Various publications since the year 2000 have offered different treatments of this genus and the subtribe Espeletiinae to which it belongs. The subtribe has been variousy interpreted as comprising anything from 3 - 8 distinct genera and 90 - 154 species. We are following the proposed treatment by Mauricio Diazgranados [
], although some other modern treatments still place this species in the genus Espeletia[
Espeletia garciae Cuatrec.
Common Name: Frailejón de Arcabuco
Espeletiopsis garciae is an evergreen perennial plant with a central, unbranched stem that is topped by a dense whorl of leaves that can each be up to 30cm long and 12cm wide. The stem can be up to 6 metres tall and 6cm in diameter.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of resin and materials.
Espeletiopsis garciae has a restricted distribution in the Andes of Colombia and is found in ten locations defined by threats. There is a continuous decrease in the quality of the habitat, due to a severe transformation due to changes in land use for agricultural activities. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2020)[
Northwest S. America - Colombia
Sub-páramo ecosystems and high Andean forest areas from dry to humid, being frequent in oak forests and high scrub; at elevations from 2,520 - 3,609 metres[
Espeletiopsis garciae is a plant of higher elevations in the tropical regions of the Andes, mainly at elevations between metres. The plants are usually found above the tree line in open, windswept regions known as Páramos, where the climate is wet and cool with a relative humidity that can be around 110%. The high elevation means there are high levels of UV radiation and a daily seasonality with night-time temperatures able to fall below zero at any time of the year.
The plant requires an open position in a humus-rich soil that does not dry out and a good supply of clean water. The various species do not generally grow well outside of their native habitat or other similar habitats, though some have occasionally been cultivated successfully at lower elevations or in greenhouses in the temperate zone.
We have no specific information for this species, but the leaves of most (if not all) members of this genus can be used to make a bitter but tasty, refreshing tea that also has medicinal benefits[
]. One medium-sized leaf is washed then boiled vigorously for at least 10 minutes, the liquid is then drunk whilst hot. Cinnamon is also traditionally added for a bit of flavour[
The plant (part not specified) is used to treat a range of conditions including varicose veins, arthritis, varicose veins, dysmenorrhoea, lung diseases and ear problems (otitis)[
We have no further specific information for this species, but most (if not all) species in this and several other related genera are used medicinally in the High Andes. In particular, the plant contains essential oils and resin, and an infusion of the leaves is used traditionally to alleviate altitude sickness and aid breathing at higher elevations. It is also used to treat respiratory conditions (including bronchitis, influenza, cough and asthma) and to treat digestive problems[
A resin obtained from the plant is used as an incense[
Most, if not all, species in this and in several other related Genera yield an abundant, aromatic resin. It can be used as an incense, or to extract oil of turpentine, which is used as a solvent for paints and varnishes[
The wide, spongy leaves make an excellent camping mattress or pillow. Simply harvest dry leaves, evenly pile them, then lie down to compress them a bit. Stuff them inside a plastic bag to make a decent pillow, or heap them under your tent for a little extra comfort in the night[
If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.