Which White and Pink Flower is it?


There are a few lovely flowers blooming at the moment, all with deep pink/red bracts and pretty white flowers- welcome to the tenuifolia group.  These plants are pretty similar and can get confused.  Here’s a quick simplified guide. There are several detailed differences especially in flower structure but we won’t get into those here.

T araujei is caulescent, so grows along a stem and these can be about 30cm long, with leaves along most of the stem.  The leaves tend to be slightly succulent looking secund (they curve in one direction), they are usually 3-7cm long.  The leaf sheath is triangular- think of the leaf sheath as the part where the leaf clasps the stem of the plant.  The flowers rise above the leaves on a long stem, the floral bracts are deep rose pink with pretty bright white petals.

There is another form T araujei. Var minima which has the same flowers but the leaves are shorter and more succulent and densely clasp the stem.

T tenuifolia has thin more needle shaped leaves that are densely packed along a shorted stem than araujei, they are also longer usually 7-15cm and have no obvious leaf sheath.  The flowers also emerge on a stem out from the leaves, with tenuifolia they tend to droop rather than be as erect as araujei.  The bracts are a similar rose pink and the petals may be white, occasionally pink and pale to deep blue in other forms.  The spike if often described as being subdensely flowered- which means there are more flowers than on an araujei spike but not as many as on T stricta.  T tenuifolia has various varieties and forms, we find that most flower reliably and produce clumps quickly and are easy to care for.

T cocoensis, belongs to the same taxonomic group but is less commonly known, which is a shame as I think it is a super plant.  The leaves are triangular shaped and stiff and the leaf sheaths are also triangular and cover the stem.  The leaves tend to be quite dense and stick out in attractive rosettes.  The flower spike also stands erect from the leaves, although not as tall as araujei and tenuifolia, also with pink bracts and white petals.  We find that T cocoensis forms lovely large dense clumps.

So 3 plants with similar flowers, all flowering at the same time but when you look a little closer each has quite different forms.  At the end of the day though, if it grows well and you like it- what does a name matter!

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