Derek the Hybrid Detective

DD0311 Neoregelia Panama.
by Derek Butcher March 2011

Again the problems associated with non-registering of names raise their heads.
This started at the February meeting of the South Australian Brom Soc where a Neoregelia ‘Panama Queen’ was on display. My eyes lit up! “And where did you get that variegated Neoregelia?” I asked. Maurice Kellett was the reply! This had me asking Maurice where he got this unregistered hybrid. Well, Laurie Mueller had been offloading some plants to the trade in Melbourne and Maurice had bought some. As I pointed out to Maurice there was already a ‘Panama Queen’ on the Bromeliad Cultivar Register, which should look like a N. chlorosticta.

Because of the links to Queensland I got Ross Little of Pinegrove involved.
His famous ledger revealed BBK # 1733, Neo. Panama Queen, 7/85 from Raemaur (One of Maurice Kellett’s trading names), ex Richter, chlorosticta x Fleurland. This could easily be linked to the registered plant because if we take the pollen parent as ‘Feuerland’ ( carolinae x chlorosticta) then the plant that was in Australia called ‘Panama Queen’ would have two chlorosticta to one carolinae giving a hybrid that would resemble a larger growing N. chlorosticta! What is interesting is that the Bromeliad Cultivar Register shows ‘Panama Queen’ as being a cultivar of N. chlorosticta purely because the 1979 Kent catalogue says Feurland x chlorosticta cv ‘Panama Queen’ which is misleading! BUT when I saw Feurland x chlorosticta cv ‘Orange Beauty’ next to this entry I interpreted this to mean that Richter had made a hybrid and selected two from the grex. The Australian records seem to confirm this assumption. Maurice cannot currently find N. ‘Panama Queen’ but Miss Marple, the new name for the Helen of Pinegrove, has been successful. Its photo and that of ‘Feuerland’ ( Yes, that is how you are supposed to spell it!) are now on the Bromeliad Cultivar data base on . Please note that this database was ratified by the BSI Board in June 2010 but the Cultivar register on the BSI website persists as at March 2011 despite being in error and not updated.

The next coincidence is that Ross had received a N. ‘Panama’ from Bob Christoffel in the late 90's ex Mueller's. Around this time he also got a N. ‘Miami’ from Bob, this he felt always looked similar to his N. ‘Devroe’ ex Golinski. Since getting in the computer age he learnt his ‘Miami’ was incorrect & after some investigation he was told it was a plant that Mueller's imported from Miami whilst at a US Conference & just tagged it as such instead of N. ‘Meyendorffii’ variegated type from Miami. It is feasible they did the same thing with the ‘Panama’. Bought at the conference as an unknown hybrid from the guy from down Panama way (Skotak), hence they just put Neo. ‘Panama’ on the label. This plant is very similar to Neo. ‘Coconut Ice’ named by Peter Tristram.
A further twist is that Skotak shows (carolinae x concentric) as the seed parent of several of his registered hybrids but this was only registered once as ‘Balsa’. This was not quoted when later hybrids were registered so he must have been using another selected clone for his hybridising program. In later hybrids we know that he registered what he considered the best ones but also released his other stock for others to name both here and in the USA.
All this is conjecture based on probabilities but if you do have a variegated Neoregelia called ‘Panama’ you will find details on the Cultivar Register. If it is called ‘Panama Queen’ please drop the ‘Queen’ part.

As grown in Queensland. C.Clarke.
Mature plant, Adelaide. Julie Batty.
Immature plant, Nth NSW. Ross Little.

Updated 07/03/11