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THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN

The Bromeliad Society Bulletin is the official publication of the Bromeliad Society, a non-profit corporation organized in 1950. The Bulletin is issued six times a year. Subscription to the Bulletin is included in the annual membership dues. There are four classes of member-ship: Annual, $5.00; Sustaining, $7.50; Fellowship, $15.00; and Life $100.00. All memberships start with January of the current year. For membership information, write to Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliffe Drive, Los Angeles, California 90026. Please submit all manuscripts for publication to the editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049

OFFICERS
PresidentDavid Barry, Jr. Editorial SecretaryVictoria Padilla
Vice PresidentFritz Kubisch Membership SecretaryJeanne Woodbury
Treasurer           Jack M. Roth

Board of Directors
Warren Cottingham
Ralph Davis
Nat de Leon
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Morris H. Hobbs
Jack O. Holmes
E. C. Hummel
Marcel Lecoufle
J. G. Milstein
Julian Nally
W. R. Paylen
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Charles A. Wiley
Wilbur G. Wood

Honorary Trustees
Adda Abendroth, Brazil
W. B. Charley, Australia
Charles Chevalier, Belgium
Mulford B. Foster, U.S.A.
A. B. Graf, U.S.A.
C. H. Lankester, Costa Rica
Harold Martin, New Zealand
Richard Oeser, Germany
Raulino Reitz, Brasil
Walter Richter, Germany
Dr. L. B. Smith, U.S.A.
Henry Teuscher, Canada

Active Affiliates
Bromeliad Guild, Los Angeles, Calif., W. R. Paylen, President
Greater New York Chapter of The Bromeliad Society, New York City, J. G. Milstein, President
Bromeliad Society of Broward County, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Thos. Seuss, President
Bromeliad Society of La Ballona Valley, Culver City, Calif., Fritz Kubisch, President
Bromeliad Society of South Florida, Miami, Florida, R. W. Davis, President
Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, Auckland, N. Z., W. Rogers, President
Louisiana Bromeliad Society, New Orleans, La., Mrs. C. L. Brown, President
San Mateo County Bromeliad Society, San Mateo, Calif., Kurt Peters, President
Delaware Valley Bromeliad Society, Philadelphia, Pa., Patrick Nutt, President
Bromeliad Society of Orange County, Calif., Kelsey Williams, President
Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay, Tampa, Fla., H. Cunningham, Jr., President

J. O. Holmes

ILLBERGIA × 'CATHERINE WILSON' — is one of the most colorful of the newer Billbergia hybrids. It was made by Robert G. Wilson, formerly of Miami, Florida, and now resident of Costa Rica, and named in honor of his wife. It is a cross between B. amoena var. viridis, a large plant with brilliant foliage, and B. iridifolia, a small bromel with silvery green leaves. Both plants boast of fine contour and of adaptability to pot culture because they stay easily within bounds. B. × 'Catherine Wilson' has the best characteristics of both parents: it is small (not exceeding 1½ feet in height), has an interesting form (not unlike that of B. leptopoda) and has vibrantly colorful foliage. The leaves are soft green heavily splashed with cream and suffused with rose. The flowers are blue and green with rose bracts.


TILLANDSIA USNEOIDES

THE PICTURE ON THE COVER

F THE MILLIONS OF PERSONS who have observed Spanish Moss festooning the trees of the southern part of the United States, probably very few have been aware of the fact that this so-called moss is a relative of the pineapple and that it flowers and sets seeds; in other words, it is a genuine flowering plant and one with a definite beauty.

Tillandsia usneoides, to give Spanish Moss its proper name, is the most common of all bromeliads, extending from southern Virginia to 500 miles south of Buenos Aires in Argentina on the east and from Texas through Mexico on to Chile on the west. It is, however, in the "Deep South" of the United States that this bromeliad makes its most dominant stand, for rare is the tree in this area that is not host to this most ubiquitous of bromels.

