THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN
|President||James N. Giridlian||Editorial Secretary||Victoria Padilla|
|Vice President||Charles A. Wiley||Membership Secretary||Jeanne Woodbury|
|Treasurer||Jack M. Roth||Art Editor||Morris Henry Hobbs|
Mrs. B. E. Roberts, President, Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society|
Lawrence Hiscock, President, Louisiana Bromeliad Society
Jack M. Roth, President, The Bromeliad Guild of Los Angeles
Robert Wilson, President, South Florida Bromeliad Society
|Board of Directors|
David Barry, Jr.
Nat de Leon
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Morris H. Hobbs
E. H. Palmer
Jack M. Roth
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Charles A. Wiley
Wilbur G. Wood
Mrs. Adda Abendroth
Monsieur Charles Chevalier
Mulford B. Foster
A. B. Graf
Charles H. Lankester
Richard Oeser, M. D.
Kirchzarten, Brsg, West Germany
P. Raulino Reitz
Dr. Lyman B. Smith
A drawing of Tillandsia flexuosa approximately three-fourths life size. This odd and interesting bromeliad, with its twisted, bulbous form, irregularly cross-banded with white, was formerly fairly common along the Florida Keys between Miami and Key West. The encroachment of residential areas has made this species very rare. Also found in the West Indies, Panama, Columbia and Venezuela.
No article appearing in this bulletin may be reproduced without the permission of the editor.
AFFILIATIONHERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT IT! Bromeliads are certainly gaining in interest not only in the United States but in all parts of the world with the result that regional societies devoted to the study of bromeliads are being formed in many places. Australia and New Zealand are busy getting organized, and there are rumors that several European countries would like to have affiliated societies if language were not a barrier in so far as the Bulletin is concerned.
In the United States the greatest interest at the moment seems to be in New York City, where Dr. J. George Milstein of Brooklyn this March put on a great display of bromeliads at the International Flower Show in the Coliseum. He is making plans to organize a local chapter with regular meetings and he even has several speakers of note lined up for the programs. For those who may reside in the area and would like to know about the proposed group, Dr. Milstein's address is 8502 Ft. Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn 9, New York. There will be more about this and the exhibit at the show in a later issue when all details have been received.
Many inquiries have lately been received regarding the formation of regional societies. The question often asked is what the advantages of affiliation with the international society would be. First of all, one can say that the prestige gained from being a part of a large international society that is recognized all over the world should not be underestimated. Such a group would have a standing in the field of horticulture that it would not possess otherwise. Then there are the interest and assistance which the mother organization gives to the smaller group. Aid in ideas for programs, help in the formation of a library, the loan of colored slides from the Society library, the suggestions of experts in any problems that might arise are all invaluable. Finally, it should be remembered, to quote an old axiom, "In union there is strength." In the last analysis it is not so much what the parent organization can do for the small society, but what the small society, in the way of support and encouragement, can give to the main organization that is important.
How does a group of Bromeliad Society members form an affiliated society? It is simple indeed. All that is necessary is that an application requesting affiliation signed by not less than six members be sent to the Secretary. This application will then duly be considered by the Board of Directors, and a charter sent to the group when its application has been accepted. For further details, applicants should get in touch with the president, Mr. James N. Giridlian, Box 444, Arcadia, California.
LYMAN B. SMITHY FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES go to a lot of trouble to bring me back a collection of bromeliads whenever they travel to far places, and almost always their labor bears fruit in the shape of rare and new species. This time it is Dr. Thomas Soderstrom, who with Dr. Richard S. Cowan, has been collecting in the vicinity of Kaieteur Fall in British Guiana.
There they found a number of rare and curious bromeliads, as Dr. Soderstrom relates in this number of the Bulletin, but perhaps the most curious of all is this new Vriesea. It has a habit so unlike any other Vriesea that one can recognize a flowering specimen at a hundred yards distance. The rosette of broad strap-shaped leaves is pretty usual for the genus, but not so the very short scape and the long slender red branches that seem like rockets exploding from the interior of the rosette. The only bromeliad which even remotely resembles it is Tillandsia flabellata.
It is a pleasure to dedicate this striking new species to Thomas R. Soderstrom, an agrostologist who in spite of his deep interest in grasses does not forget his friends in other fields:
VRIESEA SODERSTROMII L. B. Smith, sp. nov.
