BSI Journal - Online Archive
THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN
Editorial 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.
True to our promise . . . which was, if most of the members
renewed and if there was enough increase in new membership . . . we would
permanently enlarge your regular Bromeliad Bulletin . . . which we did with the
May-June issue by adding four pages, a printer's fold. This may seem like a
very small increase but you would be surprised how it increases the cost and
the amount of copy to be readied! However, we hope to continue with this larger
size as we have received an unusual amount of favorable comment for this more "grown-up" issue.
Our last issue was devoted, principally, to bromeliads in
Europe because we felt that the extensive annual output of bromeliads over
there, reaching into the thousands, is a challenge to the growers in this
country. Until we have a larger number of growers who can furnish these plants
our public will remain disappointed.
In recent years orchids have been highly glamorized and sold
in huge quantities as house plants. But we who know both the bromeliads and
orchids feel sure that most of the bromeliads far surpass orchids as house
plants. It is now up to the new, enterprising growers who will see this great
potential and develop it. Every orchid fancier should have bromeliads in his
collection and, of course, every bromeliad fancier should have some orchids.
They grow side by side in the trees, why not side by side in your greenhouse or
garden? Orchids are grown principally for their gorgeous flowers while
bromeliads are most outstanding for their unique inflorescences as well as
their decorative leaves and nonpareil forms.
Julius Roehrs' second edition of their deluxe catalogue has
recently been issued. It is as luxurious as the first one of last year
entitled, "Exotics." Now enlarged, one hundred and four bromeliads
are listed; it is quite breath-taking. See ad on page 68.
From Achen, Germany is received a copy of the "Deutsche
Baumschule," May 1954 issue in which is given, on p. 141, a sizeable book
review of our Cultural Handbook. The Handbook has also been given a short
notice in the June 1954 Bulletin of the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland.
Of special interest to those who grow Puyas is a paper on Puya
berteroniana by W. Balfour Gourlay in the "Kew Garden Bulletin"
No. 4, 1952 (London). It is welcome because it clears up some confusion on P.
alpestris and P. berteroniana.
Briefly stated the confusion can be cleared by observing the
following quoted characteristics: "P. berteroniana has a dense
spike 10 to 12 feet high with 80 to 100 or more spikelets; flowers blue-green;
leaves two inches broad at base; dense coating of scales.
P. alpestris has a lax (open) spike 4 to 5 feet with
18-20 or less spikelets;–flowers blue-green; leaves half to one inch broad at
base–glaborous and bright green above–dense coating scales below. Both species
exist but P. berteroniana has often been misnamed as P. alpestris."
THE COVER–This unusual photo by Curt Backeberg shows the
interesting pattern of a mass of Puya raimondii seeds. The seed grain is
surrounded by a papery thin margin, a kind of glider apparatus which assists
the seeds for flying in the wind far over the Puna.
Editor's Note for p. 67: In 1945, the year after Mr.
Everetts article was written, A. Castellanos, (Society's Honorary Trustee)
published, in "Genera et Species Plantarum Argentinarum" a full page
colored plate of P. spathacea, and also a photo of the plant in
its native habitat on rocky ledges in Argentina.
GLIMPSES OF BROMELIADS IN EUROPE II
David Barry, Jr.
One of the finest horticultural establishments to be found is "Les Cedres," on the Cote d'Azur, the
property of Julien Marnier-Lapostolle. Between Beaulieu and Villefranche a narrow-necked peninsula
extends out from the coast called Cap-Ferrat. It is almost an island, a formation often given that
designation by the French, "presqu-isle." It has the climatic advantage of being almost surrounded
by water and probably has the minimum amount of frost of any location along the French Mediterranean.
"Les Cedres" saddles this peninsula. It is a large property graced by a handsome villa, originally
the Riviera estate of King Leopold II of Belgium, who ruled his country with an authoritative hand,
from 1865 to 1910.
M. Marnier-Lapostolle and I were old plant friends as we had begun to exchange plant material several
years before the Second World War. We met for the first time when Mrs. Barry and I descended upon "Les
Cedres," bag and baggage, to spend most of a week with him, his charming wife, and his fine children.
