There are a few things in nature that we have come to recognize as beautiful beyond imagination but also diabolically dangerous. Take for instance the Poison Dart Frog from the Amazon or the Blue Ring Octopus of the Pacific and Indian oceans, both are so beautiful but so deadly. I think in life its always good to appreciate these creatures. Admire them from somewhere safe and afar. But what if you could tame the beast for the sake of possessing such beauty? Well, I say teeth to the wind my friends because there's a delicious demon out there worth knowing and for the brave at heart...worth growing. Feast your eyes on the vibrant vision of Bromelia balansae commonly referred to as Heart of Flame, Heart of Fire, or the Barbed-Wire Fence Bromeliad. This bromeliad is like a beautiful big bad wolf of sorts. What stunning foliage it has! The better to bedazzle you with. What amazing flowers it has! The better to captivate you with. What deadly hooked teeth it has! The better to eat you with, well not literally, but they could do some serious damage to a finger, an arm, or a leg. However, this ferociously fearsome plant deserves to be lauded for its electrifying beauty and unusual exquisiteness!
Bromelia balansae comes to us from Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. It is a large terrestrial (grows on on the ground with roots that gather water and nutrients from the soil) bromeliad that likes growing in rocky soils. It grows as a rosette, reaching a diameter up to 2-3 tall and wide, of long, stiff green leaves armed with some serious flesh cutting teeth. As the plant matures, its foliage begins to blush in colors of electric orange deepening to fiery red. As this happens, the plant extends an eruptive red flower spike from its center, outfitted in shorter red toothed stems. At the center of the spike is a felted torch-like inflorescence holding beautiful white and reddish-plum blooms. The look is extraordinary and stunning! It sort of reminds me of the Addams Family plant Cleopatra. When blooms fade, orange berry-like fruits appear.
Bromelia balansae is definitely one of those plants you plant and leave alone to do its thing. It makes for a great verdant barrier or a super cool specimen in a place where it can be seen, appreciated, but not touched. It likes full sun to part sun situations, well-draining soil, regular to low water, and is hardy to around 28 degrees fahrenheit/-2 degrees celsius. Once established it is drought tolerant. It looks cool planted in a subtropical or cactus garden where its savage beauty can electrify the landscape and cause a scene. Teeth to the wind, I say. Teeth to the wind.