Plant flowering about 2 m high.
Leaves 1 m long, nearly 1 dm wide, acuminate, usually incurved at the apex, marked with dark purple at the base.
Scape very stout;
Scape-bracts exceeding the internodes, subspreading, dark-purple at the base and green at the apex.
Inflorescence very large, amply paniculate, about 1 m long;
Branches suberect, 2-6 dm long, 10-15-flowered; rhachis stout (?).
Floral bracts ovate to suborbicular, broadly obtuse, about 37 mm long, much shorter than the sepals, carinate but not incurved, pale green with brownish-purple markings;
Flowers divergent to spreading, not secund, to 125 mm long;
Pedicels very thick, 6 mm long.
Sepals elliptic, broadly obtuse, 41 mm long, 21 mm wide, purple-bordered, carinate especially toward the base;
Petals fasciate, at first white, then yellow, and finally dull reddish.
Type. Morren Icon (holotype K), based on specimen (LG, GH photo) from Chiriqui, Panama.
DISTRIBUTION. Known from the type collection only.
Comment from J Grant 15/10/2000
Yes....you are right. BUT.
Alcantarea alta is a problem. The type specimen is a painting in the Morren collection at Kew which I have a photograph of. It is clearly an Alcantarea, and Elton thinks it may even be the same as his A. edmundoi. I haven't worked on his in a while though. A little paper could be done for Bromelia, but the problem is the photo. It would be nice to publish it, but remember the damn limies (Kew) are so obsessed with such jewels of the crown that the whole process is nearly beyond the impossible.
So, while V. alta is in fact an Alcantarea, Harry Luther is well to keep it in Vriesea at the moment since there isn't any other place for it yet. Maybe I should get cracking on this!
Butcher’s comments. How did it get from Brazil to Panama
Mez 1935 Treated it as a synonym of Vriesea panniculata (L) Mez. now Tillandsia paniculata in the Pseudalcantarea subgenus of Tillandsia. Why did Smith resurrect this species? There is no reference to appendages on the petals. AND the Dominican Republic is a lot closer to Panama than Brazil and would have been on the same trade route.
Description in Baker 1889 is very close to that of T. paniculata.