(Sarasota, FL February 20, 2007): One of Selby Gardens newest plant happenings is the mass flowering of a group of Alcantarea vinicolor, which indirectly commemorates the 2nd Emperor of Brazil. The bromeliad genus Alcantarea is named after Dom Pedro de Alcantara II (1825 1889); and consists of 18 species of rock dwelling, mostly large plants restricted to eastern Brazil. If you are familiar with Sugar Loaf or Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, you have seen the natural habitats for some of these bromeliads, which typically cling to steep rocky slopes in full sun.
The plants of Alcantarea vinicolor flowering now at Selby Gardens are native a few hundred miles to the north of Rio in the State of Espirito Santo. Discovered in 1974, and still uncommon in cultivation, this is a relative newcomer compared to many ornamental bromeliads. The specific name vinicolor, refers to the dark wine color of the inflorescence and some of the leaves. The four to five foot tall inflorescence produces spreading, creamy, four to five inch blossoms that open after dark. The nectar feeding bats necessary for pollination are, unfortunately, not available in Florida. Flowering is expected to continue through February and March.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a respected center for research and education as well as a famous orchid showplace. The Gardens are located at 900 South Palm Avenue in Sarasota. It is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Christmas day.