Puya Raimondii is a bromeliad species (flowering plant) native to Bolivia and Peru.
That’s the same family as pineapples, which the inflorescences (a collection of flowers arranged on a stem) resemble in full bloom.
The so-called “Queen of the Andes” stands up to 50 feet high, with a trunk stretching to heights of 16 feet and inflorescence reaching another 12 to 26 feet.
Puya Raimondii flowers once-in-a-lifetime
Puya Raimondii, which grows in high altitudes with colder temperatures, hosts the tallest flower spike in the world.
The spiky green and grey leaves on the Puya Raimondii are also lengthy, growing up to 9 feet across. But it can take up to 80 years for the eye-catching plant to reach its full size. And its post-reproductive cycle is short-lived.
The slow-growing Puya Raimondii is “monocarpic,” meaning it flowers at maturity before its demise. The plant even produces up to 20,000 thousand white flowers during its blooming period, a time when it’s also known to be protocarnivorous by ensnaring birds.
However, Puya Raimondii’s explosive growth meets an instant death as the plant withers away from the peak of existence.
Fortunately, each plant contains millions of seeds spread widely around the windy mountainsides every July. Those that germinate tend to grow in patches.