Aechmea fasciata

Aechmea fasciata.

There are 19 synonyms for the Urn or Silver vase plant which is native to Brazil.
The 0.5 to 1 m high plants are epiphytes but they will grow on the ground.
The few roots they have are for support only.
Leaves grow from underground stems or rhizomes.
The branching rhizomes spread laterally producing more plants and forming dense clumps.

The up to 20 leaves, with sheathing bases form a basal rosette.
The close centre leaves tend to be erect forming a tube or funnel and the outer ones arch outwards slightly.
The stiff, strap-like blades are up to 8 cm wide.
They have a rounded end with a small mucro (a short abrupt point).
There are white scales on both surfaces but mainly on the lower.
The upper surface looks green to grey depending on the number of scales.
On the lower surface the scales are in dense transverse bands of varying width with narrower green strips between them.
Species plants and some cultivars have close black teeth on the margin.

Erect terminal inflorescences are on a leafless stalk or scape.
The overlapping lanceolate scape bracts lie close around the scape.
They have a pointed tip and scales.

Most plants seen are cultivars and it is these described below.
The dense pyramidal or conical flower head is a spike that may have a few branches at the base.
Spirally arranged around the central axis or rachis are small clusters of a few flowers.
At the base of each cluster is a primary bract and under each flower is a smaller floral bract.
All the bracts are pink or, especially when the inflorescence is mature a dark red.
They have scales mainly on the outer or lower surface and may have a few spines near the tip.

Flowers are up to 3.5 cm long and have no stalk or pedicel.
The bases of the 3 alternating sepals and petals are fused to form a short perianth or epigynous tube.
The sepals, around 1 cm long are pink to red with a pointed tip, a keel and a few scales.

The petals, up to 3 cm long are spoon-shaped with a pale narrow base and slightly wider blue lobes.
The blue petal tips mature to purplish then red.
The 2 small nectary scales at the base of each petal have a fringed upper edge.

There are 6 stamens in 2 whorls with the outer inserting onto the perianth tube and the inner 3 onto the base of a petal.
The inferior ovary has 3 locules, a single long style and 3 stigmas that are free or twisted together.

There are many cultivars.