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A new Aechmea species from the mountains of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil.


Over 20 years ago, during a visit to the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro State, in Petropolis county, an unusual Aechmea was encountered growing side by side with a new Neoregelia species which was years later described as N. petropolitana Leme. However, the collected Aechmea remained without a precise identification due to the poor knowledge on the complex of species in which it belongs, headed by A. ornata Baker, sometimes considered a member of subgenus Pothuava (Baker) Baker (e. g., Smith & Downs, 1979; Wendt, 1997), sometimes included in subgenus Chevaliera (Gaudich. ex Beer) Baker (e. g., Sousa, 2004).


Recently, specimens of this aechmea maintained in cultivation for all these years flowered once more and were re-examined on the basis of the taxonomical information accumulated mainly during the last decade, revealing it to be an undescribed species.

Aechmea lilacinantha Leme, sp. nov. Type: Brazil. Rio de Janeiro: Petropolis, road Rocio to Pati do Alferes, Mata do Facao, ca. 1,270 m elev., 22[degrees]29.40'S 43[degrees]16.16'W, Oct. 1986, E. Leme 997, fl. cult. Dec. 2008. Holotype: HB. Isotype: RB.

A A. squarrosa Mez cui affinis, sed scapo dense albo-lepidoto, bracteis scapalibus suberectoascendentibus haud imbricatis, inflorescentia breviora, bracteis floriferis dense albo-lepidotis marginibus prope apicem remote et irregulariter denticulatis, sepalis dense albo-lepidotis et ovario dense albo-lepidoto differt; A A. ornata Baker proxima, sed laminis foliorum spinis longioribus, bracteis floriferis altitudinem sepalorum distincte brevioribus, apice spina minori, sepalis majoribus asymmetricis, dense albo-lepidotis, apice lilacino, petalis prope apicem manifeste recurvatis et apice acutis apiculatisque, stigme altitudinem antherarum distincte breviore lobis erectis et poris pollinis binis differt.


Plant a terrestrial or epiphyte, propagating by stout basal shoots, flowering 60-70 m high; Leaves ca. 22 in number, suberect, coriaceous, forming a funnelform rosette; sheaths elliptic-ovate, 14-19 x 8.5-10 cm, purplish-wine inside, pale colored outside, densely pale lepidote on both sides; blades sublinear, not narrowed at base, channeled toward the base, 3265 x 4.5-5 cm wide, apex acuminate, ending in a pungent spine 5-6 mm long, adaxially subdensely to sparsely and inconspicuously white-lepidote, abaxialy densely white-lepidote, margins densely to subdensely spinose, spines narrowly triangular, spreading or nearly so, straight or sometimes slightly antrorse-curved, dark brown, 2-5 mm long, 3-7 mm apart; Scape stout, erect, 30-50 cm long, ca. 1 cm in diameter, dark purple, completely covered by white trichomes; scape bracts the basal ones subfoliaceous, the upper ones narrowly lanceolate, apex acuminate-spinescent, pungent, distinctly exceeding the internodes, densely white-lepidote at apex, red, suberect-ascending and not imbricate, subtending the inflorescence, strongly channeled, 5-11 x 2.3-3 cm, margins inconspicuously and irregularly spinulose toward the apex to subentire; Inflorescence a simple spike, very densely strobilate, narrowly ovate to cylindrical, erect, 8-15 x 3.5-4 cm long (excluding the petals), apex subrounded and bearing a distinct apical coma of small sterile bracts; floral bracts navicular, thickly coriaceous and lignified, tricarinate, enfolding the ovary, light green near the base, dark green toward the apex, outside densely white-lepidote but trichomes not obscuring sepals color, inside glabrous, apex acute and aristate-spinescent, ca. 16 x 12 mm, including the 4-5 mm long, brown, suberect apical spine, distinctly shorter than the sepals, margins remotely and irregularly denticulate near the apex; Flowers sessile, densely and polystically arranged, subspreading, 27-29 mm long, odorless; sepals broadly suboblong-ovate, asymmetrical with the subrounded lateral wing distinctly shorter than the midnerve, apex acute and distinctly mucronate, ca. 15 x 8 mm, including the 2.5-3 mm long, brown apical mucro, densely white-lepidote, thickly coriaceous except for the menbranaceous, whitishhyaline lateral wing, lilac at apex and on the apical-central portion, greenish toward the base, ecarinate, connate at base for 1-1.5 mm, margins entire; petals subspatulate, apex acute and minutely apiculate, basal 3/5 greenish-white, apical 2/5 lilac, erect to suberect toward the apex except for the distinctly recurved apex, ca. 20 x 5 mm, free, apical margins bearing 2 well developed longitudinal callosities ca. 12 x 1 mm, as well as 2 appendages ca. 7 mm above the base with fimbriate-lacerate apex; filaments whitish, partially concealed by callosities, 12-13 mm long, subterete, the antepetalous ones adnate to petal for 7-8 mm, the antesepalous ones free; anthers sublinear, base obtuse, apex acute and apiculate, dorsifixed slightly below the middle, 6.5-7 mm long; pollen broadly ellipsoidal, biporate, pores small, exine psillate or nearly so; style cylindrical, whitish, ca. 6 mm long, ca. 1 mm in diameter; stigma conduplicate, lobes erect, slightly if at all twisted, ca. 1.5 mm long, pale lilac, margins crenulate-lacerate, wavy, densely papillose; ovary subglobose, nearly terete, greenish-white, ca. 6 x 6 mm, densely white-lepidote; placentation apical; ovules long caudate, ca. 1.5 mm long; epigynous tube crateriform, ca. 1 x 2.5 mm long, Fruits unknown.

