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THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN

Racine 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: Streptocalyx Poeppigii, Beer

Photo M. B. Foster

This is a showy robust, Amazon region plant that has been found in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. It was first found by Poeppig at Ega and then regathered by Dr. Spruce in 1849. Since then, S. Vallerandii, E. Morr. and S. juruanus Ule, have been placed into synonymy by Dr. L. B. Smith and those two species are now known as Streptocalyx Poeppigii.

The editors collected this species in Colombia on the edge of the Amazon basin during 1946. A huge dead tree had to be cut down in order to procure the plants. Seeds from those plants have now produced mature plants which have flowered in the Bromelario, years later.

This Streptocalyx produces a large panicle of flowers from one to one and a half feet high which is quite showy having violet petals, pink bracts; later the white fruits make an attractive, enduring display.

There are eight known species in the genus. The largest S. floribundus, is a giant with its myriad flowered inflorescence 8 to 9 feet high. This we collected in 1940 in the state of Rio, Brazil. (see "Brazil, Orchid of the Tropics" p. 276)

For quite sometime we have planned an issue each on "Odd Bromeliads You Should Know" and on "Pitcairnias, the Leafy Bromeliads. But time and space become of the essence and it is indicated that we should combine the two in this issue.


Recent Publications:

The Home section of the Los Angeles Times for Sunday, March 9, 1958 gave an imposing front page spread of bromeliads in an excellent color shot by George de Gennaro, to call attention to, as they say, the "Wonderful World of Indoor Gardening". It is truly a stunning photograph. On page 26 they identify the plants and give high praise for the "new" indoor plants.

Also from California comes the April 1958 issue of Sunset Magazine (35, Lane Publishing Co., Menlo Park, Calif.) in which, on page 232, is an illustrated article called, "How to Display Bromeliads". David Barry has cooperated in analyzing the steps that go into making a delightful driftwood bromeliad tree.

Lyman Smith published his ninth "Notes on Bromeliaceae" in Phytologia, Vol. 6, No. 4, March 1958. This includes four new species from as many countries, one new combination and a clearing of the confusion between Aechmea fasciata and Aechmea dealbata. A. dealbata is again a legitimate species.


Even in a pharmacy we found bromeliads!! It was hard to believe the eyes that were viewing a jungle scene punctuated with the vivid heads of colorful Aechmea Mariae-Reginae and Hohenbergia stellata. This was a reproduction of a painting by Robert A. Thom who has done a series, "A History of Pharmacy in Pictures" for Parke, Davis and Co. This one, that held our fascinated eye, illustrated Dr. Henry R. Rusby, in 1885, hacking his way in a Peruvian jungle where he found the famous Cocillana Bark, source of quinine.


Photo of drawing by H. Jacques-Felix

LONE ORIENTAL OF THE BROMELIADS

Lyman B. Smith

Until quite recently there was no authentic record of any bromeliad that was native outside of the New World. Although it is true that Ananas comosus, the pineapple, was described by Rumphius in his "Flora Amboinensis" as a native of the Dutch East Indies, his observations were made more than a hundred and thirty years after the first occupation of the island, ample time for the unrecorded introduction of a number of economic plants. Indications are that all species of pineapple are native to the New World.

In 1937, however, H. Jacques-Felix collected a bromeliad in French Guinea, West Africa, about whose origin there could be no doubt. This Pitcairnia Feliciana is known from a single collection so it can not be said that there is any possibility of its having been introduced for economic reasons as in the case of the pineapple. In fact the species is so obscure that it was first described as a member of the Lily Family, and only a year later recognized as a Pitcairnia by Professors Harms and Mildbraed of the Berlin Botanic Garden.

In its bulbous base, narrow spiny leaves, and simple inflorescence, Pitcairnia Feliciana resembles P. Glaziovii of eastern Brazil as well as several species of Mexico and the northern Andes. However, its leaves have spines only at the base and the blades are persistent, where the leaves of the other species have developed into two types, one bladeless and spiny, the other with a spineless deciduous blade. A thorough canvass of all American species reveals none that can be considered close to P. Feliciana.

Like the great majority of the Pitcairnias, P. Feliciana has seeds with narrow appendages on either end which doubtless are some help in dispersal. However, they can not be nearly as effective as the feathery seeds of Tillandsias and Vriesias. How then did Pitcairnia reach Africa when more efficient travelers did not?