Although it appears as a free soul with no roots and no cares other than to find a perch from which to hang, T. usneoides follows the regular life cycle of all blooming plants. It grows from seed, and for a period of its existence puts out roots to give it strength to grow and until it is old enough to find a tree which it can call home. Here it will grow, forming pendulous tufts sometimes many feet long, flower, and set seed. The dainty little green flowers, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, appear singly from April through June, and during the evening hours exude a delicate, almost elusive fragrance.

The name Tillandsia usneoides has probably puzzled many persons who have become acquainted with it. The name Tillandsia was given in honor of the eminent Swedish botanist Elias Tillands. Breaking the species name down, we find that oides means similar to, while usnea refers to a genus of lichens. In other words, this species of Tillandsia resembles a lichen known as usnea.

The early explorers and settlers were quite impressed by this strange moss which swayed from the trees, giving them a somewhat funereal appearance, and many is the legend as to its origin. In Florida it is said that after Ponce de Leon found the fountain of youth, he was so full of vitality that he started to pursue a pretty Indian maiden. The young girl, crazed with fear, called upon her gods for aid, who immediately came to her rescue by seeing to it that the Spaniard's heard got caught on one of the oak trees, allowing the Indian lass enough time to escape. When Ponce de Leon finally freed himself from the tree, a portion of the heard remained, which in time grew and spread to other trees. A gentler tale is that emanating from Louisiana. Here it is told that the moss was originally the hair of an Indian princess. When she died, her lover hung her tresses on the branch of a tree that extended over her grave. Turning grey with time, the strands of hair blew from tree to tree and "finally all the land wept for the maiden."

Tillandsia usneoides, if given moisture and air. will grow and grow and grow. Once it starts, nothing seems to stop it. A small piece in this writer's greenhouse has increased a thousandfold in the past five years. Out of doors (in southern California) it is a little slower, perhaps because the birds like to use it for their nests, but it will increase. Thousands of dollars are spent each year in the southern states clearing the trees of this pest—which it is considered by many—and cleaning it up after a wind storm has swept the area. But this Tillandsia, like all others, is an epiphyte, not a parasite, so does not harm the host plant.

But to many this bromeliad has had a definite economic value. At one time it was used as a fibre for the upholstery of the seats of automobiles, trains, and planes, and also as a stuffing for mattresses. For numbers of residents of the South gathering this moss was a means of earning extra money. In the West Indies it has been used as a styptic ointment to help stop bleeding. In 1944 Dr. C. W. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic issued a statement as to the absorptive power of Spanish Moss which was found to be better than that of cotton as "it will take up from six to ten times its dry weight in water." In many parts of Latin America long strands of Spanish Moss are used as outdoor draperies to shield an area, such as a patio, from the sun.

—V. P.


REGARDING SCALE ON AECHMEAS — Sometime ago I noticed a small patch of scale on one of my Aechmeas (A. × Bert). Using a small artist's brush, I painted the spot with Nicotine Sulphate (Black Leaf 40). This killed the scale with no damage to the leaf.

Later, however, looking at the plant with a hand lens, I found more scale deep in the cup. What to do? Having read that Aechmea roots absorb very little moisture, I decided to try an experiment. Having used a systemic insecticide on my anthuriums, I decided to use one on the Aechmea. I had used two kinds, and I found in this instance that Scope Granules to be the most effective. Removing with a spoon the planting mix to a depth of more than an inch, I inserted a teaspoonful of Scope Granules, then put back the mix and watered well. After seven weeks the plant is 100 percent clean, hale and hearty and no sign of injury. For anyone interested, my source of Scope Granules is Wuatt-Quarles Seed Co., Box 2131. Raleigh, North Carolina, 27602.

—L. de Planque, 381 Broad St. Newark, N. J.


