Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hechtia zamudioi



Hechtia zamudioi canyon
Hechtia zamudioi growing with other xerophytic plants
Hechtia zamudioi (Bromeliaceae) is one of the more unique species in the genus. Found only in a single river system and only growing on or between the calcareous rocks in a very curious manner. They seem to just cling off the edge of the rocks like silvery powder puffs.

The leaves are also unique looking as they are very 'straight'. A lot of species will have some curve to some leaves, but the leaves of Hechtia zamudioi are straight and make a nice star burst shape.
(More after the jump)




They grow in very tough, dry desert where all of the plants have to be well adapted for the prolonged dry season every year. As you can see in the photo above the only green plants with leaves are those down close to the river–or in seeps where springs pop out of the sides of the mountains.  The grow with two other species, Hechtia lepidophylla and Hechtia podantha, which is interesting to see the multiple species growing sympatric.
Hechtia zamudioi habitat
Looking up at the rocks they are covered with fuzzy looking plants from the top to the bottom.  With a little bit of magnification you can start seeing the plants a little better.
Hechtia zamudioi habitat
Getting a little closer to the plants you can see how they sometimes just hang off of the rock faces.  How they could survive in such a dry environment growing on a rock is simply amazing.  Most Hechtias have very deep, roaming roots so it is likely that the roots find cracks and crevices between the rocks to get a foot hold.
Hechtia zamudioi barranca

Hechtia zamudioi habitat


Hechtia zamudioi is a species that seems to be quite reluctant to bloom.  With much searching and scrambling around the loose dirt in the canyon I was lucky enough to find a single old female inflorescence that was easily 2 years old.  With lots of careful searching I was able to find a little over a dozen seeds still clinging to the old seed pods.
Hechtia zamudioi flower
An old female inflorescence of Hechtia zamudioi
This species is a great species first collected by a botanist in 1984 and not formally described until 2008.  Sometimes science may move slowly, but sometimes it is worth the wait!  This will surely be a popular plant.
Hechtia zamudioi clinging to the rocks
Hechtia zamudioi clinging to the rocks