formed by three more external petals and three more that constitute the center inside. Larger specimens can measure up to fifteen centimeters in length. Finally, one of the peculiarities is its ability to produce a sweet edible fruit, which is known in Chile with the name of pepino.

Cultivation


The plant blooms copiously from spring until late summer. As for its cultivation, it is essential to choose a place that does not provide direct exposure to the sun's rays. It is also important that it be repaired: what is needed, in essence, is to identify a warm and humid position but at the same time shaded. that manages to replicate its natural habitat. The perfect soil consists of garden soil and peat, with a prevalence of the latter. When possible, better to choose terracotta pots. Since this plant prefers humidity, it must be watered with extreme regularity, reducing the number of waterings during the winter.

Diseases and cures


This plant is particularly sensitive to possible attacks by aphids both in green and black, as well as in the floury cochineal. In case of infestations, it is advisable to remove the parasites with a cotton swab previously soaked in alcohol, or with dedicated pesticides, carefully following the instructions on the package.

Curiosity


One of the most fascinating aspects related to this variety is found in the fact that the scientific name is a tribute to Giuseppina Lapagerie. In fact, Napoleon's first wife used to dedicate herself to botany in the gardens of her villa Malmaison. Yet, this flower is predominantly known by its common name, copihue, a term that betrays Chilean origins. It is in fact the national flower of the South American country. A particularly famous legend that contributes to increasing the charm of this intriguing flower tells the story of a Prince Copih, and of a princess, Hues. Legend has it that the two young royals belonging to peoples fighting each other, they loved each other in secret, until one day discovered by his father they were not pierced in the heart with lances, eventually sinking into the lake nearby. Saddened by the two losses, the Mapuche populations and the pehuenche to which the two young men belonged gathered together from the opposite banks of the lake to remember them. So it was that at sunrise dawned two spears from the lake, which intersected to form two wonderful flowers, one red and the other white. From the union of the names of the prince and the princess the term copihue was born, with which this flower is still known today.

 

 

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