Land and Resources, Plants and Animals
urunday, Purple Land, American ostrich, lapacho, quebracho
The predominant vegetation in Uruguay is tall prairie grass. The bluish-tinted prairies provide an extremely rich natural pasture and still retain much of their original character. On the ridges, tall grass gives way to less nutritious varieties of short bunchgrass. Forests cover about three percent of Uruguay, which has a smaller forest area than any other South American country. On the prairies, a small purple flower grows in such abundance that Uruguay sometimes is called the Purple Land. Other flowering plants are myrtle, mimosa, rosemary, and scarlet-flowered ceiba. Indigenous hardwood trees include urunday, lapacho, carob, quebracho, jacaranda, willow, and acacia. Palms flourish in the southeast and in the valleys of the central region and the north. In the coastal area, pine and eucalyptus trees have been planted to halt the movement of sand. Poplar, cypress, oak, cedar, mulberry, and magnolia also have been introduced.
Puma, rhea (American ostrich), tapir, and seal, which were relatively abundant when the Spanish first visited Uruguay, are now scarce. Deer, otter, wild hog, fox, wildcat, armadillo, anteater, and various rodents are the most frequently seen mammals.
Waterfowl include the swan, stork, crane, white heron, and duck. Other birds are the vulture, burrowing owl, partridge, quail, wild turkey, parakeet, lapwing, cardinal, and hummingbird. The principal reptiles are lizard, tortoise, rattlesnake, and a viper called the vibora de la cruz. Alligators are found in the upper waters of the Uruguay River. Large spiders are numerous.
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