Derek the Hybrid Detective
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DD0508 Aechmea triticina to guarapariensis to roberto-seidelii
(UPDATE 02/14 ... "and back to guarapariensis")

by Derek Butcher 04/08

This article was prompted by the photograph on the back page of the Hunter District Brom Soc April 2008 Newsletter.
A plant was imported to Australia from Seidel in the 1980’s by Len Colgan in Adelaide that was called Aechmea triticina. It is prolific with its offsets and soon spread around Australia. The only puzzle was its identity. In the 1990’s I started to get hold of original descriptions for my files and translated many from German and Portuguese. In the case of Aechmea guarapariensis I was dealing with Latin and Portuguese and because of my findings I considered that our A. triticina was in fact this plant. The description in Smith & Downs just did not fit. At least I convinced South Australians to change their labels. Tania Wendt and Elton Leme in the early 1990’s in Brazil were in disagreement and so I just sat!

In the Journal of Bromeliad Society 49: 168. 1999 I was pleased to see that Bruno Silva and Elton Leme had at last found a ‘true’ A. triticina which was nothing like what we had been growing. So I hung on to the name A. guarapariensis even though it took a long time to write a label.

I had to wait another 8 years before having yet another change. In Journ. Brom. Soc. 57: 159-161. 2007 Tania Wendt considered that A. guarapariensis was really the earlier published A. roberto-seidelii. I quote as follows :
“The difficulties in the application of the correct name are associated to the complex taxonomic history involving Aechmea roberto-seidelii with Aechmea guarapariensis, Aechmea triticina Mez and Aechmea pineliana (Brong. ex Planch.) Baker.
During my revision of the subgenus Pothuava (Wendt 1997), which includes these species, I considered Aechmea guarapariensis and Aechmea roberto-seidelii as synonyms of Aechmea triticina. My interpretation was based on the similarity among type collections and also on the information of the original description that mentioned white or greenish floral coloration for all three taxa.
Aechmea triticina was described by Mez in 1896, but since its discovery it has been poorly understood due to the absence of original drawings and insufficient herbarium material. In 1999, Silva & Leme collected a plant that they considered to be the true Aechmea triticina, which exhibits flowers vividly rose to lilac. They considered that the characteristic of greenish flowers attributed to Glaziou (the collector of type specimens of Aechmea triticina) by Mez (1892) in the protologue is certainly a mistake. Whoever is right or wrong about the colour of the flower of the type specimens we will never know.”
So please change your label to Aechmea roberto-seidelii if it looks like an A. pineliana with white flowers. If you look at Smith & Downs you will see that this plant was treated as a synonym of A. pineliana var. minuta to show how similar they are in looks!
Just one word of warning. In the 1980’s there was a plant being grown as A. roberto-seidelii but was really an A. warasii in disguise!

Update - February 2014.
From Eric Gouda... "It is unclear how to look at the description in Smith & Downs of Aechmea triticina, but I will keep A.roberto-seidelii as well as A. guarapariensis as separated species. Both are from total different biome and much different in size, one epiphyte and one terrestrial and the large apical coma in the inflorescence of one of the species are good enough for me."
From Derek Butcher... "In other words we only seem to have A. guarapariensis in Australia.
We do know we don't have A. triticina and our plant comes out between the descriptions of A. roberto-seidelii and A. guarapariensis but we do not know where it was collected in the wild. It seems safer to use A. guarapariensis. Tania Wendt has not sold her idea to Eric and he feels it is safer to keep the names apart from a Botanist's point of view. The definitions of the 3 has not changed, it is the interpretation that has varied.

Update - August 2017.
From Kerry Tate (The Channon, NSW)... "I dare to disagree with Derek on the Ae. guarapariensis suggestion. I do grow that species (guarapariensis) and its habit and size are true to the description. Ae. guarapariensis is much larger than the bromeliad in Facebook question, which keys to the description of Ae. roberto-seidelii. I grow both and have studied and compared them closely. They might eventually be accepted as variations of the same species, but while they are still separate species, I will err on the specifics of their descriptions.

Ae. roberto-seidelii as guarapariensis PAF759.
Photos - P.Franklin / D.Butcher.
02/14 update - now back to guarapariensis
Click on thumbnails for larger images.