A V. glutinosa Lindley, cui affinis, atque speciebus alteris Vrieseae, scapo brevissimo et basi inflorescentiae ramosae in rosula occultis differt.
Epiphytic, stemless, flowering over 1 meter high; leaves many in a spreading rosette, 65 cm. long, covered with pale appressed dark-centered scales, the sheaths oblong-elliptic, ca. 20 cm. long, brownish; the blades ligulate, broadly subacute with a triangular apiculus, 9 cm. wide, green, concolorous, tinged with red beneath, becoming glabrous above; scape erect, very short, wholly concealed by the leaves; scape-bracts imbricate, broadly ovate, red with a small green triangular blade; inflorescence subdigitate, typically 7-branched, its short axis hidden by the leaves; primary bracts like the scape-bracts but merely apiculate and wholly red, 5-6 cm. long; spike linear, terete, 45-60 cm. long including the densely bracteate sterile base, 1 cm. wide; rhachis slightly flexuous, angled; floral bracts narrowly ovate, acuminate, nearly 6 cm. long, ecarinate, deep red, chartaceous, covered with inconspicuous white appressed scales; pedicles stout, 5 mm. long; flowers blooming one at a time, downwardly secund as to petals alone; sepals linear-lanceolate, acute, 37 mm. long; petals linear, obtuse, 65 mm. long, deep pink; stamens included.
Type in the U. S. National Herbarium, collected at upper margins of deep crevices at edge of escarpment near Johnson's View, western rim of Potaro Gorge near Kaieteur Fall, ca. 1400 feet altitude, February 18, 1962, by R. S. Cowan & T. R. Soderstrom (No. 1862).
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
ROGER K. TAYLOROR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, I wished to induce bloom on three plants. Having access to a cylinder of acetylene gas, I bubbled the gas for a short time in the water in the central leaf cup by slightly opening the valve on a torch attached to the cylinder and dipping the torch tip into the water. A week or so later I noted damaged areas on inner leaves of two of the plants, the water-logged appearance suggesting fungus attack of the type that spreads through the leaf bases and destroys the plants. By removal of the affected leaves, application of Fermate, and leaving the plants dry for some days, I believe I have saved them, and one does look as if a bloom spike is forming. However, I should like to pass on the warning that a high concentration of acetylene seems to be detrimental. I am inclined to discount an alternate hypothesis that metal from the torch was responsible; in the short time, and at the pH of the water, no significant amount of metal should have gone into solution.
THOMAS R. SODERSTROMHILE MY FRIENDS were enduring the cold winter of February and March of 1962, I was comfortably warm but they were in Washington, D.C., and my companions and I were 3000 miles to the south in the heart of British Guiana's rain forest. Four of us from the Smithsonian Institution left New York toward the end of January of last year for Georgetown, the British Guiana capital on the northern coast of South America. From this base we were bound for the interior 200 miles south, to the spectacular 741-foot Kaieteur Fall, where we expected to Spend two months gathering materials, data, photographs, and specimens of the surrounding rain forest. Among the four of us were a model-maker, Mr. Paul Marchand, an artist and preparator, Mr. Reginald Sayre, and two botanists Dr. Richard S. Cowan, who headed the group, and I. In addition, four men from the British Guiana Forest Department accompanied our group into the interior.
We spent several days in Georgetown making final preparations for the trip inland. Although rivers and streams are numerous in the forests of northern British Guiana, they are interrupted frequently by rapids and waterfalls which make long distance transportation by water difficult. The only feasible means of entering is by amphibian planes which can be landed on the rivers. To transport our party of eight men, and over two tons of food, supplies, and equipment, required four separate trips on such planes.
The trip into the interior was fascinating. Minutes after take-off, our plane passed over Georgetown and the outskirting sugar and rice plantations. These abruptly give way to the seemingly endless canopy of rain forest trees indeed, the same trees which inspired W. H. Hudson to write his famous book, Green Mansions. About 90 miles south of the coast, the flat topography of the rain forest gives way to occasional plateaus which rise to 1000 or more feet in height. Further south the entire land mass is elevated and forms the large Kaieteur Plateau. This plateau is part of the Pakaraima Series of sandstone ridges which extend from neighboring Venezuela and Brazil into British Guiana. The Potaro River, on which Kaieteur Fall is situated, cuts through the plateau below the Fall to form the richly-vegetated walls of the Potaro River Gorge. As our plane passed between the walls of this deep gorge we could see clearly countless plants of a giant bromeliad (Brocchinia micrantha) that was to become a familiar sight for the next two months. No modern streamlined airport could offer so thrilling a setting as we encountered on landing. Our plane roared up the gorge and approached the waterfall from its face, circled overhead a few times for the view, and skidded with a splash into the water about a mile upriver.
