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THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN

M. B. Foster, Editor, 718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida.
Annual Dues: $3.50 a year (foreign $4.00) which includes subscription to the Bulletin.
Write for details to Miss Victoria Padilla, Secretary, 647 Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, California.

EDITOR'S NOTES:

OUR COVER
AECHMEA MEXICANA

When we spray a nice green Evergreen with white paint to make it look like snow for a cheerful Christmas decoration we are only imitating what nature does so very much better in a good snow storm! But Aechmea Mexicana didn't get mixed up with a snow storm–yet its inflorescence when in bloom makes the snowiest looking Christmas tree you have ever seen, that is among the bromeliads. And, as if the white fuzz completely covering the stem and every little berry-like flower base is not enough, it sprouts some tiny rose colored flower "candles" at the tip of each ovary, looking for all the world like a well decorated miniature Christmas tree. It does not require much imagination at all to call them candles.

This unique inflorescence, looking so much like our holiday decoration, rises from a crater of green leaves which are often one-third tip-dipped with poinsettia red coloring. This just finishes the holiday color scheme.

Aechmea Mexicana is native throughout many sections of Mexico and right on down Central America through Costa Rica and is also found in Ecuador. Your editor has found it growing in the ground as well as in the trees; when exposed to full sun it is a gorgeous sight.


In this, our Aechmea issue, The Bromeliad Society Board members take the opportunity to extend cordial holiday greetings to all our readers.


Bromeliads take top position on page 133, a full color page of choice decorative plants, in the December issue of "House and Garden" magazine.

More and more they are being recognized for their sheer decorative beauty and ease of care. Generally speaking, they require much less care and coddling than the softer leaved plants. The article on "The Care and Feeding of House Plants" accompanying the color plate is well written and instructive.

Three of the bromeliads are correctly named viz: Aechmea fulgens var. discolor, Vriesia splendens, and Dyckia Fosteriana, but unfortunately the other two are not. Vriesia × "Marie" is listed as Vriesia magnifica, and Cryptanthus Fosterianus as Crypt. zebrinus.

We hope every member of the Bromeliad Society can procure this magazine and really study this fine display of plants for we believe it is an outstanding example of the decorative value that bromeliads hold in the plant world; their pure form and rhythm places them permanently as most favorable subjects for modern decor.

Editor


Photos M. B. Foster

BROMELIADS DECORATE

John Hall

  
A giant shadow box (made by Bert and Mulford Foster) created a sensation for the Winter Park, Florida, Flower Show in February of 1955. The seven by fourteen foot exhibit held an imposing end of the Legion Hall where the show was held. Weathered old orange trees, which held an enchanted air garden, were perfectly backed by a dense black cloth with grey painted ends. Except for a foliage plant or two, all the decoration was Bromeliaceous; plants in the genera Tillandsia, Vriesia, Aechmea, and Billbergia festooned the trees while Neoregelias, Nidulariums and Guzmanias were brilliant on the ground.

Aechmea Mexicana was imposing with its pyramid of white berries. But the talk of the show was the brilliant red and yellow feather shaped spike of Vriesia × Marie.

We feel that this is one more step in the direction of the day when people will be able to come to an all-Bromeliad Show.

33 N. Summerlin, Orlando, Fla.



Photos M. B. Foster

AECHMEA MARIAE-REGINAE
and other bromeliads in The Fairchild Tropical Garden

Lucita H. Wait

In this famous Garden at Coral Gables, near Miami, bromeliads are featured naturalistically, both in the ground and on the trees. Many persons have seen here for the first time, a number of the larger bromeliads that could hardly be used as house plants but which make excellent subjects for the greenhouse or the sub-tropical and tropical garden.

One might not notice the plant of Aechmea Mariae-reginae unless it were in bloom, but in flower it is one of the most eye-arresting things in the garden. Out of giant troughed leaves thrusts a densely spicate, cylindrical flower head with its many-ranked white flowers beneath which hang, loosely reflexed, the stunning watermelon-pink scape bracts, so rich in color that no words or mere photo can quite convey the impression. Little wonder that its startling effect was likened to royal splendor and was named "Queen Marie" accordingly.

