Established as a genus
1794. Now divided into 8 subgenera.
Given the name because of the characteristically sharp points of the
bracts covering the
flower buds and of the sepals (Aechmea, from Greek aichme
"spear tip"). Comprises nearly 200 species.
Grows epiphytically in the rain forests of Brazil and neighboring countries. Also
grows on rock and as a terrestrial. Some grow in dry areas.
Some species flourish in full sun, others in deep shade. Can tolerate dry periods
(because of impounded water) but they do enjoy humidity and regular watering. Many of
these grow well on rock (the stolons grow roots along the entire length).
Leaf rosette ranges from a narrow tube to a widely flaring vase.
often marked with cross-banding or patterned spotting, ends
are rounded but with a sharp tooth at the middle.
Bracts covering flowering scape vividly colored (red, pink, orange)
Inflorescence: Wide range of form: cylindrical, cone-like, panicle;
upright or pendant.
small, ball-shaped even when open, opening small; flowers sometimes
appear not to be open. Petals have two small flaps at the base.
Fruits: berries form beneath the flowers. Berries (sometimes very colorful)
may last several months.
Whats in the name? Names referring to:
entire plant: gracilis, "delicate," miniata "small"
leaves: angustifolia "narrow-leaved," dealbata "dusted with
white," fasciata "barred," recurvata
"bent or curved back," triangularis "triangular," zebrina
bracts: bracteata "having bracts," ornata "decorated"(refers to
intense red bracts)
inflorescence: coelestis "bluish" (i.e. the flower), cylindrata
distichantha "flowers in two rows" filicaulis "threadlike stems,"
fulgens "glowing" (in
this case, red), gamosepala "sepals fused together," nudicaulis "
"naked stem," penduliflora "pendent flower"
Names denoting similarity to other plants:
bambusoides, bromeliifolia, nidularioides,
recently the genus Streptocalyx (18 species) was reclassified
as Aechmea. The name streptocalyx is no longer in use.