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Garden Talk

Aechmaea 'Yellow Berries'

Horticultural Highlight: Aechmaea 'Yellow Berries'

Lindsey Luks

In this series, the staff of Duke Gardens highlights plants you’ll find within our 55-acre living collection. This week Doris Duke Center Gardens horticulturist Lindsey Luks features one of her favorite tropicals.

Botanical name: Aechmea ‘Yellow Berries’
Common name: Bromeliad
Family name: Bromeliaceae (Bromeliad Family)
Plant type: Tropical
Location in Duke Gardens: At the Duke Gardens entrance on Anderson Street

Aechmaea 'Yellow Berries'

Few plants at Duke Gardens say “summer!” with such tropical flair as bromeliads do. Here at Duke Gardens, we have created an extensive bromeliad collection over the years, and we look forward each summer to bringing them out into the gardens for public display.

One of my favorites this year is Aechmea ‘Yellow Berries.’ This particular variety is different from a lot of our other Aechmea varieties in that the flower spike persists into the summer.  The spike, which is several feet long, is quite attractive and adds height and airiness—and perhaps an alien quality as well—to the designs it is incorporated in.

Aechmea ‘Yellow Berries’ does well in different kinds of light, but it gets its boldest color in full sun. We keep this bromeliad stowed away in our greenhouse until overnight temperatures remain steady in the upper 40s. Then we bring it outside to bask in the sunshine and obtain its gorgeous yellow-chartreuse foliage.

One notable characteristic of this plant is its extremely sharp leaf edges. A number of bromeliads are known to have vicious serrations along the edges of the leaves, making them dangerous to work with. We like to wear long sleeves when handling these plants, to prevent cuts along our arms. Just don’t get too close!

Duke Gardens is temporarily closed to the public, but this is one bromeliad you can still see up close in the entrance bed at the Gardens’ front gate.

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Photos by Lindsey Luks.