It was a most delightful experience, and with it all, a horticultural feast. Perhaps I should add,
gustatory, as well.
Running "Les Cedres" is a large operation on intensively developed grounds and with many gardeners.
M. Marnier-Lapostolle is his own superintendent. He grows plants of every conceivable category, from
the bogs, the forests, the deserts and the tropics, in each of which he has notable collections. We
spent days together among the plants.
M. Marnier-Lapostolle is very fond of bromeliads and has one of the finest collections of this family
of plants. He keeps them outside except in the winter when the tender ones are given protection by
moving them inside of glass houses.
The bulk of the collection of epiphytes mostly fills a slat house about 30 by 60 feet. They are on
benches or, if Tillandsias, are suspended. This bromeliad house is a colorful, beautiful sight.
I took the names of some of the plants that were new to me, or rare. Among them were Guzmania Peacocki1,
cardinalis and lingulata; Nidularium Kermesianum, N. Libersi x rutilans, N. Mme. Robert Mirobe,
Vriesia hoelscheriana, V. oliganta, V. pardalina, (from the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro
and resembling V. guttata), V. candelabrum, V. viminalis Rex, Portea Kermesiana; and
Aregelia Burchellii 2 (Bak) Mez.
I was not prepared for our host's keen interest in xerophytic Tillandsias. Several dozen species were
mounted in a naturalistic manner and suspended in rows above the walks. Each was carefully labeled.
There was a good group of the species with inflated basal leaves, such as bulbosa and Caput-Medusae.
The outstanding display, in the open, was six heavy tresses hanging side by side, each about six feet
long, and of hardy Uruguayan species, being, respectively Tillandsia dianthoidea var. major,
T. grisea 3, and T. Bergeri. They must be a gay sight when
Before leaving the slat house I should mention two forms of Aechmea nudicaulis and the rare
and beautiful Aechmea Chantini from the Amazon valley. The green leaves are cleanly barred with
white. This Aechmea and Aechmea Forgettii 4 are unfortunately still called
Billbergia in European collections.
It would be hard to find anywhere a more important collection of cactus than at "Les Cedres." In groups
here and there in the areas devoted to cactus were suitably planted various hardy bromeliads, such
as Dyckias and Hechtias. Notably, among the last, were plants of Hechtia texensis and roseana
5 that annually produce heavy crops of seed, a most rare horticultural event in this genus.
Botanischen Gartens in Munich are outstanding in general, and in particular in the manner in which
they have arisen so quickly from the ashes of the last war. As far as the plants under glass are concerned,
the rigors, regulations and destruction killed them all. Today the houses are filled with enchanting
displays of the wonders and beauties of the plant world. This remarkable recovery is due to the financial
support afforded the gardens by the State of Bavaria, a firm believer in the importance of botanical
gardens, and to the vitality of horticulture in Germany. In spite of the war, there are today over
fifty public or private horticultural establishments in the country. Somehow or other, here and there,
choice plants were kept alive during the long war years. Now they have been reassembled through the
cooperation of these establishments and with the skill and industry of the staff at Munich.
I was fortunate in being conducted through the houses by the Konservator des Gartens, Prof. Dr. F.
Markgrav. The appearance of the plants was approaching a peak of perfection. This was partly due to
a degree of artistry in grouping the specimens. It was mostly due to having had to start from scratch,
with new growth and young plants. It had not yet become a problem to avoid the condition usually seen
in older collections of over-grown, over-crowded, light-starved and leggy plants.
Briefly, the collections were unusually rich in well-placed, beautiful exotics. As to bromeliads, there
was a representative collection with many plants that I regarded as rarities. Among these were Vriesia
blokii (in spike), tesselata, itatiaiae, confera, gravisiana, gemma, and hoelschiana,
the last spotted; a large number of Aregelias 6, including A. olens, ampullacea,
microps, johannis, elegans, carcharodon, pineliana and rubrospinosa. Other oddities
were a dwarf species, Tillandsia regnelii, and Aechmea Luddemannia, comata, and an unidentified
Aechmea recently collected by my host in South Brazil; Nidularium citrinum and N. Kermesianum;
Cryptanthus zonatus in both green and red forms, and Guzmania intermedia and mucronata.
