THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN
|President||David Barry, Jr.||Editorial Secretary||Victoria Padilla|
|Vice President||Frank Overton||Membership Secretary||Jeanne Woodbury|
|Treasurer||Jack M. Roth||Art Editor||Morris Henry Hobbs|
E. H. Palmer, President, Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society|
Lawrence Hiscock, President, Louisiana Bromeliad Society
Fritz Kubisch, President, Southern California Bromeliad Society
Robert Wilson, President, South Florida Bromeliad Society
|Board of Directors|
David Barry, Jr.
Nat. J. De Leon
E. W. Ensign
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Henry M. Hobbs
E. H. Palmer
Jack M. Roth
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Wilbur G. Wood
Mrs. Adda Abendroth
Dr. Alberto Castellanos
Monsieur Charles Chevalier
Mulford B. Foster
A. B. Graf
Mr. Charles Hodgson
Mr. C. H. Lankester
Auckland, New Zealand
P. Raulino Reitz
Dr. Lyman B. Smith
A blooming specimen of Aechmea fulgens discolor, approximately one-half size. This beautiful species has carinate leaves, green on the upper surface, magenta on the undersides, which are covered with a cretaceous bloom. Faint cross banding further enhances the beauty of the leaves. The long-lasting inflorescence shows purple flowers which soon wither, but the bright red berries retain their color for months. A tender species, it does not like either sun or cold. — M. H. H.
No article appearing in this bulletin may be reproduced without the permission of the editor.
CCORDING TO THE RETURNS received from questionnaires sent to the members last summer, the most popular bromeliads are Aechmeas. "Why Aechmea?" some of you, whose preferences are otherwise, might ask. If one pauses for a moment to reflect, the reasons for the popularity of this genus are fairly obvious.
Aechmeas are among the easiest of all bromeliads to grow—this was the consensus of most of those who returned the questionnaire, only two members saying that they have any difficulty at all. In their native habitat Aechmeas may be found growing under all kinds of conditions—on trees, in the ground, on rocky expanses—from Mexico to Argentina. Accordingly, under cultivation, there are Aechmeas for almost any growing situation: some make perfect house plants, some do well in outdoor containers, some like to be perched on trees or on pieces of driftwood, some want to grow among the succulents in a rockery, some want to be in the ground in a shady spot, and a few are happiest when grown in a greenhouse. Indeed Aechmeas are among the most adaptable of all the members of the bromeliad family and will accept almost any growing medium, provided, of course, it is porous.
Then there are Aechmeas for every taste. For those who like their plants small, there are charming miniatures measuring only several inches; for those who like them large, there is, to cite an example, Aechmea conifera, which measures nine feet from tip to tip. Of all the different genera in the bromeliad family, Aechmeas have the most diversified foliage: some have soft plain green leaves, some have lacquered red ones, some have bizarrely mottled foliage, some have leaves that seem to be dusted with white powder, some have banded or striped foliage, and some have stiff green leaves. And the inflorescences, too, are as varied as the foliage. The flowers seem to cover the complete range of the spectrum for color: red, purple, pink, blue, yellow, white, lavender, orange. There is a plant and flower to match every color scheme. And not to be overlooked is the fact that the inflorescences of most Aechmeas last in color longer than those of any other genus, some putting on a color show for the better part of a year.
Aechmeas, for the most part, are dependable bloomers and can be counted on to be in flower during certain parts of the year. A. racinae is a sure one for the early winter months, and A. fasciata never fails to bloom during the summer. If one plans his collection wisely, he can have Aechmeas in flower the year round. However, so interesting are Aechmeas in form and foliage, they would be worth-while decorative subjects even if they never produced their interesting spikes of flower and fruit.
A versatile group of plants is the Aechmea, and for this reason, the next two issues of the Bulletin will include a descriptive listing of those most commonly found in cultivation. This listing is given in response to many requests for a more detailed description of the bromeliads found in various catalogues. Thanks go to Mulford and Racine Foster, Lyman B. Smith, and E. H. Palmer in helping to compile this list.
MULFORD B. FOSTER
AECHMEA DISTICHANTHA Lem. var. canaliculata M. B. Foster, var. nov.
A. var. distichantha et varieatibus alteris laminis foliorum medio anguste canaliculatis differt. Collected in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in July 1939 by M. B. and R. Foster #3043. (Type in U. S. National Herbarium).
|Aechmea distichantha var. canaliculata|
The distinctive characteristics of this variation of an old Aechmea have needed recognition for a long time, but since it was collected without a flower it was among my living plants some time before a blooming plant could make final and valid the identification.
Ae. distichantha has had quite an assortment of names since its first discovery in 1825. It did not enter horticulture, however, until about 1852, when it was sent by Mr. Balansa to Europe from Paraguay.
