In a land as varied as Chile, there’s seemingly no end to the variety of flora and fauna. One of the most famous flowers, the Copihue, or Chilean Bellflower (Lapageria rosea), is not only beautiful: it happens to be the national flower of Chile.
The Copihue can be found from the central port city of Valparaiso to the southern city of Osorno. Usually found hanging from tree limbs in shady forests, this native flower was declared an official symbol of the country in 1977.
The flower is actually a climbing vine. With its deep red color and lily-shaped flowers, they hang like small delicate bells. The flowers flare into a trumpet shape with six petals. You’ll most likely come across the rose red color, but they also exist in white, cream, and pink. The blossoms appear in summer (December) and last until mid-autumn (March).
Not surprisingly, behind the national flower and symbol lies a legend with its origin in two of the indigenous groups of Chile—The Mapuche and the Pehuenche.
According to legend, Hues (a Mapuche princess) and Copih (a Pehuenche prince) fell in love. Unfortunately, they fell in love during a time of war, and were forbidden by their respective families to see each other.
Of course, they continued to meet in secret. One night, they were discovered embracing by a lake. Hues´ father was furious and speared Copih in the heart and the young prince sank into the waters. In retaliation, Copih´s father killed Hues, and she joined her young lover in the lake.
The next year both tribes gathered at the lake to mourn and remember the two. They arrived at night, slept, and at dawn a beautiful new flower with blood-red petals appeared. To honor the union of their offspring, the tribes reconciled and named the flower copihue.