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The Dyckias

The dyckias are easy to grow. These succulents are members of the bromeliad family. They resemble miniature pineapple plants or agaves. They’re named for Prince Salm-Dyck, a German botanist who was author of a well known book on succulents and a collector of succulents.

These plants are generally native to South and Central America, particularly Brazil. They can be propagated by division or from seeds. The dyckias are often grown as houseplants. In addition, they can be grown outdoors in warm climates. They need temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. These require about the same care as agaves or century plants. So far as care is concerned, these plants need to be kept very dry during the winter when they’re resting. They need a well drained soil.

All of these plants are evergreen. In their native lands, they’re found growing on rocks or in the soil. Adapting to a wide range of different growing
conditions, they occur in mountainous regions and in coastal areas.

The various species can vary somewhat in height. Some are low growing, while others can reach six feet tall and have a stem that resembles a trunk.

Very free flowering, they resemble an agave. But one of the main differences is that the spines along the edges of the leaves of the dyckias are extremely showy. The foliage is narrow and tapers to a sharp, dagger-like point. On the underside of the leaves there are shiny gray scales. The leaves form a rosette. The plants have no stems.

The blossoms can vary somewhat in color, but are often yellow. These open on spikes.

Several species of the dyckias are in cultivation, including the following. Dyckia altissima has particularly spiny leaves. Native to Brazil, this species can reach three feet or so in height. The numerous blossoms open on branched panicles. The yellow flowers have very large floral bracts. The blossoms open during late summer.

Dyckia brevifolia is also native to Brazil. It has shiny, rigid leaves that taper to a sharp point. On the underside the foliage has shiny pearl-like
lines. The blossoms, which are vivid orange, appear on long stalks.

Silver and gold (Dyckia fosteriana) is less than a foot tall. It was originally native to Central America and Brazil. The rosettes are about four inches or so across. The arching, lance-like leaves are eight inches or so long. These are narrow with silver and purple coloring. When the plants are grown in full sun they can turn bronze. Along the edges are very large prominent, sharp silver spines. The blossoms are bright orange.

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