Ae. distichantha has been described in the general classifications, at different times since 1825, under the following names: Tillandsia, Chevalliera, Quesnelia, Billbergia, Hohenbergia, Hoplophytum, and Disquamia, as well as its present status, Aechmea. This Aechmea has also held quite a number of species names, such as polystachia, excavata, brasiliensis, myriophylla, grandiceps, distichanthum, bookerii, distichostachya, involucrata, involucrifera, and its present, and last, we hope, species name of distichantha.
The variety most common in horticulture is var. schlumbergeri, which is the largest varietal form, being 24 to 36 inches high. Both var. distichantha and var. distichantha forma albiflora (our first albino bromeliad discovery in 1939, Parana, Brazil) are medium sized plants, about 18 to 24 inches high. The var. glaziovii stands 9 to 12 inches high; it is a compact miniature; it grows in higher altitudes than any other member of the group.
The latest addition to this distichantha group, the new var. canaliculata, is 12 to 14 inches high. It has a distinct canal-like depression in the center of the lower portion of the leaves. The plants, reproducing on short stolons, form a close cluster of upright narrow leaves which are slightly banded on the under side. The inflorescence is a rather compact spike with short branches emanating from the lower half section.
The presently accepted varieties, all of which we have living at Bromel-La, are from our Southern collecting trips. All of them are frost resistant, will grow in soil, or rocks, or trees, are winter or spring flowering, and ask for the least pampering.
—Rt. 2, Box 491, Orlando, Florida.
DAVID BARRY, JR.
Tillandsia lindenii var. caeca D. Barry, Jr., var. nov. A var. lindenii laminis petalorum omnino azureis differt.
The original Tillandsia lindenii described by Houllet in Revue Horticole (44:231) had a white eye at the base of the petals. This new variety is without the white eye, and is therefore named caeca (blind). Over the last twenty-five years this variety has been vegetatively propagated and distributed in quantity as T. lindenii. Dr. Lyman B. Smith discovered the distinction between this variety and the species of Houllet when living material was submitted to him. T. lindenii var. caeca is one of the parents in a cross with T. cyanea that will be described in a forthcoming issue of this "Bulletin".
In Phytologia, Vol. 8, No. 1, September, 1961, Dr. Lyman B. Smith presents a new key to the genus Hechtia. Besides the key, 41 species of Hechtia are described. Several other new species are described. Phytologia is a valuable little publication for those who take their plants seriously. A copy of this number may he had by sending 75 cents to H. N. Moldenke, 15 Glenbrook Avenue, Yonkers 5, New York.
O. C. VAN HYNING
URING THE DRY WINTER MONTHS, little moisture is to be found in the Mexican jungle except that which condenses in the cups of various bromeliad plants; hence the latter become a haven for a host of animal life such as insects, scorpions, snails, frogs, salamanders, lizards, and small snakes. While collecting and studying bromeliads in northern Oaxaca in the early spring of 1960, I found a number of amphibians and sent them for identification to Dr. H. M. Smith, of the University of Illinois. These specimens, consisting of small tree frogs and salamanders, turned out to be very interesting, one of the frogs and two of the salamanders proving to be new species.
Most of these amphibians were found in the leaf cups of bromeliads growing from six to thirty feet from the ground, on large trees in the rain forests covering the steep slopes of the Chinantecas Mountains in northeastern Oaxaca. This section is almost inaccessible, and very little collecting of any kind has been done in the region. We found two new Greigias and two new Vrieseas here; one of the latter, of the group formerly known as Thecophyllum, has not yet been described.
Undoubtedly, some of the animals frequent the bromeliads only incidentally for the water to be found in the cups, whereas others, like the tiny salamander, Pseudoeurycea sp. nov., probably spend their entire lives within the plants. Most specimens were found in large plants of Hohenbergia guatemalensis, Tillandsia viridiflora, and Vriesea vanhyningii, but some were also found in T. multicaulis, T. imperialis and T. violacea. The tree frogs Hylella sumichrasti, Hyla cyclomaculata, Hyla arborescens, and Hyla sp. nov., and the salamanders Chiropteron sp. nov. and Pseudoeurycea sp. nov. were found living together in these plants.
One specimen of a rather common tree frog, Smilisca baudini, was found in a plant of Billbergia pallidiflora, near Cintalapa, Chiapas, and several specimens of a small tree frog, Hyla smithi, were taken from an unidentified Billbergia, south of Autland, state of Jalisco. A medium sized black and yellow salamander, Bolitoglossa platydactyla, is frequently found in the large bromeliads at lower altitudes, thirteen of these were taken from one plant of Aechmea bracteata, at Finca Mirador, near Huatusco, Vera Cruz.
It would be a worth-while project for anyone collecting bromeliads in the tropics to carry a few bottles with alcohol in which to preserve any of the small animals encountered in the plants.
— P. O. Box 381, Maitland, Florida.
For those who are confronted with the problem of having to raise their bromeliads inside their home, Ernest Drinker Ballard's Garden in Your House is recommended reading. Besides discussing the culture of indoor plants, the author gives some invaluable suggestions as to how to use these plants as a part of the decorative scheme. Her window treatments are especially interesting. The book is well illustrated; one of the best photographs is that of a handsome bromeliad tree.
