Puya Raymondi, a Rare Endangered Plant

A rare plant found in the Andes mountain range of Bolivia and Peru, the puya raymondi is a rare and endangered species that typically grows at an altitude of around 4,000 meters, or just over 13,000 feet. While this is a higher elevation, the plant can grow at lower altitudes as well. One of these rare gems was planted at the University of California Botanical Gardens and grew very successfully.

This plant looks like a cross between a cactus and a palm. It can grown to 20 feet or more, with flower spikes that can reach over 20 feet. However, the plant takes quite a long time to bloom, around 30 years or more, for a complete cycle of about 40 years. Like other species in its class, it dies shortly after blooming. The unique growth and flowering pattern make this rare gem a marvel for botanists and for children learning about plants in science classes. It is a visually striking plant to look at as well.

Another set of amazing facts surrounding this plant species is the amount of seeds and flowers it produces. Three thousand flowers can be produced from one plant, with six million seeds. This is helpful, as those concerned about preserving such foliage can recreate many more in the right conditions. Because this plant is very prolific in its own habitat, it should be on a tourist’s list of things to see, when traveling to the South American countries.

The look of this plant is also somewhat unique. The triangular shaped leaves look somewhat like a cactus, but are colored quite differently. The underside of the leaves are a darker green, while the top side is a pale pink or rose color. Puya raymondi is an inflorescent, which means its flowers bloom in clusters and originate from a main stem. This is typical of many cacti species, though very different.

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