Today’s entry and written accompaniment are both courtesy of Tom Lemieux of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Very much appreciated, Tom – I’m so busy these days that having someone else share the writing is a real treat. This is also a good time to remind folks that photographs taken by people not from UBC are copyright of the respective owner of the image and use is permitted by whatever license the photographer chooses to apply to the image (this is why I always link to the original photographs with Flickr).
“Macleania insignis is a common and widespread species found primarily in lower montane cloud forests from southern Mexico to Costa Rica at elevations of mostly 900-2400m. It is a member of the Ericaceae or rhododendron family and grows as an epiphyte or terrestrial, occasionally even on rocks. A moderate sized shrub (to 2+ m tall), it grows from a caudex or basal swollen stem.”
“This species is the most commonly cultivated Macleania and is offered in some seed catalogs. The specimen photographed here was obtained from the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Florida and grown in the greenhouse for the University of Colorado, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.”
Daniel – Tom added that the reference he used was this factsheet on Macleania insignis via James Luteyn’s and Paola Pedraza-Peñalosa’s Neotropical Blueberries. Definitely check out this photograph of a Macleania insignis lignotuber growing epiphytically (on another plant, in this case, a tree trunk). Also, if you are interested in caudex-forming plants, there’s a forum dedicated to these intriguing growth-forms on the UBC BG forums: Caudiciforms and Pachycaul Trees.