OBSERVATIONS FROM DOWN UNDER
P UNTIL THE LAST TWO YEARS, bromeliads, with the exception of a few Billbergias, were unknown in Australia. Interest in all varieties, however, is now fast growing. The main trouble in collecting a large number in the past was getting correct identification, but this, too, is now being overcome.
Contrary to some opinions, many varieties of bromeliads can be grown in the same greenhouse if attention is given to their individual needs. For the wet-loving types, one should pick a place where he waters heavily; for the dry-loving ones, a spot that is not often watered. Then there are the light lovers, such as Billbergias and Aechmeas which must have good light to bring out their coloration, and then there are the shade lovers such as the Nidulariums and Cryptanthus. These can be placed under the branches where it is mossy, cool, and damp.
Glasshouses must be ventilated even at night. If air is allowed to become stale, a slime will form in the cups of many bromeliads and discolor the base areas. In many parts of this state bromeliads which are kept in the bush houses lose much of their color. Not enough light penetrates the bush covering and the temperature is too low in winter. In the writer's opinion, the best possible plants—those showing full color and character—should be grown in a glasshouse with plenty of vents for air circulation and a means of keeping the temperature up to 45 degrees in the cold months.
When brown spots appear at the base of the leaves of some plants because of over-watering at too cold a temperature, a simple remedy can be used without up-ending the pot after watering. Simply cut a vertical slit at the base of each leaf to drain off the surplus water. It is difficult to avoid overwatering some plants, and the drain method has worked. If tender plants are put too close to the roof, they can be quickly killed by the extra heat or from frost or snow on the roof. No plant should be placed any closer to the ceiling than three feet.
Many new bromeliads are coming into Australia by way of seed packets, and there are now at least 170 varieties available.
—W. B. Charley, Mt. Temah, Bilbin, N. S. W.
In Melbourne, bromeliads have proved to be ideal house plants. Visitors to my home have often commented on the beautiful appearance of Neoregelia marmorata and N. spectabilis. These two, along with another Neoregelia, possibly a carolinae variety, were brought into the house in late autumn and kept by the window through-out the winter. It is now spring and all three are looking extremely healthy.
Two pots of Cryptanthus were placed inside the seedling house during the winter and have done much better than when left in the fernery as in other years. The temperature in the seedling house rarely falls below 55° F., and this seems to suit them admirably. The Dyckias grow well in the garden, especially D. sulphurea, which clumps up quickly, flowers extra well, and doesn't seem to mind a little frost now and again.
Here at North Essendon, which is only six miles from Melbourne, only one frost was recorded this year, at least in the writer's garden. As a rule anything from three to six frosts is normal, and one or two of these are usually severe. The frost this winter, although light, blackened one leaf of Monstera deliciosa, which is growing in the open beside the greenhouse. The suburbs around Melbourne vary greatly as regards frost; although only five or six miles may separate two districts, one may have heavy frosts and the other may have none at all.
During the spring months, usually October and November, all bromeliads are returned to the fernery, where they flower happily in the glassed-in section, the roof of which is heavily shaded. The fernery gets full sun between 10 and 3 o'clock and receives plenty of fresh air. All plants are watered by hose at least once a day during the hot summer months, especially on those days when the temperature is around the century mark and the nights are in the seventies. January and February are usually the two hottest months.
—J. Himmerman, 19 Kerferd St., No. Essendon. Victoria, Australia
FROM FLORIDA WILD LIFE
HARLES T. SIMPSON IN HIS FLORIDA WILD LIFE makes the following interesting observation: "In Cuba an enormous bromeliad, Hohenbergia penduliflora, is very abundant almost everywhere in the forests, with serrate, strap-shaped leaves three feet long and four inches wide. It bears long, compound racemes of greenish blossoms and fruit that is a sort of berry enclosed in a husk. The small indigestible seeds are imbedded in a sweet, very sticky pulp, and are greatly relished by the birds, who, in eating them, get their beaks and feet well daubed. Then when they fly to another tree the mass adheres to its bark and the seeds that were swallowed are passed through. One might consider the latter first class and the former steerage passengers. It is probable that the progenitor of the bromeliads might have had seeds something like those of a Hohenbergia and that it called in the assistance of the birds in planting them on the trees up in the region of light and room."
(Used by permission MacMillan Co.)
When this species H. penduliflora was first brought to Florida from Cuba by Dr. Simpson, it was thought to be an Aechmea and was generally known as Aechmea Simpsonii in the Miami area until it was definitely established as H. penduliflora.
This plant is quite cold resistant, and unless subjected to heavy frosts, will survive most of the cold spells in Central Florida.
M. B. F.
Our thanks go to The Bromeliad Society of Southern California for the colored illustrations which appear in this issue. The money for these pictures was raised by plant auctions held at the meetings. It is sincerely hoped that other affiliated organizations will follow suit.