It was evident that bromeliads are esteemed in Munich. As I found few of the above in other European
collections, I shall assume that the plants had been kept in Germany since before the last war, and
that the country today is a storehouse of interesting species.
The Villa at "Les Cedres," Cap-Ferrat, France.
Mr. Julien Marnier-Lapostolle in his garden.
We flew over to Berlin. No one had prepared us for the great
amount of devastating war damage. Countless blocks in the heart of this great
city still lay in rubble. Other German cities have risen anew from the piles of
broken bricks; but not Berlin. The Soviet grasp does not encourage investment.
It was a surprise to learn that botanical gardens sometimes
became targets for bombers as they were convenient and naturally camouflaged
locations for anti-aircraft batteries. Such was the case here, and in the
world-famous gardens of Berlin-Dahlem, not a pane of glass remained in the
ranges of large glass houses. The great steel skeletons of the three largest
houses still stand gaunt and naked against the sky. Weeds flourish on the
floors. Neglected rock grottoes are clues to former spots of beauty. Not a
plant survived exposure to the cold of winter except a few cycads. Their
leafless trunks were found hidden in the rubble of broken glass, rescued, and
the plants reestablished.
The foundations and framework of the houses remain in good
condition, apparently only awaiting painting and reglazing.
Careful and complete renovation has already been done to
several of the smaller houses, including the Victoria regia house. A
house for large water lilies is a feature in many European botanical
collections. The three largest structures have not been touched. However, in
some of the smaller houses a fine collection of plants has already been
assembled. This rapid recovery is further evidence of the vitality of
horticulture in Germany and constitutes fine progress toward bringing
Berlin-Dahlem to its former greatness. I was told that the government of West
Berlin considers that an outstanding botanical garden is a necessary feature in
the life of the city and a valuable tourist attraction.
Berlin is divided into many municipal boroughs, such as, for
example, Charlottenburg and Dahlem. The gardens are in the latter borough,
hence the hyphenated name given to the gardens, Berlin-Dahlem.
I was escorted through the houses by Superintendent George
Dumke who has been on the staff for many years. He remembers the days when
Prof. Dr. A. Engler used to go through the houses with an eagle eye quick to
notice any mixed-up labels, as he knew every one of the thousands of plants.
These labels, by the way, are unique. They are ceramic about 2½ x 4 inches,
light grey, the hand-lettered names painted on the clay becoming black after
being burned in the special kilns on the premises. Many labels recovered from
the debris are back in use.
Several of the houses were about to be opened to the public.
These included one devoted almost entirely to bromeliads. It was a lean-to in
style with sections of the floor stepping up on different levels to conform
roughly with the ascending slope of the roof. Each level carried its own walk
and benches. At one end of the house was a tree naked of leaves and twigs on
which was affixed a group of bromeliads in natural epiphytic style. Among them
were Tillandsia lindenii, Vriesia X elegans and Aechmea weilbachi X
fulgens. The benches in the house were filled with bromeliads in pots.
Among those that I regarded as novelties were Vriesia X versaillensis, V.
Boetscheria, V. X illustris, V. kitteliana, V. imperialis; Caraguata X
intermedia7 and C. magnifica7;
Aechmea lamarchei, A. platzmannii, A. cylindrata, A. Luddemannia; Aregelia8 rubrospinosa, olens, macahensis; Canistrum leopardinum; Nidularium
citrinum and imperialis.
At the end of another house was a jungle created by an
assortment of exotics growing amid rocks, stones and vines. Out of this
assembly extended a large tree branch on which a variety of bromeliads was
featured. Among them was the beautiful Vriesia X elegans with green
leaves and dark red spike.
In relation to other kinds of plants grown at Berlin-Dahlem,
bromeliads were given prominence and importance in number, location, and method
In a large park near Schoenbrun Palace in Vienna stands a
great conservatory of several connected houses. Amid a typical collection of
tropicals, palms, aroids, araliads and musas were displayed a few bromeliads of
no rarity. They were attractively mounted as epiphytes in a natural manner.
