|Queen of the Andes|
|Puya raimondii flowering in Ayacucho, Peru.|
Pourretia gigantea Raimondi
Puya raimondii, also known as queen of the Andes (English),titanka (Quechua) or puya de Raimondi (Spanish), is the largest species of bromeliad, reaching up to 15 m (50 ft) in height. It is native to the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru.
The first scientific description of this species was made in 1830 by the French scientist Alcide d'Orbigny after he encountered it in the region of Vacas, Cochabamba, in Bolivia at an altitude of 3,960 m (12,990 ft). However, as the plants he saw were immature and not yet flowering, he could not classify them taxonomically.
The species name of raimondii commemorates the 19th-century Italian scientist Antonio Raimondi, who immigrated to Peru and made extensive botanical expeditions there. He encountered this species in the region of Chavín de Huantar and published it as new to science under the name Pourretia gigantea in his 1874 book El Perú In 1928, the name was changed to Puya raimondii by the German botanist Hermann Harms, as the combination Puya gigantea was already used for a Chilean species.
The queen of the Andes is the largest species of bromeliad. Its trunk can be 5 m (16 ft) tall, with a rosette of about two hundred linear leaves, these up to 1.25 m (4 ft) long and about 8 cm (3 in) in width, the leaf spines reaching 1 cm ( in) long. The inflorescence can measure between 4-8 m (13-26 ft) tall. The whole plant may reach as much as 15 m (50 ft) tall. A single plant can produce between 8,000  and 20,000  flowers in a 3 month period.
P. raimondii is native to the Andes of Bolivia and Peru, between 3,000-4,800 m (9,800-15,700 ft) of elevation on shrubby and rocky slopes. This species seem to be very specialist on site conditions as it prefers to grow in small areas even if the surrounding terrain may seem equally suitable, resulting in a patchy distribution of P. raimondii stands. Moreover, in spite of being a high altitude plant, it has thrived at near sea level in temperate climate.