HE FOLLOWING LIST was compiled from a number of sources: previous issues of the Bulletin, studies made by Mulford B. Foster and by Dr. Lyman B. Smith, catalogues in the American nursery trade, and from personal experiences in California and Florida.
It is almost impossible to describe exactly what a plant will look like, as variations in color, size, and texture are often found in one garden. But the descriptions given are what one normally might expect. Again, it is difficult to describe the exact growing conditions for a certain plant; a grower must be somewhat of an experimenter and find out for himself exactly what his plants need. All that we can do is point the way.
When reference is made to the fact that a plant is hardy what is meant is that it will grow outdoors the year round in a subtropical, climate. "What is a subtropical climate?" one might ask. According to the noted plantsman of a half century ago, Dr. Franceschi, it is a climate where oranges and other citrus may be grown; in other words, it is a place of comparatively mild temperatures and where frosts are rare. Most of Florida, parts of Texas and Arizona, southern California, the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, parts of Australia and New Zealand and South Africa would hence fall into this category. But, again, there are climates within climates, and one must learn for himself, even if it be the hard way.
The date following each name refers to the year the plant was introduced into cultivation.
A. angustifolia (1838) Found growing on trees in rain forests, on rocks near rivers, and fairly high areas from Costa Rica to Brazil. A medium-sized plant. Leaves are fairly stiff (18 in. to 24 in.), spiny, light green spotted irregularly with purple. Flowers are negligible, but the plant is attractive in fruit, the white berries turning a vivid blue. It is interesting to note that some of the berries remain white; these contain no viable seeds. The plant needs a fairly humid atmosphere to be grown successfully, thus it does best in a greenhouse.
A. × 'Bert' (1946) This is an early Foster cross (A. orlandiana x A. fosteriana) named for his son. A robust, upright, vase-like plant with heavily textured pale green leaves irregularly banded with purplish-brown markings. The leaves, reaching two feet, are edged with heavy, dark spines. The orange flower head rises above the leaves, but the plant does not need to be in bloom to be attractive. It is hardier than either of its parents and will accept any kind of treatment. This robust hybrid is not fussy, but it needs very well-drained potting material or will do well mounted on driftwood. It is a real tree climber in the warmer regions, but it can be raised successfully in the home.
A. blanchetiana (1840) Found growing on trees in the primeval jungle and in sandy areas near the sea in Baia, Brazil. A large plant and very interesting with its branched inflorescence, but it is only for those who have a large greenhouse or who can grow it outdoors in a warm climate. Its pale green leaves attain a length of three feet.
A. blumenavii (1952) Found growing on trees and rocks in the open forests of southern Brazil. A cold-resistant little gem with firm smooth green leaves tipped with purple seldom exceeding one foot in length. Its soft pink inflorescence with yellow flowers last in color for several weeks. It is amenable to all growing conditions. Hardy.
A. bracteata (1844) Also known as A. schiedeana. Found growing in coastal regions either in dense masses on rocks or on trees from Mexico to Colombia. It is a large robust plant which in its native habitat attains a spread of from three to five feet. Its bright green leaves, armed with large prominent widely-set teeth form a cylindrical rosette from which emerges a slender branched inflorescence bearing greenish-yellow flowers and bright red bracts which last for months. There is a red form of this plant which is very attractive. This is a stunning Aechmea for those who can grow it outdoors; it can stand slight frost and is not particular as to location. The berries are said to be edible, but the birds generally get them first. The hollow ellipsoid leaf rosette holds much water which carries it through drought periods.
A. bromeliifolia (1805) Epiphytic or terrestrial, it is usually found growing on rocks or on ground in forests from Guatemala to Argentina. Twelve-to-twenty-inch-long, grey-green leaves with hooked teeth form a handsome pear-shaped rosette about two feet high. The flower stalk rises above the foliage to form a pinecone-shaped spike of white with lemon-yellow flowers, which soon turn black. If not allowed to sucker too freely, this Aechmea assumes a very stunning form. A hardy plant, it is not fussy as to growing medium. It is a worth-while plant for the collector.
A. calyculata (1865) Grows on trees in the rain forests of Argentina and Brazil. A medium-sized plant with stiff green tubular foliage. The flower stalk is scarlet-red with a thistle-type head of yellow flowers, lasting in color for a long time. Needs good light and will take even some direct sunlight. Hardy.
A. caudata var. variegata (1935) Originally known as A. forgettii. This variegated form is a sport of the original type A. caudata var. caudata, found growing in the forests and restingas (dwarf coastal forests) of southern Brazil. This variegated form is a medium-large, handsome plant with stiff, arching leaves (18 in. to 30 in.) that are light green with longitudinal creamy stripes, with a decided pinkness on the offshoots and near the base of mature plants. The inflorescence is compact and branched with golden yellow flowers, appearing at the end of a long white mealy stem. This is a hardy plant which will take a few degrees of frost. It makes a stunning planter subject for the patio or lanai in warmer climates; it makes a good house plant if given sufficient room. Like many variegated forms, its seed produces only green plants, but it suckers freely. An extremely shy bloomer, but a valuable plant for its foliage. Not fussy as to potting medium.