Included were Billbergia thyrsoidea10, Tillandsia
Lindeniana9, and Vriesia Wittmackeana, the last,
The municipal conservatories in Amsterdam were built a long
time ago. The palm house, as an example, was constructed with bulky corners and
columns of brick. These ancient designs meant light deficiencies and
corresponding problems in culture.
These hardy, Uruguayan Tillandsias, suspended on poles, are T.
dianthoidea var major, T. Latifolia, and T. Bergeri.
Vriesia poelmannii and other bromeliads happily
growing in the open.
One house of mixed exotics had considerable bench space
devoted to bromeliads of which I noted the following: Aechmea Platzmannii;
Canistrum eburneum and Lindenii; Guzmania lingulata; Tillandsia
xerographica and caput-medusae, and X Billbergia wind-ii, it
being a cross between B. decora and B. nutans. This cross is very highly
regarded in Europe because of its bright scapes and its willingness to be in
spike from time to time throughout the year. It is probably a good commercial
The famous flower auctions at Aalsmeer, a short distance
from Amsterdam, are a regular tourist attraction and an important distribution
source for the floral trade of several European countries. The countryside for
miles around seems to be floating in ranges of glass houses. These are built on
sunken wooden piers. Water is everywhere. Canals between the houses and the
road serve as moats when the owners pull in the foot bridges at night. The
auctions are held in large brick buildings in which the actual bidding is in
small theatre-like sections with seats rising steeply in tiers. Bidding is by
professionals only. Most of the floor space in the buildings is occupied by the
display of cut flowers or foliage plants, each lot being numbered. Bidders can
call the numbers to auction. Foliage plants, including bromeliads, are sold
twice a week. There was one lot of a dozen Vriesia splendens, about
two-thirds fully grown, and not yet called for auction. I was told that
different kinds of bromeliads are regularly offered in the market, but not as
much as before the last war because of the relatively higher price of coal and
labor. Aalsmeer is a colorful sight even out of tulip season.
11979 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif.
- a form of G. lingulata
- Neoregelia Burchellii
- T. latifolia
- A. caudata
- H. Desmetiana
- genus Guzmania
- genus Neoregelia
- T. Lindenii
- B. pyramidalis var. conColor
Botanique, "Les Cedres" Cap-Ferrat, France
In 1931 I saw a fantastic landscape. I had come from the
Lake Titicaca on my way to the old Incan metropolis, Cuzco, in Peru. Our train
was passing the La-Raya-Pass at about 400 meters, a single house being the
station, around a damp and cold, high valley punctuated with some scattered
llamas. Ferocious thunder of a heavy storm echoed from the steep slopes of the
When looking to these slopes I suddenly was rather
surprised. It seemed to me that plants were "hanging" down from the
gloomy clouds. I took my fieldglass and saw that they were Puyas, the
"pineapple's Andean ancestor" as Mulford B. Foster once called them.*
Yes, Puyas are near to those plants which provide us with
that juicy and aromatic fruit we like so much. Evolutionists believe that the
Puyas are a kind of branch which "escaped" from the
ancestor-population and became adapted to conditions in the different
elevations of the southern Central American mountains, and in particular to the
varied situation in the Andean countries.
Where had I seen them first? It was in southern Ecuador when
I was on the way from Riobamba down to the Peruvian frontier. We had to pass
the Paramo between Tambo and Cuenca.
On that high "cordillera-garden" with so many
wonderful plants we found also a group of Puyas which were determined in the
Hamburg Botanical Garden to be Puya sodiroana, but which is now called Puya
hamata. I wondered why there were only a few plants, until I heard
that the Indios had cut many of them because they use the woody short trunks as
firewood which is very scarce on those high elevations. But, perhaps there is
still another reason for the diminution of specimens. Foster has reported that
from the sugary heart is made the Indian drink "Juice of red water*."