This "royal" bromeliad was first introduced into cultivation in Europe about 1863 and later described by Wendland in Hamb. Gartenzeit, 1x.32 in 1864.

In Costa Rica, where it is native, it is called "Flor de Santa Maria"–used widely for decoration at Fiesta time, when great cartloads of them are brought down from the mountains. A visitor, seeing a native carrying an inflorescence, thought that pink ribbons had been tied to the stem.

   Photo taken in David Barry's greenhouse By Jules Padilla
In the accompanying photo, taken in the Fairchild Tropical Garden, Aechmea Mariae-reginae has the spotlight in front of a fine specimen of Cycas circinalis. At the left is a branched inflorescence of Hohenbergia stellata, another highly colored bromeliad; compact capitate spikes, like little cones, at the end of each short branch, flame with crimson bracts that surround the purple flowers–a dazzling combination that persists for several months.

In another section of the garden can be found fine large specimens of Gravisia aquilegia with their compact headed branches of orange flowers. Long lasting too, they add a very nice note to the groups and take over the display soon after the graceful long spikes of Portea petropolitana var. extensa have given their delicate touch of apple-green, pink and lavender flowers and fruits; also, here, will be found large clusters of Aechmea disticantha.

Just a few different species of these larger bromeliads will give a year-round interest to the garden that is–well, just not the garden one expects to find everywhere.

Many of these rather larger types of bromels will also flower when grown in pots and mature in much smaller sizes but, of course, they are really at their best when allowed the freedom of the earth and have grown into large clusters.

Another feature in this "Garden of Palms" is the Moos Memorial rock garden, which was one of the first plantings to feature some of the larger type bromeliads. Here in the pockets and crags of native limestone they have found a very suitable location. Representatives in the genera Neoregelia, Aechmea, Pitcairnia, Ananas, Portea, Hohenbergia and Gravisia have grown luxuriantly among the tropical plants of other lands with a pleasing result not soon to be forgotten.

Editor, the FTG Bulletin, Fairchild Tropical Garden,
Box 407, Coconut Grove, Florida



Even two or three years ago we would rarely see an article on bromeliads–or even see them mentioned in the popular periodicals. But times have changed and now we find bromeliads not only mentioned but illustrated in color practically every month. For example, articles in The Begonian (Vol. 23, No. 11 by Victoria Padilla) The New Yorker (Nov. 19), The New York Times (Nov. 20, by Dorothy Jenkins) and the Pictorial Living section of the Los Angeles Examiner (by Norvell Gillespie, Nov. 13)–all had articles, some with color illustrations on bromeliads during this past November.

We may yet live to see the day when the familiar question: "What is a bromeliad?" may be replaced with the exclamation, "Oh, isn't that a beautiful bromeliad!"


A REMARKABLE Aechmea bracteata

Racine Foster

Wonders never cease! In the tropics where a thatched roof is quite commonplace among the native huts a natural roof garden is not unusual, in fact, there is often quite a crop of epiphytes growing there. It is little wonder that many plants take root and thrive on the constantly moist thatch; the plants have a porous foothold which makes it a natural roof garden.

   Photos M. B. Foster
But, wonder of wonders, bromeliads take root on a relatively hot and dry asphalt roof in the center of town, Orlando, Florida! It was something our eyes could hardly believe . . . but we verified the seemingly impossible by climbing a ladder, examining the plant and taking several photos. To be sure it was an Aechmea bracteata plant thriving in what seemed to he an impossible situation.

Five years ago a mocking bird carried a seed from one of the fruits of an Aechmea bracteata plant which helps to decorate our grounds between the studio and the Bromelario, and deposited the seed in a corner of the roof of Dr. Joseph Seltzer's office across the street. Right on top of the built-up (asphalt and crushed rock) roof at the base of the eighteen inch parapet which edges the building, the seed was dropped in the corner where a few leaves had collected and rotted. That was five years ago. Now we see from our studio windows a colorful bromeliad with four strong sections, each with a flowering scape covered with red ribbon-like bracts: It is a thriving, independent Aechmea bracteata as happy as it would be if it were growing on a giant ficus limb down in Mexico where we procured its grandparents.

