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Accepted Scientific Name: Aechmea distichantha Lem.
Jard. Fleur. 3: t. 269 (1853), nom. cons.
Growing habit, Paraguay.
Origin and Habitat: Aechmea distichantha is a native of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay & Argentina.. Here occasionally also cultivated.
Altitude range: 740- 2,400 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: This species is an epiphytic, lithophytic or terrestrial herb widely distributed in the understory of Cerrado woodlands (Brazilian savannah) often on patches of the palms Scheelea phalerata and Bactris glaucescens tougher with other ground-cover vegetation such as Bauhinia pentandra, Bromelia serra, Bromelia balansae, and cacti such as: the firecracker cactus or scarlet bugler (Cleistocactus baumanii) and Cereus peruvianus, just to cite some of the more common. It can tolerate harsh conditions. This bromeliad is also common in the Atlantic Rain Forest and is considered a generalist or pioneer epiphyte. “Plants show different morphologies when growing in different habitats, but they also vary in their morphology with plant size... ...Understorey plants are taller and had larger diameters, whereas sun plants had more leaves, larger sheath area, sheath biomass and sheath mass fraction.” . Flowers are pollinated the most by the hummingbird Stephanoxis lalandi and the most common butterfly visitor is Lychnuchoides ozias ozias.
- Aechmea distichantha Lem.
Aechmea distichantha Lem.
Jard. Fleur. 3: t. 269 (1853), nom. cons.
- Aechmea distichantha Lem.
- Aechmea distichantha var. typica L.B.Sm.
- Hohenbergia distichantha (Lem.) Baker
- Hoplophytum distichanthum (Lem.) Beer
- Platyaechmea distichantha (Lem.) L.B.Sm. & W.J.Kress
- Quesnelia distichanta (Lem.) Lindm.
- Aechmea brasiliensis Regel
- Aechmea distichantha f. albiflora L.B.Sm.
- Platyaechmea distichantha f. albiflora (L.B.Sm.) L.B.Sm. & W.J.Kress
- Aechmea excavata Baker
- Aechmea polystachia var. excavata (Baker) Mez
- Aechmea hookeri Lem.
- Aechmea microphylla Mez
- Aechmea myriophylla E.Morren ex Baker
- Aechmea platyphylla Hassl.
- Aechmea polystachia var. myriophylla Hassl.
- Aechmea polystachya (Lindl. & Paxton) Mez
- Billbergia polystachya Lindl. & Paxton
- Hoplophytum polystachyum (Lindl. & Paxton) Beer
- Tillandsia polystachia Vell.
- Aechmea polystachya var. longifolia A.Cast.
- Billbergia distichostachya Lem.
- Nidularium hydrophorum Rojas Acosta
Aechmea distichantha var. glaziovii (Baker) L.B.Sm.
Arq. Bot. Estado Sao Paulo 2(1): 102 (1943).
- Aechmea distichantha var. glaziovii (Baker) L.B.Sm.
- Aechmea glaziovii Baker
- Hoiriri polystachya (Baker) Kuntze
- Platyaechmea distichantha var. glaziovii (Baker) L.B.Sm. & W.J.Kress
- Aechmea minor E.Morren
- Aechmea pulchella E.Morren ex Mez
- Aechmea regelii Mez
Aechmea distichantha var. schlumbergeri E.Morren ex Mez
Fl. Bras. (Martius) 3(3): 343 (1892).
- Aechmea distichantha var. schlumbergeri E.Morren ex Mez
- Platyaechmea distichantha var. schlumbergeri (E.Morren ex Mez) L.B.Sm. & W.J.Kress
- Aechmea grandiceps (Griseb.) Mez
- Chevaliera grandiceps Griseb.
- Aechmea involucrifera Mez
- Aechmea polystachia var. longifolia A.Cast.
- Aechmea rubra Silveira
Aechmea distichantha var. vernicosa E.Pereira
Bradea 2: 308 (1979).
- Aechmea distichantha var. vernicosa E.Pereira
- Platyaechmea distichantha var. vernicosa (E.Pereira) L.B.Sm. & W.J.Kress
ENGLISH: Distichous-flowered Aechmea, vase plant, Brazilian vaseplant, Bromeliad
ASTURIAN (Asturianu): caraguatá, cardu chuza, planta vasu
PORTUGUESE (Português): planta vaso, caraguatí, caraguatá chuza, caraguatá, Caraguatá chuza, Cardo chuza, Payo
SPANISH (Español): caraguatá, planta vaso, cardo chuza
Description: Aechmea distichantha is an evergreen, basal-rosetted, terrestrial or rhizomatous bromeliad (Plant diameter 140-280 cm and height 50-100 cm). It produces dense, erect rosettes of narrow, straplike, round-lipped, arching leaves that can reach 1 m long. The small violet-blue flowers are arranged in distichous (distinctly two-ranked) floral spikes which lasts up to a month. The white-felted, pink floral bracts are attached to the stalk by most of their margins, forming characteristic cups. They are very striking in full bloom.
Leaves: 30-100 cm, forming a very dense rosette, dull green above, grey and covered with a membrane of fused scales beneath. Sheaths usually much wider than the blades, toothed toward the apex, entire elsewhere; blades 2.5-8 cm wide, rounded and short-tipped. margins with stout spines 3-5 mm long.