After landing and unloading the planes, the most immediate concern was to reconnoiter the forest between the landing and the Fall, to choose a suitable place for base camp. Our men set to work with agility and speed, and by evening had cleared a large area. Several tarpaulin-covered shelters were erected, hammocks slung, and our first night's lodgings completed within hours after arrival. The following day their ingenuity transformed sapling trees into working benches and the whole area into a comfortable place to call home for the next eight weeks.
|Camp garden with orchids, aroids, Vriesea soderstromii, Vriesea splendens, etc.|
|Mr. Reginald Sayre in a stand of Brocchinia micrantha.|
We realized at the start that our eight weeks would be busy ones and the time was too precious to permit a working week of only five days. Thus, six days were devoted to our project leaving only Sunday as a free day. To our artists Sunday provided time to sit on the ledges above the Fall and record with brush and oils its many faces. To Dr. Cowan and me it meant time to explore the gorge and plateau and record their little-known flora with notebook and plant press. Our mutual colleague, Dr. Lyman B. Smith, had encouraged us to collect all bromeliads, which we did with pleasure. They were among the most beautiful plants we found, but, more often than not, the most difficult of all to preserve.
It was not necessary to wander far from the camp entrance to encounter Vriesea splendens growing in small patches in the rather dense shade on the moist forest floor. Its common name in cultivation, "Flaming Sword," could not be more appropriate. As though its bright orange flowering spikes were not enough to command attention in an otherwise drab green atmosphere, its leaves were equally striking curiously zebra-striped in purple on green. Nearby, in the same habitat, was a species of Ananas, a wild pineapple. Clusters of these were scattered throughout the dark rain forest on moist soil, but only occasionally were any seen in fruit. Miniatures when ripe, the 3-to 4-inch fruits compete in flavor with any varieties developed by man.
A ten-minute hike from camp brought us to the brink of the Fall by a trail through thick forest and occasional open areas were Brocchinia micrantha abounded. Here in the full sun, and wet, sandy soil, the plants grew 10 to 15 feet tall and dwarfed us in comparison (see photo). To the uninitiated, this species would seem to be a common member of the family, for it grew everywhere at Kaieteur on the plateau, among the boulders of the gorge, and at the base of the Fall. But, the collections in the National Herbarium indicate that it has been collected only on Kaieteur and once in the State of Bolivar, Venezuela. Parenthetically, I should add that Venezuelan botanists have collected living plants of the showy ornamental which are now under cultivation in the Parque del Este in Caracas.1
The water which collects in the bases of the large Brocchinia leaves provides an ideal habitat for certain aquatic plants, notably members of the bladderwort genus, Utricularia. The small, dark green, roundish leaves of the bladderwort project curiously from the flasks formed at the bottom of the bromeliad leaves. The aquatic root system has hyaline bladders equipped with intricate triggers to capture insects which accumulate in these stagnant pools. The complexity and interdependence of living things is exemplified by this association of bromeliad and bladderwort. It is likely that the Utricularia which we found occurs only in B. micrantha which itself has a limited geographical range dependent on precise ecological conditions.
Near the brink of the Fall, the forest breaks and opens onto a wide, sandy plain, or savanna. The savanna has few trees; rather, scattered shrubs and a dense mat of small herbaceous plants, including another Brocchinia, B. reducta. The species name describes its stature, for, unlike its giraffe-high brother, this one is only a couple of feet high when in flower. Both species of Brocchinia were first collected and described from Kaieteur. However, all subsequent collections of B. reducta have been from Venezuela; ours represent the second from British Guiana. The smaller species is not so gregarious as the larger, for we found it nowhere except on the savanna.
|Gravisia brassicoides, "cabbage bromel," showing plant removed from tree and placed on ground for photo|
|Vriesea splendens as it occurs right within the forest|
Dr. Smith gave us special instructions to look out for a bromeliad with a spiny inflorescence, known only from the type collection on Kaieteur Plateau. The day after our arrival we found the spiny plant, rooted in the soil. We collected it with great care for it was the only one in flower. Later, however, we found it commonly as an epiphyte, in one instance densely clothing the branch of a tree high above the forest canopy. We were struck by the curious habit of the inner leaves which, in every instance, were folded tightly about each other cabbage-like. Through this tight head of leaves the flowering stalk literally breaks its way prior to blooming. In allusion to its habit we dubbed it "Cabbage Bromel." Later we learned that this was the very species Dr. Smith wanted and its botanical name, Gravisia brassicoides. Our common name was appropriate, for brassicoides means "like Brassica" (cabbage).