  
Penthouse roof gardens, all man planted, need much care and many green thumbs to keep the plants in good condition. Just a few days neglect would be fatal to many of them, but not so with the roof garden across the street from the Bromelario, a planting we view every day with both envy and joy.

If only that mocking bird's descendants would please bring one of those seeds back across the street and plant it on our roof we would feel completely in tune with the epiphytic unities. In any event, the birds now have a good fruit crop each year on both sides of the street.

Blue-Jays also take it upon themselves to plant seeds. From the live oaks along the street the jays bring acorns to plant in the flower pots-and even in the centers of our bromeliads in the greenhouse! And, while we do not encourage this method of horticulture we have not taken any step toward laws for crop control!

For several years now, we have looked with wonder at the bromeliad across the street and mentally noted that what appears to be a miracle from one aspect is nothing more than natural phenomenon repeating itself.


HOW TO RECOGNIZE AN AECHMEA

M. B. Foster

I would like to present a Grand Prize to the one who could answer this question in a simple way so that the layman could understand it. I feel quite certain that if anyone started to split up this genus into other genera he would have a real problem on his hands. It has been a bit facetiously said that–if you find a bromeliad of which you are not certain, just put it under Aechmea!

  1. Aechmea belongs in the subfamily Bromelioideae and they all have baccate, fleshy, berry-like fruit.

  2. The seeds are naked–that is, they have no appendage such as wings or feathery parachutes.

  3. The leaves are usually edged with spines.

  4. The petals are never naked–they have nectar scales at or near the base; the sepals are definitely asymmetric (not identical sides) and most of them have a small or prominent point or spine on the tip of each one. They are generally connate (connected) at the base.

  5. The flower heads may be upright or pendent; the heads or spikes are many-flowered; these spikes may be single (simple) or compound or these flower heads may be in a loosely compact head form as in Ae. fasciata above the leaves or Ae. recurvata which is down in the center of the leaf rosette; the flower heads can be an almost solid head such as in Ae. bromeliifolia or Ae. lamarchei.

  6. In habitat, many of the species are epiphytic but most of the larger species are terrestrial.


AECHMEA PHANEROPHLEBIA Baker

M. B. Foster

In 1889 Baker described this stiff, heavily spined leaf bromeliad which Glaziou first discovered in the state of Rio de Janeiro; he later found it in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Fifty years later the writer found this same species high up in a tall jungle tree in the state of Espirito Santo. It was a rough customer to handle. Not until we found it growing on rocks in the full sun did we realize that it could be such a fine, formally shaped plant,–one that almost any botanist would prefer not to find in flower so that he would not have to make a herbarium specimen of it.

   Photo M B. Foster
The Plant Quarantine inspectors did not succeed in killing this plant, thus for the first time we were privileged to introduce this Aechmea into horticulture.

It is a thrilling experience to watch the emergence of the inflorescence holding a cylindrical head with its myriad blue flowers delicately set in bracts of deep rose. This pushes up from a cylinder of stiff, saw-tooth edged leaves, with deeply cut spines, so spring-like that they seem to be clamped together if one should try to pry them apart with the hands, an almost impossible feat.

The photo herewith shows the flowering plant when grown in the shade. The leaves are a dark green becoming more of an open rosette in the shade than when growing in the sun.

Aechmea phanerophlebia is not a house plant but it is a fine subject for the tropical or subtropical garden as it will take just about everything except a hard freeze. It flowers in mid-winter.


Photo Racine Foster

NOMENCLATURE CLARIFICATION No. 8

Aechmea nudicaulis (L.) Griseb

Mulford B. Foster

Aechmea nudicaulis with its three varieties has a very extensive range, perhaps the greatest of any of the species in the genus Aechmea with the possible exception of Ae. bromeliifolia.

