The BROMELIAD SOCIETY
|Vol. 1||November December, 1951||No. 6|
THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETINEditorial Office: 718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida.
Annual Dues: $3.50 a year (foreign $4.00) which includes subscription to the Bulletin.
Write to Miss Victoria Padilla, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, Calif.
Editor's NotesHappy New Year
The first year of the life of our Bromeliad Bulletin ends with this issue. Your sustained interest and support is most necessary for its continuance.
When the Bromeliad Society was organized in September 1950 it was first thought that an occasional mimeographed bulletin issued to the members would suffice, but the more we considered this matter the more we felt that this would not do for an International Society. So we started out with an eight page printed Bulletin. Our Society started to grow immediately, not just in this country, but from across the seas memberships came in. Eighteen different countries are represented now in our family. Our members are enthusiastic and interest continues to grow. Bromeliads are again coming into their own, and this time with a greater international interest than ever before. Now our Bulletin has twelve pages and we have been successful in receiving a few advertisers.
The Editor would like to have a personal word with the members of the Bromeliad Society.
First–We would like criticism. Tell us what you think would improve the Bulletin.
Second–We would like more articles on culture . . . your experiences and your questions.
Third–We would like your praise and approval by sending in a check to renew your membership and subscription so that we may aim for higher and better goals in 1952.
Fourth–If you are a grower or would like to try your hand at growing bromeliads from seed, we will be pleased to send a packet of seeds to every one who will renew his membership before January 31, 1952. We have seeds of several different genera such as Aechmea, Puya, Dyckia, Streptocalyx and Gravisia. You might specify your first and second choice and we will observe your preference as long as it is possible to do so. Not that you have to have a premium for continuing your membership, but just as a token of friendship in appreciating your early renewal.
Please note your seed request on the renewal blank when you send your check for your 1952 Membership.
Another very special gift to the Bromeliad Society has come from Dr. Alberto Castellanos, (Honorary Trustee) of Buenos Aires, Argentina–a copy of his monograph on Bromeliaceae (Vol. 3) from the series of "Genera et Species Plantarium Argentinarium." Because of its giant size (14 by 20 in.) its magnificent printing, its fifty-six full page colored plates as well as nearly 200 drawings and photographs, it can be considered one of the finest works ever executed on Bromeliaceae. The members of the Bromeliad Society are deeply indebted to Dr. Castellanos for this significant contribution added to his other gift of the papers published by the Museo Nacional De Historia Natural and the Instituto Miguel Lillo.
The cover page drawing and engraving on this issue is a contribution from your editor and his assistant, Racine.
Aechmea filicaulis is the fantastic but most beautiful aechmea that Honorary Trustee, Henry Teuscher mentions in his letter on page 55.
by Henry Teuscher
Rancho Grande, National Forest, Venezuela, Nov. 1, 1951
The first visit to a tropical cloud forest such as my present visit to this beautiful place here, is an unforgettable experience. In comparison with the Canadian forests the flora is unbelievably rich and one meets so many attractive and interesting plants at every step that it is extremely difficult for the collecting horticulturist to choose between them.
It was my good luck that Mr. Mulford B. Foster, our Bromeliad Society president, had offered to join me on this trip to which I had been invited and I, the novice in tropical travel and exploration, profited greatly by Mr. Foster's long years of experience in several South American countries. Mr. Foster can see a bromeliad or any other particularly interesting plant from a greater distance than anyone else I have ever known, in fact, I believe he smells them. Since in a tropical cloud forest many of the most interesting plants are high above your head in the tree tops it does take super alert senses to detect them and keen eyesight to distinguish between different species.
Dr. Tobias Lasser, Director of the Instituto de Bontanico, Caracas, Venezuela, and in charge of the biological station, Rancho Grande, received us most kindly, and before taking us out here to the National Forest, he showed us at the Botanical Institute Herbarium, specimens of some of the most interesting plants we were likely to encounter. From these, one intrigued us particularly, a very strange Aechmea with the species name filicaulis, having long hanging panicles of flowers. The herbarium specimen, of course, gave us no notion of the plant's beauty, but strange it certainly was, and Mr. Foster was determined that we should find it.
