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Weird and Wonderful Wednesdays: Puya Berteroniana


This plant flowers only once a century -- and then it dies!

A plant which has been growing patiently at Ventnot Botanic Gardens has flowered, on what is said to be likely to be the hottest day of 2013 (wot!? already!? Winter's barely over!). The plant has been at Ventnor for eleven years.

But frankly, horticulturalists should be overjoyed at this rapid turnaround -- because sometimes, the Puya berteroniana can go as much as a hundred years before it lets a flower see the light of day.

This plant is a type of Bromeliad, and has astonishing turqoise and orange flowers. This particular colour combination isn't seen on any other plants in the UK. 

And once it has flowered, whether that takes a hundred years of a "mere" eleven -- the plant will die

Curator Chris Kidd explains: 'The colour is an unusual combination, usually flowers are pollinated by flies who can't see the red spectrum, but birds can pick up the orange on the blue background.

'The weather patterns are changing, we had a very wet year last year and it has also been very cold, so the weather might have something to do with it flowering now.

'They are native to the Andes in South America where conditions are very arid and the leaves are covered in a waxy substance to protect them.

'The Puya berteroniana can grow up to 10ft tall and last for 100 years before it flowers, we have had this particular one since 2002.

'Although they normally flower in the summertime it is a waiting game as you can't tell when they are going to.'

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