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Turquoise Puya

Corytoplectus capitatus

Corytoplectus capitatus is a fantastic find from the cloud forests of South America.  This unusual African Violet relative forms spectacular flower clusters that resemble a red head of broccoli!  Even without flowers it's a beautiful plant, with large, fuzzy leaves with a luxurious texture of velvet.  In fact the whole plant is covered in fuzzy hairs - the stems, the flowers, and the wacky blue fruit!  The plant is pretty rare, and usually only seen in a few botanical gardens.

Corytoplectus capitatus

This evergreen Gesneriad grows 2 to 3 feet tall, with thick, rigid stems that are red.  The leaves grow from 6 to 12 inches long and are lined on both sides with soft hairs.  A nice picture of the plant is here.  The large flower heads appear throughout the year near the top of the plant.  They are several inches long, with inflated, yellow flowers peeking out from between the pinkish-red bracts.  The blooms are followed by blue berries, which presumably attract animals in the wild.

Corytoplectus capitatus

An old botanical print

It grows well for me in mild to warm conditions with a drop in temperature at night, similar to intermediate-temperature orchids.  I'm unsure how it will do in hot conditions with warm nights.  I'm pretty sure it can't survive frost.  It grows well in a pot in a typical, well-draining mix that is slightly acidic and kept evenly moist.  Give it bright, filtered light.  It probably will need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  It prefers relatively humid air - over about 50% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy plant.

Corytoplectus capitatus

Photos #2 & 3 courtesy of Nadia Talent

 

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Turquoise Puya

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