Aechmea nudicaulis key and notes Key to Aechmea nudicaulis

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Aechmea nudicaulis key and notes

Key to Aechmea nudicaulis by Butcher compiled from descriptions as at May 2008, but does not link exactly to plant material in collections. This is confirmed by Harry Luther’s comments – see below and Tanya Wendt’s comments in the Bot Journ of the Linnaean Soc 125: 245-271. 1997.

1.PRIMARY BRACTS – almost white var. nordestina

1a. – red 2

2. PLANT - more than 20 spreading ligulate leaves with red tip var. plurifolia 2a - about 20 erect leaves without red tip 3
3. LEAVES - linear triangular narrowing to a pungent tip var. simulans

Plant similar to A. purpureo-rosea

3a - ligulate forming a loose cylinder 4
4. INFLORESCENCE - dense, leaves banded,floral bracts minute, tips acuminate.

Sepals yellow with pink tip, petals yellow var. capitata

4a - lax 5
5. LEAVES - variegated 6 5a - concolorous 7
6.LEAVES - variegated cuspidata forma tabuleirensis

6a - yellow marginated var. flavo-marginata

7. FLORAL BRACTS - kidney shaped and minute petals yellow var. nudicaulis

7a - triangular or elliptic, relatively conspicuous 8

8. PETALS - wholely yellow 9

8a - red with yellow tip, sepals and ovary red var. aureo-rosea

9. SCAPE BRACTS - smallish, evenly spread on scape var. aequalis

9a - clustered beneath inflorescence petals and sepals yellow

var. cuspidata
Marie Selby Bot Gardens 23 Oct. 1998

Dear Derek;

I hope that you haven’t spent too much time trying to sort out the various names in a key applied to A. nudicaulis. It not worth the effort; in Brasil, especially from around Rio and south is a variable taxon. Most of these names go with populations except for variegated clones, but are probably not biologically significant. I’ve seen living material of all except var. simulans (I’ve seen type material at HB). This has a typical cuspidata inflorescence but with rather narrow, pointed, spiny leaf blades. I should note that almost all of the material I’ve seen from Brazil has floral bracts conspicuous enough to be called var. cuspidata; only West Indian and Mexican & Cent . American (including some Venez & Guyana plants) collections have very reduced or lacking floral bracts. I’ve not made an extensive study but the floral bract size doesn’t seem to correlate with any other features (leaf number, flower color, conformation). Flower color is especially worthless as plants of var. capitata can have aureo-rosea color. In fact the only variation worth noting, in my opinion, is var. capitata with its congested head of erect flowers with a sulcate ovary (=Aechmea sulcata Lindman ???)

Var. plurifolia isn’t that different as plants fitting into that var. may have fewer leaves that are not at all distichous and are spirally arranged; the inflorescence is typical var. cuspidata.

I have about 20 collections of this species from Mexico to Ecuador and Parana/Sao Paulo border area of Brazil. Form from Dominican Rep is odd, somehat resembles simulans.

Yours truly,

Aechmea nudicaulis var. aurea-rosea (Antoine) L B Smith by Derek Butcher in Bromeletter Apl 1998 p13
For years now Peter Franklin and I have been trying to find a true specimen of this plant We knew there was a plant by this name being grown in Australia which had green ovaries, yellow sepals and yellow petals and the leaves were often blotched red or purplish at the nipped-in section between sheath and blade, However. Smith & Downs (Flora Neotropica Bromelioideae. 1979. page 1925) describes the flower as "sepals tinged with red. petals red", We were looking, therefore, for red petals but could never find a plant to exactly match,

In November, 1997 Len Colgan informed me that a photograph of an Aechmea nudicaulis var, aureo-rosea had appeared on the Web page of Charles Dills who is well known to those Bromeliad fans who "surf the net" but were the petals red? Len couldn't discern this so I felt that the time had come to get down to serious investigation.

In Baker's Bromeliaceae (1899. page 63) Aechmea aureo-rosea has reddish-yellow petals, which had me wondering whether L.B. Smith could be wrong. Luckily the Type was not a dried specimen but had been based on a botanical painting made in 1881 which had appeared in the Vienna Illustrated Garden Magazine with a description by Franz Antoine.

Who did I know in Vienna? I wrote to Dr. Walter Till asking him whether he could search for the painting and advise me of his findings.

It was a fantastic Christmas present to get a coloured photograph of the original botanical painting which showed L B Smith to be in error, The petals are clearly yellow with a red base, with the sepals and ovary being a dirty red The written description needed to be translated from German and this agreed with the photograph Now we know what Aechmea nudicaulis var. aureo-rosea should look like and why it was so named.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this saga is that Olwen Ferris had this plant all the time and both Peter and I kept saying "You're nearly right Olwen, it's just that Lyman Smith says, , . , , , , , , ,"!!!

Therefore. the true Aechmea nudicaulis var. aureo-rosea is in Australia but is not that common, although it has the best inflorescence of all the varieties and cultivars of this species, Look out for it but please check the flowers because we know there is at least one imposter around, as mentioned earlier.

This plant is as described in Victoria Padilla’s book Bromeliads ( 1973) and in Baensch' s Blooming Bromeliads ( 1994 ) although Werner Rauh, in Bromeliads for Home, Garden and Greenhouse (1979) follows Lyman Smith.

I will, however, still follow good old Lyman Smith because I have found many more naming errors in Padilla and Baensch!
Registered Cultivars of Aechmea nudicaulis at 10/2007.

Big John


Dee Butt

Good Bands

La Tigra


Mary Hyde


Porto Limon

Rubra (now Xavante)

Silver Streak

White Lightning



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