The January-February 1988 issues of the Bulletin of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand and the May-June 1988 Bromeletter of the Bromeliad Society of Australia include no less than five short articles expressing questions and opinions about the cultivar Neoregelia 'Marble Throat'.
To begin, Len Trotman (NZ Jan.) wrote that he is uncertain if the plant is a species or a hybrid, but knows that it is delightful with its white flowers. He has observed its tendency toward being prolific. Harry Martin (NZ Mar.) says that he saw the plant in Hawaii in 1987 and regrets not having a photo. He notes, "one of our members has now produced some hybrids from this plant. One, the result of crossing with N. 'Oh No', and another with 'Pink Polka Dot'. Results not yet known." To these communications, Bea Hanson, editor of the Bulletin, adds (NZ Mar.) "A friend and I bought one each in Honolulu some years ago. The plants were both the same size and really beautifully marbled. They produced offsets quite soon after we brought them home. One day she rang me and in a disgusted tone told me her plant had lost its marbles and how was mine? I said mine was fine and looking even better than when we brought them back here, The solution was to take the sickly plant out of the greenhouse and to put it in the open air. There it began to pup madly plus all the pups and the mother had their marbles back again."
In the Bromeletter, Olwen Ferris, then editor (BSA May-June) adds some confusion stating that three years ago June Bennett gave her an offset of an unnamed plant received from Lotus Osiris. At about the same time she got a seedling that Ruby Ryde had raised from seed gathered in Brazil. Some time later, Ruby gave her an offset labeled Neoregelia chlorosticta 'Marble Throat'. All three plants are identical and when grown in nearly full sun the soft green and white is suffused with faint pink. All was fine, she says, until Vic Przetocki wrote in the January 1988 Bromelink of the Bromeliad Society of Western Australia that Neoregelia chlorosticta cv. 'White Marble' was his favourite bromeliad.
Enter Derek Butcher (same Bromeletter): "The name is 'Marble Throat'. It is listed in Brian Smith's Manuscript." Derek suggests that the plant grown from seed cannot be a hybrid.
Back to the United States. Kathy Dorr says in a recent letter that Neoregelia 'Marble Throat' is a plant Bill Seaborn acquired with no name and, "he is the one who tacked the name N. chlorosticta var. Marble Throat on it. I don't believe it has any validity other than to sell plants. I question whether it is even a chlorosticta."
Harry Luther says, "'Marble Throat' is a minor variety of Neoregelia chlorosticta, a good cultivar."
That should rest the case, but I shall ask Elton Leme if he would care to add a few words. Will some one please send me 35 mm color slides of habit (side view) and inflorescence (straight down) of a specimen? -Ed.
About the same time Ruby Ryde of Sydney, gave me a small Neoregelia seedling, grown from Brazilian seed. Recently Ruby gave me an offset labelled Neoregelia chlorosticta 'Marble Throat'.
All three plants are identical and when grown in nearly full sun, the soft green and white is suffused with faint pink. A most attractive little Neoregelia very suited to growing in hanging pots or baskets. At Bromeliads IV in Adelaide, Easter 1987, Geoff Lawn showed slides of this small Neoregelia and a number of delegates asked for more information on the plant.
In Bromelink, the bi-monthly Journal of The Bromeliad Society of W.A. Inc., in the report of the January 1988 meeting, under 'My Favourite Bromeliad', Vic Przetocki gave as his third choice: Neoregelia chlorosticta cv. 'White Marble' - a small plant with light green leaves covered with creamy-white splotches. With bright light the inner heart colours a dark bluish tinge and the base of the plant a maroon colour. Offsets are produced on short stolons.
As the plant now has two names to my knowledge, it is time to have Derek adjudicate and pick one name for identification purposes.
Derek Butcher's response :
The name is Neoregelia 'Marble Throat'. This name appears in Brian Smith's Manuscript of Bromeliad Hybrids and Cultivars, and as such I believe we should accept it as that. Therefore the Sandgropers miss out on this occasion. However the problem does not finish there. Brian Smith indicates it is a cultivar name for a form of Neoregelia chlorosticta and it appears he may be right. Perhaps some of us should check the floral attributes with what we grow as Neoregelia chlorosticta. The leaf colour is certainly different although the plant shape generally conforms to what I would call a small Neoregelia chlorosticta.
I obtained my Neoregelia 'Marble Throat' from Los Angeles whilst on holiday 5 years ago. At the time I could get no real answer to my questioning but vague references were made to Dr. Oeser's hybrids. Not only did he send his hybrids to Olwen Ferris years ago, but he also sent many to the United States! I left it at that and considered Brian Smith's naming to be suspect because I thought it a hybrid rather than a cultivar. Here the plot thickens, because if Ruby Ryde did grow hers from seed then I doubt very much that it is a hybrid. It may be a cultivar or if it does reproduce faithfully from seed it may even be a true variety. The only person who can help is possibly Elton Leme, that keen, up and coming conservationist from Rio de Janeiro.
I agree with Vic Przetocki that it is an outstanding plant but it has taken me five years to appreciate it. Ever since importation it has struggled along with most leaves having dry tips. This year it is fabulous! What did we do that was different ?
Derek Butcher, Fulham, S.A.