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Rare and exotic plants & seeds

Turquoise Puya

Cavendishia axillaris

This is a rare offering of the beautiful Cavendishia axillaris from Costa Rica to Colombia.  This unusual blueberry relative makes grape-like clusters of bright pink bracts and yellow flowers that emerge near each leaf like a chain.  Even without blooms it's a handsome plant, with glossy, ribbed leaves that are super attractive.  This is a prized collector's plant that's almost never seen outside of a few botanical gardens.  I don't know anyone currently offering it.

It grows as an epiphyte on trees in the wild, making arching shoots about 3-4 feet long that emerge from a woody caudex.  The thick leaves start out bright green, and then darken a few months later and become heavily ribbed like a seashell.  The flowers clusters can appear throughout most of the year.  These dense clusters appear at each leaf along the ends of each shoot.  Each cluster is about an inch long and contains about 10 to 15 flowers, which open over a long period.  These bottle-shaped blooms are pollinated by hummingbirds in the wild.  After pollination it makes attractive, purple berries which are probably edible, but i can't guarantee it.

Cavendishia axillaris

It grows best between about 50 and 85F (10-29C).  It can tolerate cooler conditions, but it needs protection from frost.  It likes bright, filtered light.  Some direct sun is fine if it isn't very strong.  It prefers a loose, "chunky" soil mix that's slightly acidic.  A typical mix is 1 part small orchid bark, 1 part peat moss or coco fiber, and 1 part perlite, coarse sand, or pumice rock.  Keep the soil evenly moist.  Over about 40-50% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy, durable plant.

 

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Photos used with permission of Martin Grantham

 

 

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Turquoise Puya

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