Friday, October 5, 2012

Aechmea chantinii - A Bromeliad of Distinction

Bromeliads require very little soil or none at all to grow. Actually the roots are for attachment of the plants to surfaces. They can then be planted in tiny pots with no ill effects. This is unlike most container plants in the tropics which have to be grown in large pots to counter water loss. The flowers are gorgeous and last like forever.

An Aechmea chantinii in full bloom is a sight to behold.

The flower bud wrapped up mummy-like gives little indication of the blooming beauty that it will one day transformed into.

The dramatic scarlet bracts unfurled to reveal several spikes of red-yellow flowers. The stiff upright leaves have silvery horizontal bands, giving it the moniker of Amazonian Zebra Plant. Thorns are found along the edge the leaves.
The flower which is single need not envy the thorns that are numerous -Rabindranath Tagore

Dark coloured fruits are formed at the ends of some flowers. Propagation is easily achieved with suckers which sprout easily from the base of plants after flowering.

During the day several common garden snails such as the one above can be seen nestling in the plant's depths. The whorls of upright leaves formed a fortress of thorns protecting it. I actually gave up trying to pick it out as the snail's conical shape does not allow for a good grip and the thorns pierced my hand. I have to wait for nightfall to complete the job. 

At dusk this snail emerged to forage for food. This is the time to handpick it.

It moved down the length of the leaf and also did some crossovers to other leaves.

Ouch, ouch ... here it is performing its feat. Whoever says that scattering broken eggshells to deter snails have not come across this thick-soled mollusc.

These vivious looking thorns are actually very hard and sharp. I have actually comtemplated on tossing this bromeliad into the compost bin each time I got stabbed by the thorns.

 As this Aechmea chantinii was planted next to a clump of Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansievara trifasciata), it decided to cross over to that too.

 After crossing the saw-toothed edge of the Aechmea chantinii, the edge of Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansievara trifasciata) is just a piece of cake.

Snails are literally crawling all over my garden and even on my porch. One even have the audacity to explore my plant cutter. It probably wanted to supplement its diet with some iron.

Posted from Cork, Ireland (I'm on a one-month sojourn in Ireland for the whole month of October)


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