Science In Bloom At 2016 Bromeliad Show

Science

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY SEP 2, 2016

Sarasota floraphiles will get a chance to see something truly unique next week and maybe even attach their name to it, as the Sarasota Bromeliad Society, or SBS, will be hosting its 2016 Bromeliad Show and Sale from September 9–11, revealing a brand new genus created by past SBS President Ray Lemieux. Properly called a nothogenus, the bromeliad is the hybrid result of a cross between two existing bromeliads. As yet unnamed, naming rights and the plant itself will be up for auction Saturday night.

To create the new bromeliad, Lemieux crossed the Brazilian Encholirium horridum and the Mexican Hechtia rosea, two rather spiny bromeliads that no one even thought could create a viable hybrid. “I just tried it to see what would happen,” Lemieux downplays, estimating the most difficult part to be getting the parent plants to bloom in tandem and allow the possibility of cross-pollination. Even then there’s no guarantee of success, but the results in this case were more than promising. Not only did the new plant prove full of what Lemieux calls “hybrid vigor,” quickly eclipsing one of the parent plants in growth, but also came out entirely spineless—a desired quality among bromeliad growers. “That was the real special thing,” he says. “It ended up being a good cross.”

As a new creation, the inventor or discoverer retains the right to name the discovery for the scientific record, but Lemieux has decided to auction off that privilege along with the plant. According to scientific custom, the name must begin with x Enchotia, signaling the plant’s parentage, but next Saturday’s highest bidder will get to finish the name with whatever they want to enshrine in the halls of scientific discovery. “We thought it would be a good way to get people a little more involved,” says Lemieux, who will be hosting the auction and, once the new bromeliad blooms, helping the owner register it and its customized name with the Bromeliad Society International.

The 2016 Bromeliad Show and Sale runs September 9–10 from 10am–5pm and September 11 from 1pm–4pm. Admission is free. The auction begins September 10 following a banquet dinner at 6pm. For more details, contact the Sarasota Bromeliad Society at its website below.

Pictured: Ray Lemieux with his new bromeliad. Photo by Marian Kennell.

Sarasota Bromeliad Society

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