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CUENCAENSIS  von Poellnitz, 1935   (engl./ fr.)

First Description (in German) in Fedde's Repertorium Specierum Novarum Regni Vegetabilis, 38: 187. 1935.

Series Racemosae

Type : Rose, Pachano & Rose 22941 (US 1022515), vicinity of Cuenca, Ecuador.

Etymology : Referring to the type locality.

Distribution : Ecuador (Prov. Azuay, Cuenca), Peru (Dept. Cajamarca). 

Description by G. Pino (Haseltonia 15, 2009) :

A succulent glabrous herb with a single rosette.

Roots many, fibrous, 1.5 - 3 mm diameter.

Stem absent.

Rosette  9.5 – 18 cm in diameter.

Leaves  30 – 45, sessile, succulent, oblong-obovate, 4 – 8 cm long, 1.8 – 3 cm wide 2 cm from apex, 2 - 3.5 cm wide at middle, 1.5 - 2.7 cm wide at base, 4 – 10 mm thick, upper side flat to slightly concave, bright green, darker on apical third near margins where exposed, lower side convex or obscurely keeled, with a minute deltoid mucro at apex, 1.5 x 1.5 mm, margins rounded.

Flowering stem with 1 – 3 equilateral racemes, nodding at first, then erect, rachis 25 - 35 cm long, 5 - 6 mm diameter at base, 1.3 - 2.8 mm diameter at apex, light green to glaucous, pink where exposed. Peduncular bracts 35 - 45, erect, present from above the proximal 6 - 10 cm all along rachis, attached every 0.8 - 1.5 cm, widely ovate to oblong, (1-) 1.5 - 2.5 cm long, 1 - 1.3 cm wide, 2 - 3 mm thick, inner side concave, outer side convex and keeled, bright green to glaucous, reddish at the acute tip, mucronate, with a trilobed transparent spur at the base. Pedicels 3 - 5 mm long, 1.5 - 1.8 mm diameter.

Flowers 25 – 35, appearing in habitat from June to July, only along the distal half, 1 - 1.4 cm long and 6 - 6.5 mm diameter. Calyx lobes united at base,spreading, sepals triangular, acute, 4 – 5 x 3 – 4 mm, bright green to glaucous with a reddish tip. Corolla ovoid, pentagonal, petals oblong, acuminate, 1.1 - 1.2 cm long, 2.1 - 2.5 mm wide, outer surface cream at base, then yellow, reddish towards tips and margins, keeled, apex uncinate, recurving.....

Note :

1. The type species has been collected by Rose and two of his assistants in the vicinity of Cuenca, Ecuador, in September 1918. However Rose himself did not describe it and most likely his plant has never been in cultivation. It was Poellnitz who in 1935 made a description after a herbarium specimen from the Botanical Garden of Berlin. He did not know whether the plant had a stem or was acaulescent and he also did not know the colour of the flowers.

2. On a recent expedition this species - previously only known from Ecuador - has also been found in Peru and the above description by G. Pino is from a living plant collected in Peru. The main difference between Poellnitz' description and that of Pino : Poellnitz described the leaves of the dried plant as greyish (~pruinose) while the leaves of the live plant are bright green.

3. As a result of Poellnitz' wrong interpretation of the leaf surface, greyish-pruinose plants subsequently have been identified as E. cuencaensis, and Flora of Ecuador, 2004, has even reclassified E. cuencaensis as a synonym of E. quitensis - which certainly would not have happened if the true E. cuencaensis had been known. This means that so-called "E. cuencaensis" in present-day collections may rather be imposters than the true species of which it is unknown whether it has already been propagated and distributed.

4. So thanks to Pino we now know how E. cuencaensis looks like and, even more interesting, that it is  almost not different from E. excelsa and could well be conspecific with the latter or at least deserve a subspecific status unter E. excelsa.

5. Moreover Pino also calls attention to the fact, that both, E. cuencaensis and E. excelsa, are similar to E. andicola (described by the same author in 2005).

6. Whether either the cytology of  n =  ± 100 (according to Kimnach 2003) or that of n = 200  indicated by Uhl (Haseltonia 13, 2007) is correct for E. cuencaensis is unknown - the specimen Uhl had at his disposition was a pruinose plant collected by Rauh in Ecuador and tentatively named E. cuencaensis.

Link to a summary of Pino's description in French.

Photos Gerhard Köhres

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