DYCKIA MARNIER-LAPOSTOLLEI

LYMAN B. SMITH

Author
Dyckia spec. nov. marnier-lapostollei

ULIEN MARNIER-LAPOSTOLLE HAS recently flowered a highly ornamental bromeliad that has been mystifying us for some time. Its leaves are most unusual because of their thickness, their complete covering of cinereous scales, and especially their dense curved marginal spines. I felt certain that it was a new species, yet was at a loss as to the genus to which it belonged. Dyckia was always a strong possibility, but it would have been no great surprise had it turned out to be a Hechtia, a Deuterocohnia, an Encholirium, or even a Puya. As it is, the matter is now settled and accordingly I am launching the species on its horticultural career as follows:

DYCKIA MARNIER-LAPOSTOLLEI L. B. Smith, sp. nov.

A D. brevifolia Baker, cui verisimiliter affinis, et generis speciebus alteris adhuc cognitis, foliis amplis utrinque dense cinereo-lepidotis atque dense retrorso-serratis differt.

PLANT stemless, flowering 5 dm high. LEAVES about 10 in a spreading rosette, ca. 12 cm long; blades triangular, ca. 4 cm wide, thick, densely pale-lepidote on both sides, densely and coarsely retrorse-serrate. SCAPE lateral, erect, compressed, very slender, glabrous; scape-bracts remote, small, broadly ovate, apiculate. IN FLORESCENCE simple, lax, few-flowered, 19 cm long, nearly glabrous; axis slender, slightly flexuous; floral bracts broadly ovate, acuminate, shorter than the sepals; flowers subsessile. SEPALS broadly ovate, rounded, cucullate, 7 mm long, ecarinate; petals 12 mm long, the blade subrhombic, only slightly distinct from the claw, obtusely carinate, cucullate; stamens equaling the petals, free above the short common tube with the petals; carpels (normal ?) deeply divided; stigmas subsessile.

Closeup of inflorescence, showing flower
Author

Type in the U. S. National Herbarium was found growing in Diamantina (8 km. from Belo Horizonte) Minas Gerais, Brazil. It was cultivated and flowered by J. Marnier-Lapostolle at Jardin Botanique "Les Cedres" in St. Jean Cap-Ferrat, France, in 1965.

—Smithsonian Institution, Washington D. C.


BROMELIADS ON THE ROCKS

CHARLES A. WILEY

J. Padilla
Aechmea triangularis just coming into bloom

"On mossy rocks . . . . ."
"Rocks on river banks . . . . . "
"On trees and rocks . . . . . "
"On perpendicular rocks . . . . . "

These phrases are repeated time after time in the description of many bromeliads as to locality in "Contributions" from the United States National Herbarium by Lyman B. Smith.

A further qualification is frequently noted, such as - sandstone mountains - or, granite terrain - and again, quartzite ridges. It isn't clear that the type of rock has any particular advantage. Xerophytic or epiphytic requirement on the part of the plant seems to be the necessary element.

To anchor bromeliads on rocks to be used in the home is one way to tame these wild plants from some far off sandstone mountain. Sculptured rocks with mounted bromeliads are attractive decorative pieces. My interest in using rocks, however, is to experiment in an effort to establish a friendly environment to promote vigorous growth.

Many bromeliads are very much at home growing on rocks. Some of the plants that respond in a very satisfactory way are found in their natural state perched on rocks. Others that are usually found in trees adapt very readily to this way of life. Still others don't seem to care for rocks and become very unhappy about it. When this happens I usually return them to a pot. Actually, some of these that didn't seem to work out very well at first were very successful on the second attempt at a later date. My first attempt was probably terminated too soon because I had only one plant of that particular variety and was fearful of losing it. The second attempt was made with an offshoot and only when I had at least one other plant to fall back on if the one on the rock died. Some plants that I have never brought to bloom in a pot come into spike regularly every year on their rock. Others that never color up very much become brilliant when they put their roots down into their rock home.

Author
Stolons of Aechmea × 'Bert' embracing a rock

I started out with Aechmea × 'Bert', A. recurvata var. ortgiesii, A. triangularis, A. pineliana var. minuta, Quesnelia marmorata, and Tillandsia juncea. These all take full sun except A. × 'Bert' and A. pineliana, which need a little protection in my locality during the middle of the day for best color.

