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Meet Yareta, The 3000 Years Old Plant

These rocks on the highlands of the Andes looks like they are covered with moss. Actually, they are a type of flowing plant known as Yareta and it lives in colonies which can be thousands of years old.

Yareta is a flowing plant found in colonies that are thousands of years old. In Spanish, this plant is known as ‘Llareta.’ The plant is also known as Azorella Compacta. It is a flowering plant, belonging to Apiaceae family. It is found in Puna grasslands of Andes, Peru, Bolivia, Northern Chile. It is also found in the western Argentina, where the altitudes are between 32000 and 4500 meters. The wind blows mercilessly in this location and the chilliness here has the capacity to crack granite; how does this sound?

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Another trick the Yareta has learned to survive the inhospitable mountains of the Andes is to grow extremely slowly, almost at a geological pace of 1.5 cm a year. A large blob of Yareta growing on the rocks can thus be thousands of years old. Many Yaretas are estimated to be over 3,000 years old.

Because the Yareta is dry and dense, it burns well, like peat, and was traditionally harvested for fuel. The amount of yareta being removed had become so significant that it threatened the very existence of the plant. Yareta is now a protected species and being such a slow grower, it has also made it to the endangered list.

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