The plant got its name because of its sharp spines which the plant uses to trap all kinds of animals. In its native Andes Mountains the plant has mainly sheep as victims. The animals suffer a slow death from starvation and after they decay the animals serve as fertilizer for the plant.
British scientists assured the public that the specimen they have in their greenhouse is not on a “ship” diet. Horticulturalist Cara Smith explained that the plant is “growing in the arid section of our glasshouse with its deadly spines well out of reach of both children and sheep alike. We keep it well fed with liquid fertilizer as feeding it on its natural diet might prove a bit problematic”.
Only very few specimens of the Puya chilensis are known to have flowered in the country until now and having the plant finally coaxed into a flower is indeed a rare event.