Leaves 12-24 in a funnel-like rosette, 15-20 cm long, appearing hairless; sheaths distinct, pale green usually tinged with red; blades ligulate, 14-20 mm wide, pale green. Scape erect enclosed by the bracts. Inflorescence usually exceeding leaves, simple, few-flowered, nearly as long as broad, oblong with triangular-notched tip, flattened, hairless; floral bracts 30-36 mm long, 12-16 mm wide, exceeding sepals, sharply ridged, tip and margins yellow or green, the rest usually bright red; petals 35-45 mm long, yellow except for the green tip; stamens protruding.
The true species is in cultivation but there are many hybrids available including 'Mariae' which has the same colouring but an inflorescence that is longer than wide.
V. guttata Andre & Linden from south-eastern Brazil has fewer than 20 leaves in a funnel-like rosette, 15-20 cm long; sheaths slightly wider than blades, more or less brown; blades ligulate, 25-40 mm wide, with red-brown spots. Scape curved downwards, slender, with elliptic bracts. Inflorescence simple, many-flowered, strongly flattened, 10-35 cm long, 4-6 cm wide; floral bracts, especially the basal ones spreading at flowering, 26 mm wide, rose pink, frosted, smooth, usually equalling or shorter than the sepals; sepals to 3 cm long, frosted; petals 35-45 mm long, yellow; stamens protruding.
V. heterostachys (Baker) L.B. Sm. from south-eastern Brazil has 15-30 leaves in a dense rosette, to 38 cm long; sheaths large, pale; blades ligulate, 36 mm wide, green. Scape erect, much shorter than leaves with broadly elliptic, densely overlapping bracts. Inflorescence simple, elliptic, thick, few-flowered, 15-20 cm long, 5-6 cm wide, almost hairless; floral bracts with broadly curved margins, 4-5 cm long, orange, each less than half covered by the one below, exceeding the sepals; petals to 45 mm long, yellow with green tip; stamens protruding.
Source: (2005). Bromeliaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.