Inflorescences : The flower stalk (scape) is slender (about 25-45 cm long) white-woolly. The inflorescence is a spike composed of a cluster of showy bracts. The inflorescence is always bipinnate, dense or loose, ovoid to cylindrical, 10-22 cm long 7-10 cm diameter, pink and white-woolly, except for the petals and lasts about a months. The spikes erect to spreading, the laterals with 2-12 stalk-less flowers in 2 ranks, the terminal with more and many-ranked flowers. The floral bracts are entire, connected to the stem by their margins for most of their length, forming a cup. The number of flowers per inflorescence varies from 70 to 330, with 5-10 open flowers inflorescence-1 at any given moment.
Flowers: Tubular. Sepals 5-13 mm. free or shortly united, asymmetric. Petals purple or blue. “Aechmea distichantha is self-compatible with 30-45% fruit formation in self-pollination tests” .
Phenology: Blooming season (in habitat) from June to September and fruiting from June to October. Flower anthesis lasts only one day.
Fruits: 60-310 x inflorescence, ripening approximately 40 days after flowering. Each fruit sets about 120 seeds. This production results in an average of 15,000 seeds inflorescence!
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Aechmea distichantha group
- Aechmea distichantha Lem.: (var. distichantha). Distribution: Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay.
- Aechmea distichantha var. glaziovii (Baker) L.B.Sm.: Distribution: southeastern Brazil.
- Aechmea distichantha var. schlumbergeri E.Morren ex Mez: Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay.
- Aechmea distichantha var. vernicosa E.Pereira: Distribution: Rio de Janeiro State.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) William Curtis “The Botanical Magazine: Or, Flower Garden Displayed Etc,” Volume 90, 5447, Couchman, 1864
2) Robert Geneve “A Book of Blue Flowers”Timber Press, 2000
3) Lauchlan H. Fraser, Paul A. Keddy “The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation” Cambridge University Press, 10 June 2005
4) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey, J. M. H. Shaw “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11 August 2011
5) Rauh “Bromeliads” t. 71 (1979); Brickell (ed.)
6) Christopher Brickell “RHS A—Z Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers” 81 (Dorling Kindersley Ltd, 01 September 2010)
7) Borgo, M. & Silva, S.M. 2003. “Epífitos vasculares em fragmentos de Floresta Ombrófila Mista, Curitiba, Paraná, Brasil.” Revista Brasileira de Botânica 26(3): 391-401.
8) Cavallero, L., López, D. and Barberis, I. M. (2009), “Morphological variation of Aechmea distichantha (Bromeliaceae) in a Chaco forest: habitat and size-related effects.” Plant Biology, 11: 379–391. doi:10.1111/j.1438-8677.2008.00123.x
9) Edward F. Gilman “Aechmea distichantha Bromeliad” Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. retrieved on 02 April 2017 from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp015
10) Gilson João Scrok, Isabela Varassin “Reproductive biology and pollination of Aechmea distichantha Lem. (Bromeliaceae)” Acta Botanica Brasilica 25(3):571-576 · September 2011 DOI: 10.1590/S0102-33062011000300009 Universidade Federal do Paraná https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262619284_Reproductive_biology_and_pollinatin_of_Aechmea_distichantha_Lem_Bromeliaceae
11) Lorenzi H; Souza HM. 1998. “Plantas ornamentais no Brasil: arbustivas, herbáceas etrepadeiras.” Nova Odessa: Instituto Plantarum. 719P
12) Bert TM; Luther HE. 2005. “Aechmea information”. Mulford B. Foster, Bromeliad
Identification Center. Disponível em: <http://fcbs.org/articles/Aechmea_spp_table.pdf>.
Retrieved 02 April 2017.
13) Pierce, S., & R.A. Gottsberger. 2001. “Observations of hummingbird visits to bromeliads in the Cerro Jefe cloud forest, Panama”. JBS 51: 25-34
Cultivation and Propagation: Aechmea distichantha is a sometime cultivated due to the beauty of the foliage and of the inflorescence and the facility of cultivation. It a good ground cover in xeric gardens. This species will grows on rocks or on top of the ground but it will grow faster if rooted in well drained soil.
Growing substrate: It requires a well-drained, aerated, gritty, humus rich, neutral to acidic, and moisture-retentive substratum (e.g. 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite).
Exposition: It will grow in any exposure from full sun to full shade. Growth is faster and the leaves are more rigid in full sun..
Watering: In summer it enjoys constant moderate waterings from rain or sprinkler, but allow the plant to dry in-between waterings, and reduced in winter. However it is quite drought-tolerant. Requires complete and perfect drainage as root rot can be a problem if the soil is too moist.
Fertilizing: Fertilize every 4-week during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. Apply mild solutions (one-quartet strength) of foliar fertilizer at 3-month intervals to both garden and container plants.
Hardiness: This Bromelia does not like the cold. It is cultivated in open air in the tropical and subtropical climate countries, with temperatures which it is good to keep over the 14°C, best 20-24°C , but can withstand light frost for short periods if very dry (hardy down to -2, even if with damage to the foliage) in these situations it will better resist if sheltered by the winter rains, seen that the humidity and low temperatures render it more sensitive to rottenness. Plants in containers however, suffered major leaf loss. USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11
Pest & diseases: It is susceptible to scale, trips and mosquitos that will sometimes breed in the pools of water that are trapped between the leaves. Mealybugs infestations and fungal leaf spots are also a frequent problem.
Pruning: Remove old leaves from plant base and dead flower spikes only. Remove older plant crown when it begins to fade.
Ornamental uses: Mass planting; container or above-ground planter; border or ground cover; suitable for growing indoors.
Propagation: Remove and replant offshoots from around the parent plant in late spring or early summer. Sow seed at 27ºC as soon as ripe.
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