During my recent ride on the Nariz del Diablo train, I sat next to a beautiful biologist. The company of a pretty, intelligent woman enhances any experience and in this particular instance I was able to find the answer to a question that’s been frustrating me. Namely, what the name of the plant pictured above is.
Some bromeliads growing on the walls of Quito
I’ve seen these large, fierce-looking growths throughout Ecuador, but attempts to discover their official name have since been unsuccessful. My Spanish is far too elementary to get any reliable information from a local and plant identification sites on the internet are surprisingly unhelpful if you don’t quite know what to search for. Nevertheless, I have found my answer. They are a type of Bromeliad of the family Bromiliacea, can thrive in harsh desert in environments, are closely related to the pineapple, and are so efficient at retaining water that frogs are often found living inside them, attracted to their moist stems. I was curious because of their surprising size and durability, they stick out in environments that would seem unable to support such robust plant life. And so while a passionate, international love affair with my gorgeous Dutch/Belgian seatmate may never materialize, I do have her to thank for this new-found piece of botanical trivia.