Costa Rica

Aechmea mariae-reginae

Some bromeliad nurseries sometimes show this plant on exhibitions or fairs and visitors of the larger botanical gardens may see it in flower, although there is little chance of that because it takes many years developing the inflorescence. It is more likely to see this species flowering when visiting Costa Rica and following the road from San José through the forests and hills of national park Braulio Carrillo in the direction of Limón on the Caribbean coast. Arriving in the lowlands with the banana plantations, you can't miss this large plant. It grows as an epiphyte, in full sun high in the trees, flowering from september to april.
Belonging to the subfamily of Bromelioideae, thus developing fruit in the form of berries, this species is only known from the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. Described in 1863 it was pictured some decennia later in periodicals known for their fine illustrations, such as Illustration Horticole, Botanical Magazine and Gartenflora. It is very decorative with the big red bracts and therefore often used in religious festivities. The flowering spike is 20 cm long and 6 cm thick, that is to say for the female plants, for this species is contrary to most bromeliads dioecious; male specimens have a spike twice or more as long.