Derek the Hybrid Detective
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DD0308 Neoregelia uleana.
by Derek Butcher 03/08

When I was investigating Neoregelia species in Australia in the early 1990’s this species was not a worry because it was said to be not in the USA or Australia. So it was rather a surprise when Mick Romanowski of Melbourne gave Margaret a plant with this name in 2007. In 2008 it flowered but because we only had one plant Margaret would not let me butcher it!

Although I did not take the flower to pieces, referral to the description in Smith & Downs revealed that our plant was almost half sized which really had me worried. For example the leaves were 20cm long instead of 32cm long and the inflorescence was only 2cm diam compared to 6cm. The plant was originally described from cultivated material found in the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro in 1896, from unknown origin.

I asked Mick Romanowski where he had got the plant and he said Pinegrove Nursery in NSW. They, no doubt would have got it from the USA.

I contacted Harry Luther about my problem, who, at his laconic best, sent me a copy of the original herbarium specimen. He was aware of the plant called N. uleana in the USA but was not venturing an opinion as to its identity. You see, nobody had any idea where it had, or if it had, been collected in Brazil. We do not know who identified it, either. In these cases, Harry sees no benefit in trying to identify from a scientific point of view.

In my view it is not even worth calling it Neoregelia aff. uleana but better to give it a cultivar name to emphasise the doubt as to what it might be. It seems the use of a similar sounding name like ‘Yuletide’ is the way to go and details of this plant will be in the Cultivar Register.

I do know that Tropiflora in Florida has sold this plant in the past and the purist may wish to use ‘Yuletide’ or at least put a query on the authenticity of the name N. uleana.

Photos Derek Butcher.

Click on thumbnails for larger images.

Updated 04/03/08