Perhaps the bromeliad which gave us the most long-term enjoyment was Pitcairnia nuda (see photo). During the first week we discovered about a dozen plants growing in a small exposed area of rocky soil. It was a disappointment that none was in flower, but our hopes rose when a couple of weeks later a few of the plants formed flowering shoots. The inflorescences were painfully slow to develop and it was not until our last week that one of the flowering stalks matured. The pendent, orange-red flowers and delicate inflorescence were so distinctive and unusual that we made not only pressed specimen, but brought back living plants as well. This species is known only from British Guiana: In every case the plants have been found on exposed rocky soil.
It was of special interest to see plants of Navia, one of the more primitive genera of the Bromeliaceae. Extensive explorations during recent years in the "Lost World" region of northern South America have uncovered numerous species, most of which are limited to narrow geographical regions. We found N. sandwithii in moist, shaded areas among the boulders at the upper ledges of the gorge. This species was first collected in 1937 by Mr. N. Y. Sandwith, of Kew, on the cliff faces of this very same gorge and later by others at the base of it. Apparently, this Navia grows only around the Potaro River Gorge.
Many of our collections, of course, were not rare, but nevertheless of interest. Aechmea mertensii, for example, was most peculiarly situated. It grew from an ant nest, or better, acted as host to ants which built their nest around its base. Myriads of ants live in the rain forest and their nests are as varied as the species themselves. Often the nests are associated with particular plant species, the later presumably deriving nutriment from the detritus of which the nest is built. Perhaps the ants also benefit in some way. The leaves of A. mertensii, in which the edges are beset with sharp spines, may afford protection to the colony against predators.
Besides Aechmea mertensii, we collected two other species of the genus, each of which occupied a different habitat. Aechmea nudicaulis was abundant in large epiphytic clumps on the lower reaches of trees bordering the savanna. The plants are tubular in shape and of a grayish-green and purple color. The other, A. politii, grew as a terrestrial within the forest. Our collection extends the known range of this latter species, previously collected only in Venezuela.
|Pitcairnia nuda. Taken near waterfall where it grows in the gravel in full sun.|
Guzmania lingulata is one of the most common bromeliads which we encountered: Its red bracts and yellow flowers make it one of the showiest of forest plants. It is distributed widely from Trinidad to Bolivia. Some years ago LIFE photographers captured this flowering beauty in a colored photograph taken in the rain forest of nearby Surinam.2 A less spectacular Guzmania, G. pleiosticha also occurs in the forests at Kaieteur.
It was rewarding to learn from Dr. Smith that one of our collections represented a species new to science, Vriesea soderstromii, which is described for the first time in this issue. Dr. Cowan and I prepared to collect one Sunday as usual, but awakened to a heavy rain. Our days to botanize were too few to be discouraged by bad weather, so we went ahead as planned and collected in the forest at the brink of the Fall. We were thoroughly wet by the time we had even reached our destination, but managed to gather a good day's collection. Botanizing here was not only uncomfortable because of the rain, but also precarious due to chasms many feet wide and several hundred deep which fissure the land at the brink. On the upper reaches of one such chasm we spotted several plants of the new Vriesea, two to three feet tall, with flowering scapes almost four feet in length. Fortunately, the top of one scape could be reached, and the wet, ant-infested plant could be secured.
The forest at the brink of the gorge is bathed continuously by a fine mist which rises up the sides of the gorge from the splash basin below, creating, in effect, a cloud forest which supports a more luxuriant growth of epiphytes than the normal rain forest. Orchids are quite numerous and several species of Philodendron garment the tree trunks. These along with patches of red-bracted Heliconia and a trailing Episcia with white flowers, created a horticultural garden of first order.