It is interesting that about one hundred species of Puyas
have been found during the past hundred years, the northernmost being Puya
dasylirioides which is endemic in Costa Rica. It grows at an elevation of
about 3000 meters, near Santa Maria de Dota, where it is found in wet, swampy
areas, often even in water (!). This is an example of the enormous variability
of adaptation of this genus, for, in general, the Puyas are plants accustomed
to live in dry, stony desert regions, up to an elevation of nearly 5000 meters.
But in the northern Paramos of South America the Puyas are found also in wet
places, sometimes on grasslands, just below the glittering glaciers; nearly the
same is the situation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, (which I
saw first in 1928) where still rather uncivilized Indios are living. Here the
Puya roots are often submerged in deep beds of sphagnum moss.
Those Puyas which I saw on the La-Raya-Pass in southern
Peru, seem to be of that same great ability in adaptation, for the most part,
inhabitants of the higher desert in the Cordilleras, but also living on slopes
which are heavily moistened by strong rain falls.
Photo M. B. Foster
The photo at the right was taken in 1948 of a specimen of Puya
Raimondi on the mountain Huakaqui, in Bolivia. Photo on the left was taken
by Weberbauer in Ancash, Peru and published in "Pflanzenwelt de
Peruanischen Anden" (1911) 80: 217 t. 11B. The Bolivian specimen was in
full bloom but had been much stunted in growth by many fires at its base over a
period of years, while Weberbauer's photo shows a dead plant; this species dies
after it produces its one and only head of flowers, at the ripe old age of 150.
Close examination of the flowers of these two specimens show them to be the
same species but with a slight difference in the coloration of the petals. (Editor)|
The bromeliad growing at the highest elevation on record, is
a new species, Puya fosteriana, found by Foster on the eastern slopes of
the Eastern Cordillera in Bolivia at 4400 meters, or 14,650 feet. It is a
rather low and compact species having teal blue flowers, nestled in brown wooly
The author finds P. hamata in full seed.
Also found in Bolivia are other interesting Puyas, i.e. P.
resembling, somewhat in form, the growth of P. hamata.
further is found in the Tunari district, P. tunariensis,
a dwarf Puya,
being only 18 inches high.
In northern Chile the Puyas descend to the dry coastal
ranges in masses. They are known as "cardon" (a word mostly used for
the cereoid cacti in Latin America) because of their spiny leaves, or are
called, in general, "Chagual." The Chilean species include the Puya
chilensis which has greenish-yellow flowers, and the Puya alpestris with
green-blue flowers and Puya venusta with dark blue flowers.
One of the greatest plant wonders known from South America
is the bromeliad, Puya raimondii formerly called Pourretia gigantea, by
its discoverer, Armond Raimond, who first found it in 1874, in the Peruvian
Andes at 4,000 meters near Aija. It was described by Harms in Notizbl. Bot.
Garten, Berlin, 1923 :213 and renamed Puya raimondii.
It is a curious matter with the history of this plant.
Specimens have also been found in Bolivia, in the northwest near the mine,
Comanche, and in the Sierra Quimsa Cruz (following Herzog). I made the first 16
mm film of such plants in 1931 (see my book "Stachlige Wildnis" p.
This giant plant has a trunk like a wine cask sometimes
found nearly three meters in circumference; Foster counted on a fallen trunk
more than 300 rings of leaf scars; this would mean an age of approximately 150
years. Perhaps this Puya commenced its life as a tiny seedling in the moment
Napoleon was crossing the St. Bernhard-Pass on his way down to Milano.
It flowers with an inflorescence of a length of six meters
and more from the rosette of the elevated body, with a circumference of
"eight feet," as Foster said, so tall that a man had to climb up on a
ladder to look for a single flower, of which it produced up to 8000 (!) on the
plant Foster saw and photographed in 1948. In another area he saw forty plants
in flower at the same time.
A seedling of Puya raimondii Harms
The flowers are whitish, embedded in green bracts. After the
giant has finished blooming and the seeds are mature, these begin to rain down
into the wind of the highlands, and, being very light, they are blown far away
over the Puna. (see cover) There is scarcely a place in which to germinate in
that stony landscape, for the little nocturnal humidity is soon lost in the
burning sunshine of the meseta.