Aechmea × 'Bert' immediately put its root down and sent out two stolons. These stolons followed the surface of the rock very closely. During the three years since mounting the plant, seven more have started and the network of stolons is well on its way to wrapping completely around the rock. During the four coldest months of the year, starting with January, growth is very slow and practically comes to a standstill. The temperature drops to the low 40's nearly every night during this period and infrequently takes a dive into the 30's. One offshoot from Aechmea × 'Bert' planted in a pot didn't show any action and eventually was found to be dead.

Aechmea recurvata had clumped up nicely in the ground. One of the offshoots was taken and mounted into its new home. An electric drill with a stone bit was used to drill a hole about 2 inches deep, oblong about 1/2 inch by 1½ inches. The proportions depend upon the particular plant. An oblong cavity makes it possible to drive sphagnum moss on two sides to hold the plant solid. The following spring, and again a year later, the comparison of the plants in the ground and on the rock was very pronounced. In the ground the plants grew along very nicely to about 14 inches. In the spring the spike extended above the top of the plant about two or three inches, a nice red. The leaves were mostly green with some red. On the rock the plant also grew very nicely but was much more compact and only about 7 or 8 inches high. It came into spike two months before the one in the ground. The inflorescence extended well out of the leaves but no further. The entire plant turned a beautiful blazing red. (See colored illustration on P. 120.)

Aechmea triangularis was mounted on a rock and placed under a tree. Through some carelessness the rock with the plant found its way to a spot in full sun. This proved to be a happy accident. Year after year new offshoots become beautiful plants with a magnificent inflorescence. Before I had mounted A. triangularis, it had never bloomed for me.

Aechmea pineliana var. minuta clumps up beautifully on a rock. It likes lots of light and will take full sun, but optimum conditions call for some protection in the summer during the middle of the day. This plant will grow well almost any place: in the ground, in a pot with hapuu, or on a branch in a tree. On a rock, the sculpturing of the leaves, the proportions of the plant, and the brilliance of the red put to shame every other plant not grown this way.

Author   
Quesnelia marmorata
Quesnelia marmorata is another plant which behaves like A. × 'Bert'. Its stolons reach out and if they don't find something to wrap around, you won't have a happy plant. On several occasions I have tried Q. marmorata in a pot and in the ground. Immediately it began to sulk. Back on a rock in full sun it rewarded me with a more beautifully proportioned shape and more gorgeously colored leaves than ever.

Tillandsia juncea sat in its pot for two years doing nothing. Then I mounted it on a rock. It immediately sent out offshoots and has bloomed regularly each spring. Three years later thirty-five spikes glistened in the sun.

More recent experiments with rocks include Vrieseas, Tillandsias, Neoregelias, and Pitcairnias. Some of the soft leaved plants of Vrieseas and Pitcairnia adapt much better if mounted on the surface of the rock rather than in a hole drilled for mounting. When mounting on a surface, small holes are drilled in the rock and ¼-inch diameter pieces of bamboo are driven in the holes, allowed to protrude an inch or two, and the plant is fastened to these posts. Sheet moss is propagated around the base to provide a condition for the roots to grow. Spring is the best time to start plants this way. Watering must be frequent enough to keep the moss growing, and by fall the moss and the plant are well enough established to go through the winter without much water.

The plants that I have mounted on rocks are all hardy and weather the winters in this locality very gracefully. The small pieces are brought into the house only when in bloom.

The rock that I use is "tufa", a volcanic rock with considerable porosity. Analysis shows the presence of almost any element, in at least trace quantities. The PH is very acid when the drillings from one of the holes are analyzed. This is probably from the sulphur that is present. Any possible adverse effect from this acid condition may be avoided by weathering the rock for a few days in the sun after drilling but before mounting the plants.

There is a certain fascination to growing bromeliads on rocks. There is something solid and enduring about them. The way some of the plants cling to them is certainly proof that they love their rock, so that is "WHY ROCKS?"

