An inflorescence that was years in the works

Friday, March 29, 2013

A pair of enormous Aechmea bromeliads has inhabited my garden for years, moving into various settings as they grew in size. The last time I moved them, I said that was it; they were too big and too dangerously armed to move again. They lived behind a group of shell ginger for a few more years, until I decided to cut away the gingers to allow more air into an orchid house.

Aechmea mariae-reginae.

Eliminating the gingers opened up a commodious spot where Anthurium x Marie could display her girth – she is seven feet across in an oversized container. Alas, this happened to be beneath a queen palm and Poinciana tree, and soon Marie was bruised and unhappy. So today, she found a new home, and upon wrestling Marie from beneath the offending litter-droppers, I made a new discovery: the bromeliads are Aechmea mariae-reginae, Queen Mary bromeliad. The species is from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and it requires many years to flower. One of my pair is in flower. The flower spike, with hot pink bracts, has dozens of individual flowers that develop blue tips and then fade to pink as they expire. The plants are full sun bromeliads, but they lived for a long time in shade, no doubt accounting for four-foot leaves shooting out in a rosette. A. mariae-reginae is one of the rare bromeliads that is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. The shape of the open inflorescence is female-like. We’ll see if there’s a male when the second one flowers. After these bromeliads flower they will die. I'm hoping for pups.