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May 4th 2006
Published: May 4th 2006
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WARNING: If you find plant photos extremely boring, I advise you to wait until the next blog email gets to you.

Well, the Puyas are defintiely one of the plants to see before you die. Unbelievably tall for something in the same family as pineapples. Even the ones I saw (mostly dead adult plants) were small, and if you look closely at some of the photos with me as a scale you can get an idea of how big these monsters were!

Whilst travelling parts of Bolivia I had spotted a couple of smaller Puya species, so I was floored to see the size of these guys!
Apparently there was a live plant with a flower spike somewhere nearby, but at over 4000m (4130m asl, to be exact) above sea level, I wasn´t up to hiking up too many mountains to find it.

The puyas seem to like the cool climate here, not too far from the mountains, but quite warm when the sun is shining. There´s also plenty of water around, from the natural mineral water springs on the valley floor (they actually taste fizzy and mineral-ly, just a bit stronger than the bottled stuff) to the waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides. I saw planty of birds around, but as there were very few lilve flowers to be found, no hummingbirds in sight (or spectacled bears to eat the flowers). However, I did get my very first woodpecker sighting, on top of the toilets at the Park Ranger station at the entrance to Carpa sector of Parque Nacional Huascaran! The calls were not exactly Woody Woodpecker, but close enough to know that they were from a woodpecker...

The photos of the Puya spikes are there as a warning to anyone that might chance upon a puya in their lifetime - DON´T GET TOO CLOSE! These things are dealy - you can see why the farmers hate them so much - a sheep could easily be snagged and die of starvation before it manages to escape. Unfortunately the small ladder in my pants became a rather large hole, and my arms now sport a selection of small puncture marks and bruises! My leg also got another bruise (no surprises there) from sliding halfway down the mountain on a pile of rubble. Aah, the haphazard life of a botanist! (more hazard than hap).

The only shortcoming of
the first Puya raimondii sightingthe first Puya raimondii sightingthe first Puya raimondii sighting

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
the Puya seems to be their size - you just can´t get cloe enough to them to be able to photograph the finer details of the flowers - that and the fact that if you get too close, you might not get back out again. You also have to be careful where you go to the toilet!

Anyhoo, enough of the toilet humour (hehehehehe), time for some photos.

(Later note - due to the crappy computers here (crashing for the second time today), will have to add the rest of the photos at a later date)

Additional photos below
Photos: 38, Displayed: 23


young Puyas on the hillsidesyoung Puyas on the hillsides
young Puyas on the hillsides

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
visitor information (español only, sorry)visitor information (español only, sorry)
visitor information (español only, sorry)

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
juvenile Puya raimondiijuvenile Puya raimondii
juvenile Puya raimondii

Parque Nacional Huscaran, Peru
double trunked Puyasdouble trunked Puyas
double trunked Puyas

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
leaf collar above burnt trunkleaf collar above burnt trunk
leaf collar above burnt trunk

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
trunk detailtrunk detail
trunk detail

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
spiky buggersspiky buggers
spiky buggers

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
a bit closer upa bit closer up
a bit closer up

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
nasty spinesnasty spines
nasty spines

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
natural detail on leaf basesnatural detail on leaf bases
natural detail on leaf bases

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
dead flower stalkdead flower stalk
dead flower stalk

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
close up of trunkclose up of trunk
close up of trunk

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
dead Puya trunksdead Puya trunks
dead Puya trunks

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
juvenile and dead adult Puyasjuvenile and dead adult Puyas
juvenile and dead adult Puyas

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
me and the Puya (almost all, anyway)me and the Puya (almost all, anyway)
me and the Puya (almost all, anyway)

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru
slightly better sense of scaleslightly better sense of scale
slightly better sense of scale

Parque Nacional Huascaran, Peru

6th May 2006

auuuuugh!!! that's incredible!! You lucky.... @#)(@)($*!!! That's it. I'm flying back down. I'm pissed now.
7th May 2006

Amazing shots
What spectacular scenery Em!!! Glad all went well in BA, when do we get to hear about that, and see some photo's???

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