Wednesday Vignette – in the presence of royalty

Billbergia nutans

This week, my hat’s off to Billbergia nutans, or ‘Queen’s Tears’ as it is commonly called. That has GOT to be one of the toughest houseplants in my possession! It suffered such neglect (by me) this past summer, I thought for sure it wouldn’t bloom this winter. Happy and astounded to say I was wrong. By now, it’s been pushing out blooms for weeks, and I finally took some pictures. My favorite part of its flowers are those little bi-colored ribbons that curl so elegantly at the bottom.

Billbergia nutans flower

A blue ribbon plant, for sure!

I wonder a bit over the common name of this showy South American epiphytic bromeliad. Several sources explain the ‘Tears’ part from the drops of nectar that drop from the flowers. I also think the form of the flower is rather dramatic and droopy, but it still doesn’t explain the other part. Which ‘Queen’ is it referring to? And why was she so sad? I imagine it must have been a Spanish or Portuguese queen, as I don’t imagine indigenous South American populations celebrated queens in the same way the Europeans did. Or, maybe they did? Perhaps the queen in question belonged to one of the  tribes ravaged by the invading colonialist thugs. In that case, I can totally see why she was crying.

No matter… the Queen on my window sill is lovely, and I will do my best to treat her better in the future. She is most certainly a noble one.

Billbergia nutans



About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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26 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – in the presence of royalty

  1. bergstromskan says:

    Lovely! If I had a suitable window, I would like to have one of those. Are they common? Thank you for posting, and for your thoughts.

    • annamadeit says:

      I don’t think they are hard to find, but another name for it is ‘Friendship plant’. because they are so easy to share. Mine is pretty big, so next time I see you, I can divide it and give you a piece. Mine started as a division. Also, they don’t require a lot of light, so I think you could easily fit one in somewhere. 🙂

  2. Tina says:

    The blue ribbons are such a delightful surprise, a *lagniappe*, if you will. I’m lousy at house plants and just don’t bother with them, but I’m sure glad to be introduced to this one.

    • annamadeit says:

      Had to look up ‘lagniappe’, but now that I know what it means – you are exactly right! It’s a lovely little extra feature!

      • Tina says:

        I’m passing on to you links to two blogs from a wonderful writer, Linda Leinen. One of her blogs is The Task at Hand, , and her other blog is Lagniappe, . I think you’d really enjoy reading both.

        • annamadeit says:

          Oh, thank you! I will definitely take a look. And, just so you know, I posted your ‘Not only butterflies’ post on Facebook yesterday, and also sent it (with the gofundme page and all those great links) to several (D) Senators. I figured pictures speak far louder than words. Those images especially highlight the utter ridiculousness of the very idea of a wall inland from the mighty river. 28 waived laws… sheesh!!!

          • Tina says:

            Thanks, Anna. I imagine your senators will listen more than mine will. ): I admire Marianna Trevino who ownes the land on which the Butterfly Center rests–she’s been a real bulldog in getting the word out, but the funding for the destruction of the land was passed last March, so I’m not hopeful. If you look at the donations on the GoFundMe page, it’s mostly very small donations–just regular folks who recognize what’s about to be destroyed. We donated directly to the Butterfly Center (my husband’s company matches generously). We live in odd times.

          • annamadeit says:

            Indeed we do. Well, my post got three shares so far, so I’m doing my best to spread the word. I think we need to stress the 28 WAIVED LAWS (holy f**k!). I’m still holding out for some sort of miracle to happen. I hear they sometimes do, despite the world we live in…

  3. tonytomeo says:

    What? I never gave that any thought. I would have guessed that it was just any random queen who happened to be sad. Although a dignified Portuguese or Spanish queen does seem to be much more appealing than what I imagine on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

  4. Peter Herpst says:

    Such pretty and unusual blooms. I have a variegated version that came from Cistus. The plant looks happy but hasn’t bloomed for me yet. Maybe my queen is too happy to weep.

    • annamadeit says:

      A variegated one?? Wow, I have never seen that! Either way, I bet you treat yours better than I treat mine, but that shouldn’t matter. Even though mine has the courtesy to thrive despite my neglect of it, I bet it would do even better if I applied my admiration of it in a more frequent and practical way.

  5. This plant deserves a blue ribbon.

  6. I need to get another Billbergia nutans, mine got so big and ugly that I tossed it rather than try to divide it into smaller plants.

    My WV:

  7. Kris P says:

    The plant itself it easily forgotten, not flashy by comparison to other bromeliads. I neglect mine horribly too but, oh, when it blooms! Even better than the photos is the manner in which the plant’s common name sent your brain rambling. Another kind of flourish, actually more of a melee, grabbed my attention this week:

    • annamadeit says:

      Indeed it IS rather anonymous when not in bloom. I confess to being intrigued with the variegated Cistus version Peter mentioned. He said it hasn’t bloomed yet, but I bet it would be stunning…

  8. Alison says:

    Great shots of this beautiful flower. I should get another one, mine died on me, from neglect probably.

  9. That Billbergia is stunning. Way more exciting than the houseplants around here.

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