It is a most fortunate coincidence to arrive just when the
seeds of this phenomenon are mature. I was lucky in receiving some of these
hard-to-obtain seeds, thanks to Dr. Martin Cardenas who was able to send seeds
of P. raimondii, P. herzogii and P. tunariensis.
Fortunately these seeds were viable and we have, now, seedlings coming along at
the Marnier LaPostolle Botanical Garden, "Les Cedres" at St. Jean
Cap-Ferrat, France from where I write.
* See National Geographic Magazine, Oct. 1950
BROMELIADS IN TANGANYIKA, EAST AFRICA
Frank Piers, M.D.
Bromeliads are not often encountered in East African
gardens, but recently I had the good fortune of visiting what is probably one
of the best collection. It belongs to Col. The Hon. M. T. Boscawen who lives on
a large sisal estate, some miles north of the port of Tanga in Tanganyika
Territory. My intention had been to fly from Mombasa in Kenya to Tanga, a
distance of about eighty miles, but torrential rains had rendered the airfield
at the latter place unserviceable, and I had to travel by road–which turned out
to be more interesting. The road follows, for its first half, the shore of the
Indian Ocean; then it turns inland, crosses a large sugar plantation, and leads
across rolling ridges covered by dense primeval forest–where elephants, lions,
sable, antelopes and other game may occasionally be encountered–towards the
Tanganyika border. At one place it skirts the slopes of Derima Hill, a
mysterious outcrop of archaic rock where recently radioactive minerals in large
quantities have been spotted. Beyond the border the landscape becomes flatter
and more monotonous; miles after miles of sisal,–a very useful but rather
depressing-looking agave, the fiber of which is in great demand and forms one
of the most valuable crops in this part of Africa.
In the center of one of these plantations a patch of
indigenous forest has been preserved, hiding the house in its middle. Lanes
have been cut through the woodland through which one gets fine views of the
island-studded Indian Ocean and the old Arab port of Moa, some ten miles away,
and the blue hills further inland. The house is not large but well-designed,
very comfortable and of arresting interest once you have entered it. It is
cool, light and airy, and a real treasure house, full of books, paintings,
engravings, a valuable collection of antique bronzes, and of other works of
art. There is nothing of the museum about it,–very obviously it is a house to
live in, and the visitor very soon feels at home. The doors of the dining room
open on a long, low verandah shaded by shrubs and palms from where one can
watch the sun rise out of the Ocean, or admire the display of a couple of
peacocks strutting over the short lawn. Around the house grow flowering
tropical shrubs, and a number of rare specimen palm trees, but no attempt has
been made to create a formal garden with lawns, flower beds and herbaceous
borders. A few succulents at the foot of the terrace, and some pot plants near
the house–that seems to be all, at the first glance.
But a walk through the wooded grounds reveals a
"garden" of unique design. The dense undergrowth has been cleared in
most places, and in the shade of the old forest trees thrive hosts of
interesting and rare plant: cacti, aloes, Euphorbias, cycads, succulents,
tropical lilies and Sansevieras, flowering shrubs, and, of course, bromeliads.
Some of the larger species, such as Bromelia balansae have grown into
formidable prickly thickets. But in other places the floor of the forest is
carpeted by little Cryptanthi who seem to feel very much at home there. The trees
are festooned with flowering creepers in the cacti, ceropegias and indigenous
Photos F. Piers
Our East African Bromeliad Society Members|
Left: Lt. Col. The Hon. M. T. Boscawen, Moa Estate, Tanga
Tanganyika, standing among his bromeliads which have become acclimated to the
African forest on his sisal plantation.
