Derek the Hybrid Detective

DD0512 Nidularium ‘Red Queen’
by Derek Butcher, May 2012

This all started when Justin Lee of Victoria asked me what I knew about Nidularium ‘Nat DeLeon’ because plants of this name were being sold on Ebay but there was no reference in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register. The name rang a distant bell so I checked my old photographic slides and found some noted with a faded ex Nat Deleon and the same plant called ‘Red Queen’. How could this have happened? Margaret and I remembered having had a plant with Nidularium ex Nat Deleon on the label in the early 1980's from Qld somewhere. In the late 1980's we were working with Don Beadle on his preliminary hybrid list and thought it would be a good idea to see if we could nail this Nidularium hybrid. We chanced upon 'Red Queen' which fitted ideally even to the pink petals linking it to the N. regelioides. So we changed our label and it has been there ever since. We even showed the photo on the BCR in 2000 under ‘Red Queen’. It is easy to see how the ‘ex’ got dropped which links the source of the plant not its name! A querying mind would wonder why a hybridist would name a plant after himself. Nidularium ‘Red Queen’ is shown in the BCR as a hybrid done before 1973 by R. Davis from (regelioides x innocentii) but little is known about the hybrid other than what was written as follows:
“Nidularium ‘Red Queen’ by Irma Gall in J Brom Soc 23(5): 183-4. 1973 Another hybrid that is not too different from its parents is Nid. 'Red Queen.' Its outstanding characteristic is the clear, bright red color at time of blooming and the length of time it holds in excellent color. The first one to bloom for me held its bright, fresh color for twice as long as one of its parents, Nid. Regelioides. I had one of each of these plants next to each other, and they came into bloom at the same time. The Nid. 'Red Queen' was fresh and new looking when the Nid. Regelioides had completely lost its color.”
We know there were strong links between Davis and DeLeon and this was another reason why we changed the name at the time.

With any plant imported from the USA I always like to get Ross Little to check the Ledger kept by PineGrove Nursery and there was an entry :
BBK # 2651, Nidularium xNat de Leon, 5/1986, from Grace Goode.
We know that Grace Goode never named any of her hybrids ‘Nat Deleon’ so it must have come from another source.
Maybe that entry should have been ‘ex Nat de Leon’ which is where the confusion has come from.

Current investigations reveal that nobody is growing any unregistered Nidularium ‘Nat DeLeon’ in Florida but then nobody has owned up to growing Nid. ‘Red Queen’ either! We do know that in Michael Kiehl’s catalogue he offers ‘Red Queen’ but also offers (regelioides x innocentii) so he must be seeing differences with the same alleged primary cross.
However, we do have a photo that Herb Plever took at the World Bromeliad Conference at Orlando in 1980 of a Nid. ‘Red Queen’ which confirms that the red leaved form of Nid. Innocentii was used in the hybrid.

At the moment I believe that ‘Nat DeLeon’ is an unnecessary name but for Australian growers could be put in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register as a reference to ‘Red Queen’.

Nidularium ‘Red Queen’

Herb Plever WBC 1980
Derek Butcher 05/12

Updated 22/05/12