As it happened we did find it on our very first trip into the jungle, since by great good fortune the species was in flower, though not many other bromeliads were in flower at this time of year. I, myself, was so overwhelmed by the beauty and variety of the jungle flora which surrounded us and which I saw for the first time, that I had to stop at every step to focus my eyes slowly on individual plants before I could recognize what I was seeing. Mr. Foster, therefore, was far ahead, as well as high above me, when I heard his triumphant yell. He had spied Aechmea filicaulis in flower. When I scrambled up to join him I became as excited as he was. It certainly was a marvelous sight. The thin thread-like flower panicles hung down to a length of almost six feet; each clustered whorl of flowers bore a rather large bright rosy-red bract and the pure white flowers were surprisingly large. Seen from above they were moving slightly in a faint updraft and glimmering in slanting sun rays, one received the impression of fluttering butterflies rather than of a hanging panicle of white flowers with red bracts. The thin stalks were almost invisible.
I visualized immediately the sensation which such a plant in flower would make in the conservatories of the Montreal Botanical Garden and when eventually I did secure a few plants of this handsome aechmea to take home with me, I felt that this find alone would make my whole trip worthwhile. We later saw many plants of Aechmea filicaulis which appeared frequently in limited areas in the National Forest of Rancho Grande. We discovered also that the plants themselves, which in the forest area are a shiny dark green, turn bright red when living in the sunlit areas. Such a red plant in flower is, of course, still more spectacular.
Another exceptionally handsome bromeliad of which Dr. Lasser had shown us a kodachrome picture, is Billbergia Venezuelana, rather closely related to B. porteana and B. zebrina. Its form is a stifly upright, hard, tubular plant, beautifully marked outside with white on reddish brown. The deeply pink bracted inflorescence likewise hangs down and is very beautiful. Even the natives who, like native populations everywhere, generally prefer ornamental plants, frequently plant this billbergia on trees in front of their homes where it forms huge clusters. In fact, this was the only native bromeliad which we saw honored and appreciated in this manner. Billbergia Venezuelana occurs only at lower altitudes and principally on the seaside of the mountains where the climate is hot and dry; it is never found in tropical cloud forests. We did not see it in flower except in Dr. Lasser's picture, but we managed to collect a few plants which we hope will eventually reveal their full beauty in our greenhouses.
–Curator, Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada.
Q. Have you ever ascertained at what light reading bromeliads do best?
A. The question is entirely too broad for a specific answer.
Dyckias, Orthophytums, Hechtias and other similar types of xerophytic and saxicolous bromeliads thrive in full sunlight. For the most part they have thick succulent leaves and are heavily covered with peltate scales. If they arc grown in the shade they are weak and soft. Such plants would require a high light.
Much more important than to read a light meter would be to read the "leaf-meter" . . . what the leaves indicate. Glossy, thin leaves require diffused light and shade. Leaves with spines and thick leaves which are generally covered with peltate scales in most cases will take much light and a good percentage of direct sun; these plants such as the giant Aechmeas, Hohenbergias, Gravisias, giant Tillandsias and Vriesias are generally growing on mountain sides or in rocky desert locations with considerable sun.
In or near the tropics where bromels are most abundant the light hours are of nearly equal length throughout the year. Generally speaking the greater the altitude the higher the moisture content of the air and it will be found that the resistance of the plant to the sun is greater. A stun-loving bromel can exist in a fairly shaded condition but its real character in form and color will suffer. The same goes for the shade plant in the opposite condition.
Q. Can all bromeliads (with the exception of the cactus types) be grown together? Certain types of orchids need varying conditions, and we have wondered if this is true of bromeliads?
A. Much of this query has been answered in the above lines on light. I have both bromeliads and orchids growing together in the same house. Xerophytic types, especially tillandsias, I place in the most light, near the top of the house. They like to hang. I shade some sections of the glass more than others. I have some vines such as Vitis or Vanilla growing in the house to afford some natural shade. The bromeliads nearest the ground and in the moist shade will receive more water and moisture and will retain it longer than the ones above in more light. If you have any doubts as to there being varying conditions in your house, unless, of course, it is a very small house, sit on the floor for a while on a good hot day and then try out at position with your head near the glass.
If you want your plants just so that YOU can have the flowers, then you may be disappointed . . . don't try to MAKE your plants bloom . . . try to give them conditions that would meet THEIR needs so that they can present you with their flowers!
–M. B. F.
Photo by Lad Cutak
|Bromeliad Propagating House at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri|
by Ladislaus Cutak
The bromeliads have always occupied a prominent position at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This can be seen readily upon scanning the old accession lists which are kept at the Main Gate office. Many of the species were raised from seed but living plants were also acquired from various American and European institutions, commercial concerns and private fanciers.
