Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Billbergia zebrina Lindl.

Frost tender, evergreen epiphyte with scaly, laxly toothed, recurved leaves to 1m, banded silver or white, sometimes bronze-purple, forming a tubular rosette, and with an arching to pendant inflorescence of tubular yellow-green flowers with pink, papery bracts, arising from the centre of the leaves.  To 1m in flower.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This elegant plant is a native of Rio de Janeiro, where it is found growing upon trees.  With us it flowered in the month of January.’  [LBC no.1912/1835].  Introduced to Britain in 1826.  [JD].  ‘This beautiful parasite was cut with a portion of the wood from the stem of a great tree in the neighbourhood of rio Janeiro.  Its hard and notty stumps adhere inseparably to the trunk, at least they are not easily parted by a hammer and chisel.  By the posture of the leaves when imported, the plant seems to have grown upon the side of a nearly upright trunk.  Another species with similar bractes and pendulous spike, but differing widely in other respects, accompanied it from the same quarter, but did not survive the voyage.  Our plant flowered in the stove at Spofforth, in June, being planted in a small pot of peat on a warm flue.  The growth of the inflorescence is singularly rapid.  Twenty-four hours after its point emerged from the leaves, it was in the state represented in our sketch.’  [BM t.2686/1826].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.164/1850].


Published Feb 20, 2009 - 02:15 PM | Last updated Feb 13, 2010 - 04:28 PM

The image shows spiny striped leaves and pendant pink and white flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.2686, 1826.

Billbergia zebrina Lindl. | BM t.2686/1826 | BHL

Family Bromeliaceae
Region of origin


Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Bilbergia zebrina 

Confidence level high