Meet Oregon City's largest bromeliad
Alcantarea imperialis, one of the worlds largest bromeliads, is blooming at Oregon Citys Rare Plant Research.
Native to the hills near Rio de Janiero, Brazil, the plant grows 4 feet to 6 feet wide, and the bloom stalk grows up to 10 feet high. Burl Mostul, Rare Plant Research founder, says it grows on rocky cliffs and the roots attach to the rock face that holds the rosette upright.
It is spectacular for many months and, if pollinated, produces large quantities of seed, Mostul said. It takes about 20 years for the plant to mature and flower and after (three to four months of) flowering, it dies.
Its roots do not absorb nutrients like most plants, but serve simply to anchor the plants. Water and nutrients fill the cupped leaves and can hold many gallons of water. Mosquito larva hatch in the water and frogs inhabit the plant and eat the larva. If there are no frogs, mosquitoes can be a problem.
This plant is rare in Southern California, but is slightly more common in Southern Florida. It is most common in Hawaii, where it is used in the landscape, but not often encountered.
Years ago, plants began to be collected from the wild for the tropical-landscape industry, Mostul said. Large areas were stripped, and now it is less plentiful in habitat. Most plants that remain grow on steep inaccessible cliffs.
Besides Rare Plant Research, there are several nurseries in Hawaii and Florida that propagate the bromeliad.