One explanation is the much debated Wegener hypothesis or the idea that the Old and New Worlds were once a single land mass and then split and slid apart to form the Atlantic Ocean. In such a case a primitive type like Pitcairnia might be divided by the split before more advanced types like Tillandsia and Vriesia had yet evolved. Furthermore, Pitcairnia Feliciana is not an isolated case but was preceded by the discovery of similar transatlantic bridging in the Rapateaceae, Mayacaceae, Vochysiaceae, and Cactaceae. In fact the parallel was so strong that the existence of a native African bromeliad was indicated several years before it was discovered (Engler, Botanischer Jahrbuch 66: 449. 1934).

United States National Herbarium
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.


A NEW PITCAIRNIA FROM HISPANIOLA

Lyman B. Smith

By and large the West Indian species of Pitcairnia are a difficult lot to distinguish from each other, so it is a pleasant surprise to come upon a new species that is readily recognizable. This species is apparently related to Pitcairnia angustifolia Ait. and P. cubensis (Mez) L. B. Smith because of its alate ovules. It differs from P. angustifolia in its small stature and much narrower leaves and from P. cubensis in having its leaf-blades almost evenly spinose throughout their entire length. Also, unlike the other two species, there is no contraction at the base of the leaf-blade.

PITCAIRNIA ELIZABETHAE L. B. Smith, sp. nov.

It is a pleasure to dedicate this species to Elizabeth S. Howard in the hope that a botanist's wife may share the recognition as well as the rigors of collecting.

Photo R. A. Howard   
P. angustifolia Ait. atque P. cubensis (Mez) L. B. Smith affinis, a priore statura minore et foliis multo angustioribus, a posteriore laminis foliorum utrinque subaequaliter spinosis, a ambobus laminis foliorum basi mullo modo angustatis differt.

Stemless, flowering plant 55 cm. high; leaves many, rosulate, to 28 cm. long, the sheaths broadly ovate, about 2 cm. long, dark castaneous, entire, the blades linear, 4 mm. wide, flagelliform-acuminate, glabrous above, completely covered beneath with cinereous scales, loosely serrate with slender spreading spines 2 mm. long; scape erect, slender, glabrous; lower scape-bracts subfoliaceous, slightly serrate, the others triangular, acuminate, small, much shorter than the internodes; inflorescence simple, loose, bearing rather numerous flowers, sparsely and minutely white-furfuraceous, soon glabrous; floral bracts ovate-triangular, acuminate, about half as long as the pedicels; pedicels slender, up to 9 mm. long; flowers divergent to spreading, red; sepals oblong, broadly acute and apiculate, 17 mm. long, ecarinate; petals to 45 mm. long, bearing a broad obtuse scale inside at the base; ovary 2/3 superior; ovules alate.

Dominican Republic; Barahona: Terrestrial on walls of limestone ravine in pine woods, trail between Pedernalis and Aceital, alt. 1260 m. (4200 ft.), Aug. 8-12, 1946, R. A. & E. S. Howard 8123 (type in the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University).

Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D. C.


Photo Albert E. Voter, Jr.

PITCAIRNIA HETEROPHYLLA

by
Julian A. Steyermark and Albert E. Vatter, Jr.1

This bromeliad has a rather wide natural range of distribution, being found from southern Mexico to Panama, and from Venezuela to Ecuador. Like some other members of the genus Pitcairnia, this one is more or less xerophytic in its habitat, being found on boulders and in crevices of rocks. In Guatemala it has been found at elevations varying from 80 to 2,000 meters, on wet or dry cliffs usually in forested areas. It has rarely been found growing on the soil. The accompanying photograph shows it in its natural habitat growing on a large rock in a pine forest.

The flowers are showy with red to rose-colored linear petals. These flowers appear congested in a head-like inflorescence which protrudes above the very narrow and elongated leaf cluster.

The specific name of the plant, alluding to more than one kind of leaf, refers to the dimorphic condition, in which the outer leaf blades are reduced to mere rigid castaneous spines, while the other leaf blades are green and very slender with long tips.

Chicago Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Ill.

__________

1 Mr. Vatter served as general assistant and photographer on the second expedition to Guatemala made by the senior author between December, 1941 and October, 1942. He is credited with the photograph which appears in this and subsequent articles concerning Guatemalan bromeliads.


