Puya chilensis

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Puya chilensis
Puya chilensis 16.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Bromeliaceae
Subfamily: Pitcairnioideae
Genus: Puya
Species: P. chilensis
Binomial name
Puya chilensis

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 2 m 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.[1] The plant is believed to be hazardous to sheep and birds which may become entangled in the spines of the leaves.[2] It has been suggested that if the animal dies the plant may gain nutrients as the animal decomposes nearby.[2] Fibers from the leaves are used to weave durable fishing-nets.[2]

Natural habitat[edit]

Arid hillsides of the Andes. Common on north facing slopes of matorral areas at 300-1000 m above sea level.


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.


  1. ^ "Ficha de Especie Clasificada: Puya chilensis". Clasificación de Especies (in Spanish). Ministerio del Medio Ambiente. 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Mabberley, D.J. (1997). The Plant Book (Second ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 599. ISBN 0-521-41421-0. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

Shaw, Christine 2005. Architectural Plants. ISBN 0-00-720470-1
Miles, Tim & Rowe, David & Smit, Tim 2003. The New Cornish Garden. ISBN 1-85022-174-X