Native to Eastern Brazil they are in subfamily Tillandsioideae of family Bromeliaceae.
The Alcantrea genus was sometimes considered to be a subgenus of Vriesea as they are very similar.
Compared to Vriesea Alcantarea are larger plants, with a larger inflorescence, longer petals
that quickly wilt, twist and droop and the seeds have an appendage at both ends.
World Flora Online and Plants of the World Online recognise around 43 species while others estimate 20 or 50.
Species sold in Australia include Alcantarea australiana, A. extensa, A. geniculata, A. imperialis,
A. odorata and A. vinicolor and their cultivars.