A bromeliad, or brom as they are often called, but thankfully the alcantarea family are not prickly and spiny like so many of the other species. There appears to be some debate as to whether this one is A. regina or A. geniculata – it does seem that the experts lean to the latter option but it is widely sold under the former name. Whichever, it is from eastern Brazil, as are all its alcantaera siblings. It has only been in cultivation for a little over a decade but, being easy to propagate, it is now widely grown. In leaf, it is nothing particularly spectacular – just a rosette of reasonably large green leaves. But when it shoots up a metre high, strong flower stem, it is impossible to ignore. The stem is a deep pinky red with bracts for starters, adorned by funny, waxy lemon flowers which are flat and rigid. Being a bromeliad, the flowers last a long time, after which the flowering rosette usually dies (slowly), but not before putting out pups to the side which will take over in due course.
Most bromeliads are on the tender side so we use them as woodland plants because the overhead shelter gives them protection. They have very small root systems for the size of the tops and low nutrient requirements. In other words, they need very little feeding. Most will hold water in the rosettes – which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes as I found to my cost when working amongst ours recently. The best known bromeliad of all is the pineapple.