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Puya clava-herculis

Hercules' Club Puya

A stunning plant from the bromeliad (pineapple) family, that forms a large, dense rosette of many strap-like, thorny, bluish green leaves to about 1.2 m (4 ft.) tall, quite similar to a Dasylirion. Its common name derives from its giant inflorescence, a club-like structure that can reach more than 6 m (20 ft.) tall. In its native range in Ecuador and southern Colombia, it grows at very high altitudes between 3700 and 4100 m (12100 and 13400 ft.), mostly above the tree line, together with curious, palm-like plants called fralejónes (Espeletia sp., Asteraceae), in a grassland called páramo that is characterized by temperatures near or below freezing at night through most of the year. In cultivation it requires a cool climate without extremes of frost or heat.

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germination comments by our visitors
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Seeds from this species ...

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
When I got the seeds, I sowed them immediately and kept them moist at all times and at a constant temperature of around 27°C. After a week, I had a pot full of germinating seeds.
Submitted on 13/08/2008 by one of our visitors

... are average to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I found germination of this species easy. No special treatment, but sowed early in season so they had a cold start. Like other Puyas, I have potted them in ordinary peat based compost with a little extra perlite, and they are growing well. I read that Puyas need dry conditions and excellent drainage, but I have P. berteroniana, P. castellanosi, P. caerulea and P. alpestris planted in my rather heavy soil on the south Gower coast, where winters are often wet, and they are all doing fine.
Submitted on 01/08/2008 by Nick Andrews

... are very difficult to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
Although I am posting this under P. clava-herculis it is generally true for all puyas, alpestris, chilensis, coerulia etc. The mirabilis is probably the easiest but does lack the spectacular inflorescences of many of the others.Germination rate is low even under controlled conditions and in the wild is extremely low (maybe 1 in a thousand seeds). If you get one in ten seeds to germinate then you are doing very well indeed.Cold stratification in JUST damp sphagnum moss for about 3 months is the first stage at about 2 or 3 degrees celsius (I'm a limey) That's about 36 to 39 in American money. A domestic fridge is fine.Then sow thinly in a sandy compost. Ericaceous preferred. They aren't too fond of lime. Cover with about one eighth of an inch.My USDA zone equivalent here is 9a so I need a propagator, If you live in zone 10b or better you may get away with leaving outside or maybe under glass in 10a. They want to be at about 25 celsius that's pushing 80 fahrenheit. Give the compost a good watering but then do not water again until nearly dry.If you are lucky and get a few to germinate then the temperature may be reduced. Transplant into 3" pots when about 1" high. Be careful not to overwater, even as seedlings they are pretty drought resistant.
Submitted on 01/01/2008 by John Turner dr_john_turner@dsl.pipex.com

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plant cultivation comments by our visitors
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Plants from this species ...

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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