MISCELLANY

Roger K. Taylor

The pros and cons of the use of fir bark and allied materials as potting media, particularly for orchids, have been widely debated. For my bromeliads during the past year I have been following with satisfaction the advice of a commercial grower, namely that a mixture of bark with chopped osmunda is better than bark alone; advantages of the mixture include readier permeability to water, excellent drainage, a coherent texture, and less necessity for supplemental nutrition. Minor amounts, varying with the species of plant in question, of other materials such as peat moss, crushed granite, flaky leaf mold, coarse sand, crushed brick, etc., have also been included, but the main components have been the bark and osmunda. So far, good growth has resulted with everything from Aechmeas to Vriesias.


The difficulty of providing adequate support in potting offsets taken with few or no roots has often been encountered (Bulletin Nov.-Dec. 1957). An easy and effectual technique is to form a knob by wrapping a strip of osmunda tightly around the base of the cutting, holding it so until the potting medium has been pressed firmly enough around it to prevent unwinding. The mixture mentioned above has been especially convenient to handle.


When suckers develop on plants with thin leaves, and particularly when the leaves are wide as well, it occasionally happens that while the shoot is still of cylindrical form the leaves become entangled so that they cannot grow independently. What-Apparently happens is that one (or more) of the inner leaves, growing laterally within the confinement of the outermost one, has insufficient room to expand and develops a longitudinal wrinkle. If this is deep enough to engage the next leaf so that the two are locked together, differing rates of length-wise growth may produce transverse crumpling as well. A situation of this sort is not likely to right itself, but becomes progressively worse with the result that a number of the leaves of the young growth are permanently disfigured. Such a condition is more easily prevented than cured. Periodic examination will disclose the initial stages of the difficulty, and at this time the gentle insertion of a pencil tip (and then perhaps a finger tip) can separate the sheaths. If left too long they may be quite impossible to disengage without tearing one or more of the leaves involved. Among my plants, Aechmea Royal Wine has been especially subject to this difficulty; some Vriesias also are affected.


It has been advised that bromeliads should be kept relatively dry during the winter. Apparently this direction may be safely ignored, if the plants receive sufficient light so that they remain in active growth; those of my plants that have been put under fluorescent lights not only continue to grow during the winter months, but seem to produce even more vigorous root growth than outdoors during the warm season.

3122 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 18, Md.


Photo M. B. Foster

ORTHOPHYTUM FOSTERIANUM

Lyman B. Smith

It is only fitting that we should name this new species in honor of the man who has increased the genus Orthophytum many fold. When Mulford Foster began collecting bromeliads there were only two known species of Orthophytum, although the genus dates clear back to 1854. He has discovered outright some six new species including the present one and has been the indirect means of adding two more when he showed that the genera Sincoraea and Cryptanthopsis were really the same as Orthophytum. One species, Orthophytum navioides, belongs in both categories, because he made the discovery of the species and then the observations which led to its transfer from Cryptanthopsis where it was originally described.

ORTHOPHYTUM FOSTERIANUM L. B. Smith, sp. nov.

O. saxicola (Ule) L. B. Smith atque O. disjuncto L. B. Smith affinis, a priore scapo elongato, a posteriore inflorescentia simplici, a ambobus indumento laxo differt.

Plant reproducing vegetatively by offshoots (not stoloniferous) and by the rooting of the old decurved inflorescence, flowering plant 5 dm high, sparsely lepidote (except the petals and inner parts of the flower) with narrow white crisped scales that hardly ever touch or overlap; leaves rosulate, recurving, 10-15 cm long, apple-green, without a distinct sheath, narrowly triangular, acuminate, 2 cm wide, laxly spinose-serrate with teeth 5 mm long; scape slender, erect at anthesis; scape-bracts foliaceous, recurving, progressively and rapidly smaller; inflorescence consisting of a small compact terminal head and in the type of a 1-flowered remote basal bract, in the other specimen of the terminal head only; floral bracts foliaceous, much longer than the sepals but strongly recurved; flowers erect or suberect; sepals narrowly triangular, 15 mm long; petals linear, obtuse, white, bearing 2 lacerate scales near the base; ovary subglobose.

Type in the U. S. National Herbarium, No. 2,248,190, collected near Santa Teresa, State of Espirito Santo, Brazil, October 26, 1948, by M. B. Foster (No. 2487-A) and flowered in Orlando, Florida in June, 1957. This same collection was also flowered in 1952, but the more recent material is better and has therefore been chosen as the type.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.


