Macleania pentaptera

Family : Ericaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini



The species is native to Ecuador (Cotopaxi, Los Rios and Pichicha) where it usually grows as epiphyte on the trees of the humid forests between the 150 and the 2100 m of altitude.

The genus is honoured to the merchant, botanical passionate and patron of the XIX century, John Maclean of Lima; the specific name is the combination of the Greek numeral adjective “πέντε” (pente) = five and of the substantive “πτέρυξ” (pteryx) = wing, wuth reference to the winged calyx.

Common names: tropical blueberry (English); gualicón, hualicón (Ecuador).

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Epiphytic or terrestrial ramified shrub, of 0,6-2,5 m, Macleania pentaptera is native to the Ecuador humid forests, between 150 and 2100 m of altitude © Giuseppe Mazza

The Macleania pentaptera Hoerold (1909) is a ramified epiphytic or terrestrial shrub with 0,6-2,5 m long stems and alternate leaves, simple, subsessile, oblong-ovate with cordate base often amplexicaul, obtuse apex, entire margin and veins sunken above and prominent below, of glossy dark green colour, coriaceous, 7-12 cm long and 2,2-6 cm broad.

Axillar and terminal inflorescences usually drooping, up to 4 cm long rachis, with 2-8 fleshy flowers, waxy, of orange red colour with green apex, rich of nectar. Obconical calyx, 0,8-1 cm long and of about 0,6 cm of diameter, truncated apex with five acute tiny teeth and five fleshy wings, up to 0,3 cm broad and beyond the apex 0,3-0,6 cm, persistent and enlarged when in fruit. Tubulose corolla, urceolate (enlarged at the base and narrower towards the apex), pentagonal, 1,7-2,2 cm long and 0,4-0,7 cm broad, with 5 triangular lobes with acuteapex, about 2 mm long, with white pubescent fauces, and 10 stamina. The flowers are pollinated by the hummingbirds. The fruits are whitish translucent globose berries, of about 2 cm of diameter, with a pleasantly sweet taste a nd rich of antioxidants.

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Axillar inflorescences with 2-8 fleshy small flowers, waxy, of orange red colour with green apex, rich of nectar, pollinated by the hummingbirds © Giuseppe Mazza

It reproduces by seed, in draining and aerated loam rich of organic substance maintained humid at the temperature of 24-28 °C, and by cutting.

Species rare in cultivation, but of extremely high ornamental potential, requires high luminosity, but not direct sun, intermediate temperatures, 16-30 °C, and high humidity, 60-80 %. It can be easily cultivated in pot with particularly draining loam, rich of humus, with addition of siliceous sand or agriperlite per a 30 %, maintained constantly humid, but without stagnations.

Synonyms: Macleania sleumeriana A.C. Sm. (1950); Macleania pentaptera var. longicalyx Gilli (1983).


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