A. chantinii (1878) Found on the trees in the Amazon valley forests of Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. Although in cultivation in Europe for the past 70 years, it was rarely seen. Just lately introduced into the American trade, it is probably one of the most sought-after Aechmeas in the U. S. today. A medium-sized plant, its stiff green leaves are boldly banded with silvery white and olive to dark green; its erect branched inflorescence is covered with rich orange colored bracts. Flowers are yellow and white. There is much variation in the type of growth, one nursery offering several phases. Despite its robust appearance, this plant needs good care, much light, and perfect drainage. Tree fern or osmunda is the preferred pot mixture. An extremely beautiful plant, Aechmea chantinii is the center of attraction whether in bloom or not.
A. coelestis (1856) Found growing on trees and rocks, sometimes in full light, in Brazil. A medium-sized, urn-shaped plant with stiff, moss-green leaves, it has a flower head of lavender-blue flowers that is stunning. The variety albo-marginata is similar to the plain leaved variety except that the leaves have white margins, making it a very attractive foliage plant. This form is a little more difficult to grow; where the water is hard, the leaves tend to tip-burn. It does best in tree fern or osmunda. An excellent house plant. Hardy.
A. comata (1865) Found growing on coastal rocks and dunes in full sun in southern Brazil. Formerly known as A. lindenii. A tall, tubular, vigorous plant with grey-green leaves and a brilliant yellow and orange cylindrical flower head, this is a collector's item rather than a house plant. Does best when it can be grown outside and is quite cold hardy.
A. cylindrata (1891) Found growing on trees and on the floor of the forests of southern Brazil, An open rosette plant with wide green leaves tipped with a black spot. The inflorescence is cylindrical, the flowers are blue and the fruit, rose. The flowers all open in a few days, but the fruits last for two or more months. Hardy.
A. dealbata (1889) From central Brazil. A tall tubular plant resembling a Billbergia in form, it was at one time compared with A. fasciata. The upper side of the leaves is dark green, the underside, a purplish brown with occasional cross bands of silver. The inflorescence is lavender-pink. A very handsome plant, whether in bloom or not, it deserves a place in every collection. Because of its graceful form and medium size, it makes an idea house plant. Does best in tree fern or osmunda.
A. distichantha var. schlumbergeri (1879) Found growing on the ground in open woods in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This is a large plant (to three feet) with quite stiff, slightly arching leaves of a pale green, lighter when grown in a strong light. Definitely not a house plant, it does well when planted in the soil in the open garden and will take full sun. It suckers freely and in a short time will make a sizable clump. The amethyst-violet flowers on old-rose bracts are very attractive. Among the hardiest of the Aechmeas. The varieties of this species, var. glaziovii or var. canalyculata are much smaller in size and are better suited for the collector.
A. fasciata (1826) Found on trees in the rain forests of Brazil. This has been a favorite house plant in Europe ever since its introduction where for years and still today it is known as Billbergia rhodocyanea. So popular has been this plant that its name is almost synonymous with bromeliad. The type plant is medium sized, with silver banded green leaves and a pink inflorescence with pale French blue flowers that never fail to bloom each summer. The spike lasts in color for a good half-year. It is indeed the perfect plant for home, patio, or greenhouse. It does best in osmunda or tree fern, but some growers are successful raising it in soil if it is kept moist. Needs good light, but little, if any direct sun. In late years several horticultural forms of this plant have been introduced. Highly popular is that known as the Belgium variety, in which the entire plant seems dusted with a silvery whitish powder and no cross marking are discernible. Another variety is purpurea from Brazil. This form differs only in that the leaves are completely suffused with dark purplish-rose. There are two variegated varieties: albo-marginata, with leaves having borders of ivory-white bands, and variegated with longitudinal bands throughout the leaf.
A. filicaulis (1864) Found only in the mountain forests of Venezuela. This is a medium-sized plant with soft green leaves which take on a bronze hue if grown in full light. The inflorescence is suspended on a thread-like scape, which may hang from the plant for nearly 6 feet. The bracts are a bright rosy red; the flowers are white and surprisingly large. This delightful plant should be grown where it can hang and where the breeze can catch the flowers, turning them into so many white butterflies. It requires ordinary care, but does best in a greenhouse, although it does grow outdoors in protected tropical areas.
A. fosteriana (1939) From the coastal forests of central Brazil. A tubular formed plant to 24 inches high, its pale green to reddish-green leaves are mottled with purple-brown zig-zag markings and are edged with heavy green spines. The flower spike is a panicle of crimson bracts and rich yellow flowers. This is one of the fussiest of all Aechmeas, but is so beautiful that all should attempt growing it. It probably does best in the greenhouse, but has been grown very successfully out-doors in protected areas. Does best, it would seem, when grown on the dry side, but the grower must experiment to find out what is best for plant.
