Aechmea recurvata var recurvata ‘Sunrise’

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Aechmea recurvata var. recurvata ‘Sunrise’ by Geoff Lawn in Bromeletter 36(1):8. 1998

Western Bromanza Conference delegates in Perth recently expressed interest in my clone of Aechmea recurvata I had called 'SUNSET'. It confirmed my belief that this cultivar is not yet in general circulation, at least not amongst Australian growers.

This plant I bought unlabelled from a local fete's plant stall in Perth about 12 years ago so its history and origin are obscure. The only listing and photo I have found of 'SUNSET' is in 'Grande' magazine Vol 1, No.2. pp 29-30, where a similar looking clone won Best-in-Show at the New Orleans 1978 Morris Henry Hobbs Bromeliad Show. Whether this cultivar is exactly the same as mine is debatable for this U.S.A. 'SUNSET' does not seem to be grown under this name any more and is not listed in Beadle's 1991 book of all known cultivars and grexes for the Bromeliaceae. However, to avoid possible confusion later, I urge all collectors with 'SUNSET' from me to change now their labels to 'SUNRISE' before further release.

There are a number of distinct cultivars of Ae. recurvata - AZTEC GOLD, BANDIT, BIG MAMA, CARDINALIS, FLAME, LOTUS, ORANGEADE, SUAVE and TOKERI, not all of which I have seen to compare with my 'SUNRISE'. However, if grown side by side uniformly with the common unnamed form of Ae. recurvata var. recurvata, the subtle differences of 'SUNRISE' become obvious. 'SUNRISE' generally is a larger rosette with more open growth of thinner, finer-toothed leaves tapering to narrow points. The same characteristic pleated V-fold on mature outer leaves is still there but when grown hard and in bright light, the rosette's bulbous base is not so pronounced.

Distinctive are the lengthier stolons to 15cm long which makes a clump less congested and easier to divide than the normally-crowded var. recurvata. 'SUNRISE'S' upright, slender inflorescence extends further with a more spear-Iike spike of blood red scape bracts and candy-pink flowers. At its blooming peak in Perth's Spring Mediterranean climate (mid September-mid October), the combination of cool or cold nights and warm sunny days turns the foliage scarlet allover, not just the inner leaves, if grown in several hours full sun. The thistle-shaped spike of 'SUNRISE' ages to a dark crimson for several months, not the burnt orange of the common recurvata. Post-flowering 'SUNRISE'S' leaves revert to light bronze green over the Summer and Autumn. Tough and adaptable, it thrives equally well in garden beds, pots and hanging baskets. 'SUNRISE'S' woody stolons suggest it is ideal also for mounting on wood and rocks. Radiating spokes of glowing colour around its red orb do indeed resemble a hot Summer dawn .

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