—4036 Via Solano, Palos Verdes Estates, California 90275


TROUBLES —

Julian Nally of Gotha, Florida, writes of the 1965 freeze: "The freeze this year was a bad one: I recall only one worse: that of '62. We had three acres of Aechmea × 'Maginalii' clobbered, just as they were making a partial recovery from the last one. The Neoregelia hybrids are generally immune to damage, but we had a lot of isolated leaves frozen. A thousand or so Vriesea × 'Mariae' planted in the ground lost some leaves, but no plants were killed except a few that had bloomed a year ago. Blooms were frozen, of course. We had a low of 25° F.

From New Zealand comes this sad note. "Many members have trouble with wetas. They lurk in the tanks of the broms and can ruin a plant in a very short time. The trouble is they come out, have a good meal, and then go into hiding again. One member has made a hook on the end of a piece of wire and has become adept at hooking the beastie out with this. Another member has come up with a much easier idea. Finding a large weta in the very bottom of one of her broms she made a week solution of Jeyes Fluid and poured it down the plant. Out came Mr. Weta in a great hurry, and she was able to squash him as he lay on the lawn waving his legs. The plant was given a thorough washing out with clean water and so far shows no ill effects from the Jeyes Fluid."


N. DeLeon
Neoregelias
in
The Parrot Jungle

N. DeLeon

BROMELIADS IN THE PARROT JUNGLE

J. A. STEPHENS

They came to see the parrots, flamingoes and rare birds, but they lingered along the jungle trails to admire the exotic forms and colors of the bromeliads growing on trees and fallen cypress logs.

This briefly describes what has happened at the Parrot Jungle, just off U. S. Highway No. 1, south of Miami, Florida. The parrots, which perform at regularly scheduled shows, are really macaws and cockatoos, but if the public calls them parrots, then they're parrots.

But our story is not about parrots but bromeliads, and what Nat DeLeon, one of the directors of The Bromeliad Society, has done to broaden the appeal of this famed tourist attraction by generous use of these plants along the jungle trails.

It is fairly obvious that most of the visitors don't know what they're looking at when they admire the bromeliads. They have called them century plants, snake plants, agaves, lilies and orchids in a futile attempt to identify them to their own satisfaction. The bromeliads growing on trees are thought to be parasitic.

Nat has a bromeliad nursery in a corner of the Jungle, away from the main trails, and here he grows on for later display in the gardens only the showiest types, either in inflorescence or leaf coloration. Here, too, are found the seedlings in various stages of growth resulting from his hybridization program.

Nat has observed that the more plants one has of a given species or hybrid, the more likely he is to have a good display of that kind in flower nearly the year around. The weight in numbers, as it were, has a telling effect. This is an important factor in a tourist attraction that is open every day of the year. For example, he planted fifty to seventy-five Guzmania lingulata plants in a centrally located ground bed, and here at almost any time of the year a display of the long-lasting red inflorescences may be seen. As the months pass, some of the floral bracts fade to salmon and orange, but they are still showy enough to make the visitors pause. Meanwhile new floral rosettes appear to take their place.

Some people are like magpies. They are often tempted to carry off brightly colored objects, in this case the choice bromeliads or offsets that could be concealed in milady's capacious and seemingly bottomless handbag. Nat has found the planting of a row of Bromelia pinguin or a similarly spiny species in front of a display of rare plants to be a very effective deterrent to pilferage.

Propagation of outstanding hybrid clones in the Parrot Jungle, as elsewhere, is by removal of suckers from the mother plants at judicious intervals. Nat has found that the first offset removed from a plant is the pacesetter in growth, vigor, and size of inflorescence. There is a gradual diminution of these characters in the mature plants of subsequent offsets.

Frost is no real problem at the Parrot Jungle. The leafy overhang of trees and shrubbery affords protection for most of the bromeliads. The sprinkler system is effective in warming the air in other locations on the coldest nights.