I began working at the Garden in 1927 and from the start took a great interest in cacti and other desert plants but gradually acquired a liking for palms and other exotics. The Garden maintained many plants of Billbergia thyrsoidea (now named B. pyramidalis) which always put on a brilliant display of scarlet torches in the fall season and I could not help but become fascinated with them.
Along about 1940 a chance to visit Florida materialized and one of the stops I made included the Tropical Arts garden operated by Mulford and Racine Foster in Orlando. This duo, at the time, was gone from the premises as both were plant hunting in Brazil; however, I managed to take lots of pictures and then began corresponding with them.
Later, Foster was brought to St. Louis to visit our garden for the first time, when he assisted us in renaming many of the plants. The Garden was still using Baker's system in classifying the bromeliads but at Foster's insistence switched to the modern method employed by Dr. Lyman B. Smith, reputed to be the foremost living authority of the group. The job of revamping the bromeliad collection at the Garden was then entrusted to me.
Whenever any species came into flower I would photograph it, make detailed drawings of the floral parts, check it with its original description, and make additional notes. This was the only way one could really get acquainted with the plants. Foster enriched our collection by sending many of his new discoveries and we, in turn, gave him other plants in exchange.
In 1944 the Garden gave me the opportunity to spend two weeks at Foster's establishment and study his new numbers and hybrids. The stay gave me a keener insight into the study of bromels and it also afforded me an opportunity to know better the versatile Mulford. We talked bromels day in and day out–or should I say Foster did most of the talking! That man never tires of discussing these plants. Would you believe it, every night before retiring he would saunter into the greenhouses and put his bromels to sleep! If I was still awake when he returned to the house, he would immediately touch upon his favorite subject until my weary eyes succumbed to slumber. If anyone ever was bromel-conscious, Mulford Foster is the man!
The main greenhouse at Foster's was known as the Orchidario, and is now called the Bromeliarium. Here a permanent collection of bromels, orchids and other epiphytes is always on display. Adjoining houses are devoted almost entirely to bromels and philodendrons. In the Orchidario I got my first glimpse of that striking Brazilian beauty, Dyckia Fosteriana, a high mountain species with conspicuously platinum-toothed, grey, lepidote leaves. There, too. I focused my eyes on the beautiful Cryptanthopsis navioides, which originally was found on perpendicular rocks above a stream in an isolated ravine in Brazil. The plants resembled certain seedling Dasylirions but with yellow green leaves that turned terra cotta to brick red when in bloom. At that time these two bromels were about the rarest items in the collection and were not to be photographed, as I learned soon, until Foster's book "Brazil, Orchid of The Tropics" was published. I had to confess that I already had taken pictures of the two plants and teased him that I would use the pictures to illustrate a story I was planning upon my return to St. Louis.
Photo by Lad Cutak
|Group of highly ornamental bromeliads at the Missouri Botanical Garden representing the genera Billbergia, Neoregelia, Aechmea, Nidularium, Vriesia, Cryptanthus and Guzmania.|
Foster and I made a short trip for plants south of Orlando. halfway down to Winter Haven. It was there that Foster demonstrated his agility in climbing trees. All I had to say was, "Ah, there's a tillandsia that I'd like to have," and before finishing the sentence Mulford would be halfway up the tree. This brief trip was my first bromel hunt I ever undertook, but since then I have collected bromeliads in Mexico.
At the Missouri Botanical Garden bromeliads are now being grown in several houses. The propagation is chiefly carried on in a pit house. not open to the public, but visitors can see hundreds of notable species in large groups in an adjoining range. Here, bromels are grown in wooden baskets and suspended overhead or planted in pots displayed on concrete benches. In recent years bromels have been added to the plantings in the Main Conservatory–chiefly in the palm jungle and the desert house, where they form part of a naturalistic scene. Most of the palm trunks are covered with clumps of orchids and clambering aroids in addition to the bromels. Bromels are also grown in beds, making a wonderful display during the flowering season. In late fall the scarlet torches of Billbergia pyramidalis light up the jungle floor.
Billbergia macrocalyx, Quesnelia Liboniana, Nidularium innocentii var. striatum, Neoregelia marmorata and N. spectabilis, Aechmea bracteata and Ae. distichantha are outstanding epiphytic species, which, however, do exceptionally well as terrestrials. Aechmea bracteata. when grown in the ground often produces five-foot long leaves and looks unlike a specimen that could be used as a pot plant.
