Was Aechmea ornata var. nationalis
now moved to Cultivar "Nationalis".

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Was Aechmea ornata Var. nationalis, now Ae. 'Nationalis'

Ken Woods.
Ian Hook.
Richard Harper 03/10.

Albo-marginated form. Richard Harper 04/11.

Ross Little, marginated
Vic Przetocki, marginated
Vic Przetocki, median

Aechmea ornata by Derek Butcher Sept 2017
Now is the time for var. nationalis to bite the dust and be replaced by the cultivar name of Aechmea ‘Nationalis’. This is in line with my crusade to treat plants found in the wild with variegated leaves as cultivars which I started in Die Bromelie 2: 62. 2013
Reitz in Bromeliaceas 427-433. 1983 says “RUPICOLOUS with leaves striped lengthwise of green and yellow. Utility - Plant of great decorative effect, today cultivated across the world. Enjoys great power of vegetative reproduction. The hundreds of specimens grown all over the world descended from clonotype collected by me in Bau, in 1952, and cultivated in Brusque, Santa Catarina.”
No reference is made to the size of the inflorescence or the colour of the petals so we do not know if it is linked to the Type or the var. hoehneana. Photos I have gathered from different sources of a variegated A. ornata not only show some with yellow and green stripes but white and green. It is interesting how a green plant with white stripes acquired the name var. nationalis and yet it has always been recorded as green with yellow stripes {See S&D (1979)} Also there seems to have been differences in petal colour which suggests that sporting/mutation has occurred from different clones.
This difference in petal colour leads us to a somewhat controversial paper by T. Wendt in Bot. Journ. of Linnean 125: 245-271. 1997 where many of her propositions were not generally accepted. However, she did make the following comment “This species has three varieties: A. ornata var. ornata, A. ornata var. hoehneana L.B. Sm. and A. ornata var. nationalis Reitz. The latter has yellow longitudinally striped leaves and is known only from the type specimen." Variation in inflorescence size and petal colour are used to distinguish the other two varieties. In the key proposed by Smith (1955), A. ornata var. ornata is separated by a large inflorescence (4 cm wide) and a frequently reddish or lilac petal, A. ornata var. hoehneana by its delicate inflorescence (3 cm wide) and blue petals. However, these differences, especially the size of the inflorescence, are not consistent.
The collections examined presented variation of inflorescence shape from cylindrical to slightly conical, scape bracts with distinct blades with or without sheaths, strong variation in the spine length of floral bracts and sepals, and variation in the position of the petals appendages. This variation suggests the presence of infraspecific taxa, and perhaps A. ornata is a complex of species that still need to be delineated. However, it is currently impossible to delimit any of these forms clearly. Furthermore, geographically correlated variation is often poorly understood. For example, the collections from Santa Catarina (Gaudichaud 129 in part, Wendt 289), Sao Paulo (Foster 396) and Rio de Janeiro (Martinelli 11763, Wendt 217, Costa 444, Vieira 279) are clearly the same species.

This inconsistency in petal colour is also apparent when you compare Foster 1124 cited by S&D (1979) with the type but clearly blue petalled in Foster’s painting. Therefore, I am treating var hoehneana as per Type to agree with Tanya Wendt. Reference to REFLORA also doubts the status of var. hoehneana.

Leaving the most important to last, it has been decided that to accommodate the different coloured variegations, the yellow one will be called ‘Nationalis Median’ and the white one be called ‘Nationalis Marginated’
(Ed. Correction as per BCR - green leaves mostly marginated white = 'Nationalis Marginated'. - green leaves mostly centrally-striped yellow = 'Nationalis Median'.)

Acknowledgements. Thanks to Geoff Lawn and Ross Little who solved the riddle of the two types of ‘Nationalis’

Updated 06/10/17