This Genus which belongs to the subfamily Bromelioideae was named after Martin Quesnel, a French Consul at Cayenne, French Guiana, who was responsible for introducing the plants into cultivation in France around 1840. The first was probably Q. arvensis which is the earliest listed of the species.
There are currently 18 species listed & 6 hybrids.
Quesnelias are native to the central coastal regions of Brazil & can be epiphytic, terrestrial or saxicolous.
They can be found in the mountains bordering the coastal plains up to 1500 metres.
Closer to the coast in swampy lowlands, with some tree cover, are the larger species with rosette shape & tanks to hold water.
Growing in the tropical sun in view of the ocean are species somewhere between the two. Growing in fine, white sand over thin layers of leaf mould, these can be found scattered over the dune areas, appearing to be almost indestructible.
The genus is composed of two major groups.
1) The first group is tubular, few leaved, & they resemble Billbergias (examples are: Q. humilis, Q. lateralis, Q. marmorata & Q. liboniana).
2) The second group is composed of large rosette shaped plants with very stiff leaves often grey barred on the underside (examples are: Q. arvensis, Q. quesneliana & Q. testudo).
The spined leaves occur in a variety of rosette forms as above except Q. marmorata which has distichous leaves.
The number of leaves varies from 4 to 40+ & they are green for most species.
The inflorescence is rather fleeting, lasting about two weeks. The forms & colours can be stunning in their beauty & more than make their existence worthwhile.
LIGHT: Bright light to full sun, but will tolerate areas of low light.
TEMPERATURE: Many need warmth & protection from frosts. The higher altitude species are the easiest to grow in areas of definite winters eg Q. liboniana.
POTTING MIX : Free draining
Quesnelia liboniana: This species develops ample stolons & has a narrow, tubular rosette. It can be mounted or grown in a pot/ basket. If placed at the base of a tree it will slowly climb up its new host. In habitat this species grows low in trees or on rock outcrops. Its flowers are navy & orange, an exotic combination.
Quesnelia marmorata (below): Is hardy & very adaptable to mounting. It has a tube like form & the leaves are heavily marbled maroon on grey-green. The slightly pendant inflorescence has rose pink bracts & china blue petals.
Quesnelia lateralis (below): Is named because of the habit of flowering from the base. It likes bright, filtered light, its leaves are green & the inflorescence has flame red bracts & ming blue petals.
Quesnelia humilis (below): Has a tubular form with green foliage. It is easy to grow in medium to bright filtered light. With offsets on stolons, it adapts well to hanging pot or basket, mounting, or grown over rocks in a rockery. The bracts are brilliant red & the petals are bright cerise.
Quesnelia quesneliana (below): This is the largest member of this genus. It grows well in bright, filtered light for more compact growth, but adapts well to medium light. In habitat it grows in full tropical sun close to the ocean. There are decorative white bands on the leaf underside. The large inflorescence, with no obvious stem, is cylinder shaped & is deep rose to red in colour. The layered bracts appear like crimped crepe paper. The petals are mauve with white edge, blue or pink.
Quesnelia arvensis (below): Likes the same situation as Q. quesneliana. In habitat, it grows in moist, swampy areas. Appearance is similar to Q. quesneliana.
Quesnelia testudo (below): Grows in coastal scrub at sea level & offsets on obvious stolons. It has a less open rosette & more rounded inflorescence on an obvious stem.
Quesnelia indecora (below): Has a flat topped inflorescence with red floral bracts, pink sepals & purple petals. It clumps well.
Quesnelia edmundoi v. rubrobracteata (below): This moderately large species, which looks like an Aechmea, was only discovered in 1961. When grown in good light – the leaves are an attractive maroon.
Quesnelia ‘Tim Plowman’ (below): Named by Harry Luther in 1983, it’s a cv. of Q. marmorata with recurled leaves.
Quesnelia ‘Farro’ (below): A variegated Q. testudo named by person unknown.
Quesnelia ‘Rafael Oliveira’ (below): Named by Chester Skotak, this variegated form of Q. marmorata was found by Rafael Oliveira de Faria in Brazil in 1995.
Q. arvensis, Q. quesneliana & Q. testudo are similar species & relatively difficult to tell apart. All have a cone like inflorescence with bright pink floral bracts. Here are some differences:
Q. arvensis has heavily textured dark green leaves with more pronounced spines than Q. testudo. The floral bracts have flat & uniform margins & cobwebby covering.
Q. quesneliana has a flower head longer & thinner than the other two. Its floral bracts are elongated & wrinkled along the edges & the base has a white woolly covering.
Q. testudo has leaves that are more bayonet shaped, an inflorescence that is more rounded & open & spines on the lower scape bracts.
*Many photos are my own - some have been accessed from other sources for educational purposes only.