Our wet day of collecting at the brink provided us with a rich assortment of flowering plants. Though we dried the majority of the specimens the same evening, we placed the Vriesea in our camp garden (See photo). There we could watch it flower for the next two weeks, along with a potpourri of other rain forest indigenes we had gathered and had growing in our entranceway. When it reached full flower, we were obliged to section it dispassionately, and transfer it to the plant press. After a week of heating we had a less attractive, to be sure, though longer-lasting dried herbarium specimen.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.1) Aristeguieta, L., Bromeliad Society Bulletin. XI, No. 3: 41-42. 1961.
2) LIFE Magazine. The World We Live In: Part XI, The Rain Forest 76-102. Sept. 20, 1954.
Several members have noted that more holes or larger holes should be drilled in plastic pots when using fir bark. One grower cuts slits into the sides of the pots. With coarse fir bark there is no need for larger holes, more holes or slits. In fact, they are a disadvantage, as they make watering and fertilizing more difficult and wasteful. Experts advise that when watering a plant, the water should well be up to the top of the rim and that it is better if the water is allowed to do this twice. With more or larger holes or with slits, it is difficult to do this. The water or liquid fertilizer goes out the holes or slits nearly as fast as you can put it in.
FLUORESCENT TUBE SHELTERS
NE OF THE MORE UNUSUAL of garden cover materials is the use of spent fluorescent tubes. Although some homeowners in southern California have enjoyed shelters protected with these tubes for over fifteen years, their use in still considered novel. These tubes, however, are definitely worthy of consideration.
We should first dispose of those two old bugaboos, breakage and poisonous substances. Some time ago governmental restrictions were passed prohibiting the use of poisonous elements in the manufacture of these lamps. The tubes are remarkably strong, and although they will break, one is surprised that the breakage does not result oftener as one bangs them unintentionally while working with them. Should a person be cut by a broken tube, the wound should be washed to flush out any phosphorous which would otherwise inhibit quick healing. However, some structures over fifteen years old have still to experience breakage.
The most readily available lengths are those of four and eight feet. If eight-footers are used, they are often given support at the mid section. This is not necessary, however. If support is given at the midsection, both the eight and four-foot lengths may be used, if necessary, as with the creation of a "well" around a tree trunk. The tubes may be cut to any desired length with a hack saw, but the blade will be ruined. The ends of the tubes must be fitted into a casement, so that a strong underdraft does not blow them off.
Laid snugly together the tubes will completely eliminate harmful rays of the sun while still producing a beneficial diffused light. An insulating shield is formed because of the vacuum encased in the tube.
One will find temperatures varying about 5 to 25 degrees cooler in the summer and a like number in winter, depending on the intensity of the natural extreme weather. Mild climates have a lesser degree of variance.
The tubes lie 8 to the foot; and while not water tight, they will, if placed at a slight pitch of approximately twelve inches for the four-foot length and twenty inches for the eight-foot lengths, shed most of the water. In a year's time, dust and dirt have a tendency of settling between the tubes and doing a fair job of sealing them together.
The tubes should be placed in a casement so that replacement is easy to accomplish, because a few tubes which apparently have a slightly different chemical composition will discolor, turning yellow or blackish. These may be replaced, or if time allows, the tubes may be spread out in the sun and the few that will turn color will do so in a short time. Tubes from industrial plants are sometimes dirty but may be cleaned by using a detergent and a sponge.
From the view of human comfort, an excellent haven from the summer sun can be created as well as creating an ideal environment for such shade plants as begonias, ferns, azaleas, rhododendrons, and bromeliads. Best of all, these tubes are the most inexpensive of materials one can use with any degree of permanency.
William Drysdale, 4300 Isabella, Riverside, California.
DAVID BARRY, JR.HE ROOTS OF THE HAWAIIAN FERNS of the genus Cibotium grow down the outside of the trunks from the base of the leaves to the ground. In time and as ferns grow in height a dense mat of fern fiber is formed around the trunk. In Hawaii this mat is called hapuu. It is harvested in great quantities by cutting down the ferns. The terminal crown is generally left on the ground and often begins to form a new trunk as the exterior roots descend. It does not make much difference whether or not the severed terminal is left on its side, or upright, as long as it is in a moist spot.
The mat of fiber is offered in various shapes, such as hunks, slabs, rafts, the hollowed-out sides of pots, and as shredded material. It is very heavy with moisture unless dried. Sometimes this drying is done in a kiln. On the other hand, the material as fiber is sometimes sold in a damp condition and kept in moisture-retaining bags. As such it has been dubbed "live hapuu," the inference being that hapuu that has retained the natural moisture from rainfall is superior to hapuu that has had its moisture restored by hand of man. This contention is conjectural at this time.
