Derek the Hybrid Detective

DD0709 Aechmea ‘Polyantha’
(nudicaulis x ‘Maginali’) according to Cultivar Register 1998 but (‘Maginali’ x nudicaulis) according to Richter’s writings.

by Derek Butcher July 2009

This all started when a member brought in an unnamed plant in the last stage of flowering at the June 2009 meeting of the Bromeliad Society of South Australia and most of us said, Aechmea ‘Polyantha’.
As is usual with these sorts of happenings I see a chance to write something for our local Gazette. I found some interesting information way back 28 years ago when I wrote on Aechmea fulgens/miniata in Bromeletter 18(1): 6-7. 1981. I quote:
‘I would say that all make good specimen plants, with the flowers and resultant berries being persistent for months. I do have another plant in this complex called Ae. ‘Polyantha’ which is a hybrid between Ae. ‘Maginali’ and Ae. nudicaulis. Although I have not yet flowered it, the shape is similar and the leaves "discolor".
(The confusion over the name ‘Polyantha’ started back in 1964 when a Sydney nurseryman released plants grown from German seed of Aechmea fulgens var. discolor X Ae. miniata var. discolor and said the cross was called Aechmea ‘Polyantha’. There were hundreds of these plants in both the green form and discolor sold through the chain stores. comment by Editor – Olwen Ferris.)’

Notes by Butcher 6/2009
Let us remember that Aechmea fulgens var. discolor X Ae. miniata var. discolor are also the parents for Aechmea ‘Maginalii’!!!
If we look at Aechmea ‘Rakete’ by Richter this has similar parents ( nudicaulis x fulgens var. discolor) to Ae. ‘Polyantha’ and yet retains some influence of the A. nudicaulis. In fact all other hybrids involving A. nudicaulis show traits of this species.
Why is it that ‘Polyantha’ does not, and could well be a selfing of Ae. ‘Maginali’.
The original photo in Zimmerpflanzen: Brom. 278. 194B and Padilla’s description seem to confirm this. See also the BSI's 1977 English-translated publication "Bromeliads " by Walter Richter (page23).

From Padilla 1973:
Aechmea `Polyantha' Richter (Ae. `Maginali' x Ae. nudicaulis). A graceful rosette with soft, glossy leaves, green above, purplish red underneath. The tall, erect inflorescence is an open spike, bearing blue violet petaled flowers.

Aechmea `Rakete' Richter (Ae. nudicaulis x Ae. fulgens var. discolor). A medium-to-large plant with foliage similar to that of Ae. fulgens var. discolor and an elongated red and yellow inflorescence similar to that of Ae. nudicaulis.

Note that even with similar parentage Padilla makes no reference of the influence of A. nudicaulis in ‘Polyantha!
No wonder we can’t tell the difference between ‘Polyantha’ and ‘Maginali’

Aechmea Maginali
Peter Franklin.
Aechmea Polyantha
Derek Butcher.
Aechmea Polyantha
Richter in Zimmerpflanzen.
Click on thumbnails for larger images.

Updated 19/07/09