A. × 'Foster's Favorite' (1949) The first patented bromeliad, this Aechmea is a cross between A. racinae and A. victoriana var. discolor. It is the favorite of every-one who grows it, for it is amenable to most growing conditions. Its highly polished, wine-red leaves make it at all times a beautiful plant. The inflorescence is semi-pendant, the deep purple-blue flower-petals giving way to dark red berries which last in color for months. A winter bloomer, it is an ideal size for a house plant, leaves seldom exceeding 20 inches in length.
A. fulgens var. fulgens (1841) Found growing on the trees or ground in Brazil. A small to medium-sized plant, this is a tubular-formed Aechmea with pale green leaves. Its inflorescence is a panicle of red berries topped with blue petals. Long lasting, fairly hardy, it will withstand any planting mixture so long as it is well drained, and will even take some neglect.
A. fulgens var. discolor (1889) Found growing on the trees or ground in Brazil. This is a medium-sized plant with out-spreading fairly stiff, leathery leaves, dusty green on the upper side and a glossy purple covered with a whitish powder on the under side. The dark purple flowers make a stunning head on the top of a foot-long carmine stalk. The rose-colored berries last in color for many months. A perfect house plant, it will take adverse conditions and is attractive whether in flower or not. It does best when given considerable light and can be well grown in a loose soil. A sporadic bloomer, but generally flowers in spring.
A. lamarchei (1889) Found on ground and the light forests of Brazil. Also known as A. lagenaria. This plant is quite variable in form. It has a pinecone-type flower-head, the yellow petals turning black a day or two after blooming. Often the flower head is yellow, white, and black all at the same time. Scape bracts are a brilliant red. A hardy plant, it is an interesting item for any collector.
A. lasseri (1951) Found on trees in the high forests of Venezuela. An attractive, smallish plant, it is chiefly notable for its pendant inflorescence, which may hang two to three feet. The inflorescence consists of rose-red bracts, the flowers are greenish-white, and the berries are bluish. The soft gray-green leaves turn reddish if given sufficient light. Will grow in loose, moist soil. Hardy.
A. lueddemanniana (1866) Found growing on the ground and on the trees of Central America. A beautiful dignified plant which when well grown will have a spread of three feet. The arching leaves are a blend of green and bronze, turning more brilliant when the plant is grown outdoors. The flower spike rises erect above the plant, the rose and green flowers turning into a dense head of blue and white berries which finally become a startling purple that lasts for months. Not particular as to growing medium. Makes an attractive house plant.
(To be continued)
FREDERICK H. GERBER(Continued from last issue.)
Dobzansky has proposed to define a species as that stage of the evolutionary process "at which the once actually or potentially inbreeding array of forms becomes segregated into two or more segregated arrays which are physiologically incapable of inbreeding". The qualifications are important. Such a concept imposes a barrier against breeding between differing groups as a fundamental criterion, but to fully understand this isolation is to appreciate its complexity and its causative variability in nature. The parental forms simply may not meet in nature which would be an ecological isolation. The parental forms may not have sufficient flexibility in genetic nature to grow side by side or within the range of effective pollinating mechanisms or the capability of surmounting geographic barriers, therefore confinement to different ecological habitats. Or the isolation may be due to differences in flowering seasons, or there may be differences in the times of day of anthesis (production of ripe pollen) or of stigmatic receptivity to pollen. Even if these conditions are met and the flowers appear simultaneously and are receptive, there may be a lack of a suitable agent for the transfer of the pollen. There may be physiological and/or morphological conditions which insure self-pollination. Tillandsia lindenii has the stamens far down in the floral tube tightly clasped in the colorful bracts and the stigma is equally inaccessible, requiring a mechanical prying apart of the floral parts to expose these essential organs in the absence of some natural agent of pollination which might be able to effect this function by some less cumbersome and destructive means.
There may be other factors of isolation involved. The pollen, for example, may have a genetically imposed limitation of producing only a short pollen tube which on a long pistil may be inadequate to reach the ovules. This sort of thing would be as effective as no pollination at all.
There may be a genetic incompatibility between the cellular material of the stigma or style of the seed parent and the pollen tube cells. The pollen tubes grow by deriving a greater or lesser degree of nourishment from the receiving plant, and any nutritional barrier to its growth is a barrier to fertilization. The genetic incompatibilities of plants may act as isolating mechanisms any time from the arrival of the pollen on the stigma to the actual fertilization of the ovule and these incompatibilities may occur later in the production of either the pollen or ovule, in the developing zygote, or it may express itself at any time up to and including the production of pollen and ovules in the mature hybrid form. It is quite possible that the barrier exerts itself by the production of hybrid forms incapable of reproducing themselves. Each hybrid form under such conditions becomes a dead end unless there are other changes to produce fertility.
Hybrid sterility may be the result not only of the production of nonviable or non-functional gametes but may also be the result of the production of nonviable zygotes.