In the desert house where cacti are featured a number of xerophytic bromels have been growing happily for the past few years. The bright green-leaved Portea petropolitana var. extensa has made remarkable growth and sent up several flowerspikes which remained lovely for many months in 1951. Aechmea distichantha is an old standby that never fails to produce its lush pink floral stalks with dark blue flowers. The rare Androlepis Skinneri from Guatemala is one of the finest birdnest type of bromeliads on exhibit. others include the lovely Hohenbergia stellata and Streptocalyx floribunda. One of the more xerophytic types which requires lots of room is Bromelia Balansae. These large plants produce long vicious strap-shaped leaves in a spreading rosette and when about to bloom, brilliantly color up in the center, from which the common name "Heart of Flame" is derived. Several species of Dyckias, Puyas, and Hechtias adorn the beds in the Cactus House where Pitcairnias often are used as border subjects. It is impossible to mention all the bromeliads now being tried out at the Garden but we feel sure that our collection is playing a great part in acquainting the public with this most fascinating plant group. Come up and see them sometime!
–Horticulturist, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri.__________
Engravings Contributed by Missouri Botanical Garden Bulletin.
Lyman B. Smith
Until I started writing up the bromeliads for Dr. F. C. hoehne's "Flora Brasilica," I had taken the scientific names pretty much for granted. However. the format of his monumental series requires an explanation of the generic names. This would seem a simple matter of locating the original publication of each genus and reading what the author said about it, but it usually turns out that he gave little or no clew to the ingredients of his name.
Of course it is fairly obvious when the name has been taken from a person as is the case in twenty-two of the thirty-five genera of Brazilian bromeliads. When it comes to finding who they were or even when they were born and died it is often not so easy. At the time they were so well known that no explanation seemed needed. while now we know of Guzmania's A. Guzman only that he was a Spanish apothecary who must have lived before 1802, and can only conjecture that Quesnelia honors a certain E. Quesnel who was a French horticulturist.
A further puzzle is why so many of these men do not seem to have left any botanical records of their own. I suspect that they were patrons rather than active botanists. Notice that five names. Cottendorfia, Navia, Dyckia, Fernseea, and Hohenbergia were from Germanic nobles, a class that supported art and science notably in the period when these genera were made. It should be admitted that Prince Joseph Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck fully merited the recognition as a horticulturist and that Wawra von Fernsee was distinguished both as a collector and writer. Fernseea, a genus of a single species. found on a single mountain in Brazil, is indeed a fitting memorial to the man who discovered, described and colorfully illustrated it in writings of small quantity and high quality.
An interesting item in the personal name category is the matter of encores. Many men have had one genus named for them but a few were so popular or so famous that they have had more. Or it may be that someone else with the same name had been so honored. For instance, there was already a Cohnia in the lilies, so Mez used the Greek "Deuter" meaning a second time to make Deuterocohnia for Dr. Ferdinand Julius Cohn. Neoregelia is for Eduard August von Regel, Director of the Botanic Gardens of St. Petersburg, Russia, and discoverer of a number of highly ornamental bromeliads. In this case the same species were given three different generic names all for Regel. First they were called Regelia until it was noted that the name had been used before, then, these species were listed under the generic name Aregelia until a flaw was found in that title, and now, Neoregelia (meaning new regelia) is the recognized name. With Neoglaziovia we have the top in bromeliad encores, for A. Glaziou, the French botanist and landscape architect, who lived in Brasil many years, collected so many new genera that his name is used to form not only Glaziovia in the palms and Neoglaziovia in the bromeliads, but six others as well. Before the Fosters invaded Brasil Glaziou also held the record for discovering new species of bromeliads in that country.
The remaining genera have Indian or classical names. There are but two Indian names represented in the bromeliads: Puya (meaning point) from the Mapuche Indians of Chile and Ananas from the Guarani of Brazil. Pseudananas. the imitation pineapple, is a sort of Greek-Indian hybrid.
The other names are from Greek or Latin and most of them are apt and obvious like Streptocalyx, twisted calyx, Nidularium, nestbearer. Encholirium, sword-lily, Acanthostachys, spiny spike, and Araeococcus, air berry. Cryptanthus, hidden flower, was more aptly named than its author ever lived to realize, for it was in cultivation well over a hundred years before Mulford Foster pointed out that it had two types of flowers (see Plant Life vol. 1, p. 64). Some names take a little explaining like Canistrum, little basket, referring to the inflorescence, and Aechmea, long point, referring to the large spines on the sepals of Ae. paniculata, the original species. However, your guess is as good as mine as to what was intended by Orthophytum, meaning straight plant, or what flight of fancy is back of Catopsis, meaning a view. Maybe since it was an epiphyte it had a good view.
