887 Neoregelia cruentaCommon Names: bloody bromeliad Family: Bromeliaceae (bromeliad or pineapple Family)
Neoregelia cruenta is a large bromeliad that grows in a rosette 3 ft (0.9 m) or more across. It usually grows as an epiphyte on large trees, but also survives on the ground. The leaves are thick and leathery, 3 ft (0.9 m) long and 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) wide with spiny margins - reminiscent of some kind of agave. This is a variable species: Some plants have leaves that are yellowish green with red tips and red spines; some have red striped leaves; some have red cross bands; and others have leaves that are mostly red. The inflorescence consists of a short unbranched stalk with many small violet flowers. The flowers are inconspicuous and generally obscured by the leaves, but the leaves anticipate the occasion and turn brighter red near their bases just before the plant begins to produce its flowers. The plants can stay in bloom for 4-6 months, after which the main rosette dies, leaving behind offsets or "pups" around the outer margin.
Neoregelia cruenta is native to Brazil. They often hang by stolons like a daisy chain from tree branches in the jungle.
CultureLight: Mostly sun to nearly complete shade. Plants develop the best foliage color in bright light, but do not appreciate direct full sun. Moisture: This bromeliad, like most, needs plenty of water. Water from above so that the water runs down into the the leaves, and don't let the cup in the center dry out. Use only rainwater. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. Propagation: Propagate from the offset suckers that develop around the mother plant.
Neoregelia cruenta is often cultivated on the ground as a bedding plant. It must have very well drained soil. It makes a great ground cover in the filtered shade of large palm trees. To grow as an epiphyte, attach Neoregelia to a tree limb and cover the roots with some sphagnum moss. This bromeliad also can be grown indoors in strong light.
The genus was named after the director of the St. Petersburg (Russia) Imperial Botanic Garden, although it might as well have been named for its regal beauty. There are some 70 species in the genus, several of which are better known in cultivation than this one. Blushing bromeliad (N. carolinae), including several colorful cultivars and hybrids is frequently grown as a house plant.
Steve Christman 12/14/00; updated 1/29/04