So it was a bit of a surprise when Ivy Kirby telephoned and said she had Aechmea ornata in flower. We do have a plant called A. ornata var. hoehneana which had been around in Australia for the previous 20 years or so and origin was unknown but which is clearly within that A. gamosepala/cylindrata group. So I had this in mind while nodding my head and agreeing with everything Ivy said. But then she mentioned vivid red, upright, spiky leaves underneath the blue flower head and I realised perhaps I should not have been so patronising. Subsequent phone calls were received mainly for my wife Margaret but mention was still made of the said plant doing its thing.
Finally on December 15th Ivy got fed up with the lack of action of the Secretary and dumped a complete inflorescence on his desk in his DEN just when he was translating the description of Tillandsia tephrophylla from Latin to English. A cockroach jumped out of the inflorescence so papers flew for a short while. Mind you, the inflorescence was post floral, with black bits hanging where the beautiful blue flowers would have been. The long red spiky scape bracts up to 30cm long were still red so it was an impressive 47cm long piece of plant with an 8cm mace on the top!
Ivy had a band-aid on her hand and it was said that her secateurs AND husband Norm were still in the clump of vegetation when she left home. If you have seen Ivy's backyard you'll know what I mean. So the TRUE Aechmea ornata var. hoehneana is in South Australia, and I assume Australia, for anyone with the space and inclination to grow it. Oh! I forgot to tell you. The leaves can be over 1 metre long and are stiff with a point on the end.
If you have a smallish plant with floppy leaves about 30cm long, a shortish scape with red floppy bracts 5-6cm long, a cone shaped flower head admittedly with blue flowers but with long red floral bracts with a little whisker at the top (mucro) instead of chunky short green bracts with a really long whisker THEN you ain't got the true Aechmea ornata var. hoehneana. Your plant is clearly in the Ortgiesia group.
Meanwhile in 1992 Peter Franklin of Raymond Terrace, had obtained a certain Aechmea lalindei, now growing under his number PAF1259, from Joe Rigby who in turn had got it from Keith Golinski in Queensland. Peter even sent me photos. Here was my bogus Aechmea ornata var. hoehneana !! Peter and I were in agreement that the plant just had to be an Ortgiesia close to A. cylindrata. We knew that Aechmea lalindei was the old name for a male Aechmea mariae-reginae so whoever had identified it as this, was from the ‘old’ school. How the same plant got two names, admittedly both having cone shaped inflorescences and bluish petals, beggars the imagination. However, we must remember that there was little Bromeliad literature to refer to, in those days. Anyway, we convinced Keith Golinski that his plant was one of THOSE Aechmea cylindrata. Aechmea lalindei did not appear in the promotional CD for Bromagic in 1997. It was somewhat in limbo because it was an A. cylindrata with a distinctive shape and our experience has shown that there are more hybrids in this Aechmea sub-genus Ortgiesia than we had at first realised. We feel that the name ‘Lalinda’ should be preserved as a Cultivar name.