–Associate Curator, Div. Phanerogams, Smithsonian Institution.
by Mulford B. Foster
Puyas, the most primitive members of the bromeliad family, have a rosette of quite spiny leaves that are generally green, gray or blue-green although some of them turn toward the red shades in arid, sunny exposures. The inflorescence always appears in the center of the plant; the colors of the flowers predominate in blue, purple and green with their many shades and combinations; a few species have white flowers. The flower bracts, however, may be delicate pink, red, brown, or green in different tones thus giving some very striking as well as rather unique, weird color harmonics.
I have found that some species such as P. raimondii and P. hamata have a monocarpial growth, that is, they grow as single specimens only, have no asexual off shoots and die after the plant has matured its fruit and seeds; thus it propagates its kind only by seed. Most of the Puyas, however, grow in rather large clusters and in many instances one plant may cover great areas. Each complete plant head sends off one or more new shoots, generally at the blooming period. That mature head does not flower again but the plant continues to increase in size and area as the offshoots continue to increase in number year after year. The seeds of the Puyas are generally quite small and have a wing surrounding at least three sides.
There are many plants native to the pacific Coast of South America that seem to thrive better on the Pacific Coast of North America than on the Atlantic Coast and this factor seems to hold well in the bromeliads. There have been more Puyas in cultivation in California than on the East Coast of the United States. clearly all of the species of this genus are native to the Andes; they are all terrestrial or saxicolous and most of them enjoy altitude or cool nights, so many of them will tolerate below freezing temperatures in the winter period. They might be called sub-tropical or temperate zone plants.
There are approximately 120 species of Puyas known but only a few of them have ever entered horticulture and it is doubtful if many ever will. Their size and requirements place then out of the range of the average collector, so they will continue to be found principally in the Botanical Gardens, or in the collections of those who possess a greenhouse or with those who reside in warm climates.
A few of the species are small enough for pot plants, many of them might well be used as rock garden plants and some of them are so specialized in habitat that they never will be adaptable to horticulture. In any event most of them will be a challenge to the bromeliad specialist and every successful attempt will be a worth while project.
Certainly the finest collection of living species of Puyas known to the writer is in the Huntington Gardens at San Marino, near Los Angeles, California. They are in a naturalistic planting which is well worth seeing whether you are a bromeliad enthusiast or not.
To Be Continued
There is no doubt about the value of the magnificent bromeliads of the type Vriesia, Aechmea, Neoregelia, Billbergia as plants for the plant lover and horticulturist. But how about the Tillandsias?
I want to refer here to those smaller and smallest, partly xerophytic forms of the tillandsias as T. ionantha, T. brachycaulis, T. stricta, T. gardneri, T. dianthoides, T. pulchra, T. bulbosa, etc. and also to other small bromeliads.
In the superabundance of splendid tropical plant life these humble plants are often overlooked in tropical countries, even by fanciers; there are so many other things which catch the eve.
People in the colder zones and big towns who have become more and more alienated from nature are much impressed by these plants. It is a marvel to them as these plants seem to live from nothing without the nourishment-giving earth; living from air and water they become as jewels crystallized from the melody of winds and the drumming of tropical rains. Even if the tillandsias are not in bloom they are mysteriously attractive in variety of shape and color. To heighten their charm, the tillandsia plant seems to become as a single flower when the entire plant becomes a beaming red, framing the blue flowers, for instance in Tillandsia ionantha and T. brachycaulis. The excellence of the organic substance which is wrested from air and water has made the plant produce a marvel of a flower not to he surpassed, without prodigality in its unique economy. By a chance or negligent disarrangement of the PH value the green leaves become a wonderful red and then green again.
When displaced from their native habitat the tillandsias need care and love. With other plants too much love and care will kill them because the earth gets sour, whereas with tillandsias, which hang without soil or attach themselves to posts or pots of fiber, too much love will hardly alter their life span, although they want periods of wet and dry. An Arabian proverb says: "It is the master's eye that makes the horses fat." So it is up to the plantsman and his proper understanding that the tillandsias grow in abundance. It is necessary to have the gift to see when they want to be left in peace; it should be endeavoured, if possible, that this rest happens in winter. Then they need to be sprayed only once per week; they also can stand quite a cooling down as many tillandsias come from mountains where it becomes rather cold at night.