NOTES ON COLLECTING ORTHOPHYTUMS

Mulford B. Foster

To reach almost any town or section in the U. S. A. which has been settled for the past fifty years or more, one could, without too much difficulty, reach that area by auto. But in Brazil we found conditions quite different when Racine and I first visited that country in 1939. When we landed in Bahia, a three day trip via ocean liner, north from Rio, we made ambitious plans for visiting several sections of the state of Bahia. However, we did not have that much time as it would have taken many weeks to have covered even a few of the areas we selected, as there were few auto roads, especially in the northern part of Brazil.

We did, however, go by train to the Jacobina region in the gold, crystal and diamond area; there we discovered one of the loveliest bromeliad "gems" of our entire Brazilian explorations. Cryptanthopsis navioides Dr. Smith called it. It was a new species of a genus we had never heard of. Later, in 1939, when we were in Espirito Santo, we found our first species of another genus, Orthophytum foliosum. Then in 1940 another new species was found but not yet described.

In 1948, when I revisited Brazil alone, certain widely separated areas were selected to be explored, if at all possible. Ever since our discovery of C. navioides I had been anxious to collect the only other recognized species in the genus, Cryptanthopsis saxicola, with the hope that there might be additional species in the same region.

Maracas and the Sincora mountain area on the map of Bahia seemed little more than a good afternoon's motor trip from the city of Bahia, although we understood it took at least two weeks for Ernst Ule, German botanist, to reach that area back in 1907. But not by auto! Now, a new and still unfinished road makes it possible to reach the edge of this area in two or three days.

Wherever rock formations were found in the Maracas section, attentive search was made for plants of Cryptanthopsis or Sincoraea as Ule had described these two new genera following his collecting trips in this region forty-one years previous. A drawing of his species had gone with me for a quick comparison in the field. To my great satisfaction I found, growing on the bare, hot rocks, in low dense mats, a small rosette plant that certainly matched his drawing of C. saxicola. But just a few feet back, where there was soil and other vegetation, this same plant was not just a simple rosette, it was twelve to fourteen inches high with several compact branches formed close to its tall stem. It was the same plant, as careful observation showed, but Ule's drawing and specimen was of an impoverished, dwarfed example.

Not far distant another species of the same genus was found. This became Orthophytum maracasense. Within the next hour still another new species, Orthophytum rubrum was located in a dense thicket. Although at the time of collection it would have been hard to convince me that it was an Orthophytum, the revelation came when the plant flowered for the first time three years later in our Bromelario.

It was also later determined that three weeks prior to this Bahian bonanza in Orthophytums, I had found still another new species up in the state of Paraiba, Orthophytum disjunctum, a really choice bromeliad. It is a saxicolous plant growing in nooks and crags of rocks mostly in full sun. It is a small five to six inch diameter rosette of rather velvety semi-succulent leaves which produces a scape with several small pineapple-like heads alternately hugging close to the main stem, each nestling in a toothed bract. The leaves are light green in shade but may be light to deep grey in full sun. The flowers are white.

My next discovery in the genus was Orthophytum Fosterianum, (although, of course, at the time I did not know it was going to carry this name). It was a most interesting species growing on the rocks in Espirito Santo (described by Dr. Smith on page 24 of this issue.)

In spite of long days of hard trekking when trying to ferret out these rarities, evenings were spent making drawings of the petals and interior construction of the flowers while they were fresh; there was always the chance that the plants might not survive the trip back. Fortunately, all these species survived the vicissitudes of travel and fumigation.

As a rather climactic sequence to my efforts, two years later a small live plant of Cryptanthopsis saxicola was sent to me from Java. Forty years ago Ule had sent live plants to Germany and from these original plants seeds were sent in 1939 by Dr. Richard Oeser, (Bromeliad Society member in Frankfurt) to the Buitenzorg Botanical Garden of Netherlands, East India, (Java). Fortunately the seeds thrived there and small plants were very kindly sent to me by Mr. Boomsma, the Director at that time. I was pleased to have direct descendants from the living material collected by Ule. The receipt of this plant from Java proved that my collection of 1948 was identically the same plant which Ule had taken in 1907.

After returning to the U. S. A. I made drawings and data of all of the species of Cryptanthopsis, Sincoraea and Orthophytum. These details showed that the floral parts of the different species of all three genera were such that there could be little doubt but that they all belonged to one genus. So, coupled with Dr. Smith's observations we were quite agreed that the two genera, Cryptanthopsis and Sincoreae created by Ule (Engler's Bot. Jahrb. XLII (1909 191) would have to be discarded and all of the species should now be included in the one genus Orthophytum. This Dr. Smith has done. (Bromeliaceae of Brazil, 1955, p.:34 )

Thus we have the genus Orthophytum gaining in size but undoubtedly it has not attained its mature status as there must be more species yet to be discovered.

