Rare Andean Plant ‘Sappire Tower’ Blooms at BBG

We are excited to share that a truly rare event is taking place in the Arid Glasshouse. If you visit the Gardens you’ll be able to witness the blooming of the Puya alpestris, an otherworldly plant from the Chilean Andes, which can take up to a decade to flower and then dies.

Rare Andean Plant 'Sappire Tower' Blooms at BBG

What makes this plant so special?

Imagine a plant so exquisite, it takes up to a decade to flower, and when it does, it here for just a fleeting moment. This is the magic of the Puya alpestris, a fascinating member of the bromeliad family, distantly related to the pineapple. Native to the mountainous regions of central and southern Chile, where it thrives at elevations of up to 2,200 meters. Its alien-like appearance, coupled with its spectacularly coloured hues, has earned it the affectionate nickname ‘sapphire tower’.

Rare Andean Plant 'Sappire Tower' Blooms at BBG

A hummingbird or paintbrush

In the wild, this remarkable plant relies on hummingbirds to collect its nectar-rich pollen, ensuring its survival. However, here at The Gardens, Senior Glasshouse Horticulturist, Alberto Trinco, delicately uses a small paintbrush to collect the precious pollen. As Alberto explains, “Each flower only lasts a few days, giving us a limited window of time to give nature a helping hand. In the absence of its natural pollinators, we will attempt some hand pollination instead.”

Rare Andean Plant 'Sappire Tower' Blooms at BBG

Securing a Legacy

Having arrived at the Gardens over 20 years ago, the Puya alpestris is a cherished member of the living collection. “It is very slow-growing, so to witness its spectacular blooms is both exciting and rare,” says Alberto. “Hopefully, pollinating the flowers with the brush to obtain seeds will allow us to secure the presence of this amazing species in our collection for future generations to come and admire.”

This is a once-a-decade opportunity experience not to be missed! Be sure to visit the Gardens in the next week to see the flower in bloom. Otherwise you might be awaiting until 2034 to see it again!

Seize this once-in-a-decade opportunity!

Come and experience the magic of nature for yourself and plan your visit within the next week to catch a glimpse of this remarkable flower in bloom. Otherwise, you could be waiting until 2034 or longer for another chance to see it!

Click here to book your ticket