Wednesday 30 December 2009

Botanical big game

By way of a belated Christmas card, Tom Hart Dyke has sent me this amazing picture of a group of Puya raimondii in the Peruvian Andes, with himself providing scale. This is a plant I've always wanted to see, the largest bromeliad in the world, growing on exposed grassy mountainsides above treeline, rather like the giant lobelias and groundsels of East Africa. The rosette, made up of many long, viciously hooked leaves, takes decades to grow and then dies after it has flowered. Unfortunately it is now becoming rare, though on his recent trip Tom was able to find plenty of them, as well as numerous other species of Puya. Hopefully seedlings of them will soon be growing at Lullingstone Castle.

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