Paratypes: Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Petropolis, Res. Florestal Pati do Alferes, 12 May 1968, R. Braga & P. S. I. Braga 853 (RB); ibidem, 3 Jul. 1977, G. Martinelli 2582 (RB); ibidem, Pati do Alferes--Petropolis, 8 Jun. 1978, G. Martinelli 4574 (RB); ibidem, Faz. Inglesa, 27 Jul. 1978, G. Martinelli 4857 (RB).

Aechmea lilacinantha is a member of Aechmea subg. Chevaliera. Its closest relative is A. squarrosa Mez, but the new taxon differs from it by its scape densely white-lepidote (vs. glabrous), scape bracts suberect-ascending and not imbricate (vs. erect and imbricate), inflorescence shorter (8-15 cm vs. ca. 20 cm long), floral bracts densely white-lepidote (vs. glabrous or nearly so), margins remotely and irregularly denticulate near the apex (vs. entire), sepals densely white-lepidote (vs. glabrous), and by ovary densely white-lepidote (vs. glabrous). Since A. squarrosa is a very poorly known species, without detailed data on some important aspects of its morphology (e. g., petals, stamens, pollen), other differences may come to light when good living specimens of this mysterious taxon are re-collected.

In fact, this new species was identified in Wendt (1997) as A. squarrosa, as it is inferred by the listed specimens from Petropolis-Pati do Alferes, here cited as paratypes. However, inaccurate taxa circumscription and mistaken new synonymy in the process of revising Aechmea subgenus Pothuava by Wendt (1997) were already reported by Silva & Leme [1999 (A. triticina Mez vs. A. guarapariensis E. Pereira & Leme)] and Leme & Silva [2002 (A. cariocae L. B. Sm. vs. A. squarrosa Baker)]. Another problem involves the broad circumscription of A. ornata, including A. roberto-anselmoi as a new synonym (Wendt, 1997), which was followed by Sousa (2004) in the revision of Aechmea subgen. Chevaliera. Both authors did not evaluated the fact the typical A. ornata, originally described from Santa Catarina State, presents pollen sulcate and psillate, when A. roberto-anselmoi, from Rio de Janeiro state, has porate pollen grains, as cited in its protologue (Pereira & Leme, 1985), with reticulate exine, just to exemplify one striking character of distinction between these taxa. More recently, another circumscription of A. ornata in disagreement with its original concept also appeared in Costa & Wendt (2007), but in their comments the authors discuss the uncertainty of the identification of the taxon they studied from Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro.



