Derek the Hybrid Detective
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DD0606b Plant Labelling.
by Derek Butcher - the Cultivar Detective.

Some of you will have heard of the Garden Clubs of Australia where individual societies sort of affiliate to get better insurance rates etc. I did not even stir this up but this is what has been issued in the latest GCA bulletin. They have over 45000 members and yet the ‘Authorities’ were unaware of their existence. As such they would have more political clout than we Bromeliophiles.

"The plant labeling issue which we have been pursuing over the last year has started to make real progress now. We have had discussions with representatives from the nursery industry and consultant for the weed committee. We have also written to the National Weed Committee, government departments and government ministers, and a discussion with a Federal Member who has written to the relevant member/s on our behalf.
What started out to be just a request for "truth in plant labeling" has become a mine field. One of the major issues which have been raised is that all plant labels should have information relating to the weeding and seeding potential of the plant and its ability to "jump the garden fence" and create problems in the environment. Most claim that 70% of all invasive plants in Australia were originally garden escapes, however this is in dispute.
We will continue to pursue labeling issues through these channels on your behalf as gardeners and would really appreciate any information you can give us on inadequate or incorrect labeling."

While I may argue with the Weed Committee that puyas are not weeds my main interest is the correct identity of plants which leads to the following comment :
There is a hybrid Aechmea circulating Australia through supermarkets and others by the number 491. In fact it is the plant illustrated on the front cover of the March/April 2004 issue of ‘Bromeliaceae’. There is a strong feeling that this plant is ‘Stefanie’(yet another spineless Aechmea hybrid) and a quick check of its photo in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register should give you food for thought.
The problem is that Deroose in Europe would have quality control to ensure similar looking plants being offered for sale. This is something not practiced in Australia so some will not look like ‘Stefanie’ even though they have the number 491. It would be great if the supplier did mend his ways but at least you have been warned.

Photo by Peter Tristram.

Updated 16/06/06