Aechmea roberto-seidelii E Pereira, Bradea 1: 159. 1972 (see Tania Wendt. in J. Brom. Soc. 57(4): 159-161. 2007
Aechmea guarapariensis Pereira & Leme Brasil Florestal – No. 59: 40. Jul/Sept 1984

Aechmea roberto-seidelii. E Pereira, Bradea 1: 159. 1972
Plant flowering 40-45cm high
Leaves ca. 40, rosulate, with an obconic utriculum base, ligulate, leathery, both sides dense and inconspicuous lepidote, 25-30cm long,
Sheath broad elliptic, entire, 12-15 cm long, 7-10 cm wide, purple on the inside.
Blade narrow-lanceolate ( inside leaves wide lanceolate), 12-15cm long, 3-5cm wide, tip acute and a sub-pungent spine, marginal spines dark purple, the lower ones up to 5mm long, densely armed, upper pale green.
Scape erect, glabrous, 38cm long, 7mm diam.,
Scape bracts 9cm long, 3cm wide, twice as long as the internodes, entire, linear, the lower ones sparsely spined, the tip conspicuous white lepidote, otherwise inconspicuous lepidote, inside whitish, outside red, upright erect, the edges involute, enclosing the tubular scape,
Inflorescence cone like spike, cylindric, tip a yellowish hairy coma, 5cm long, 2cm diam.,
Floral bracts symmetric, cymbiform-concave, sub-orbicular, 6mm long, ending in a yellow tip 4mm long, the back thick, carinate, and white lepidote, edges thin translucent,
Flowers spreading, sessile, 10mm long.
Sepals free, almost asymmetric, 5mm long, near the tip to the bottom of the spine white lepidote, otherwise glabrous, spine 1mm long, a little incurved,
Petals lanceolate, 6.5mm long, white, the tip slightly acute, with 2 ligules denticulate at the tip, inserted 1.5mm high, near anthesis tip erect.
Stamens included, Filaments Series II joined to the petals for 1mm: Anthers 2.5mm long, dorsifixed a little above the base; Pollen grains globular, biporate.
Ovary 2.5mm long, white lepidote; Ovules 2-4 per loculus, long-caudate;
Placenta joined at top of loculus.
Habitat Brazil, State of Espirito Santo, Leg. A. Seidel no 61, 19 September 1971
Holotype HB-57702
Differs from A. pineliana principally in the naked, large sized, colour of the flower, white not yellow, and the formation of the leaves.

Aechmea guarapariensis. Pereira & Leme Brasil Florestal – No. 59: 40. Jul/Sept 1984
Plant flowering ca 1.2m high, terrestrial.
Leaves ca 40, ligulate, forming a funnel-shaped utriculum at the base.
sheath elliptic, 18cm long, 12cm wide, entire, inside lightly purple, outside pale green, both sides brown lepidote spots.
Blades linear, 40 – 75 cm long, 6 – 8cm wide, narrow near tip, green or purplish, lower part lightly white banded, both sides almost appressed dense lepidote forming a membrane, the tip obtuse and mucronate, edges densely spined, spines 1- 2mm long, dark purple, small directly near the tip.
Scape erect, 70cm long, 10mm diam when living, dense white wooly and purple lined, totally hidden by the bracts.
Scape bracts linear, narrow toward the tip, ending obtuse and mucronate, about 14cm long, 4cm wide, outside red, inside white, both sides dense white lepidote toward the tip, margins spiny toward the tip, much longer than the internodes and all of the sheath, towards the top of the inflorescence kidney-shaped, 2cm long, 3cm wide with rounded tip and mucronate.
Inflorescence a simple spike, cone-shaped, cylindrical ca 15cm long, 3cm diam, tip with a small hairy coma. Axis conspicuously never tomentose.
Floral bracts concave, suborbicular, 7mm diam. except for spine, the back obtuse tricarinate and white lepidote, entire, membranaceous, green, never fully covering the ovary, at the top a 5mm long brown spine which in life higher than the sepal never equaling.
Flowers 15mm long, sessile, subspreading.
Sepals ovate, asymmetirc, free, 8mm long, greenish yellow, nerved when dry, not keeled, lightly white lepidote, tip with small curved spine.
Petals narrow ovate, 10mm long, tip acute, white spreading through anthesis, above the base two fimbriate ligules.
Stamens included, Filaments cylindric, 1st series adnate, 2nd series free, Anthers linear 3mm long, obtuse, dorsifixed at base, Epigynous tube 1mm long,
Ovary lightly complanate, 3 – 4mm long, green, white lepidote. Placenta joined to the tip of the loculus, Ovules long caudate.
Type State of Espirito Santo, Municipality of Guarapari, terrestrial in Restinga. leg EMC Leme #92 Feb 1978, flowered in cultivation 20 Sept 1983 Holotype HB Isotype US

