The Hybrid Detective

DD0911 Alcantarea ‘Landsendt Blue Grey'
by Geoff Lawn in J Brom Soc 61(1): 40. 2011

In recent years Alcantareas have become the genus in vogue. Many have come into collections with questionable identity as to which species they represent. Some have been given either cultivar names or tagged as to where collected in the wild, until they are botanically described or more information comes to light.

Such a case is a yellow-bracted form of A. imperialis with creamy white petals, unlabelled seed from which was imported from Landsendt Nursery, Auckland, New Zealand into Australia in 2005 by Brisbane grower Arno King who then described the seed batch as Alcantarea 'Blue Grey' after the seed parent's foliage colour. Landsendt Nursery have since distributed this form in New Zealand as 'Glauca’.

That imported seed batch has produced a maturing uniform population with few variants, indicating it breeds true to type from self-set seed. The leaves are bluish green coated powdery grey and the rosette can reach over l - 1.5 metres diameter with the inflorescence up to 3 metres tall. Sydney grower Mark Paul has studied Alcantareas extensively in Brazil and advises that there is a distinct large natural population of this yellow-bracted form at Petropolis in Rio de Janeiro State.

Enquiries with Landsendt Nursery as to its horticultural origin lead to Auckland grower Len Trotman who imported 25 so-called Alcantarea imperialis "green" in 2000 from Tropiflora Nursery in Sarasota, Florida. Whether those imported plants had this yellow-bracted strain among them is doubtful, because from photographs Dennis Cathcart had never seen it, so the source remains a mystery.

After much discussion the decision was made to name and register this attractive, majestic cultivar as Alcantarea 'Landsendt Blue Grey' after the New Zealand nursery stock from where this particular strain emanated. If possible such identification and naming problems are better sorted out prior to stock release, then registered in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register (BCR) with photos so growers have a permanent, accurate point of reference.

Photo by Peter Tristram 08/11.

Updated 13/09/11