Right: Dr. F. Piers resting after a vigorous climb on the
moorlands of Mt. Kenya at 1200 feet. Instead of native bromeliads and cacti,
which would be found under similar conditions in the American tropics, we find
in Africa the strange but beautiful forms of Lobelia Telekii and Senecio
At the back of the house are some sheds housing tropical
leaf plants: Caladiums, Anthuriums, Marantas, Alocasias and many more; a more
solid structure houses a fine orchid collection, mainly of Cattleyas, Vandas
Bromeliads live in large pots and tubs in the open in the
shade of foliage trees. There are at least one hundred plants, not counting the
ones in the woodlands. It would be tedious to enumerate all the species
represented, but I noticed that quite a few of them were of the rare and more
difficult types. Few were in bloom since the season was unfavorable (October),
but they all looked very healthy and vigorous. Col. Boscawen likes them because
they are less capricious than orchids, and can occasionally be left to
themselves when he is away on his journeys. Like so many experienced gardeners
he pretends not to know or to do much about his plants; but I have caught him,
at a very early hour of the morning, pondering over his bromeliads, and giving
directions to his highly skilled African garden staff. The plants would hardly
be in such excellent condition if their owner did not take a very active
interest in them!
Duty called, and with great regret I had to leave this
pleasant and hospitable house–carrying, it must be admitted, a large basket
full of bromeliad divisions and other plant cuttings my kind host had given me.
One day, I hope, I shall be allowed to come back.
Box 4264, Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa
It was interesting to receive a reprint from the "East
African Field, Farm and Garden," for July 1953 in which was given Dr.
Piers' broadcast for the Kenya Horticultural Society entitled "Pot Plants."
Among a number of other families recommended, Dr. Piers has high praise for
bromeliads suggesting that the similarity in climates of the two continents
make many bromeliads adaptable to East Africa. He says: "So far, in Kenya
gardens I have seen three varieties of Billbergia of which Billbergia
vittata is the largest and handsomest, a few Dyckias and Tillandsias, and a
single Puya alpestris in the City Park. This list is, I feel, far too
short for such an attractive and promising family. They should be given a
chance, and I am sure they soon will become favorites." (Since this was
written Dr. Piers, himself, has acquired a considerable variety of bromeliads
and undoubtedly they have become the envy of all his horticultural friends.)
A NEW APPROACH TO BROMELIADS
Mulford B. Foster
Sweden has long been a source of significance to bromeliads.
The name of the family, if nothing else, given in honor of Olof Bromelius, (who
wrote a fine Flora of Goetheborg) will always honor Sweden. The great Swedish
botanist, Linnaeus, established the genus Bromelia,*
from which derived the family name (by Saint-Hilaire). And, although honoring a
Finnish citizen, the genus Tillandsia**
was described by Linnaeus.
The genus Billbergia honors Billberg, a Swedish botanist. Dr. C. A. M. Lindman,
of Stockholm, wrote (in 1891) "Bromeliaceae, Herbarii Regnelliani," a
scientific description of the collection of Brazilian bromeliads given to the
Botanical Museum of Stockholm by A. F. Regnell. This book with its eight double
page plates is now among the very rare books on bromeliads.
Today Sweden is the focal point of a new research in
Bromeliaceae, the pollen grains. Dr. G. Erdtman, of Bromma, Sweden, is one of
the world's authorities on pollen grains. He is Director of the Palynological
Laboratory there, and is editor of the new International Journal of Palynology,
"Grana Palynologica" (Vol. 1, No. 1, just printed) which is devoted
to the exclusive study of pollen and spore morphology. The science of pollen
grains can be briefly described by saying that it will aid greatly in the
taxonomic work of identification, as well as suggesting the geological ages in
which various plants lived. On both these counts in the Bromeliaceae we are
extremely anxious to have more knowledge. Palynology is such a young science
that it was represented for the first time by a section of its own at the 8th
International Botanical Congress in Paris, in July 1954.
The study of Palynology in the plant world, one of the
newest sciences, parallels the study of astronomy, one of the oldest sciences,
each going in apparently opposite directions.
The layman with his macroscopical observations sees the
simple forms and parts of the plant world in petals, leaves and stems and is
thrilled with their array of primary colors and combinations. The botanist, not
content solely with his macroscopical observations has opened up another world
with his use of lenses that allow him a vast new world of microscopical
The man on the street sees the sun, the moon and the stars
and he is awed by the great and mighty array of sparkling specks that adorn the
roof of his little universe but the astronomer with his new lenses pierces the
outer spaces with his telescope. He finds that he himself is microscopic beyond
description. Then comes the great Palomar lense that carries him so far away
that he himself disappears in the thinnest vapor.
