This Chilean species was first planted in 1986 in Canada’s Royal Botanical Gardens, and now it is finally blooming for the first time. Officially named Puya chilensis, most people know this two-metre tall plant as the “sheep-eating plant.” Apparently, it’s sharp spikes are not merely defensive; animals become snared in the tangle of spines, becoming unable to shake loose.
But these plants are not carnivorous. Deemed proto-carnivorous, this plant could evolve into a carnivorous plant during its evolutionary timeline. According to one theory, this plant’s trap causes the sheep to starve, die, and decompose, becoming fertilizer to nourish the plant.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a documented account of this, but I’ve read information and literature to the effect that shepherds in Chile will actually burn the plan to protect the flocks,” Alex Henderson, the horticulturalist who tends to the plant, told CBC.
“It’s also noted in a couple very, very renowned scientific texts, as well. And I was actually working with the plant the other day and I nearly cut my hand open on it, so I can imagine if you got caught in that you would never, ever get out again.”
You can check out this prickly plant at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Just keep your pets at a safe distance.