The use of fern fiber as a potting medium for epiphytes is time-honored cultural practice. Root fiber from the osmunda fern has been the classic medium for many years in potting orchids. There is presently a large traffic in the fiber of Mexican tree ferns. What is new is that the practice of using Hawaiian hapuu for potting bromeliads and orchids began on a large scale in Southern California about two years ago, and has produced important and beneficial results, particularly with bromeliads. Here are some of the advantages of hapuu over other potting media:
- The water supply of Southern California is slightly
alkaline. The rain that falls on epiphytes is never alkaline and when diluted
with the decomposition of organic matter found on the branches of trees around
the roots of plants becomes slightly acid. It has been evident that epiphytes
do not like the local water. The longer plants are kept in the same pot and with
the same medium (before hapuu) the greater was the accumulation of alkalinity
in the pot and the more the plants suffered. One of several ways in which they
showed their unhappiness was by brown-tipping of the leaves. Some plants
resented the alkalinity to such an extent that they would hardly stay alive and
became wretched specimens. This was notably so with Aechmea tessmannii. After
repotting these plants in hapuu the change from narrow, shriveled, brown-tipped
leaves to wide, larger and perfectly formed leaves took place quickly. Why?
Water did not linger in the pot. It ran right on through and got little chance
to build up an alkaline content. The fern fiber was moistened around the roots
as would a passing rain moisten the root of a plant on the bough of a tree. The
change was spectacular.
- Hapuu lasts for many years and will not break down into a
paste as osmunda will in time.
- Hapuu affords a very high degree of aeration which is a
condition that epiphytes enjoy naturally and that is difficult to provide with
- Hapuu is wiry and springy. When plants are potted firmly
with it they are held tightly in the pot. Epiphytes grow firmly attached to the
host that supports them. They hold on with great tenacity and sometimes it
takes much strength to pull them off. It is evident that bromeliads should
never be permitted to be loose in the pot.
The use of hapuu has revolutionized the growing of bromeliads in Southern California within the last two years, and has made it a much more rewarding effort.
11977 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles 49, California.
PETER TEMPLE(From studies carried out by Mr. J. Sieber, biologist in the Botanical Institution in Munich, West Germany.)
Water and nutrient uptake was studied in Aechmea fasciata, Nidularium innocentii, Guzmania tricolor, and Vriesea splendens at all stages from germination to mature, flowering plants. Absorption through roots or leaves was equally effective and occurred in plants from the youngest stages onwards. In an absorptive humus substrate, root nutrition produced better growth than leaf nutrition; in a less absorptive medium leaf nutrition gave better results. Combined leaf and root nutrition was particularly effective, except in young plants. At the youngest stages, root nutrition was more important than leaf nutrition, but the position was reversed with increasing age. Root growth was stimulated more by root nutrition than by leaf nutrition. Growth of unpotted plants receiving leaf nutrients was increased by high relative humidities.
Plants of Aechmea fasciata fed through the leaves developed loose, pendulous growth with long leaves and a relatively long inflorescence. With root nutrition, growth was more compact, with broader, upright leaves of a clear green, the inflorescence was relatively short. In Nidularium innocentii nitrogen was most readily absorbed through the leaves and P O and K O through the roots. Nutrient solutions were absorbed more quickly than water by Aechmea fasciata.
42 Holly Park, Finchley, London, England.
|Aechmea Χ 'Foster's Favorite Favorite'|
AECHMEA Χ 'FOSTER'S FAVORITE FAVORITE'
That astonishing variegated hybrid
M. B. FOSTERHIS STRIKING HYBRID VARIETY has a rather interesting history. Both of the parents were new discoveries, found in Brasil on the first and second Foster Expeditions: Aechmea Racinae in 1939 and Aechmea victoriana var. discolor in 1940.
Little did we anticipate the results that were to he realized from the first cross pollination that I made between these plants in 1945. The cross was made both ways and the results were the same regardless of which species was used as the maternal parent.
In 1946 the first progeny of this cross appeared; when the plants matured I gave them the name of Aechmea 'Foster's Favorite.' In 1949 this new hybrid was granted the first patent that had ever been given to a bromeliad. It was then introduced into horticulture and soon became a favorite hybrid for collectors; it is now to be found in many countries throughout the world.
