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Encholirium ctenophyllum

This new species of bromeliad, with comb-like leaves, was discovered during conservation-based fieldwork in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Encholirium ctenophyllum

Encholirium ctenophyllum

Species information

Scientific name: 

Encholirium ctenophyllum Forzza & Zappi

Conservation status: 

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


Campos rupestres (montane subtropical savanna), at 1,000 to 1,200 m above sea level, on or amongst inclined arenitic/quartzitic rocks.

Known hazards: 

The leaves of this species have long spines at the edges.


Genus: Encholirium

About this species

Encholirium ctenophyllum is a newly discovered species of bromeliad with comb-like leaves, and occurs in a very specific habitat, within an area of less than 10 km2. The population of this species is just 10 to 12 km away from another new species (E. agavoides). 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).


Discover more

Geography and distribution

Encholirium ctenophyllum is restricted to the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. It is a narrow endemic (found in a very limited area), occurring only on the west slope of the Serra do Cipó. This species is found at 1,000 to 1,200 m above sea level, in populations growing on top of, or amongst, inclined arenitic/quartzitic rocks. This species is found growing alongside Cipocereus pleurocarpus, Vellozia spp. and Encholirium subsecundum.

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’.


Overview: This species has rosettes of leaves up to 12 cm wide, with long leaves that are recurved (curved backwards).

Leaves: The leaves are silvery to reddish in colour, triangular in shape and have long spines along the edges.

Flowers: The green to yellowish flowers are borne in terminal spikes, and are densely packed at the end of the inflorescence.

Fruits: 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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