A medium to large growing plant with stiff, channeled leaves averaging 30 inches long and two inches wide with stout, black marginal spines. The leaves are medium green with a grayish scurf, heaviest on the undersides. They have a terminal spine and blush blackish-brown in strong light. It forms a funnel-form rosette to 4 feet across and at anthesis can reach over 3 feet tall.
The inflorescence is a branched panicle with a stiff scape of bright orange, orange branches with orange bracts, sometimes dusted with silver trichomes. The ovaries are blue-gray and the petals bright purplish blue. This plant was brought from Brazil in 1996 where it was reportedly collected by Pedro Nahoum and Chester Skotak. Although it keys closest to Portea petropolitana var. noettigii, it is not typical of that plant (per Harry Luther of the MFBIC) and may be a hybrid. It was named as a cultivar in honor of Helga Tarver, an avid amateur taxonomist in Clearwater, Florida.