Simplified Quesnelia Key
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It’s QUESNELIA flowering time.
From article compiled by Kerry McNicol for Bromeletter. 06/14.
Those exotic looking flowers are again beginning to peek out of their cosy rosettes of leaves. It has long been a puzzle to me, as to which one is which, when looking at Q. quesneliana, Q. arvensis and Q. testudo. I’m sure I have all three and think I know the difference, but until someone can actually show me which is which, I am still left wondering. Below is a guide as to how to tell the difference. I wish you better luck than I have had!

Taken from FNCBSG Oct 2011 Written by Don Beard.
Only part of this extensive paper has been selected.

General Description of Quesnelia.
Quesnelias can range from 30cm to 200cm in height. They are epiphytic, terrestrial, saxicolous and rupicolous. Q. quesneliana can even exist in water logged soils. Leaves occur in a great variety of rosette forms except Q. marmorata which has distichous leaves. Numbers of leaves vary from as few as four to as many as 40 +. Leaves are green for most species. Inflorescences simple and variable. Basal portion begins as an elongated scape either erect or pendulous and positioned centrally or laterally. Indument is variable on scapes and each type of bract. All types of bracts are variable in colour shape and size.

Hopefully Helpful Observations of Quesnelia Species.
Q. arvensis, Q. quesneliana and Q. testudo are similar species and relatively difficult to tell apart. All have strobilate inflorescences with ‘shocking’ pink floral bracts.
Q. arvensis has heavily textured dark green leaves with more pronounced spines than Q. testudo.
Q. arvensis floral bracts have flat and uniform margins, and cobwebby indument. Fruit are violet when ripe.
Q. quesneliana has a flower head longer and thinner than the other two. Its floral bracts are elongated and wrinkled along the edges (wavy margins), the base with white woolly indument. Ripe fruit is rose to violet.
Q. testudo has spines on its lower scape (peduncle) bracts.
Q. lateralis develops its inflorescence laterally from the base. However this occurrence may be followed by a central flowering. The plant may develop a number of spikes. Ripe fruit is white.
Q. strobilispica can be distinguished from Q. lateralis and Q. seideliana using the form and dimensions of the inflorescences, the colouration of the floral bracts and the number of flowers. Fruit when ripe is yellow –white with a persistent rosy calyx.
Q. seideliana is smaller than Q. strobilispica with a thinner scape, a smaller inflorescence, fewer flowers. Floral bracts and sepals yellowish. Petals are azure whitening toward base. The plant flowers from all shoots at the same time. Ripe fruit is whiteish.
Rare Q. augusto-cobergii is identified by a very distinctive, usually pendulous, inflorescence. Ripe fruits are red or yellow.
Q. liboniana inflorescence resembles a grass-head. Distinctive red sepals and purple petals which are white behind the sepals. Purple pistil. Ripe fruit red/orange. Grows by basal stolons.
Q. edmundoi looks like an aechmea. There are 3 varieties, each can also be distinguishedby its floral appendages.
---1. var. edmundoi; floral bracts yellow/green, petals cream or yellow.
---2. var. rubrobracteata; floral bracts red, petals lilac.
---3. var. intermedia; floral bracts red, petals yellowish.
Q. marmorata is a tubular plant with distinctive distichous leaves, with a pattern of spots and sometimes light banding. Inflorescence is laxly branched with many flowers. Floral bracts are minute. Fruit orange and cylindrical. Propagates by short rhizomes.
Q. alvimii occurs as a distinctive tubular rosette. Leaves with squared off apicies, and reflexed at an angle for the apical third of the leaf. Open cone shaped inflorescence. Pink primary and floral bracts, petals blue/purple, sepals pink.
Q. conquistensis is similar to Q. arvensis, quesneliana and testudo but with pale rose floral bracts, white petals and sepals. Flower head simple and densely cylindrical.
Rare Q. dubia is minutely spinose. Small strobilate flower head with few flowers. Floral bracts red, with green base and strongly convex. Sepals and petals white. Compare with Hohenbergia.
Q. humilis is the smallest of the quesnelias. Tubular rosette with dark purple sheaths. Flat topped flower cluster with few flowers. Floral bracts rose, sepals red/yellow, petals red/purple. Leaves slightly serrate.
Q. imbricata has a sub-cylindrical rosette. Inflorescence simple ellipsoid and sub-dense. Floral bracts rose, large at base of flower head small at apex. Sepals rose and mucronulate. Petals cherry red.
Q. indecora. Distinctly serrate elongate leaves. Flat topped inflorescence. Red floral bracts, pink sepals, mauve/purple petals. Clumps well.
Q. tillandsioides. Fine grassy or tillandsia type leaves. Open inflorescence with few flowers. Floral bracts brownish, sepals red, petals dark blue/purple.
Q. kautskyi is similar to Q. strobilispica but has narrow acute to acuminate floral bracts and crimson petals.
Q strobilispica has erect flowers and blue petals.
Q. koltesii similar to Q. dubia but with longer floral bracts and recurved light blue apex.
Q. violacea is close to Q. humilis but with larger flowers, violet petals, white and woolly sepals, large red floral bracts.

The genus Quesnelia needs revision, along with many of the other Bromelioideae genera.
Enjoy both growing and collecting quesnelias for it will take some time for the botanists to reclassify the group. It is a worthwhile genus in which to indulge.
Reasonably easy to grow, vigorous, and may need plenty of room.
Grow in bright light to full sun. Will tolerate low light.
The inflorescences, although generally short-lived, are spectacular. Q. arvensis, quesneliana and testudo are sometimes reluctant flowerers, but the end result is so magnificent, that this is a perfect case for inducement.

Editor’s final note: Though these flower quite regularly for me in Sydney’s west, I do find the leaves do mark in the colder weather, but they are still a beautiful plant to grow, and they breed like rabbits!

Updated 13/06/14