An Eco-sustainable World
ShrubbySpecies Plant

Macleania pentaptera

Macleania pentaptera

The tropical blueberry (Macleania pentaptera Hoerold, 1909) is a shrub species belonging to the Ericaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Ericales Order,
Family Ericaceae,
Tribe Vaccinieae,
Genus Macleania,
Species M. pentaptera.
The terms are synonymous:
– Anthopterus ericae Sleumer;
– Macleania pentaptera var. longicalyx Gilli;
– Macleania sleumeriana A.C.Sm..

Etymology –
The term Macleania is in honor of the 19th century merchant, botany enthusiast and patron of the arts, John Maclean, originally from Lima.
The specific epithet; the specific name pentaptera comes from the Greek “πέντε” (pente), i.e. five and “πτέρυξ” (pteryx), i.e. wing, in reference to the winged chalice.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Macleania pentaptera is a plant native to Ecuador (Cotopaxi, Los Rios and Pichicha areas).
It is an epiphytic plant with habitat on trees in humid forests, at altitudes between 150 and 2100 m.

Description –
Macleania pentaptera is a shrub, branched, epiphytic or terrestrial, which grows with stems between 0.6 and 2.5 m long.
The leaves are alternate, simple, subsessile, oblong-ovate in shape with a chordate base often amplexicaul, obtuse apex, entire margin and veins sunken above and prominent below, of a shiny dark green colour, coriaceous, 7-12 cm long and 2 2-6cm wide.
The inflorescences are formed in an axillary and terminal position, generally hanging, with a rachis up to 4 cm long, with 2-8 fleshy, waxy, orange-red flowers with green apex, rich in nectar. The calyx is obconical, 0.8-1 cm long and about 0.6 cm in diameter, truncated apex with five tiny sharp teeth and five fleshy wings, up to 0.3 cm wide and protruding beyond the apex 0, 3-0.6 cm, persistent and enlarged in fruit. The corolla is tubular, urceolate (enlarged at the base and narrowed towards the apex), pentagonal, 1.7-2.2 cm long and 0.4-0.7 cm wide, with 5 triangular lobes with acute apex, approximately 2 mm, with white pubescent mouth, and 10 stamens.
The flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds.
The fruits are translucent whitish globose berries, about 2 cm in diameter, with a pleasantly sweet flavor and rich in antioxidants.

Cultivation –
Macleania pentaptera is a plant from the montane rainforests of Ecuador that produces vibrant tubular blooms in orange with flared green tips. Even without blooms, it is a beautiful plant, with thick, glossy leaves and a woody, caudex-like base. This is a highly ornamental collector’s plant that is rarely seen in cultivation, even in botanical gardens.
The plant is in fact rare in cultivation, but has great ornamental potential; requires high brightness, but not direct sun. Temperatures must be between 16 and 30 °C, and high humidity, 60-80%.
This plant can be easily grown in a pot with a particularly draining substrate, rich in humus, with the addition of 30% silica sand or agri-perlite, kept constantly humid, but without stagnation. A typical mixture consists of equal parts potting soil, perlite and small orchid bark. Or you can use 2 parts perlite to 1 part coir or peat moss. It is important not to add lime to the mixture, as it likes slightly acidic soil. It is recommended to let it dry halfway between waterings or kept evenly moist, but not constantly soggy. Humidity above about 40% is best. In the right conditions, it is very easy to grow.
Reproduction can take place by seed, in a draining and aerated substrate rich in organic substance kept humid at a temperature of 24-28 °C; it can also be reproduced by cutting.

Customs and Traditions –
Macleania pentaptera is a plant known by some common names; among these we report: tropical blueberry (English); gualicón, hualicón (Ecuador).
It is a plant that grows in nature as an epiphyte on trees, although it can also adapt well to the soil. It forms arching, woody shoots 1 to 4 feet long, which look large when grown in a hanging planter. Its leathery leaves vary in size, but are usually 3 to 5 inches long. The unique blooms appear in waves throughout the year. After flowering it produces translucent white fruits, edible and slightly sweet.
It is a plant whose fruits can be consumed directly.

Preparation Method –
Macleania pentaptera is an epiphytic plant in nature that can be grown as an ornamental plant.
Its fruits are however edible.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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