It is evident that not all the factors in speciation require hybrid sterility, and the species concept does not require genetic incompatibility (even if it encompasses it) just as long as there is an isolation "at this stage of evolution between two or more arrays of forms, closely related". Geographic barriers such as mountains, oceans, or rivers or deserts provide effective barriers if the genetic constitution of the forms is not flexible enough to violate the barrier. Overcoming these barriers in the laboratory or greenhouse under artificial conditions is certainly beyond the concept "point in evolution", and hybrids produced under these artificial conditions do not necessarily invalidate their taxonomic status in nature. Hybridization under these artificial conditions would tend more to indicate a closeness of the forms involved or a relative closeness in ancestry or ancestral forms from which both were derived in the evolutionary process.
It is because of the unseen in the plant, those elements of the genotype that are not expressed in the phenotype, that we cannot tell what we will achieve in our hybridization work. These hidden genic potentials are extremely complex. It may require the selfing of the F1 generation progeny to get the desirable reassortment that we are seeking and which did not appear in the F1 generation. We cannot expect to regain a parental species by selfing of a hybrid, through genetic segregation. Self-sterile hybrids may possibly be made fertile and true-breeding if a doubling of the chromosomes can be effected. The inducement of this sort of tetraploidy or some other polyploidy is done often by subjecting the plant at the proper time in its development to X-ray, or colchicine, or high temperatures, which if the operator is fortunate may so alter the normal nuclear division so as to produce viable ovules and pollen cells with diploid chromosome counts (chromosomes present as one-of-a-kind will then be present in pairs, requisite for normal cell division).
As problems of hybridization are so fraught with complexities, the need for well-labeled plant materials becomes obvious and sources of "un-hybrid" plants should be sought, and once a reliable species form is acquired the labeling should he diligently guarded and accurate records kept. This is not easy, to be sure, after these years of hybridization and increasing dissemination of plants. By the same token, all records of hybridization work should be publicized so that all workers in the field can study the results. Patterns of genetics, breeding and evolution, evolve not from the limited work of a single person or a few people but from the sum total of all the data accumulated over a period of years representing the efforts of many. The significant relationships between plants indicated by a willingness to be cross fertile are important . . . but they are useless to the world of science when behind an "iron curtain". Negative data of incompatibility or production of sterile hybrids is quite as important as the data of fertile crosses. Evidences of dominance or recessiveness can form patterns when treated as a whole body of data rather than as isolated cases.
Some crosses have no commendable horticultural value and the time of other workers can be saved when such information is a matter of public record. But if such crosses should be self-fertile, an F2 generation should be raised before the cross is arbitrarily condemned, for there could be a reassortment of genes yielding some or many desirable things. The human animal has its limitations, and no one plant breeder can work effectively or thoroughly in all directions so the development of some particular "good parent", as in the breeding of orchids, should be recorded and the stud plants conserved. The nature and the results of all plant breeding work should be critically appraised and made a matter of record.
One has only to look at the unlabeled hybrid Billbergias and the Neoregelias in this country to appreciate the developing confusion in this field of study. Perhaps in another generation it will be too late, if it is not already.
The garden variety hobbiest can derive a great deal of pleasure and can add considerably to horticulture by the selfing of such hybrid forms as he has (if they are not sterile) and in raising the seedlings — perhaps there will be some individuals representing extremes in the segregation that might resemble some recognized species sufficiently to justify at least tentative definition of the parents. After thought and study of results the inferior plants can be culled. There should be no reluctance to cull out inferior types; it is for the betterment of all bromeliad horticulture.
The keeping of records and the publishing of these records in just such a recognized paper as our Bromeliad Society Bulletin is an important part of this investigation. The records of plants should in some way make note of the source of the plant material. Regrettable through it may be, some of our sources of supply are not so reliable as others from a nomenclature standpoint. This is not necessarily an intentional failing. However, I recall an interview with a nurseryman who had a number of unidentified bromeliads as part of his stock. I volunteered to label those that I felt confident about but was cut short with the observation that his customers didn't care what the names were . . . "if they were bromel fanciers they would know what they were and if they weren't they didn't care." The limitations in this outlook is not of necessity parallel with the infrequency of the viewpoint. A notation of a name with a question mark, where uncertainty exists, is quite desirable and can help in the clarity of our plant records. The question mark is an honor-able designation just as negative results in experimentation are as important as positive and are equally as worthy of publication. One need only refer to some of the recent commentaries in our Bulletin to observe what we can accumulate in this business of nomenclature. Attention is also drawn to the many plants in cultivation under the name of Neoregelia carolinae or Neoregelia carolinae hybrid. But hybrids with what? One may ask often this question when there are other traits than Neoregelia carolinae observable in these plants, and we might detect what we think is the influence of Neoregelia fosteriana, pineliana or marmorata, or farinosa but if our labeling has not been kept in some orderly fashion we can never be certain. And, is it not often the case that the "hybrid" label indicates simply a crossing between two selected Neoregelia carolinae plants? If this occurred in the wild (as it surely does, and the progeny were the result of the crossing of two different plants of Neoregelia carolinae we would not think to label the natural progeny hybrids. Then why do we do it horticulturally? Would we not be better off giving some varietal status to particular clones that were shown to be horticulturally superior just as the orchid growers do? There is nothing out of order in recognizing superior horticultural forms or selections, but to confuse the botanical status does not appear to be the desirable means of this recognition. One would not think of calling the progeny from two Cattleya mossiae plants a hybrid mossiae. The species Cattleya mossiae is just that. A species is by definition an array of inbreeding forms. The segregation of forms into arrays which are prevented (for whatever reason) from inbreeding in nature does not of necessity mean that the individuals are incompatible.
