The flowering of Alcantarea imperialis, one of the world’s largest bromeliads, promises to dazzle viewers in the coming months – a must-see springtime event that will make the headlines.
A portentous transformation
Last December, horticulturists noticed the first signs pointing to flowering. Dozens of little reddish leaves at the heart of the plant signaled the start of the development of the stem that will bear the flowers. Since then we’ve been enthusiastically following the evolution of what’s bound to be a memorable flowering. As these lines are being written, the stem is on the point of emerging above the foliage.
An exceptional giant
The imperial bromeliad is a plant that achieves maturity after more than 10 years of growth, reaching around 1.2 meters in height. At that point a reddish floral spike emerges from the center of the rosette of leaves. That spike resembles an enormous ornamented candlestick, bearing between 400 and 600 blooms that produce from 80,000 to 200,000 seeds.
A native of Brazil, this plant, in the same family as the pineapple, grows mostly on rocky slopes almost 2,000 meters high. Its leathery leaves arranged in a rosette form an urn that catches rain and organic debris of all sorts. It’s from this soup that the Alcantarea draws the elements it needs in order to grow.
A big double premiere at the Botanical Garden
At the Garden, not one but two 12-year-old Alcantarea plants should flower simultaneously between now and the summer. Quite the event!
Keep an eye on our blog to find out the flowering period. And take advantage of the occasion to come visit, for as is the case with most bromeliads, this first flowering will also be the last.
You’ll find the first plant in the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse. And to add to the pleasure of your visit, you can look for the second plant in the heart of the Main Exhibition Greenhouse, surrounded by hundreds of multicoloured butterflies flitting about, as Butterflies Go Free. A chance to come and relax, until the end of April.