It's a Blob. It's Green Sherbet. No...

The weird Llareta plant grows in Chile's Atacama Desert

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted May 19, 2014 5:56 PM CDT

(Newser) – Hikers in the Andes Mountains could mistake it for a green blob. Or melting lime sherbet. But what seems like a weird, lumpy thing is really Llareta, a plant of the Apiaceae family that's related to fennel, carrots, and parsley, NPR reports. Two neat factoids: It's actually firm, with a compact surface of densely packed flowering buds on long stems, so you can lie back on it. And it grows incredibly slowly—like about half an inch per year—so what did your random Llareta do last century? Oh, grew a little less than a yard-and-a-half.

What's more, the dry desert plant makes for fine kindling. So yes, Llareta plants that pre-date the Golden Age of Greece are regularly used to start campfires in Chile's Atacama Desert. It's good for muscle pain too, according to a Bolivian guide's YouTube video. Thinking of going there? The Atacama is home to other offbeat finds, like an ancient whale graveyard and so-called "white gold." But if Llareta is what grabs you, check out photos in the book The Oldest Living Things in the World, which looks at continuously living things dating back at least 2,000 years, the Washington Post reports.

A man looks at a Llareta.
A man looks at a Llareta.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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A Bolivian guide talks about Llareta.   (YouTube)

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