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Encholirium agavoides

This striking new species of bromeliad was discovered during conservation-based fieldwork in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Encholirium agavoides

Encholirium agavoides

Species information

Scientific name: 

Encholirium agavoides Forzza & Zappi

Conservation status: 

Rated by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as Vulnerable (D2).


Campos rupestres (montane subtropical savanna).

Known hazards: 

The leaves of this species are spiny at the edges.


Genus: Encholirium

About this species

Encholirium agavoides is a silver-leaved bromeliad which occurs in a very specific habitat, within an area of less than 10 km². The population of this species is just 10 - 12 km away from another new species (E. ctenophyllum). These two species are cut off from one another by the steep descent to the gorge of the Rio das Pedras. This river divides the municipalities of Santana de Pirapama (where E. agavoides is found) and Santana do Riacho (where E. ctenophyllum occurs).


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Geography and distribution

Encholirium agavoides is restricted to the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. This species is a narrow endemic, occurring only in a very limited area on the west slope of the Serra do Cipó, at or around 1,500 metres above sea level. It is found forming large populations growing on top of flat to slightly inclined arenitic/quartzitic rocks.

Of the 23 species of Encholirium, nine are restricted to the ‘campos rupestres’ of the Cadeia do Espinhaço in Minas Gerais, and seven of these are narrow endemics in the region of Diamantina and Serra do Cipó. The discovery of more narrowly endemic species in this relatively well explored area of the Cadeia do Espinhaço highlights the complexity of the micro-habitats and the high plant diversity and endemism of the ‘campos rupestres’.


This striking new silver-leaved species of bromeliad bears a resemblance to an agave. It has rosettes of leaves up to 12 cm wide, with silvery-white, triangular leaves that are spiny along the edges.

The green to yellowish flowers are borne in terminal spikes and are densely packed at the end of the inflorescence (flower-bearing structure).

The fruits are brown and capsular, with minute seeds. This species is thought to be pollinated by insects, and the seeds dispersed by the wind.

Threats and conservation

This plant is a narrow endemic (occurs only in a very limited area) and is hence vulnerable to climate change, fire and habitat destruction.

References and credits

Giulietti, A. M., Harley, R. M., Queiroz, L. P., Wanderley, M. G. L., Pirani, J. R. (2000). Caracterização e endemismos nos campos rupestres da Cadeia do Espinhaço. In Tópicos Atuais de Botânica (T.B. Cavalcanti & B.M.T. Walter, eds.). EMBRAPA Recursos Genéticos, Brasília, p.311-318.

Kew Science Editor: Daniela Zappi
Kew contributors: Nigel Taylor
Copy editing: Emma Tredwell
Kew would like to thank the following contributors: Rafaela Forzza (curator, Herbarium of the Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro), Charles Frewen, Renato de Mello-Silva.

While every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these pages is reliable and complete, the notes on hazards, edibility and suchlike included here are recorded information and do not constitute recommendations. No responsibility will be taken for readers’ own actions.

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