Believe It or Not

By: John Catlan

The flowers of V. hieroglyphica are like normal Vriesea flowers, one on either side of the bract stem. But when you are setting seed the bract is sweating an oily nectar which means you cannot use a felt pen to write on the flower bract so you use a plastic tag to write on and slip between the flower bract and flower bud. You have set seed, sit back and watch.

Every seed capsule, those with or without seed, start to move and each side moves 90 degrees towards each other. They leave the flower bract in the original position and all your tags drop out. V. hieroglyphica is the only Vriesea I have noted that does this.

In the plant (V. racinae x V. hieroglyphica) only one side of the bract moves 90 degrees, the other side is fixed. In other V. hieroglyphica crosses, a portion of the bract moves 45 degrees leaving a portion of the bract with the capsules arranged at 90 degrees. You can use this to confirm which plants have V. hieroglyphica parents.


Here the flowers move from right angle 90 degrees to the bract stem downwards to 45 degrees to the bract stem, just as the flowers open. Both green and red forms, also V. 'Red Chestnut' do this. The V. fosteriana hybrids only move half as much. You can use this to confirm which plants have V. fosteriana parents.