Often park visitors are fascinated at the wide range of native and exotic plants and trees in Centennial Parklands. What a lot of people don’t realise is that growing and experimenting with these plants and trees is part of a century-long tradition that continues today. One example is the Giant Bromeliad.
In the early 20th century, the early Directors of Centennial Park made the decision to use this park as an experimental horticultural venue. The rosary, in particular, was such a spectacular site that up to 20,000 people on one Sunday alone in 1917 would come to see the displays.
What plant is that?
Of recent times, visitors have watched one of the more interesting plants in Centennial Park grow and flower – the Giant Bromeliad (Alcantarea).
Native to Eastern Brazil, Alcantarea gets its name from Dom Pedro d’Alcântara, the second Emperor or Brazil. Alcantarea is a group of extremely large Bromeliads, some reaching sizes of 1.5m across with flower spikes 2.5m high. In their natural habitat they are often found perched on the beautiful high rocky cliffs of Brazil (ref).
The Alcantarea is part of the wider Bromeliad family. These fascinating tropical American natives come in a wonderful variety of sizes, shapes and foliage colours. They seem very strange and exotic, but one of our most common fruits, the pineapple, is actually a bromeliad! (ref).
Where can I see the Alcantarea?
There are a number of Alcantarea in gradually developing array around Centennial Parklands Dining in Centennial Park, as well as in the Formal Gardens.
Next time you drop in for a coffee or lunch, stop off and have a closer look at these amazing plants. It’s certainly one that our staff are very proud, and a great addition to the Park’s ever changing horticultural appeal.
Centennial Park – A History is the authoritative book on the first 125 years of Australia’s most historically significant public park. Add it to your summer reading this year. Buy now.