Puya chilensis, is a terrestrial bromeliad originating from the arid hillsides of Chile.
An evergreen perennial it forms large, dense rosettes of grey-green, strap like leaves edged with hooked spines.
The green-yellow flowers are born on spikes up to 2 m high and which resemble a medieval mace. Spreading by offsets; over time Puya chilensis can colonise large areas.
Leaf spines point inward as well as outward and have been known to trap birds and small animals. Unable to escape the victim dies of starvation and its decaying body then provides additional nutrients to the Puya.
Puya chilensis is easily raised from seed and when young can make a fine house plant.
If grown outside it is able to withstand light frosts and may even survive brief overnight temperatures as low as minus five degrees Celsius. In colder regions it will require some winter protection and is best either grown in a conservatory or in a pot and brought inside during winter.
Puya chilensis requires a well drained, lime free soil. It is drought tolerant but will appreciate plenty of water during the summer months. It is susceptible to rotting during winter if too wet.
It will tolerate some shade but is best grown in full sun.