Aechmea nudicaulis

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Cultivar Corner

Aechmea nudicaulis

This is a very popular species. Did you realise there are 8 accepted varieties? You may know that I love doing Keys to help me understand how species are linked to each other and what traits tell them apart. I had great difficulty with the varieties of Aechmea nudicaulis. Harry Luther came to rescue when he said I would be wasting my time! These are the botanists problems but there are clear identifiable cultivars and these can be referred to by their Cultivar name in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register. There is one that is very popular with Bromeliad growers that is distinct but has not been formally described and yet everybody knows it as Aechmea nudicaulis ‘Rubra’ or Aechmea nudicaulis var. rubra. In effect it falls in the gap between a cultivar and a botanical variety by being not acceptable under either ICNCP (International Code of Nomenclature of Cultivated plants) or ICBN (International code of Botanical Nomenclature) rules. It is not in the Cultivar Register and it is not in the Binomial Listing. I think you will all agree with me that this situation should be remedied. At this late stage I cannot see any botanist bothering to describe this plant properly under their ICBN rules.

This form is found in the wild in Brazil and I have discussed this anomaly with my friend Oscar Ribeiro of Bromeliario Imperialis in Rio de Janeiro. Apparently there are native tribes in Brazil whose members on ceremonial occasions, paint themselves red. One of the larger tribes is called ‘Xavante’ and while there is no direct link in ethnobotanical terms it does seem an apt name. I realise this will mean you changing your label but it will solve a problem and we will have a photo in the Register for identification purposes. There is the problem that ‘Rubra’ will continue to be used, but, at least there will be links in the Register to point enquirers in the right direction if they wonder about identification. So remember the name is either Aechmea nudicaulis ‘Xavante’ or Aechmea ‘Xavante’.

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