The typical form,–Ae. nudicaulis var. nudicaulis, is rather common from Mexico throughout Central America, the West Indies and Venezuela, but the Ae. nudicaulis var. cuspidata is confined to South America, principally, Brazil where it is quite common throughout the coastal regions. Even this variety cuspidata varies so much in appearance and in actual shape or form that in some sections of Espirito Santo where this plant grows in extreme xerophytic conditions, you would hardly recognize it as typical of the var. cuspidata.

The variety cuspidata, as shown above, which the writer collected in Espirito Santo, Brazil, is one of the toughest and most severe forms among many other bromeliads. It is so stiff and formal in its rather incongruous shape that it lends itself quite well to a modern decor. The stiff tubular leaves are dark brown shading to green, highlighted with irregular bands of grey. Unfortunately, this Aechmea, like many of the bromeliads which are more or less xerophytic, will loose much of its distinctive shape if grown in deep shade and supplied with much water.

In his definitive work, "The Bromeliaceae of Brazil," Dr. Lyman B. Smith has placed Ae. aureo-rosea as a variety of nudicaulis so now that old species name is out and is now properly called Ae. nudicaulis var. aureo-rosea. This variety is quite common throughout the east central part of Brazil.


Aechmea lamarchei Mez

   Photo Lad Cutak
Aechmea lamarchei
The photo, herewith, was taken when this plant was called Aechmea lagenaria. This name has been thrown into synonymy by Dr. Lyman B. Smith and it is now called Aechmea lamarchei.

The species is quite variable in form and color of leaf and it may be advisable to name others as varieties at a later date when additional study is made of several other phases of this species which the writer has found in Brazil.

This writer discovered certain new species there in 1939 and 1940 such as Ae. triangularis, Ae. nervata, Ae. maculata and Ae. chlorophylla all of which belong in the same group (macrochordium) as Aechmea lamarchei. And incidentally Aechmea bromeliifolia, another member has the greatest range of any of them–from Guatemala to Argentina.

In common, they all have a compact cylindric, strobilate flower head. The flowers of most of these species have yellow petals and white sepals, but Ae. triangularis has purple flowers. However, regardless of the color of the petals, they turn jet black the second or third day after blooming, thus giving an unique appearance to the flowering head making it have at least three colors all at once, according to the species: yellow, white and black, as in Ae. lamarchei; or purple, white and black as in Ae. triangularis.


Photo by Author
Aechmea fasciata

CAN BROMELIADS BE "DYED"?

Walter Voth

Four years ago I noticed that one of my Aechmea fasciata plants, in contrast with other plants, exhibited a beautiful rust-brown appearance. Everyone who saw the plant was enchanted with it and believed the color to be its natural one. The rust-red-brown shone out from the inside of the leaf through the white scales, hiding more or less the green of the leaf. This shade could neither be washed off or in any way be made to disappear.

At first, I presumed this color change was due to a disease, to sunburning, or to an attack of fungus–but a study of the plant revealed none of these causes. And, moreover, only one plant exhibited this brown appearance. By chance, I remembered that on one rainy day I emptied an overfilled container of rusty water, spilling a little of the water into the funnel of this particular Aechmea. Further experiments along this line confirmed my suspicions that it was the rusty water which caused the discoloration or "dyeing" of the Aechmea fasciata.

As it is known, bromeliads have on their leaves a great number of peltate scales which, in addition to the roots, take up water and nutritive material. What happened was that these peltate scales absorbed with the water a great number of particles of rust. It seemed to me nearly impossible that particles of rust could be transferred osmotically from cell to cell–that is through the cellular tissues–but, at any rate, the rust in the water did color the leaves.