There is a well-planned and well-maintained cactus garden along one of the trails. Here red-centered Bromelia humilis and other xerophytic bromeliads have been planted to good effect. One of the showiest and most extensive plantings is that of Ananas bracteatus var. striatus, considered rare in cultivation. The white, pink and green striped leaves are eyecatchers the year 'round, while the fruiting forms show that these are in fact members of the pineapple family.

The Parrot Jungle has superior clones of Neoregelia carolinae and N. carolinae var. tricolor. These are effectively grown on fallen logs so that visitors can look down into the red and pink suffused centers. On the other hand, the stiffly upright, barred leaves and bracted inflorescences of Aechmea chantinii are placed to best effect in cypresses at and above eye level.

Nat has found that steel electrical cable staples in various sizes are the most effective and natural-looking fasteners for attaching bromeliads to trees and logs. Since the steel staples start to rust almost immediately, they quickly become inconspicuous. By the time the plants have sent out anchoring roots, the staples have practically rusted away.

Nat made an interesting discovery about Bromelia pinguin, which has something of the appearance of, and has been grown as, a xerophyte. He planted a bed of these bromeliads in a swampy place in the Jungle as a restraining barrier and did not expect them to survive for more than a few months. Strangely enough, they took hold and are thriving under wet conditions.

Thanks to Nat DeLeon's efforts, the Parrot Jungle has one of the best public displays of bromeliads to be found anywhere. It is through displays such as these that there is an increasing public awareness of bromeliads and their value as superb garden plants in warm climates and as adaptable house-plants elsewhere.

—P. O. Box 969, Sebring, Florida. 33870.


Algae on the inside of the greenhouse glass is not only an eyesore but is a means of cutting off much-needed light. A strong stream will remove most of the algae, as will the use of detergents. If the algae persists mix a quaternary ammonia compound, such as Roccal, Winthrop, one part to five to ten parts of water. Scrub with the solution, using a long handled brush. Many members tell us that they are having good luck with plastic pots and are using them instead of the old-fashioned clay pots. If you are using both kinds of pots, watch your watering. There can be a large difference in the porosity of pots. Some clay pots are very porous and dry out rapidly. Others are fired very hard and dry out slowly. Plastic pots hold the moisture about twice as long as does the average clay pot. If you are using more than one kind of pot, keep each kind separate and govern your watering accordingly.


FROM THE SECRETARY'S DESK . . . .

As most members are aware, interest in bromeliads during this past year has reached an all-time high. As might be expected, with this new appreciation of the bromeliad has come an unprecedented growth in the membership of The Bromeliad Society.

The handling of memberships to date has been the work of one person - Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, who, because of her affection for this plant family, volunteered to undertake this task in her spare time. When the membership was smaller, processing renewals at the year's end was not too great a job.

However, if all renewals were to descend upon Mrs. Woodbury at the end of this year - not to mention the extra work entailed with Christmas gift memberships and orders for the new handbook - the situation would be nothing short of chaotic. To engage inexperienced part-time help to assist her would not be satisfactory.

Obviously, the best way to handle the situation is to spread the work out over a period of time, so we are asking our members to help us by sending in their renewals now. The dues are still the same - $5.00 for annual, $7.50 for sustaining, and $15.00 for fellowship. The quality of the Bulletin will continue to be on the same high level. The Bulletins for 1967 will include a study of the genus Vriesea, some interesting collecting experiences, and many new cultural hints.

Won't you please take a minute now to remit your 1967 dues today? Your cooperation will be appreciated. Just slip your check in an envelope addressed to Mrs. Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliffe Drive, Los Angeles, Calif. 90026.


ATTENTION: ALL COMMERCIAL GROWERS

As an added service to the members and to those who continually write in for information as to where bromeliads may be purchased, the Society would like to have a "Buyers' Directory" to occupy a page or two of each issue. Each listing would contain the name of the establishment, address, whether retail or wholesale, catalogue and price, and any other information the nursery may deem important.

To secure a place on this list, the member is asked to take out a commercial membership - dues $15.00 a year - a small sum when one considers the benefits that will accrue. The listing will start with the January-February issue for 1967 and appear in all bulletins for the year. All such memberships with pertinent data should be in the editor's hands no later than October 15 to insure a placement.