In 1951 one of these seedlings showed a thin, white streak in one of its mahogany colored leaves. I kept it isolated and hoped with much eagerness that more leaves would show this sign of mutation, but none appeared. When this plant reached maturity it flowered and then started its production of offshoots; one by one they came, but with no variegated leaves until the fourth one began to develop. This latest one had early signs of variegation, so I severed all of the first offshoots and allowed the rather overworked parent plant to give all its nourishment to this one interesting offspring, which was soon growing on its own roots. It became a feast for the eyes.
In 1953, when it had grown to a fully developed flowering plant, it began sending out new offshoots, every one beautifully variegated with green, white, pink and maroon-red stripes; then I decided that if this astonishing characteristic would persist it must have a name. But what could we call this new creation? It defied a name! It had become a variation far beyond our wildest dreams! Basically it was still the Ae. Χ 'Foster's Favorite' plant, all right, but it had an added dividend that surpassed all other plants; it was, truly, a favorite of all the 'Favorite' offshoots. It was certainly Ae. Χ 'Foster's Favorite Favorite' and, was so christened.
I have never seen a variegated bromeliad that is more consistent in its production of the same lovely colored stripes. For ten years it has been the most attractive, admired and coveted bromeliad in our greenhouses!
Route 2, Box 491, Orlando, Florida
W. B. CHARLEYN AUSTRALIA THERE IS A METHOD of potting bromeliads which is detrimental to the plant. Some growers are so careful not to lose a brom, probably imported and valuable, that they take a large piece of fiber either todea, treefern, or coconut and tightly wrap it around the root system and an inch or two about the basal leaves and then push the lot into pot. So tightly is this done, that it actually makes a felt-like bandage through which neither root or sucker can penetrate.
The writer recently came into possession of two fine mature plants of Aechmea schultesiana. Foolishly and against the usual practice, no examination of the potting mix was made. These plants both put up spikes, and the suckers were awaited for very anxiously. After ten months, and in desperation, the plants were removed from their pots, only to find the bandage tightly applied. When this restriction was removed, I found several suckers that had attempted to penetrate the potting fiber but had given up trying to penetrate the mass. The root system was also so damaged that the leaves were starting to an unhealthy condition.
There is a saying among expert orchid growers that "if sickness in the shoots, examine the roots." In case of such findings, there is usually something wrong with the potting mix, a restriction of the roots, sogginess, etc., and this will soon be reflected in the foliage.
The good advice given by so many expert bromeliad growers that the potmix should be porous is essential; and once again it can be said that the potmix of every new plant that comes into our possession should be immediately examined.
The Jungle Bromeliadium, Mt. Tomah, Bilpin, N. S. W., Australia
|Walter Singer and his bromeliad tree at the New York Botanical Garden|
BROMELIADS AT THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN
PHIL CLARKHE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN at Bronx Park in New York City has developed new display and cultural techniques for its extensive collection of bromeliads. Most interesting of these, perhaps, is its "cork tree" created some years ago by Walter Singer, presently the official photographer of the New York Botanical Garden.
The cork tree is constructed of a pipe skeleton bent into the shape of a tree and covered with cork bark. The hollows are filled with osmunda fiber, fir bark, and a leafmold mixture. This unique tree has resulted both in healthy plants and an excellent display form.
Among the bromeliad species included in the New York Botanical Garden collection are the following: Aechmea angustifolia, A. bracteata, A. bromeliifolia, A. calyculata, A. fasciata, A. Χ 'Foster's Favorite,' A. fulgens var. discolor, A. Χ 'Maginali,' A. mexicana, A nudicaulis aureo-rosea, A. orlandiana, A. pineliana, A. Χ 'Royal Wine,' A. weilbachii var. leodiensis; Billbergia distachia, B. Χ 'Fantasia,' B. morelii, B. nutans, B. porteana, B. pyramidalis, B. saundersii, B. Χ 'Theodore L. Mead,' B. zebrina; Bromelia balansae, Cryptanthus acaulis, C. bivittatus, C. bromelioides var. tricolor, C. fosterianus, C. zonatus, Cryptbergia meadii, Guzmania berteroniana, G. lindenii, G. lingulata var. lingulata, Neoregelia carolinae, N. spectabilis Χ marmorata, Nidularium fulgens, Nidularium innocentii, Pitcairnia andreana, corallina, Quesnelia arvensis, Tillandsia cyanea, T. lindenii, Vriesea carinata, V. splendens, and many other named and unnamed species.
