Plants in this collection represent the floras of temperate and mediterranean climate areas of South America, featuring plants from the matorral of coastal Chile.
The matorral plant community is characterized by shrubs and small trees with leathery leaves and is similar in appearance to California’s chaparral. Both share a mediterranean climate with summer drought and winter rainfall. Common plants of the matorral include olivillo (Kageneckia) and soapbark tree (Quillaja), as well as terrestrial bromeliads (Puya).
Members of the South American floras, such as Nothofagus and Araucaria, have close relatives in South Africa and Australia. Their ancestors are found in the fossil record of the ancient southern supercontinent Gondwana.