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puyaplantPlant Heritage is delighted to welcome a brand new Collection of Puya, hardy and half hardy, to its nationwide programme of National Plant Collections.

The Collection has been established at Ventnor Botanic Gardens and was started some 13 years ago when it was felt that the Garden’s exceptionally mild micro climate was the perfect location to grow these plants in a sustainable way outside.

According to Ventnor Garden curator, Chris Kidd, most Puya grown in the UK need to be housed in heated greenhouses due to the risk of frost, but the benefit of the climate at Ventnor means that the gardens hardly ever experience a frost.

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Speaking on the Collection Chris says:

“Since May 2000 our accession policy has accelerated at Ventnor to pursue species untried in the UK climate or on the verge of hardiness. The National Collection of Puya is as a result of this policy, and in recognition of the potential of this site.”

Chris has been working closely with Dr John David from the RHS and Kew on the many taxonomic issues that are associated with Puya. Chris is also in touch with specialists in Germany and Chile who are helping with his work on establishing good scientific records for known provenance taxa. He is keen to hear from anyone who has plants of good provenance.

Puya is a genus of the botanical family Bromeliaceae and are native to the Andes Mountains of South America and Southern Central America. Many are monocarpic, whereby the parent plant dies after its flower and seed production cycle. The name Puya comes from the Mapuche Indian word meaning point, which is very appropriate if you have ever tried to get close to a Puya.

Speaking on the new Collection Plant Heritage conservation officer, Mercy Morris said:

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“ I am very pleased, on behalf of Plant Heritage, to celebrate the arrival of the Puya collection; firstly because as a single genus it is currently unrepresented in the Collections, and secondly because it is a pleasure to see Collections being held at Ventnor again. We look forward to seeing more in the future.”

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