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 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)
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