Flowery exclamation point, a ‘Puya Raimondii’ punctuates an isolated granite height. Only after 150 years of growth does this world’s tallest herb, an Andean cousin of the pineapple, shoot skyward from a spiny base. It dwarfs in age even the largest of Mexico’s agaves, popularly called century plants. Atop a ladder, a man plucks one of the 8,000 blossoms on the 30-foot-high spire, which dies even as it blooms.
National Geographic - February, 1966
Puyas are the coolest. I’ve seen a Puya berteroniana in bloom before and it was marvelous.
Publication info Cambridge, MA :J. Wilson and son,1887. BHL Collections: Engelmann Herbarium
The wikipedia article for the man is delightful: “The death of his wife on January 29, 1879, greatly affected him. He turned to plants, seeking relief in study, but life and a continuance of its labors seemed to be almost hopeless. His condition changed but little during the remainder of the winter, but when in the spring C. S. Sargent came with the proposition that he should join him in a journey through the forests of the Pacific Coast region he accepted it. That journey, although a difficult one for a man of his age, was of great benefit to him physically. His shattered spirit also was much revived and, among his friends, he resumed and sustained his lifelong habit of cheerfulness of manner.”