Their smallness in size and the little space they occupy spells a great advantage to the fancier who might not have enough space under glass to have a complete collection of big bromeliads. The fact that tillandsias can hang is a big advantage to the limited space. It also suggests that flower pots can be banished. By hunting in the woods for a nicely shaped piece of wood one can establish tillandsias in picturesque arrangements without the space-taking pots.
In exchanging plants, hardly any genus of plants is so qualified for transport by air as the tillandsias which are light. and quite capable of standing long transport without harm. What a chance of inhabitants of remotest countries to get in personal touch with one another in exchanging their pets. There is hardly a greater pleasure for the fancier than to unpack such a shipment. And how often the genuine species varies from the different places, in their size and growing capacity, differences which will escape the systematic botanist, which only the horticulturist is able to recognize and appreciate.
Since the tillandsias get very old (though they continue to live after blooming only in their shoots) we have had in Europe many plants which had been imported many decades ago. They were considered especially precious in the botanical gardens. It was often deemed of greater value to get such a plant which is always rare due to slow propagation, than to get a splendid orchid.
Today the respect for the uniqueness of an imported plant might be in decline due to traffic by air and the fact that the fanciers are united in one Society. We are not going to regret this fact as it has become so much easier to interest wider circles of men and thus to make them happy.
There are many problems left to be solved in connection with the best keeping and propagation of tillandsias. It is intended to give, if possible, more details on their feeding and the cultivation from seed later in this Bulletin.
It would be a great pleasure to the author of these lines–who has collected, cultivated and raised thousands of seedlings from home-harvested seed until his collection, which comprised about eighty species, was destroyed by war–if the members of the Bromeliad Society would not forget those tiny little wonders–the tillandsias.
–Unter den Birken 15, Frankfurt (Main) Germany.
A long time ago, when we were first studying bromeliads, we were astounded to find the short description of bromeliads by the Garden Encyclopedia, harboring a colossal error. We should have written to the editor . . . but we didn't, mainly because it was too late and also because the short paragraph about bromeliads was relatively so insignificant that the error seemed harmless. Herewith follows the paragraph as taken from "The Garden Encyclopedia" ed. By E. L. D. Seymour:
"Botanical name of the Bromelia or Pineapple family, a group of herbs or subshrubs of the American tropics with persistent, stiff, channeled leaves in rosettes, crowded into a basal sheath. The bright flowers, provided with large, often colored and showy bracts are borne in dense heads or spikes. Many Bromeliads (as members of the family are called), grow on other plants, but some like the Pineapple (Ananas) are terrestrial. They show great diversity, including such different forms as the Pineapple, Spanish Moss (Tillandsia) and the water-hyacinth (Eichhornea). In greenhouses some are grown in pots and baskets making very showy and effective subjects. Genera grown for ornament and not already mentioned include Vriesia, Aechmea, Billbergia, Nidularium, Cryptanthus."
The great error (about the water-hyacinth) was not so harmless and unobtrusive as we thought. It was used in an article "Bromeliads For the Shade Garden" by Carolyn Rector in the Begonian for November 1949. Having been influenced by what the Garden Encyclopedia had published the author said, "And at least one of the family, Eichhornea crassipes, the Water Hyacinth, has become a highly ornamental pest in the South, where it chokes up the ponds with its lush growth." What she says about water hyacinths is true but to include them as members of the bromeliad family is going to the extreme in fallacy. In every botanical aspect the water hyacinth has no relationship whatever to a bromeliad and the error must be emphatically cleared up!
Many years ago in the May 1932 Desert Magazine, Fritz Berger of San Marino, California wrote under his description of Tillandsia Lindenii, . . . "in watering great care must be taken not to allow any water to fall upon the plant itself as it might start to rot, especially damaging the tender bud."
So far as bromeliads are concerned there could not be anything further from the truth. They, living in trees, naturally, are rained upon and their leaves are frequently washed by rain or dew. In fact, is there any plant that does not want water on its leaves? Bromeliads, especially, receive water in the peltate scales of the rough surface where they easily store a reserve of moisture. Without water in the center "cups" bromeliads would dry up. Fortunately the majority of those who have bromeliads have learned this, although from time to time we have a "doubting Thomas" who is unconvinced that water standing in a plant is good for it!
Let those people go to the Andes in Peru where Tillandsia Lindenii lives in rain forests where some precipitation falls nearly every day.
We are gratified to realize that progress has been made in the concept of "Spanish Moss" (Tillandsia usneoides). Back in 1924 in an Orlando newspaper it was stated that Spanish Moss was not a plant but a kind of parasitic insect that lived on the trees . . . almost as if it had been written in the sixteenth century!