What is this Tropical Plant?

Happy Collector
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Lillooet, BC, Canada

What is this Tropical Plant?

21 Nov '08 6:45 pm
Hi, all;

Well, as I promised yesterday, here are the pictures of the mystery tropical plant that I've been growing since it was given to me by an elderly lady who couldn't remember its name. After a year of sleuthing, I've had no success, so now it's up to you!

As you can see from the picture with my hand in it, the plant has long, narrow leaves. They have sharp spines growing from the sides, but you can feel them only when rubbing the leaves from tip to base. They ARE sharp, however!

When I got it, the plant had seed(?) heads on it on long stalks that were well above the leaves, and it appeared as if it had had quite a large cluster of flowers on it previously. So far, it has made no effort to bloom for me.

It seems to prefer copious watering to being kept rather dry, even in the winter, and it also seems to prefer a lot of sunshine. I had it in the shade all summer outside and it didn't grow a bit. Since I brought it inside for the winter and put it into a south window it has developed 4 new shoots(?) with several leaves on each.

The leaves feel rather waxy, with sharp edges and, of course, those spines. The plant doesn't appear to have a tuber or bulbous root.

Anyone have an idea what it is?

Unknown 1.jpg
The plant on the coffee table
Unknown 2.jpg
Comparison of my hand and the plant
Unknown 3.jpg
Close-up showing the spines at the edges of a leaf

jack two
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The new improved Jack Holloway v.2

Is it ot perhaps a bromeliad?

22 Nov '08 6:17 am
So says me gut - but I don't know them well at all. Bromelia itself is a large family, and then there are all the Bromeliaceae - I don't know how many of them have spiny leaves. I'm pretty certain though that it is not an Aloe, another family with spiky leaf-edges. Good luck!

Happy Collector
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Lillooet, BC, Canada


22 Nov '08 8:06 am
You certainly could be right, Jack, about the plant being a bromeliad. I crossed that name off my list because I always thought that once they bloom, bromeliads die after putting out offsets. That's something that this plant didn't do. Perhaps all bromeliads don't follow the same pattern!

Thanks for the suggestion!

Home gardener & plant fetishist
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Berkeley, California, USA

Hey, I missed this.

1 Dec '08 2:46 pm
I think you may have "Friend Plant" or "Queens Tears" there, aka Bilbergia (-ea?) nutans. If not that then I agree with Jack that it is most likely a bromeliad of some kind, possibly a Puya?
Mark in California

Q: "Do you ever sit down?"
A: "All the time until the urge to 'play' some more becomes too strong."

honoured member
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queensland australia

your mistery plant

6 Dec '08 2:20 pm
just got back online to find your little plant ,in my book it looks like the bromeliaceae arechmea family ,they have spike up the leaves,require same medium as orchids, resent direct sunshine, needs constant moist situation

Happy Collector
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Lillooet, BC, Canada

Mystery Solved!

6 Dec '08 6:04 pm
Hi, Poodles!

Thanks for the information. I had thought that it might have been from the bilbergia branch of the family, but I'll bow to your knowledge! There will be another picture of it in a few days once the individual flowers have opened.



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