Botanical Name: Aechmea magdalenae
Subgenus: Aechmea subg. Chevaliera
Species: A. magdalenae
Common Names:Pingwing. Ixtle, Pita plant.
Habitat: Aechmea magdalenae is native to Central America, southern Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador. It grows abundant throughout the forest, often forming dense stands. Forests and thickets, usually found at elevations below 500 metres in Guatemala.
Aechmea magdalenae is an herbaceous perennial plant 1 to 3.5m in height with a typical spread of 1.5 to 2m. It has a short, stout stem with a rosette of leaves sprouting at or near ground level. Its leaves are waxy, thick, and are typically 2.5m long and 5-10cm wide.
An understory, terrestrial bromeliad found in neotropical rainforests from Mexico to Ecuador(Croat 1978). A. magdalenae is an herbaceous perennial 1 to 3.5m in height with a typical spread of 1.5 to 2m. It has a short, stout stem with a rosette of leaves sprouting at or near ground level. Its leaves are waxy, thick, and are typically 2.5m long and 5-10cm wide. Aechmea magdalenae is a shade tolerant plant found in the understory of tropical forests forming dense colonies that can spread to 500m and be found at a density as high as 7 colonies/ha in young forests and 10 colonies/ha in older forests (Brokaw 1983). The plant has been found to grow in areas of higher sunlight, such as in ca nopy gaps and secondary forest growth, and rosette production is higher in these light conditions. However, in low lig ht conditions, leaf extension has been found to be significantly higher (Villeagas 2001) and this is important for harvest of fiber from the leaves. Aechmea magdalenae is typically found in low, wet areas (Croat 1978). Sunlight caused by gaps increases the number of leaves, but if the areas are particularly dry, leaf production sign ificantly decreases.
Fruit – raw or cooked. The fleshy fruits are sweet and very tasty. An acid flavour, they are said to be better when made into beverages. The elliptic to ovate fruits are 5 – 6 cm long, to ca 2 cm. diameter. The yellow fruit becomes orange and soft at maturity.
The juice from the leaves of A. magdalenae has been used by locals as caustic for wounds. Inthe lowland wet forests of Costa Rica, however, the local herbal healers do not rely on this species. In this study,antibacterial and biochemical analyses were conducted on A. magdalenae to document its potential use as amedicinal plant for both the local people in Costa Rica and to the scientific community. Gas chromatography-massspectrometry profiling studies also revealed, acetic acid to be one of the important chemical compound present inhigh probability in A. magdalenae. The antibacterial activity was confirmed by performing agar disc diffusion assayusing various concentrations of acetic acid against bacteria Escherichia coli. Acetic acid clearly demonstratedits antibacterial effect against E. coli. The antibacterial activity of the methanolic extracts of A. magdalenae wastested against Gram-negative (E. coli) and Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus). The methods usedto determine the antibacterial activity of the plant extracts were agar well diffusion assay and 96-well plateassay. In both the assays, gentamicin was used.
A fibre of excellent quality is obtained from the leaves. It is used for making rope and twine. The leaves are retted in water, and fibre is usually extracted by pounding them on stones in running water. It is a very fine and tough fibre, much used for hammocks, bags and string.
Aechmea magdalenae is grown in southern Mexico for its silky fibers.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.