Puya chilensis is a terrestrial bromeliad originating from the arid hillsides of Chile. An evergreen perennial, it forms large, dense rosettes of grey-green, strap-like leaves edged with hooked spines. The green or yellow flowers are borne on spikes which resemble a medieval mace, and stand up to 2m high. Spreading by offsets, Puya chilensis can colonise large areas over time. Growth is slow and plants may take twenty years or more to flower. The outer two thirds of the leaf blade bears outward pointing spines which may be an adaptation to prevent herbivores from reaching the center of the plant. The plant is believed to be hazardous to sheep and birds which may become entangled in the spines of the leaves. It has been suggested that if the animal dies the plant may gain nutrients as the animal decomposes nearby. Fibers from the leaves are used to weave durable fishing-nets.
Puya chilensis is not considered threatened and can be found within Chilean Matorral. It is cultivated in many parts of the world.
In its natural arid environment, plants can be highly flammable and are susceptible to damage from fires that are often the result of human action. Land clearance is an increasing threat.
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