Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana)

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Aechmea blanchetiana inflorescence
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Bromeliad fact file

Bromeliad description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderBromeliales
FamilyBromeliaceae
GenusAechmea (1)

An attractive bromeliad with bright orange-red, strap-shaped leaves (2) (3), Aechmea blanchetiana is an endemic species of the ‘restinga’ habitats of the Atlantic forest in Brazil (4) (5). The leaves, which measure up to about 90 centimetres in length, have spiny margins and a spine at the tip, and grow in a tight rosette (2) (3).

The flowers of Aechmea blanchetiana are borne in clusters on a long flower stalk, or inflorescence, which grows from the centre of the leaf rosette. Although the flowers themselves are quite small, they are surrounded by conspicuous red and yellow bracts (2) (3), the shape of which is alluded to by the genus name, Aechmea, which means ‘spear point’ (3).

Synonyms
Aechmea laxiflora, Aechmea remotiflora, Streptocalyx laxiflorus, Tillandsia blanchetiana.
Size
Height: 0.6 - 1.5 m (2) (3)
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Bromeliad biology

Relatively little information is available on the biology of Aechmea blanchetiana, although cultivated specimens in North America are reported to flower in spring (2). The fruits are in the form of berries (7), and the seeds are small, smooth and elliptical, measuring around two millimetres in length (8). Many other bromeliads with bright, showy inflorescences are known to be pollinated by insects or birds (7).

In many bromeliad species, the cupped rosette of leaves catches rainwater (7), and in Aechmea blanchetiana this may produce pools of up to half a litre in volume (9). These pools are often inhabited by animals such as frogs (7) (9).

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Bromeliad range

Aechmea blanchetiana is endemic to the states of Bahia and Espírito Santo, on the east coast of Brazil (1) (4) (5). It has only been recorded to the north of the Doce River, which flows through Espírito Santo (5).

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Bromeliad habitat

Aechmea blanchetiana is found in the Atlantic forest, where it occurs in shrubby coastal sand dune habitat known as ‘restinga’ (4) (5) (6). It may also be found in coastal rainforest (6). Aechmea blanchetiana can grow on the ground or as an epiphyte, and in cultivation it is reported to require moist but well-drained soil in partial shade (2) (3).

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Bromeliad status

Aechmea blanchetiana has yet to be assessed by the IUCN.

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Bromeliad threats

Its attractive foliage makes Aechmea blanchetiana popular as an ornamental plant (2) (3) (10), and it may therefore be under threat from collection from the wild. This species is also exploited for its thin fibres, which are used in weaving (10).

Although the conservation status of Aechmea blanchetiana has yet to be assessed by the IUCN (11), the Atlantic forest faces a number of threats, including deforestation and urbanisation. Only around eight percent of the original habitat remains, and what is left is highly fragmented (12). The destruction has been most severe along the coast (12), and it is likely that the habitat of Aechmea blanchetiana has been affected.

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Bromeliad conservation

The Atlantic forest is designated a global ‘hotspot’ of biodiversity, and a range of conservation initiatives are underway to help preserve what remains of this unique ecosystem (12). The bromeliads are an important group in the Atlantic forest, with a large number of endemic species and many relationships with local animal species. Bromeliads in this region may benefit from measures such as preserving habitat ‘corridors’ which link remaining habitat fragments (4).

There are not known to be any specific conservation efforts currently targeted at Aechmea blanchetiana, but a number of studies have investigated artificial propagation of this species. This would offer a method of producing Aechmea blanchetiana plants commercially to supply the ornamental plant and fibre markets, as well as helping to maintain the species’ genetic variability and potentially providing individuals for reintroduction into the wild (6) (10).

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Find out more

Find out more about conservation in the Atlantic forest:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
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Glossary

Atlantic forest
A highly biodiverse region found along the east coast of South America, comprising several different vegetation types, including high-altitude grassland, and lowland and montane forest.
Bract
Modified leaf at the base of a flower.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Epiphyte
A plant that grows on another plant, typically a tree, using it for physical support but not drawing nourishment from it.
Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
Pollination
The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
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References

  1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Aechmea blanchetiana (January, 2011)
    http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/namedetail.do?accepted_id=217832&repSynonym_id=-9998&name_id=217832&status=true
  2. Gilman, E.F. (1999) Aechmea blanchetiana. Fact Sheet FPS-14, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville. Available at:
    http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/shrub_fact_sheets/aecblaa.pdf
  3. Llamas, K.A. (2003) Tropical Flowering Plants: A Guide to Identification and Cultivation. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
  4. Martinelli, G., Vieira, C.M., Gonzalez, M., Leitman, P., Piratininga, A., da Costa, A.F. and Forzza, R.C. (2008) Bromeliaceae da Mata Atlântica Brasileira: Lista de espécies, distribuição e conservação. Rodriguésia, 59(1): 209-258.
  5. Cogliatti-Carvalho, L., Rocha-Pessôa, T.C., Nunes-Freitas, A.F. and Rocha, C.F.D. (2008) Bromeliaceae species from coastal restinga habitats, Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, and Bahia. Check List, 4(3): 234-239.
  6. Kanashiro, S., Ribeiro, R.C.S., Gonçalves, A.N., Dias, C.T.S. and Jocys, T. (2007) Efeitos de diferentes concentraçãos de nitrogênio no crescimento de Aechmea blanchetiana (Baker) L.B.Sm. cultivada in vitro. Hoehnea, 34(1): 59-66.
  7. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  8. Pereira, A.R., Pereira, T.S., Rodrigues, Â.S. and Andrade, A.C.S. (2008) Morfologia de sementes e do desenvolvimento pós-seminal de espécies de Bromeliaceae. Acta Botanica Brasilica, 22(4): 1150-1162.
  9. Schineider, J.A.P. and Teixeira, R.L. (2001) Relacionamento entre anfíbios anuros e bromélias da Restinga da Regência, Linhares, Espírito Santo, Brasil. Iheringia, Série Zoologia, 91: 41-48.
  10. Chu, E.P., Tavares, A.R., Kanashiro, S., Giampaoli, P. and Yokota, E.S. (2010) Effects of auxins on soluble carbohydrates, starch and soluble protein content in Aechmea blanchetiana (Bromeliaceae) cultured in vitro. Scientia Horticulturae, 125: 451-455.
  11. IUCN Red List (January, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  12. Conservation International: Biodiversity Hotspots - Atlantic Forest (January, 2011)
    http://www.biodiversityhotspots.org/xp/Hotspots/atlantic_forest/Pages/default.aspx
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Image credit

Aechmea blanchetiana inflorescence  
Aechmea blanchetiana inflorescence

© Wes Rouse

Wes Rouse
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
811 South Palm Avenue
Sarasota
Florida 34236
USA
Tel: (941) 391-4739
Fax: (941) 366-9807
wesrouse@msn.com
http://www.selby.org/

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