To sum up: all of the known Orthophytum species have white flowers; their leaves are edged with spines and tend to be mildly succulent but not quite as firm as are the Dyckias. Their leaves are green or colored with a brownish tint, with the exception of Orthophytum navioides (see Foster's "Brazil, Orchid of the Tropics" p. 4) which displays a gorgeous burst of color when all the foliage turns red at the time of florescence. Orthophytum rubrum shows color only with its cherry red flower bracts at the flowering period.

Orthophytums grow in rocky areas and can be treated as semi-succulent plants that demand very little attention except that they ask for plenty of light. They have not been grown long enough to be well known, horticulturally. Only one species, O. saxicola, had reached Europe before 1939 and now, although we have that species as well as seven new discoveries, their distribution has not vet been very widespread.


ANDREA SELLOANA

Mulford B. Foster

Unlike many of the more common genera in the Bromeliaceae we have several genera that are rarely seen in horticulture and a few that are rarely ever seen even in herbarium collections.

On July 12, 1940 the writer was collecting on a trip to the Serra da Cipo in the state of Minas Geraes, Brazil. Well up on the mountain in a moist region where, searching in a rocky area near a waterfall, two plants of Andrea Selloana were found. They somewhat resembled a Pitcairnia, with narrow light green, rather stiff grass-like leaves without spines and tomentose underside. The plants were 12 to 18 inches high. The central inflorescence, shorter than the leaves, composed of a dense compound, globe-like head, only an inch and a half in diameter. The few violet petaled flowers crowded together made it an interesting but not a striking member of the family.

Drawing by M. B. F. after Mez   
Andrea Selloana
I had not the slightest idea as to the identification of this plant except that it seemed certain to be a bromeliad. A search for other plants was in vain. Months later, Dr. Smith wrote from the Gray Herbarium that this plant was the first specimen in the genus for the Gray Herbarium. Later I learned of the great rarity of this plant and that I had been only the third person to have collected this species in the past 115 years. Many times it has been wished that the plant could have survived fumigation; it is to be hoped that I may return to that area to seek it again.

Friedrich Sello, a young German botanist, went to Rio Janeiro in 1814 when he was twenty-five years of age. He collected from Bahia to Sao Paulo until 1820 and from 1820 to 1830 he explored the southern areas to Parana and on into Uruguay for two years, then back into Brazil to Minas Geraes. He was an avid collector and made thousands of herbarium specimens of the Brazilian flora as well as collecting live plants which he sent back to Europe. (He discovered several new species of bromeliads in other genera. Also the now well-known Philodendron Selloum was one of his many new plant discoveries.) He died in Minas Geraes in 1831.

In 1889 Baker described this Andrea species as Quesnelia Selloana but seven years later Mez created a new genus, Andrea in D. C. Monogr. Phaner. IX (1896) 114, and called this plant A. Sellowiana. But L. B. Smith in "Bromeliaceae of Brazil" has corrected this name to Andrea Selloana using the original spelling of Sello's name as Baker used it.

More than fifty years later the second person to find this rare plant was C. A. W. Schwacke, another German who collected in Brazil from 1873 to 1904; he also discovered several other new species of bromeliads in this same region of Minas Geraes. Possibly the best known of his discoveries, horticulturally, is Vriesia Schwackeana.

So far as we know there is no living material of Sello's rarest discovery in horticulture, the little known monotypic genus Andrea Selloana.

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida



CAROA, NATURE'S GIFT TO THE NORDESTINO

Lyman B. Smith

Life in Brazil's arid northeast is often difficult and its very precariousness has bred a self-reliant stubborn type known simply as the "nordestino." His farms are at the mercy of frequent droughts and the cultivation of most crops is often out of the question. In fact existence would be impossible over much of the area if it were not for nature's gift of certain remarkable plants which grow in great quantity with little or no cultivation. Most of us are already familiar with the story of manioc or cassava, Manihot esculenta, which needs only to be planted and harvested and which is the staff of life there even more than wheat is with us. Then for commerce with the outside world there is the wax palm, Copernicia cerifera, used for polishes and plastics, and the oiticica, Licania rigida, whose fruits contain a very efficient paint dryer. However, very few people outside of Brazil have ever heard of the bromeliad fiber plant of the Nordeste, the caroa (pronounced car-WA) or Neoglaziovia variegata. This ignorance is due to the fact that relatively little of the fiber is exported, but its production has already made local industry independent in this field.