We trust that all commercial members will take advantage of this opportunity to get their names before the ever-increasing number of bromeliad enthusiasts.


BROMELIADS OF THE GENUS AECHMEA
IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

H. G. AITKEN

(Reprinted from The Trinidad Horticultural Magazine for October, 1964.)

H. Drysdale   
Aechmea aripensis inflorescence
One of the more interesting groups of bromeliads found in Trinidad and Tobago is that of the species belonging to the spiny-leaved genus Aechmea (pronounced "ik-me-ah"). Of nine native species, eight are known from Trinidad and three from Tobago; these are:

1. Aechmea aripensis (N. E. Brown) Trinidad, uncommon

2. Aechmea bromeliifolia (Rudge) Trinidad, uncommon

3. Aechmea dichlamydea (Baker) Tobago, common

4. Aechmea dichlamydea var. trinitensis (L. B. Smith) Trinidad, locally common

5. Aechmea Downsiana (Pittendrigh) Trinidad, uncommon

6. Aechmea Fendleri (Andre) Trinidad, locally common

7. Aechmea lingulata (Lin.) Trinidad and Tobago, locally common

8. Aechmea Mertensii (Meyer) Trinidad, uncommon

9. Aechmea nudicaulis (Lin.) Trinidad and Tobago, common

Not only do these Aechmeas have striking flowers of various forms and colours, but they are hardy plants and easily lend themselves to cultivation. They will tolerate considerable amounts of sun and grow equally well on trees or in loose soil. A tenth species, Aechmea magdalenae (Andre), has been introduced into Trinidadian gardens; it is a terrestrial species.

One of the more interesting epiphytic species is Aechmea aripensis, which was described from Cerro del Aripo in 1926 and which is rather uncommonly found on the summits of several of the higher peaks of the Northern Range. The plants are large (leaves 2½ ft. long, 2 ins. wide and somewhat lax) rosette-shaped, with the inflorescence growing out of the center on a tall 2½ ft. stiff stem or scape. The inflorescence resembles a large spiny thistle, deep reddish purple in colour, mounted on several broad, bright red, primary bracts. Emerging from the mass of spines are small bright bluish-purple flowers. Aechmea aripensis is known to flower from April to July.

H. Drysdale   
Aechmea Downsiana inflorescence
Another interesting epiphytic species of the higher Northern Range peaks is Aechmea Downsiana described by Colin Pittendrigh in 1958. The species was named for his colleague and close friend Dr. Wilbur G. Downs, former Director of the Trinidad Regional Virus Laboratory and a member of the Horticultural Club of Trinidad and Tobago. Until recently, Aechmea Downsiana was known only from a single plant collected on the summit of Mount Chaguaramal, a satellite peak of the Aripo massif.

In the intervening years, we have searched for this bromeliad on Chaguaramal and other peaks. It eluded keen eyes until April 26, 1964 when two of my assistants, Raymond Martinez and Raymond Manuel again tackled Chaguaramal. On the summit (elevation 2,750 feet) they saw a strange bromel flowering 20 ft. high up in a tree. The plant was obtained and brought back to Port-of-Spain where it was identified as the elusive Downsiana. The inflorescence has been prepared as an herbarium specimen and an attempt is being made by Mr. Manuel to grow the plant.

Unfortunately, the inflorescence had passed its prime when collected, but it was evident that it must be spectacular. Like aripensis, it is a large plant. The stem (scape) is stiff and covered with brown "wool" (also in aripensis). The scape proper is bright red with membranaceous (colourless) bracts. The inflorescence has a stiff panicle of bright red branches ending in a mass of spiny flowers; the petals of the flowers are blue. The lower, large primary bracts were membranaceous but the upper ones were a deep purplish red. The known flowering period is March to April.

Both of these endemic species of Aechmea should be considered highly desirable ornamentals. In October 1957 I introduced Aechmea aripensis into cultivation in the United States through Mr. Mulford B. Foster, noted horticulturist and bromeliad authority of Orlando, Florida.

