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ALCANTAREA odorata

Image of Alcantarea odorata

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Bromeliaceae

Botanical Name

ALCANTAREA odorata

Plant Common Name

Alcantarea, Fragrant Alcantarea

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

No tropical garden is complete without a fragrant alcantarea! Larger than a bushel basket, the rosette of strappy light green and silver-banded leaves eventually forms a towering red flower stalk with canary yellow flowers. This evergreen perennial bromeliad is a lithophyte (growing among and upon rocks) native to the montane cliffs in extreme southeastern Brazil.

Each pointed, strappy leaf is light green to silver with phantom bandings. It tapers to a soft point while the base of the leaf congregates with others to form pockets that collect water, dust and leaf debris for nourishment. With age, a mature plant begins to produce one or two small pup plants at its base. In late spring it will begin to send up a leafy, sturdy red stalk that by early summer will display long stems of red rigid bracts (modified leaves) that yield the slender, tubular yellow flowers with fragrance. The long-lasting flower stalk is tremendously beautiful and eye-catching as it resembles an ornate chandelier on a stick. Once flowering ends, the plant will degrade and eventually die, allowing the young pup offshoots to replace it.

Grow fragrant alcantarea in full sun to light dappled shade in a coarse, well-draining soil or gravel/rocky soil with organic matter. Make sure the leaf bases have water in them at all times. It is slow growing so consider its visual foliage mass when designing for its use in the mixed tropical border. It is also well-suited for a large container. Across the day the color of the foliage ranges from green to silver to steel blue, and is exquisite with juxtaposed dark background foliage.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Width

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Lemon Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Light Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Winter) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No