Derek the Hybrid Detective

DD0115 Neoregelia ‘Wild in Oz’.
by Derek Butcher, December 2014

In recent years there has been an upsurge in Chester Skotak’s hybrids of the variegated small Neoregelia kind. Many have been registered by Eloise Beach in Florida but some have escaped to Australia. This is a similar scenario to what happened in the early 1990’s with variegated N. carcharodon hybrids. Some were registered in the USA but many similar ones were registered in Australia.
We are now talking about only one such hybrid circulated by the Olive Branch under the formula (carolinae x HL x Tiger Cub x punctatissima). There are immediate problems here because it only takes two to make a hybrid so where do the brackets go? The carolinae would have to be a variegated form because where does the variegation come from. The HL stands for ‘Hannibal Lector’. It has been known since the 1970’s that N. punctatissima is not in cultivation and even Elton Leme has been unable to find it. The plant that is in cultivation is a form of N. ampullacea and was given the name of ‘Punctate’ . It is understood that the punctatissima in the formula has been changed to Punctate Red.

Undoubtedly Chester would have given a grex number to his original crossing but we are unaware of this so we cannot confidently link it to the many registered hybrids. I had thought that I could get a proper name for Margaret’s plant by waiting for something similar appearing in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register. First I came across ‘Whirlwind’ registered by Eloise Beach in 6/2012 which had a similar parentage (carolinae variegated x Hannibal Lector) x Tiger Cub as seed parent and Punctate Red as pollen parent but our plant did not quite match. The grex could well have been the same but selecting had been done of this complicated hybrid. Then in 11/2014 ‘Unraveled’ appeared only this time with a different variegation. Whether this was a Sport of ‘Whirlwind’ we do not know. In any event it still did not look like our plant which has narrower leaves. The Registrar, Geoff Lawn, has pointed out that there are 10 other registered hybrids by Eloise Beach with the same complicated parentage namely, ‘Aftershock’, ‘Esperanza’, ‘Hot Embers’, ‘Hot Flash’, ‘Mambo’, ‘Mojo’, ‘Moondust’, ‘San Jose’, ‘Teriyaki’, & ‘White Hot Embers’. Perhaps a Cultivar group name could be coined to link all these names for similar looking plants with the same pedigree. Little attempt has been made to differentiate the names which have been registered from July 2011 to the current date. The first crossing seems to have been made in 2006 but we do not know how many repeats were done.

It would appear from the use of ‘punctatissima’ in the formula that this import to Australia was early in the piece and we hope that nobody else has imported any hybrid with a similar formula so we are only dealing with the same clone. Please advise me if you are aware of any other importation. I have checked the photos on the BCR and OUR plant still seems unique. Any that have been sold under formula in the USA is their problem.
Further investigation has revealed that we are not the only people growing this plant with its complicated formula in Australia and it does need a name, and Ross Little has suggested we use ‘Wild in Oz’.
So if you are growing a plant with this formula on the label you will save time by using the name ‘Wild in Oz’. It is interesting that it seems some growers have become tired of writing the formula and you may encounter this plant just called ‘Skotak Hybrid’. Plant is 21 cm wide, 19cm high, leaves 2 cm wide, variegated.

Derek Butcher 12/14

Updated 06/02/15