Leaves that are blacker than black (for a plant). A graceful rosette that starts out upright then as the inch wide leaves lengthen, arch over, forming a wide rosette. The inflorescence is a handsome pendant spike of red berries and blue flowers.
A rare large species from Bahia, Brazil that has an upright vase shape to about 30 inches tall, with wide, stiff and very spiny leaves. The most outstanding character is that it takes on a red coloration from the leaf tips downward to about half the leaf as it matures. The remainder of the leaf is light green.
Does not bloom often and there is sometimes a bit of confusion with this species and similar Hohenbergia castellanosii, a larger plant with wider leaves and larger spines. Although the coloration is similar, the Hohenbergia has a ‘bloom’ or light veneer of a waxy powder over the leaf surfaces. Aechmea ampla is glabrous or glossy.
Of course, the surest way to tell is by the bloom, if you are lucky to see one! Aechmea ampla has a laxly, bipinately branched green spike with very long branches and short sub branches bearing green sepals with pink flowers.
Endemic to the island of Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles, it is one of the very few Aechmea species from the Caribbean. A rarely seen plant, of interest mostly to taxonomists and collectors. The plant is fairly large, to over 30 inches with somewhat soft, greenish-yellow leaves and a pale yellow inflorescence that most resembles that of a Vriesea or Tillandsia species rather than an Aechmea.
Interesting, not beautiful, it is a rare plant from a botanically poorly known area. Growing hard or in bright light, the plant will take on a darker yellow coloration and more compact shape. The inflorescence too will become deeper yellow.
Aechmea gamosepala v. nivea
An interesting and attractive plant about 18 to 24 inches tall in an upright rosette, with pale green leaves and a pink inflorescence with white flowers. The shape of the inflorescence resembles that of a typical form of blue-flowered gamosepala, but in every way it is larger. A rarely seen form that is both beautiful and easy to grow.