In October 2002 four intrepid travellers from Adelaide made a fast trip to Teesdale in Victoria with Len Colgan as the driver. Rudolf Schulz regularly makes trips to dry-land countries to collect cactus seed and other things prickly so his nursery 'Tarrington' is a fascinating place to visit if you are into anything 'different'. There were several terrestrial Bromeliads included and these were the main reason for our overland car rally! One plant was an Orthophytum, or should we say looked like an Orthophytum. At least 3 plants came home with us. A year later the plants flowered and mine was examined in detail trying to link it to a named species. The brownish, spiny, narrow triangular leaves are about 30cm long and form a star shaped rosette. The scape is about 30cm long and stout with prickly scape bracts. The inflorescence is only 5-11cm. long, mainly green with small white flowers. This did not fit into the key. So photos were sent to my Brazilian mate, Oscar who referred the problem to Elton Leme. Alas, we had no locality to go on but Elton did not recognise our plant either from known species or those on the drawing board.
The plant was certainly being spread around Australia at least amongst the prickly lovers and I felt we needed to address this problem of identity. After a series of emails we found that seed had been collected in 1998 near Milagres, just north of Jequie, on highway BR116 in the State of Bahia. Attila Kapitany was also in the collecting party so this plant could also have been distributed by Paradisia Nursery and Garden-World in Melbourne.
I would not say it is a startlingly different Orthophytum but by giving it the name 'Milagres' we are identifying it. The Brazilians are aware where a new species Orthophytum may be lurking and we can link our plant to whatever the Brazilians eventually decide.
The name will be in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register with a photo to help in identification.