Ladies and Gentlemen, can I have your attention please. Let me introduce you to your Majesty: The Queen of the Andes. Her real name is Puya Raimondii, is the largest bromeliad in the world; and is best known for its spectacular flower spike, which produces 8000 flowers in each cluster. Isn’t God AMAZING!!
Puya Raimondii, also known as Queen of the Andes is an endemic species of the altoandina zone of Bolivia and Peru, found at an altitude of 3200 – 4800 m. It was the French scientist Alcide d’Orbigny (1802-1857) who was the first non-native person to discover it in 1830 in the region of Vacas in Cochabamba Department in Bolivia at an altitude of 3960 m (12,992 ft).
The name of the Puya Raimondii commemorates the Italian scientist Antonio Raimondi (1826–1890), who resided in Peru for many years and made wide botanical explorations there. He discovered this species later in Peru in the region of Chavin de Huantar and published it as Pourretia gigantea in El Peru. In 1928 the name was changed to Puya Raimondii Harms by the German botanists Hermann Harms (1870–1942).
The name ‘Puya’ was derived from the Mapuche Indian word meaning ‘point’. This giant plant may reach 10 meters in height and take over 100 years to develop a flower spike. This is truly a remarkable bromeliad as its inflorescence consists of masses of flowers arranged on a stem approximately 60 to 90 cm in diameter and containing about thirty thousand individual flowers. Many of the species are monocarpic, meaning the parent plant dies after it flowers and fruits for the first time. In the wild, these plants seem to be exceedingly choosy about where they grow. Their seeds are very small and by design easily wind-blown.
Yet even in undisturbed locations Puya raimondii can limit itself to one small spot although edafic, topographic and microclimatic conditions in the surrounding area appear identical. Puya raimondii are officially considered endangered at risk of extinction, due to a very old geographical isolation which dates back to the Tertiary Age.
At present time it grows exclusively in 28 isolated populations, scattered along the Peruvian Andes, with no possibility of genetics exchange among themselves. Thus, this statuesque aristocratic monster of a plant has arrived even in Guinness book of the records.