The collector who wants to add Billbergia amoena to his collection after seeing a plant so labeled at a flower show wants to know what he is getting, but unless he is aware of the variations in the species he may be quite disappointed by what his supplier calls Billbergia amoena. Recognized are varieties B. amoena, B. minor and B. viridis, and Mr. Foster pointed out some years ago in one of his many articles that the species varies widely throughout its range. Billbergia amoena is separated from the species B. bucholtzii in Dr. Smith's key to the Billbergias in Bromeliaceae of Brazil by the coloration of the petals; all other diagnostic characters being the same from the standpoint of the botanical keys.
I have often wondered looking at our planting of several dozens of Mr. Foster's hybrid cross named Aechmea × 'Foster's Favorite' whether or not they are supposed to be parts of a single named clone or if they are instead many progeny of a named cross. In the orchids all progeny from a cross between, for instance, Phalaenopsis 'Grace Palm' and Phalaenopsis 'Chieftain', are the hybrid named Phalaenopsis 'Arcadia', and this hybrid name gives no indication as to the quality or characteristics of any particular plant bearing that hybrid tag. On the other hand the patented roses used widely by commercial rose growers, 'Better Times', have all been derived from a single sport and from a botanical standpoint all 'Better Times' roses are genetically the same, being parts of one individual. Among our Aechmea × 'Foster's Favorite' we have wide leaved forms and narrow leaved forms we have some with a strong suffusion of green with only a moderate trace of red or bronze coloration while others are brilliant mahogany red throughout. The question arises, too, that perhaps these plants that have come to us under this name may not, by some chance, be F2 seedlings and these representing genetic segregations. In the light of the genetic problems involved each of these considerations merits attention.
Hybrids are always of great interest botanically as they tend to show affinities, genealogically, among or between plants.
Interesting botanical situations exist where overlapping species have a moderate degree of cross breeding between adjacent individuals but which show complete sterility between individuals selected from the extremes of the populations where overlapping does not occur. The accumulation of genetic differences has been such over the range where there has been no interchange of genic materials that isolation is complete. If the overlapping populations were destroyed in some way, then the terminal groups would have complete genetic isolation. If the overlapping population of different species interbreed and the progeny are intermediate and fertile, then the terminal populations, inasmuch as there would be a complete gradation between one extreme and the other and these, would probably be reduced to varietal status of one species rather than the two species at the onset. This sort of observable condition would tend to point out that the evolutionary process into divergent forms is not by definition an irreversible process.
We have come a long way since the initial records of bromeliads in horticulture in the early eighteen hundreds, and we have well confounded the genetic state of this, our favorite, plant group. We have crossed and re-crossed, and by so doing we have proved a common origin by genetic compatibility between species, between genera but at the same time we find ourselves at this point in our horticultural history in the Bromeliaceae in a morass of confusion resulting from what might appear almost wanton hybridization and the release of hybrid forms without proper pedigree, and if our cherished pets arrived with pedigree then we have foolishly trusted to the human memory rather than the written word for our record keeping. It would appear that each serious bromeliad collector and hobbyist is behooved to reconsider his stand on nomenclature, the bringing up to date of labels when greater clarity is presented in the light of more applied botanical study (and this has certainly been stressed by our Bulletin in the series on nomenclature clarifications), and when the botany of our own particular plants is secure (or at least improved considerably) further hybridization, selection, culling, and back crossing, selection and further culling for truly fine, rather than just novel, hybrid forms. And at all times we should be particular with our labeling of both species as well as hybrid forms. Interesting observations should be published, negative information such as failures in genetic compatibility, inferior progeny, etc., should also be made a matter of common record, and photographic records of segregations in backcrosses with notes as to source of materials can much improve the understanding of the questionable plants in cultivation today.
A rapid survey of so many different considerations all interrelated is of necessity over-simplified, and the serious student will regret the abridgements and the omission of the function of univalents in such studies as hybrid sterility, or the subjects of auto- and allo- polyploidy; but in such cases the reader is referred to the many fine texts in the fields of ecology, genetics, plant physiology, cytology and morphology that are available. Particular attention is drawn to Lester W. Sharps, Introduction to Cytology, McGraw Hill 1934; Stanley A. Cain, Foundations of Plant Geography, Harpers Brothers 1944; Theodosius Dobzhansky's Genetics and the Origen of Species, Columbia University Press, 1937; W. B. McDougalls's, Plant Ecology, Lea and Febiger, 1941.
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