Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

            Plant of the Month, January 2013
Calandrinia caespitosa - by Liam McCaughey
Calandrinia are related to Lewisia, but grow mostly in South America, while Lewisias are in northwesterm North America.

Calandrinia caespitosa occurs from Tierra del Fuego north to the northern desert cordilleras of Chile and Argentina. Colour forms include pink (lower altitude), orange-red, and the red form which  lives near the upper limit of vegetation in semi-stable situations, screes, solifluctions and periglacial conditions, at 2500-4000m.  This description from the AGS Encyclopaedia fits well with the habitat where we photographed these plants in January 2012.

This was at 3100m above the ski resort of Las Leņas, in the Mendoza province of Argentina
Many Andean plants are difficult or impossible to grow in cultivation.  Calandrinia caespitosa, though we haven't tried it, does appear from several mentions in the AGS Bulletin to be possible.  It can withstand cold, but prefers relatively dry conditions - we saw it in the rain-shadow of the high Andes, and here it is exposed to constant wind and dust, often volcanic in origin.