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The Endemic Plants of Chile

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Puya chilensis Molina

  1. Classified in >
  2. genus: Puya >
  3. Family: Bromeliaceae

Place of Publication

Sag. Stor. Nat. Chili: 160-161 (1782)

Type citation

“Chile. Región VIII: Prov.Concepción, Los Perones, acantilado frente al mar, detrás del Cerro Teta Sur, 30 m s. m., 36° 45’S, 73°11’W, 20 Nov 1975, M. Quezada 174” (Neotype designated Zizka et al. 2013: CONC 45034, two sheets; photocopy of CONC specimens: FR-5364, FR-5365). Herbarium and types of Molina unknown.


Common names

  • cardón, chagual, puya

Conservation status

  • Least Concern (Zizka et al. (2009))


  • Zizka et al. (2013): Fig. 1.(c,d,)
  • Descriptions

    • Smith & Downs (1974)
    • Zizka et al. (2013)


    Perennial with flowering stems 4-5 m tall with a compact rosette of leaves. Flowering from August to November.

    Key characteristics

    When in leaf only, Puya chilensis can be confused with P. alpestris subsp. zoellneri however, the lower side of the leaf blade of the latter species is densely covered with silvery scales (lepidote) and in P. chilensis the same type of scales occur on both sides of the leaf blade. It is also closely related to P. gilmartiniae but this species has arching leaves (instead of erect) which are smaller (50-60 x c. 2.5 cm, instead of c. 100 x 5-6 cm) and have woolly hairs along the margins and the bases of the spines.


    Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Metropolitana, Maule and Biobío

    Distribution and habitat

    Distributed in Central Chile, Región Coquimbo (Prov. La Serena) to Región BioBío (Prov. Concepción) from sea level to 900 m. Grows in rocky habitats usually with sclerophyllous vegetation.


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    Seed of this species is banked by the national seed bank of Chile, INIA.


    • Molina (1782)

      Molina, G.I. 1782. Saggio sulla Storia Naturale del Chili. Bologna: Nella stamperia d S. Tommafo d’ Aquino

    • Smith & Downs (1974)

      Smith, L.B. and Downs, R.J. 1974. Flora Neotropica Monograph 14 Pitcairnioideae (Bromeliaceae)

    • Zizka et al. (2009)

      Zizka , G. , Schmidt, M. , Schulte, K. , Nova, P. , Pinto, R. and König, K. 2009. Chilean Bromeliaceae: diversity, distribution and evaluation of conservation status. Biodiversity and Conservation 18: 2449-2471

    • Zizka et al. (2013)

      Zizka, G. , Schneider, J.V. , Schulte, K. and Novoa, P. 2013. Taxonomic revision of the Chilean Puya species (Puyoideae, Bromeliaceae), with special notes on the Puya alpestris-Puya berteroniana species complex. Brittonia 65 (4), 387-407.