Experimenting further along this line, I found that not all Aechmea fasciata plants are subject to this type of leaf dyeing. Results so far have shown different reactions with different types of plants (all Aechmea fasciata). The following is an example of the reaction on three types:

1. The leaves have on both sides a very rich, broad band of silver-gray scales, which completely cover the leaves. 1. Showed no reaction. Probably the absorption of water by the sucking scales and the evaporation of water were too small, due to the fact that big scales work like a filter and prevent the absorption of rust particles.
2. Average green leaves of middle size with silver-gray scales. (see plant to left in illustration) 2. Rust coloring always appeared first in the inner leaves, the exterior leaves showing only a weak, if any, coloring. Only when the inward funnel leaves became outward leaves was the plant all one shade. (see plant to right in illustration.)
3. Same as type 2, except that the leaves are intensely dark green. 3. Showed only a tinge of rust-brown coloring distributed unevenly over the leaves. Also, there was always a stripe which could not be dyed between the outer edge of the coloring and the edge of the leaf. It appeared as if the unequal shading was due to the dark green of the normal leaves.

Concerning the rust-water–I took it out of ordinary tin boxes, which water I produced especially for these tests. Any large particles of rust which I found were set down on the edge of the funnel. The place under which the particle was placed showed no divergence in color. Furthermore, I observed that the coloring of the leaves did not take place throughout the year, but only when the plants were in active stage of growth. I also found that plants one to two years old assumed the rust shade sooner and easier. What influence this "dyeing" will have upon the development of flowers, I cannot yet say. I tried this same experiment with Vriesea psittacina and Aregelia princeps var. marechalii* without getting any results.

Very often I ask myself when looking at these plants whether the particles of rust are really able to produce this coloring or whether they give only the impulse to such a reaction. In any case, it would be a step forward if someone else would experiment along this line. Only in this way–by giving the experiment under different conditions–can complete answer be given to this curious phenomenon.

Haydngassee 29/9, Modlung, Vienna

__________

* Neoregelia


Photo by Author

NEW VARIETY IN THE GENUS VRIESIA

Mulford B. Foster

Vriesia splendens var. striatifolia M. B. Foster var. nov.
A var. splendens foliis albo virideque longitudinaliter striatis differt.

Collected in Venezuela, Nuevesparta (Isla Margarita) on Cerro Matasiete above La Asuncion. Alt. 600 meters; epiphytic on trees. Nov. 10, 1951 by M. B. Foster No. 2808 (Type in U. S. Nat'l Herbarium).

This new variety of Vriesia splendens is such an outstanding contrast to the typical Vriesia splendens var. splendens that at first glance one could hardly realize that this plant was so closely related to the well-known Vriesia splendens commonly called "Flaming Sword." It would have to be in flower to convince even the botanist. The inflorescence is a bit shorter and slightly broader than the typical spendens spike and it does not remain in vivid color quite as long. To the casual observer, the green leaves with its white longitudinal striations, remind one very much of Nidularium innocentii var. striatum when not in bloom. Being a Vriesia, the leaves, of course, have a smooth edge and not a toothed edge as has the Nidularium.

It was exciting as well as surprising to find this beautiful new variety growing in a very limited area near the summit of Cerro Matasiete in a miniature cloud forest. To find a cloud forest at such a low altitude, about 2000 feet, just above the dry side of a semi-dry island was a complete surprise as well as a refreshing one. The steep, rocky climb with rarely a tree to cast a bit of shade seemed a fruitless one but I was determined to reach the summit, although I could hardly believe it worth while.

Barely one hundred and fifty feet from the top ridge the vegetation changed abruptly In all my tropical jaunts I have never seen such a complete change. There were philodendrons, anthuriums and orchids on the trees and a thick undergrowth on the jungle floor. It was cool and refreshing although there was no stream in sight. Suddenly, I was surrounded with bromeliads!

Guzmania lingulata, Vriesia bituminosa, Vriesia splendens var. longibracteata, Vriesia simplex, the very beautiful Aechmea latifolia, and to cap the climax, this lovely striate-leaved variety of Vriesia splendens. The growth was so dense, both under foot and overhead, that I had to use a flash bulb to get a good photo.

It was hard to realize that the annual rainfall is but a few inches on this island, so these jungle plants rarely ever had rain, up there, but they did have the moist clouds to bathe in practically every day, this giving them all they needed.

Stepping down from that shaded area was like one coming suddenly out of an air-conditioned room into the broiling tropical sun.

