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Author Topic: Sunday morning at Olive and Len Trevor's - Part 2  (Read 2378 times)
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sunny
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« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2012, 09:31:56 »

Hi Scott, glad you have enjoyed the thread and its pics.
 
First of all, no need to apologise for your photography.  Yours is a useful image of leaf, inflorescence and flower and I am betting that all readers are saying as you did – it looks like the images of Alc. geniculata that I uploaded.

Until my renewed interest in broms, I had never been one for taking or keeping photos of any kind.  However, when I was struck with the brom or more particularly the Alcantarea bug last year, I wanted a record of what I had purchased, but perhaps even more importantly, a personal reference or guide to species, varieties and forms, so as to shorten the period in which I was very easily confused.
 
I took little solace from the fact that even Bruce Dunstan, a local master nurseryman and acknowledged world Alcantarea expert says, “They (Alcantarea) have all begun to look the same to me”.

And for good reason, if you read the posts here and GW from people like Bruce and Pedro who have made regular visits to the habitats in which Alcantarea grow wild, you become aware of the way in which seemingly very small environmental change (as simple as different elevation on a single tall rock face) produces speciation, and because of the close physical proximity of species, no doubt some hybridisation and intergrades occur.

And of course with cultivated plants, their form and habit may vary according to the location of the grower and their knowledge, cultural habits, season and weather.  And if identification weren’t difficult enough, some types are inherently variable in form and habit – I am thinking of the three leaf types I have seen in Alc. geniculata.

While the state of preserved herbarium type-specimens and the expertise and care of the person who originally described the plant will sometimes make accurate comparisons and thus valid classification and determination of names very difficult.

Anyway, I think that you are in good company Scott, in that you have bought a plant labelled Alcantarea regina, only to flower it and be struck by its similarity (without keying out its anatomical minutiae) with Alcantarea geniculata.  I am sure that I am not the only one at this forum who has purchased from the same nursery in Australia, plants labelled Alc. regina, Alc. nevaresii and Alc. ‘Grace Goode’, all of which I suspect may grow and flower as yours has done.

I have just Googled and not found an image of the open flower of plant labelled Alc. regina but I believe I remember Kerry T making the comment here at the forum about the boffins suggesting that Alc. Visconde de Maua is possibly the species originally named Alc. regina.
   
If you have not already seen it, then the following link may give you insights into the history of the name and the process of plant classification.  Apparently there never was a preserved type-specimen from the 1800s when it was first described.

http://www.bromeliad.org.au/pictures/Alcantarea/A_regina.htm

I am so glad that I took my newly acquired camera to the Olive Branch Nursery as it was an ideal opportunity to photograph well grown cultivated Alcantarea in flower.

I really liked your ‘global’ cheers to Alcantarea friends.  I really like ‘A love of Alcantarea means never having to say you’re sorry’.  I am not really sure I know what it means but it always makes me smile.

Cheers mate,
John
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Scottinsandiego
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2012, 22:01:21 »

Thanks John for the reply.  It's always good to know that I am not alone in not being able to verify that what I bought is exactly right in terms of taxonomy.  I appreciate the link on the botanical "controversy" regarding the history of Alcantarea regina; I had a good time taking it all in.  In the meantime, I am going to jab a screwdriver into the bottom of my plant.  I took off 2 pups and have a third one coming along, but I've read here that assaulting your Alcantareas in this manner can encourage more pups.  I've wanted to jab a few of my spiny Aechmeas in self defense, but I feel unappreciative stabbing a spineless brom.  But I'll give it a try if it spurns on offset production.

Cheers.
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sunny
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2012, 04:41:18 »

You are very welcome Scott, but please, you mustn’t feel that you have to reply to or comment upon any of my following ramble, unless you want to.

First of all, good luck with your screwdriver.  I agree with you, Aechmea (and Portea) which invariably make me bleed from elbow to finger tips, seem much more deserving of radical surgery than spineless Alcantarea.   My plants reproduce like rabbits, but I am wondering whether Alc. geniculata will produce more than a single big offset from each leaf axil.  Mine seems to be in continuous production of offsets, but doesn’t seem able to grow more than two pups at once.

