Named in honour of Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, Calathea burle-marxii was scientifically named and described in 1982 by an Honorary Research Associate of UBC, Dr. Helen Kennedy. At the time, Dr. Kennedy was at the University of Manitoba. This would mean that while she was working on publishing this, about one hundred kilometres away I was a child playing in forests and ponds. Thirty-four years later, I photograph plants of the species at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, and a year beyond that, I learn that the species was named by Dr. Kennedy while writing this entry.
Calathea burle-marxii is native to southeastern Brazil. This species had been in cultivation for at least a decade before being named by Dr. Kennedy (see: Kennedy, H. Calathea burle-marxii and Ctenanthe burle-marxii (Marantaceae): two new cultivated species from Brazil. Canadian Journal of Botany. 1982. 60(11): 2365-2370, 10.1139/b82-289 ). In fact, this is one of the relatively rare instances where the species is named and described from cultivated material rather than plants from the wild. In the horticultural trade, the plants from today’s photographs may be sold under the cultivar name ‘Blue Ice’ or ‘Ice Blue’. These cultivar names were established before the naming of the species, so it becomes a bit of a taxonomic decision-making to determine whether these horticulturally-named kinds are within the normal range of the species variation or something distinct and/or special. The cultivars originate from the artificial self-fertilization of plants, which could possibly be a common occurrence in natural populations.
In cultivation, this requires shady environments in tropical climates. You can read more about the species from Hawaiian Plants and Tropical Flowers: Calathea burle-marxii and the Flora and Fauna blog: Calathea burle-marxii.