What’s the point of this story? I’m not sure… Back about ’64 when Lee and I bought this property it was a rare tropical garden, graced by over a thousand orchids, a giant rose garden and a large bromeiliad collection. Most of the roses have survived but the orchids. fushcias and begonias hit the dust years ago during a gigantic freeze which left us without power for ten days.
But back behind the green house, in the shadow of the trash burner now long gone, were four large rusty cans, each containing some kind of ugly prickly plant. It took several years of neglect, but eventually three of the four got tossed over the fence into the dead plant pile. The plant label, as best I could make out, read puya raimondii.
Giving some kind of respect to the lone survivor, I pulled it out of the rotting can and planted it on the northwest side of the property, in a bare spot near the kitchen sliding door. It smiled thanks, and thrived. It now has a circumference of six feet, and on certain years, as this one, it puts out gigantic stalks, some six feet high. One year it put out six stalks, but other years it moodily chooses to display nary a one. When it does bloom, the center blossoms are an incredible waxy blue, a color I have seen nowhere else in nature. And the tiny white and pink flowers in the blue center attract bees to the extent that I sometimes have to wire cage it to prevent Kodi from getting his nose stung.
In my limited botanical research I have learned that a puya is a member of the family of bromeliad, and that many of the species are monocarpic, with the plant dying after one flower and seed production cycle. If the original label was right on my specimen, it is noted as the largest species of bromeliad known.
All of this aside, what fascinates me is that I only today learned the name ‘Puya’ was derived from the Mapuche Indian (Chile) word meaning “point”. Here’s where the synchronicity comes in. Until six months ago I hardly knew of the Mapuche Indians, but since November and my last meeting with Alejondra in Maui, I have been reading extensively about Chile and the Mapuche, since it is part of her heritage.It’s a small world after all! The single stalk appearing now grows about five inches a day. I wake each morning to see if it has popped!