Dyckia (2013)

By Eric Driskill (November 2013)

Dyckia is in the family Bromeliaceae, subfamily Pitcairnioideae. The genus name honors a Prussian botanist, botanical artist and horticulturalist: the prince and earl of Salm Reifferscheid-Dyck (1773-1861). The subfamily Pitcairnioideae has some of the most primitive bromeliad species.

Most of these plants are saxicolous, growing on or around rocks; or terrestrial, growing in the ground. The genus Dyckia has 120 or more species that are mostly native to Brazil, with some species found in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia. The plants grow in sunny areas ranging in altitude from sea level up to 2,100 meters. As bromeliads go, dyckias are one of the most cold-hardy of the genera.

Succulent collectors have several reasons to include dyckias in their collections, despite the plants having no internal water storage tissue. Dyckias are xerographic and survive long periods of drought by going dormant. Like some of our other plants, dyckias are also armed with stiff and thorny leaves arranged in rosettes. When repotting or separating a clump of these plants, you may look like you have wrestled with a wild cat if you are not careful. Razor wire envies some species of Dyckia.

Dyckia flowers usually appear in the spring, when you are rewarded with multiple red, yellow or orange flowers on a thin stalk, which emerges from the side of the plant. Leaves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, colors and spines. Hybridizers have done extensive work with dyckias – you can now find possibly hundreds of options to consider adding to your collection.

Dyckias like full sun with temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees F, but can withstand temperatures lower and higher than that range. Consider adding one to your collection as long as you acknowledge the hobby hazard of their fierceness and tend with caution.