Aechmea ‘Covata’ and Covata too’

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Aechmea ‘Covata’ and Covata too’ in J. Brom. Soc. 49(4): 182-3. 1999

Did you know that there are two forms of Aechmea 'Covata' in Southern California and both are correctly named UNDER THE OLD RULES?

Let me explain. Under the old rules of manual hybridizing, if a species was crossed with another species and the resultant grex was given a name then this name would apply to all crossings. It did not matter which one was the seed parent or if different varieties were used. " Rules were rules"'.
I know that in Australia in the 1970 's the likes of Grace Goode and Bill Morris complained about the differences you got by swapping the role of the parent plant. However, the wheels of officialdom grind exceedingly slow and only in 1995 did we see the lntemational Code of Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants eventually swing to the naming of individual clones. Why oh why didn't we have this in the 1970's?
Let us return to the problem at hand. In 1982 I purchased an Aechmea 'Covata' at the Orange County Bromeliad Show in Los Angeles. It had an inflorescence sunk in the leaf rosette and we assumed that Hummel had crossed Aechmea recurvata var. ortgiesii or var. benrathii with Aechmea comata. This hybrid is now widespread around Australia. A repeat of this cross was done by Keith Bradtberg here in Adelaide in 1988 using Aechmea recurvata var. recurvata which produced a long scaped inflorescence. Two clones were selected and called 'Keith's Comet' and 'Golden Comet'.
In 1998 I invested in a Computer and "surfed the net" and was surprised to find a different Aechmea 'Covata' in the photos on the Florida Council Web pages' from Pamela Koide of Birdrock Tropicals. This had an inflorescence well above the leaf rosette. The parents could easily be Aechmea recurvata and Aechmea comata but the elongated scape indicated Aechmea recurvata var. recurvata as the other parent. Harvey Kendall of Los Angeles remembers my foray into the USA and believes that the form with the hidden inflorescence originated with Hummel. We also know from Bill Baker of California Gardens Nursery that there were at least two distinct forms. The more impressive form is undoubtedly the one where the inflorescence stands proud and tall.
Now that we are aware that there are at least two forms I suggest we call the hidden inflorescence form 'Covata Too' to distinguish the two! Why am I doing this? It is hoped that mail order purchasers of this plant will not be disappointed when they get the hidden inflorescence form when they were expecting the exserted form and vice versa. It is also hoped that photographic references on the Internet will help future purchasers in deciding what they want to buy.
To add to the intrigue we know of yet another possible 'comata x recurvata ' plant. It was "collected" by Chester Skotak in Seidel's nursery in Brazil and found its way to Australia as an unnamed species. It was named Aechmea 'Flaming Star' and seems even brighter than Aechmea 'Covata'.
So the long-scaped Aechmea 'Covata' should retain this name but if the inflorescence is hidden in the leaf rosette, would you please change your label to Aechmea 'Covata Too'.

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