Many times I thanked my native boy for having the forethought to carry a few coconuts along with us. The delicious cool drink that a coconut palm can magically manufacture up through its roots and trunk into those thick husked seeds is something to be thankful for under a scorching tropical sun.


SPEAKING OF AFFILIATES

Victoria Padilla

In the spring you all received a copy of the latest membership roll. This list was distributed with the hope that members would seek out those residing in their area and thus become acquainted. Bromeliads, as yet, are not easily obtainable, and those who do raise them have found that the easiest way to obtain new varieties is to exchange plants with other growers. Ideas also can be interchanged, and by doing so, a person's knowledge and appreciation of this remarkable plant family can be greatly increased. He will also enjoy the friendship of those who have similar interests.

According to the By-Laws of this Society, any group of six members can form an affiliated group. The nucleus of The Bromeliad Society–at its very beginning–consisted of only three persons. Gradually the number grew because they found that they not only increased their knowledge of bromeliads, as well as the size of their collections, but they enjoyed the friendships they made, thus bringing into reality, The Bromeliad Society.

There are three groups affiliated with The Bromeliad Society, and members of each group will tell you that their pleasure in raising bromeliads has been magnified many times because of sharing their experiences and plants. Also the membership has grown where such a group was formed. In 1953 there were only a half dozen members in New Orleans–today there are more than double that number comprising the Louisiana Bromeliad Society. The largest growth has been in the St. Petersburg area, which membership has grown from four to sixteen, not counting those who live in the suburbs. We congratulate the very active members who make up the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society.

We are especially desirous of having a group formed in the New York area. As bromeliads make such splendid house plants, we are sure that many plant lovers would like to learn more about them. An affiliated society would have the pleasure of introducing bromeliads to the New York public by displaying them at their clubs and shows. We also hope that Central Florida and South Florida will soon organize. New Zealand has a very active membership under the indominatable Mrs. Muriel Waterman. Definitely they should become a branch.

To give an idea of what takes place in a branch meeting, a brief description is given of a regular meeting presented by the Southern California Bromeliad Society. Meetings are held every two months–in a public meeting place. On alternate months, visitations are made to the gardens of members. Although a definite program is carefully planned for each meeting, the gatherings are anything but formal–the entire membership contributing to the program. There is, first of all, a main speaker, who generally shows slides or discusses some aspect of bromeliad culture. Sometimes, there is instead a panel discussion by those best qualified to participate.

The plant forum is always of major interest. This consists of two parts. For the first part, the members are asked to bring to the meeting specimens of one particular species, so that a comparison can be made of the members' plants and conclusions drawn as to what constitutes a good plant. At one meeting Neoregelia marmorata was considered. The broader-leafed, more compact plant of brighter hue was chosen as the ideal. (The color is heightened in these by growing out of doors in plenty of light). The second part of the plant forum is concerned with any other plants brought in for exhibition purposes. At one meeting the hall was festooned with the cut inflorescences of Billbergia Elvenia Slosson and Billbergia × Meadii, kindly brought by James Giridlian, who grows his Billbergias luxuriantly under his vast oak trees. Thelma Hodge brought a very artistic display of Tillandsias mounted on driftwood, David Barry showed some of his precious European hybrids, Dr. William Drummond had a magnificent Quesnelia arvensis in flower, and Victoria Padilla brought a handsome specimen of Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor and an interesting Aechmea miniata var. discolor cross.

A plant auction concludes the business part of the meeting, which sale has a two-point purpose–to give members a chance to procure new plants and to help the group build up its treasury. The evening concludes with a jolly social hour, and it is usually with the regret that the meeting has to come to a close.


From Erma Dietrich, secretary of the St. Petersburg, Florida "West Coast Branch" we have the following notes which might suggest an idea or two for meeting procedure.

"The meeting was turned over to our Program Chairman, Mrs. Harry Klein, who distributed pencil and paper to each member. She instructed us to name every bromeliad that Mr. E. H. Palmer was about to show us on the screen. There were twenty-five colored slides, (loaned to us by the parent Society) which we attempted to name. The results, upon checking our papers were amazing. Every one had named several of the plants correctly; however, there were no perfect papers in the group. (We hope that other groups and garden clubs are availing themselves of these slides.)