Photo M. B. Foster
Collected leaves of Caroa are fed through rollers which crush them, then these fibers are decorticated.

The caroa has a rosette of a few very long leaves (over 6 feet in many cases) that are spiny and ornamented with conspicuous white cross-bands something like a Sanseveria. Strange to say this acts as a camouflage when the caroa grows with other plants (see Foster and Foster, "Brazil, Orchid of the Tropics" p. 95 and fig. by p. 116). The inflorescence consists of a lax raceme of red and purple flowers and is more ornamental than functional, since the plant's rhizomes serve to propagate it very efficiently. Furthermore the pulpy fruit is so relished by a variety of animals that it rarely is able to mature seeds.

The caroa is also efficient in colonizing the worst soils which are incapable of supporting crops. There it often forms impenetrable thickets and is such a nuisance to travel that people set fire to it as the only means of elimination. However, several states, realizing its economic importance, have passed laws forbidding this destruction even on one's own land.

The Indians used caroa for cordage and fish nets long before the white man came, but its history is very obscure and confused even in recent times. Lauro Xavier in his encyclopedic book "O Caroa" cites several variations on the name that are in common use and also a number of closely similar names that apply to totally different plants. Also there have been several scientific names applied to the caroa since Arruda da Camara first called it Bromelia variegata in 1810. The result has been that until late years both foreign and Brazilian authors have heaped error upon error in writing of the caroa and only the local people have known and appreciated it.

After centuries of purely hand work in preparing the caroa fibers, the nordestinos have built machinery and set up small processing plants near the main source of supply. Now a few large factories are built and in the last twenty years an export trade has been built up. The chief supply is still the wild plants, but agricultural experiments are being made both to improve the quality and to provide against the day when the natural product will no longer wholly meet the demand.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.


Photo M. B. Foster
The Caroa is spun into a tough cord for sacks, in the Jose Vasconcellos factory in Pernambuco, Brazil.

COLLECTING IN CAROA COUNTRY

Mulford B. Foster

In 1948 I had the opportunity of exploring in Brazil one of the principal natural habitats of that odd bromeliad, Neoglaziovia, in the states of Paraiba and Pernambuco.

Through the courtesy of Dr. Lauro Xavier, who guided me in this most interesting tour of areas where it grows prolifically in the wild state, I was also able to visit the Jose Vasconcellos factory in Pernambuco. To see their very large factory was a great revelation of what was being done commercially with a bromeliad species.

This fiber, now, practically replaces the jute which was formerly used for the sacks in which cotton and castor beans are shipped. This has given Brazil an industry which has made an immense saving over the purchase of bag fibers from other countries, as the Brazilian process for preparing the fiber is very inexpensive.

Photo M. B. Foster
Neoglaziovia variegata, known as Caroa, growing in its native caatinga habitat in the state of Paraiba, Brazil.

Attempts have been made to produce the plants agriculturally but this has not become extensive as the areas in which it grows wild, already are so vast and the plant so plentiful, that it may be quite some time before it could become more profitable to produce it under cultivation, especially since the land has been found to be of little use otherwise.

These caatinga areas (similar to mesquite country in Texas or Mexico), are owned, principally, by the fiber manufactures who allow the local nordestinos to harvest-the-leaves of this strange plant; they are paid by the ton for the bundled leaves when brought to the factory. These pickers are under constant surveillance as they are not allowed to dig or pull up an entire plant; they must not pull more than one to three side leaves, according to its size, from any plant, which is composed of from three to five stiff, terete leaves. This precaution does not eradicate the plants from any area, but allows them to flower and to throw out new stolons from the base for the new crop. Thus many thousands of acres continue to produce, without fertilizer or care, a bromeliad whose fibers may be from three to twelve feet long.

Your bare feet or mine, would not be happy scuffing through these thorny acres where several forms of cacti and other spiny plants mingle with the Neoglaziovia to form a formidable thicket. The soil is acid, mostly of granitic formation; the rainfall is so sparse that there is little competition for more vigorous forms of plant life or for grazing animals to interfere with this xerophytic way of life.

Thus Brazil makes use of an interesting bromeliad, one of her curious, natural resources.

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida


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