When compared to A. ornata Baker (sensu Baker, 1889; Reitz, 1983; based on specimens from the States of Santa Catarina and Parana), this new species can be distinguished by leaf-blades with longer spines (2-5 mm vs. 1-2 mm long), floral bracts (including the apical spines) distinctly shorter than the sepals (vs. distinctly longer than the sepals), with a shorter apical spine (4-5 mm vs. 10-14 mm long), sepals bigger (ca. 15 x 8 mm vs. 9-13 x 4-5 mm), asymmetrical (vs. subsymmetrical), densely white-lepidote (vs. glabrescent), lilac at apex (vs. completely green), petals strongly recurved at apex (vs. suberect), apex acute and apiculate (vs. broadly emarginate and apiculate), pollen biporate (vs. sulcate), and by stigma distinctly shorter than the anthers (vs. equaling the anthers), with lobes erect (vs. densely spirally-contorted).

Despite not being close relatives, A. lilacinantha may be confused with A. roberto-anselmoi. However, the morphological differences are: leaf-blades with longer spines (2-5 mm vs. ca. 2 mm long), floral bracts distinctly shorter than the sepals (vs. distinctly longer than the sepals), with a shorter apical spine (4-5 mm vs. ca. 17 mm long), sepals bigger (ca. 15 x 8 mm vs. 10-12 x 7 mm) with the lateral wing distinctly shorter than the midnerve (vs. equaling the midnerve), and mainly by pollen with psillate exine (vs. reticulate, with rounded lumina).

In order to better observe A. lilacinantha in habitat, we returned to the exact place where it was collected 22 year ago, which is now located inside the limits of the recently created Reserva Biologica do Tingua, a federal conservation unit. Without an official permission to collect, we were happy to only take notes of GPS information (provided above), and photograph the original population, nowadays reduced due to the proliferation of a native bamboo species, which is increasingly shading terrestrial bromeliads and gradually disturbing their growth.

Aechmea lilacinantha is a typical terrestrial or sometimes epiphytic species of the high altitude Atlantic Forest, mostly composed by short trees, sharing the habitat with A. nudicaulis (L.) Griseb., Neoregelia carolinae (Beer) L. B. Sm., N. chlorosticta (Baker) L. B. Sm., N. leucophoea (Baker) L. B. Sm., N. petropolitana, Quesnelia lateralis Wawra, Tillandsia organensis Ehlers, Vriesea heterostachys (Baker) L. B. Sm., V. longicaulis (Baker) Mez, V. philippo-coburgii Wawra to name the more conspicuous elements. Certainly, its population is spread over the higher sites of the Reserva Biologica do Tingua, suggesting the need of a survey to monitor its occurrence and evaluate any current risk for its survival in the whole area.



Baker, J. G. (1889). Handbook of the Bromeliaceae. London, George Bell and Sons.

Costa, A. F. d. and T. Wendt (2007). "Bromeliaceae na Regiao de Macae de Cima, Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil." Rodriguesia 58(4): 905-939.

Leme, E. M. C. and B. R. Silva (2002). "On the Ressurection of Aechmea cariocae L. B. Sm.." J. Bromeliad Soc. 52(6): 262-268.

Pereira, E. and E. M. C. Leme (1985). "Notes from Herbarium Bradeanum, No. 2: Aechmea roberto-anselmoi; A new Species from Brazil." J. Bromeliad Soc. 35(4): 171-173.

Reitz, R. (1983). "Bromeliaceas e a malaria-brornelia endemica." Fl. Ilustr. Catarinense I. Fasc. Brom: 518.

Silva, B. R. and E. M. C. Leme (1999). "Rediscovering Aechmea triticina Mez." J. Bromeliad Soc. 49(4): 168-173.

Smith, L. B. and R. J. Downs (1979). Flora Neotropica Monograph No. 14, Part 3 Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae). New York, The New York Botanical Garden.

Sousa, G. M. (2004). Revisao taxonomica de Aechmea Ruiz & Pav. subg. Chevaliera (Gaudich. ex Beer) Baker Bromelioideae-Bromeliaceae. Sao Paulo, Universidade de Sao Paulo. PhD.

Wendt, T. (1997). "A review of the subgenus Pothuava (Baker) Baker of Aechmea Ruiz & Pav. (Bromeliaceae) in Brazil." Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 125(3): 245-271.

Elton M. C. Leme. (1)

(1) Herbarium Bradeanum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. JBS 59(5). 2009
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Author:Leme, Elton M.C.
Publication:Journal of the Bromeliad Society
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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