"Mr. John Beckner gave an interesting talk and demonstration on potting and potting mixtures for bromeliads. He also demonstrated the proper methods for removing young shoots from the parent plant. Then, Mrs. Beckner, John's mother, made a few brief remarks regarding the fertilization of bromeliads."

From Morris Hobbs, president of the "Louisiana Branch" we learn that he, at one meeting, auctioned off some newly acquired bromeliads as well as gave a step-by-step demonstration of planting bromeliad seeds, copies of which were mimeographed and sent to each member; this was printed in the September-October 1955 issue for everyone to share.

We will welcome any other ideas on how to conduct meetings of the branch societies.

647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles, Calif.


NOTES FROM JULIAN NALLY

In company with other members of The Bromeliad Society, I collect, in a desultory fashion, such books as come my way which contain references to bromeliads. The pleasure of obtaining a long sought volume is not to be gainsaid, but the unexpected paragraph, in a book one had never heard of before, is delight indeed. Orlando, Florida has a second-hand bookstore where the flotsam and jetsam of private libraries settle to the degree of interest evinced by the public and it was among the unconsidered trifles my eye fell on a typical Harper & Brothers pressed cloth binding of the middle of the last century, bearing the title, in faded gold letters, "New Granada: Twenty Months in the Andes," by Isaac F. Holton. The map in hand-washed green, yellow and red was followed by the title page bearing the additional information that Mr. Holton was professor of Chemistry and Natural History at Middlebury College, and the date of his work was 1857. There was nothing to indicate that Professor Holton had the excellent sense of humor which lightened both the tediousness of travel in a primitive land and better still, his written account. A well prepared index sent my eye hurrying to page 103 where, after an obviously heart-felt paragraph on the limitations of the cuisine in Las Cruces, a hamlet on the upper reaches of the Magdalena River, the professor had this to say: . . .

"After leaving Las Cruces there was a long spot of nearly level road. I gave my mule into Gregorio's hands, to be more independent. I passed under a beautiful Bignoniate vine, covered with large purple blossoms, that I wished in New York. I came to another plant with stiff, thorny leaves, much like those of the century-plant. The inner leaves were red, and within is a dense head of flowers six inches in diameter, which give place to scores of fruits as large as a finger. It bears the name of pinuela, and is one of the best fruits of the land, being among the sweetest in the world, with a good supply of a very agreeable acid. The drawbacks are that each fruit must be peeled-and the operation covers the fingers with syrup–and that there is rather an abundance of seeds. These are said to have been the original carat weights, and the plant is the Bromelia Karatas. It makes a formidable hedge, and it often costs more to cut your way with a long machete to the center of a vigorous plant than all the fruits are worth. I have seen where boys have cut a sort of dog-hole to creep in, six or eight feet under the leaves, and it seemed to me an operation worthy of Baron Trenck. There is another species or variety, I know not which, that is so acrid as to blister the lips. I have seen another species in the West Indies, with the flowers in a spike, instead of down at the roots of the leaves in a head. This is Bromelia Pinguin."

There are two other references to bromeliads, vide p. 439, "At the Medio my attention was called to a large solitary tree called Guazimo, probably Guazuma tormentosa. I was wondering whether a full catalogue of its epiphytes would not mount to a hundred species. It seemed to me quite probable. Here and there hang down cords of Cactate, Rhipsalis, called here, disiciplina. There a Bromeliate, Pitcairnia, shoots out a spike clothed with bracts, the upper ones of which are scarlet, like the tipping of a trooper's feather. Numerous Orchids, of course, there are, some of which are brought down for me by the lazo, and one or two species of Tillandsia."

On p. 53. ". . . til we came to Calamar . . . but I know of nothing you will have to see here except it be some new palms back of the town, and the Spanish moss, that I believe to be the same as that of Mississippi – Tillandsia usneoides. They call it salvaje."

Gotha, Florida


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