The New York Botanical Garden publishes a fine bi-monthly publication. Of special interest to the members of The Bromeliad Society is the handsomely illustrated, expertly written article on bromeliads by Walter Singer, which appears in the January-February issue of The Garden Journal. The article covering the history, distribution, and uses of bromeliads, will be followed by a second installment in the March-April issue on culture. The May-June issue will conclude this valuable series with a discussion of species and varieties.
Mr. Singer's interest in bromeliads has taken him to South America and Puerto Rico, where he studied these plants in their natural habitats. He has grown them in a wide variety of circumstances, including in the Main Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, where he was at one time greenhouse foreman, at Julius Roehrs Company in East Rutherford, New Jersey; and in Florida, where he grew these plants outdoors in his own nursery. His articles on the subject have appeared in garden magazines and newspaper garden pages.
As literature on bromeliads is scarce, the articles appearing in The Garden Journal should be of unusual interest to bromeliad growers. Copies of these issues may be purchased by sending $.55 for single copies to The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, Park, 58, New York. Annual subscription of this excellent bimonthly journal is $3.00.
|Mulford and Racine Foster|
All these honors, however, have not changed Mulford Foster's routine in greenhouse and garden; in fact, he finds the days all too short at his country estate, Bromel-La, near Orlando. There he is so occupied with plant breeding projects he scarcely has time for visiting botanists, botanical garden officials, and many kinds of plant specialists, who continually are visiting him. "The Sage of Lake Alpharetta," as he is known in his immediate vicinity, now in the evening of his busy life, and well past the Biblical three score and ten, reports that even the added leisure of his semi-retirement, is not nearly enough.
Mulford Foster closed his nursery in the city of Orlando a few years ago, after having grown plants in that location for some thirty years. He has now settled at Bromel-La, where he has created what his friends call a Cathedral of the Air. Under spreading oaks are beds of thousands of rare bromeliads, cycads, palms, bulbs, philodendrons, and other rare plants.
"I want just enough time to make one more exploration trip to South America," he said recently, "and enough time for a few more generations of these new hybrids," pointing to the beds of Neoregelias, Aechmeas, Billbergias, Cryptanthus, and all the rest.
Acclaim has had slight effect on Foster, except possibly to speed him in his research and plant breeding. He is world known for his explorations in South America for bromeliads, philodendrons, amaryllis, and other plants. His introductions of old species which had been lost to horticulture and species and varieties new to botany are legion, and probably the most extensive since the days of Edouard Andre last century.
Foster and his talented wife, Racine, share in all the recognition and accomplishments of his career. Her part in his plant exploration work is told in their book, Brazil, Orchid of the Tropics, which appeared in 1945. This concerns their first important exploration trip for bromeliads in Southern Brazil some 20 years ago. The volume abounds in rich color, plant lore, and human interest, and is well worth re-reading from time to time by any plant enthusiast or flower lover.
Mulford Foster is a self-trained naturalist of the old school, educated in the difficult university of experience and hard knocks. Born on Christmas Day, 1888, his father, the editor of a weekly paper at Elmer, New Jersey, celebrated the event by a two-line item like this: "Christmas present arrived at editor's on the 26th! Ask him!??" His mother introduced him to nature, wild flowers, and gardening. At the age of six, he started attending school, but he still remembers his regret that it cut down the hours he could devote to gardening and exploring. When he finished high school, his father, with an eye to the practical side, saw that his naturalist son finished business college, and young Mulford tried his hand on the family newspaper, only to find that writing was not easy for him. In 1912 Foster made a trip to Florida in search of snakes for his collection. He found plenty, and at that time was rated as having the largest private collection of living reptiles in America. He settled in Florida in 1923.
Foster is an artist with palette, paints, plants and camera, and is intensely interested in the fundamental science and philosophy of the plant world. His inclination for plant exploration is closely allied to his feelings for landscape effects, home beautification, and his continued interest in finding both new and old, rare and uncommon ornamental plants.
In 1951 he was awarded the William Herbert Medal by the American Plant Life Society, which published an account of his life and work in their yearbook. New species of amaryllis and zephranthes, cacti, palms, and other plants have been named in his honor, and the number of bromeliads named for Foster is already fantastic. There is even a new genus, Fosterella, named for him recently by Dr. Lyman Smith, the world authority on the botany of the bromeliads.
Lakemont Gardens, Winter Haven, Florida.
Roger K. Taylor, 3122 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 18, Md.