The botanist, not to be outdone by this search into infinite
space, is now entering the vast inner space with the electron microscope and
now his ultramicroscopical observations are revealing more and more of the vast
fundamental forms which combine to make up this great spiritually realistic world
we live in.
Pardon this seeming digression, but your editor feels that
few persons realize or are informed of the really great research work that is
being done in the world of pollen. Most of us have heard of pollen grains being
gathered for study in the clouds, thousands of feet above us. We have all been
aware of the bees and their pollen gathering habits and now, in these modern
times, we are becoming quite aware that we, personally, have been gathering
pollen which our allergy specialists tell us is responsible for so many of our
But few, however, may be aware that perfectly preserved and
fossilized pollen grains are being found in great depths of peat bogs formed
thousands of years ago and even in rock formations of past geological periods.
It is quite probable that the age and periods of the plants' appearance on
earth can be determined by the comparing of pollen spores. All of these great
research operations are gradually bringing us into the realization of the
fundamental forms of what we call Life, be it flora or fauna.
How does this relate to bromeliads? Just as it does to all
plant families. Your editor collected pollen from bromeliads throughout South
America in 1948 as well as from material at the Bromelario which was sent to
Dr. Erdtman for study. He has already questioned certain identifications by
comparing the furrows and apertures of the different genera. As more material
is sent, better taxonomic comparisons can be made. A very intensive study of
bromeliad pollen will be required before any major conclusions can be reached.
Meanwhile, we anticipate with much eagerness, and will
cooperate in every way possible the further work with bromeliad pollen grains.
* Brom. Bull. Vol. 1, No. 2, March-April /51
** (ibid) No. 4, July-August /51
Puya spathacea flowering in the Melbourne, Australia,
(By courtesy of A. Burke)
The following information is extracted from "Plant
Portraits" by T. H. Everett, Horticulturist of the New York Botanical
Garden as published in the Gardener's Chronicle, May 1944.
"Puya spathacea seems to have been less
frequently illustrated in botanical and horticultural literature than many less
worthy plants. I have found but one representation in color (Botanical Magazine
tab. 7966) and one black and white (Gardener's Chronicle vol. 72 p. 109) in
English language publications, although it is possible that more exist that are
not recorded in Index Londinensis.” . . .
"Puya spathacea . . . . forms bold crowns of
stiff, spreading leaves that in our plant are almost two feet tall. The leaves
are pointed-linear, hollowed above and are furnished with sharp spines that are
inclined towards the apex. The lower leaf surface is conspicuously covered with
grey, felty scales that can be removed by rubbing with the fingers; the upper
surface is deep, lustrous green. At their widest the leaves measure 1½ inches
across. The stout flower scape rises to a height of four feet and has many
wide-spreading branches so that it measures about 18 inches across. Both scape
and branches are coral-red. A conspicuous feature of the inflorescence is the
numerous pointed bracts, the upper ones of which are clear pink. The flowers
are tubular, about one and a half inches long and are narrowed towards the
mouth. The calyx is bright pink with a green tip to each of its sepals. The
protruding corolla is of an inky, blue-green hue and has its lobes slightly
. . . . "Each year about the beginning of March it may
be seen in the New York Botanical Garden," at the height of its floral
beauty, and at that time it is of commanding appearance. It remains attractive
over a fairly long period. Like the Dyckias and other hard-leaved bromeliads,
this species seems to thrive better in the bright sun and dry atmosphere of the
succulent house than in the moister and slightly more shaded conditions which many
of its vasiform relatives enjoy. It luxuriates in a well-drained soil and is
repotted only at infrequent intervals. Propagation is effected by means of seed
or division. In the warmer parts of the country, Puya spathacea is hardy.
The Gardener's Chronicle illustration referred to earlier is of a plant growing
out-of-doors at the Glasnevin Botanic Garden, Dublin, Ireland. [Bromeliad
"Puya spathacea is a native of the Argentine
where it was originally discovered by Lorenz growing on the banks of the Rio
Primero. It was first described botanically in 1879. The date of its
introduction into cultivation is not recorded."