Alcantarea geniculata - It was only after the removal of this plant's first offset did it grow the second, visible on the right.  A third, very much smaller pup is hidden in the open leaf axil on the left.

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Portea alatisepela and Portea petropolitana which between them had previously produced eight offsets, now have twelve new pups after both received a screwdrivering from the falling fruiting body of a Foxtail Palm weighing around 10 Kg or 20 lbs.
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(I am wishing now I had photographed four joined offsets on an especially attractive Alc. imperialis var. rubra growing vertically in a line like a series of Russian dolls, each an offset of the one before, which I removed almost effortlessly, once I had removed a fifth offset growing horizontally on its own stolon, seeming to embrace them.)

I am pretty sure it’s safe say that there is probably no bromeliad enthusiast anywhere in the world who hasn’t bought a wrongly labelled plant, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to list a number of ways, from pollination to sale, that plants become misnamed.  Then there are folks like you and me who remove offsets and re-pot and who may misplace, misspell or simply confuse names on new labels, or more often than not - repeat previous errors.

But mislabelling or inadequate labelling (for example – Full Sun Bromeliad) is not always to the disadvantage of the buyer.  I suspect that my most rewarding bromeliad purchase to date is a case of neither the commercial grower(s) nor the seller and the buyer knowing the true identity of the plants involved.

Alcantarea imperialis var. purpurea photographed today in high summer
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The same Alcantarea imperialis var. purpurea as above, photographed in the early spring, still redened by the winter cold or perhaps the daily temperature range when grown in full sun.
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Alcantarea 'Vampira' photographed in early spring having overwintered in full sun.
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The same plant photographed yesterday - high summer in Brisbane.
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As far as I can ascertain from my courteous but persistent questioning of the seller over a period of six months,  the plants were raised from seed by one wholesaler who sold the seedlings to another wholesaler, who grew-on the plants and then sold them to a retail nurseryman, who sold the plants to me – plenty of opportunities for mistakes to be made – but safe to go with ‘Full Sun Bromeliad’ for non-enthusiasts wanting hardy landscaping plants.
  
However, where once I thought that I had stumbled on a glorious genetic mutation in a crop of Alc. imperialis var. purpurea, I now believe that seed contamination or mixing was the reason that I found the plants that I have labelled Alcantarea ‘Vampira’ amongst the purpurea.

Although, as I write, trying to get beyond my seed contamination/mixing theory, I have begun to wonder whether there is a botanical equivalent to the mammalian phenomenon where two males can inseminate a female who produces ‘twins’, which have different fathers.  Is there evidence that pollen from two different types/forms can ‘simultaneously’ fertilise ova in the same flower?

I think it’s fascinating that in a world that increasingly demands certainty and conformity in so many areas of human endeavour, many of us crave novelty (think hybridisers and those who go into the wild places in the hope of finding new forms), and many others, like me, are happy to buy a plant without a label, simply because its form and or habit are pleasing.  Whether going bush or going to the local plant markets, I am sure that despite some folk adopting smart phones and GPS, we are all still hunter-gatherers at heart, which is not surprising as we have only been farmers for around 10,000 of our 2,500,000 years of human history.

Which has made me think that this forum is a wonderful gathering point for the clan of the bromeliad totem, and what we do here - post, read, reply and read, and perhaps as a consequence, change our cultural practices and get our labels correct - is our equivalent of potlatch, the coming together  for sharing or redistribution of wealth (in our case knowledge) from the elders who have the wisdom of having seen many bromeliads through many summers, to the young bucks, who may still be repeating their errors.  (I am trying to be PC here, but am not sure whether the feminine of bucks should be; does, hinds or buckettes.) Roll Eyes

Cheers
John







« Last Edit: January 30, 2012, 06:59:59 by sunny » Logged
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