Undoubtedly, this new species has similar characteristics to A. pineliana (Brong. ex Planch.) Baker and to A. alopecurus Mez, however, it differs from the first by the white corolla, as well as the floral bracts and sepals being unequivocally different. It differs from the second, based on the Type photo and in the original description, mainly, by the spine of the floral bracts not exceeding the height of the sepals and by the inflorescence with the non tomentose axis and with the much reduced coma at the apex.


Aechmea roberto-seidelii: the Correct Name for Aechmea guarapariensis by Tania Wendt. in J. Brom. Soc. 57(4): 159-161. 2007
In herbaria and living collection, the name Aechmea guarapariensis E. Pereira & Leme is frequently used to identify plants such as those illustrated in Figures 1,2,7. However, based on the principle of priority of the Botanical Nomenclature Code, the appropriate name must be Aechmea roberto-seidelii E. Pereira.
The difficulties in the application of the correct name are associated to the complex taxonomic history involving Aechmea roberto-seidelii with Aechmea guarapariensis, Aechmea triticina Mez and Aechmea pineliana (Brong. ex Planch.) Baker.
During my revision of the subgenus Pothuava (Wendt 1997), which includes these species, I considered Aechmea guarapariensis and Aechmea roberto-seidelii as synonyms of Aechmea triticina. My interpretation was based on the similarity among type collections (Figures 3,4,5) and also on the information of the original description that mentioned white or greenish floral coloration for all three taxa.
Aechmea triticina was described by Mez in 1896, but since its discovery it has been poorly understood due to the absence of original drawings and insufficient herbarium material. In 1999, Silva & Leme collected a plant that they considered to be the true Aechmea triticina, which exhibits flowers vividly rose to lilac. They considered that the characteristic of greenish flowers attributed to Glaziou (the collector of type specimens of Aechmea triticina) by Mez (1892) in the protologue is certainly a mistake. Whoever is right or wrong about the color of the flower of the type specimens we will never know. Silva & Leme (1999) have in favor of their argument that probably both collections are from the same region at Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Specimens under the names Aechmea guarapariensis and Aechmea roberto-seidelii occur in Espirito Santo State, with no recorded occurrence in Rio de Janeiro. Flower color and geographic distribution have often been helpful for species delimitation in Bromeliaceae (Faria 2006). The list of synonyms related to Aechmea triticina was not discussed by Silva and Leme (1999), and the name Aechmea guarapariensis came back to be used to designated the specimens with white flowers, which is not related to the current concept of Aechmea triticina with rose flowers, as proposed by Silva & Leme (1999).
Aechmea guarapariensis was described by Pereira & Leme (1984) based on cultivated material previously collected at Guarapari in Espirito Santo State, and Aechmea roberto-seidelii was described by Pereira (1972) based on a plant also collected at Guarapari. Since: a) the type specimens (Figures 3,4) are very similar; b) both original descriptions mentioned white color for their petals; and c) both were collected at the same locality; I confirm my first assessment (Wendt 1997) that they are the same species. Based on the priority of publication the name Aechmea roberto-seidelii, this is the correct name. Probably, the name Aechmea roberto-seidelii has been out of use because it was treated as a synonym of Ae. pineliana var minuta by Smith & Downs (1979). Ae. pineliana has yellow petals and floral bracts with long terminal spines (figure 6) that are not observed in Ae. roberto-seidelii (Figure 7).


Updated 08/08/17