Alcantarea imperialis Alcantarea imperialis
Alcantarea imperialis is the most regal and is considered the signature species of this genus. It is one of the giants of the bromeliad family. This Bromeliad grows to a span of more than 1.5 metres, although it can take up to ten years to get to this size. The thick flower spike reaches up to 3.5 metres in height, producing hundreds of slightly fragrant creamy white flowers. The green, slightly ribbed leaves are quite leathery and tough with a distinctive waxy bloom over the surface, giving a bluish colouration from a distance.
This species can withstand relatively cool nights.
It has become clear over the past decade that Alcantarea imperialis is a variable species. The bright red form that is usually called ‘Rubra’ is just one expression of this species, and the dark purple type, usually called ‘Purple’, is another. There are many others, with varying widths of leaf, and varying amounts of red or purple pigment. Unfortunately, from seed the parent characteristics don’t always come through, so from a ‘Rubra’, the grower will get a percentage of ‘Rubra’ a percentage of ‘Purple’ and lots of green and intermediate foliage colours.
Alcantarea imperialis doesn’t show its’ true colour and form till about 3-4 years of age, as colour and form are so dependent on growing conditions.