Exotic plant begins its once-in-a-century bloom

Puya raimondii, a flowering plant also known as the Queen of the Andes, is shown on display at the...

Puya raimondii, a flowering plant also known as the Queen of the Andes, is shown on display at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, in this handout picture released to Reuters on June 5, 2014. Visitors to the garden now have the chance to see the large, exotic plant showing off its once-in-a-century blossoming. REUTERS/Paul Licht/UC Botanical Gardens at Berkeley/Handout via Reuters

Jennifer Chaussee, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

BERKELEY, Calif. - Visitors to a California university garden now have the chance to see a large, exotic plant showing off its once-in-a-century blossoming, garden officials said.

The plant, a Puya raimondii also known as the Queen of the Andes, is blooming at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, California. The rare bloom usually happens only once every 80-100 years in the wild, but the university's plant is flowering just 24 years after it was planted.

This will mark the second Puya blooming at the Berkeley gardens. The first, which occurred in the late 1980s, attracted thousands of visitors, a garden spokeswoman said in a statement on Tuesday.

At its base, the tall, green plant looks like the head of a palm tree. At its center, a large cactus-like stalk shoots out from the fronds and is about the size and shape of a surfboard.

The plant is pollinated by a variety of birds at the gardens and is expected to grow up to 30 feet (9.1 meters) tall and produce up to 30,000 flowers when it reaches full bloom, the spokeswoman said.

The plant was grown from a seed brought to the botanical gardens in 1990 from Bolivia and is part of the largest species of bromeliad plants in the world. Viewers can see the developing bloom from a wooden viewing platform in the gardens.

 


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