—P. O. Box 164, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.


A letter written by Dr. Aitken dated May 3, 1966 adds the following to the above report:

"On the 17th of April of this year, I had a chance to reclimb Mt. Chaguaramal and was finally rewarded by finding Aechmea Downsiana (after two previous negative attempts). We brought back several plants which we hope to propagate. In connection with my short article on Downsiana and aripensis which you plan to reprint, it might be worthwhile adding a short note such as the following: Aechmea aripensis and A. Downsiana are found in the same habitat. In the absence of inflorescences, the two species are readily distinguished by the shape of the leaves and the form of the rosette. The leaves of the former are long and slender, and after a time may droop from the middle (if in dense shade). They are about 60 to 70 cm. long, about 7-8 cm. wide at the base and 5-6 cm. wide midway and continuing thus almost to the tip where they narrow abruptly to a point. The lateral spines on the leaf are yellow and about 1 mm. long and 4-5 mm. apart. The leaf, while erect, nevertheless is soft and bends readily. The rosette of Downsiana is more open as the leaves are broader, more rigid and flare outwardly. The leaves are about 60 cm. long, about 16 cm. wide at the base, about 9 cm. wide halfway and then tapering gradually to the apex. The leaf spines are dark blackish brown, about 2 mm. long and 3-4 mm. apart."


GROWING BROMELIADS IN THE HOME

BETH STEINER

It has been my experience that almost all bromeliads can be grown successfully in the home, the only exception being those plants that get too large. I grow the following with almost too much success:

Acanthostachys strobilacea
Aechmea fasciata
Aechmea fasciata var. 'Silver King'
Aechmea weilbachii
Billbergia × 'Fantasia'
B. distachia
B. lietzei
B. nutans
B. × 'Theodore S. Meade'
B. × 'Violet Beauty'
Cryptanthus fosterianus
C. bromelioides var. tricolor
Cryptbergia
Dyckia sulphurea
D. rariflora
D. fosteriana
Guzmania magnifica
G. lingulata var. lingulata
Hechtia texensis
Neoregelia spectabilis
N. carolinae
Nidularium × 'Chloro-marechallii'
Vriesea × carinata × ensiformis
V. × Mariae
I have a large house and it is open and airy - by attrition, not design - but I would not hesitate to try any of these plants in an apartment if I had east, south, or west windows. Dyckias and Hechtias must have southern exposure. My bromeliads have been window-sill grown until lately when I rigged an upstairs porch for a "greenhouse."

A fan is a must for house grown plants. I use "muffin" fans, second-hand from IBM computers. They are very small and are not too noisy. For moisture, I had a galvanized tray made by a tinsmith. I paid $7.50 for a waterproof tray 6 feet × 2 feet by 6 inches. The tray is covered with 3 inches of vermiculite and the bromeliads sit on the vermiculite. When I am in a hurry, I dump several buckets of water in the tray instead of watering the plants. It seems to work well. A substitute for such a tray would be old roaster pans, which cost about 50 cents apiece. They will hold two plants each. Aluminum pans are no good as the aluminum will erode and develop pinholes.

I keep my parent plants—Aechmeas, Guzmanias, and Neoregelias in a bay window with a western exposure that gets filtered afternoon sun. Billbergias sit on a south window sill. My Nidulariums and some Neoregelias sit farther back in the room. I also keep my Vrieseas back from the window, but they get plenty of light. Incidentally, I am very busy, and it is not unusual for my plants to get bone dry. They do not seem to mind a bit, and my only problem has been mealybug. My plants bloom and the Billbergias and Aechmeas have pups, and before the pups are six inches high, they have pups. Berkeley is usually cool, but in summer when it gets really hot, I mist the plants every day.

The trick in growing house plants successfully is to mass them. Bromeliads do not like being alone. People want to put one lonely plant on a table in the middle of the room and they expect it to grow. This might work sometimes, but a plant is a living thing, not just an ornament like a vase.

Also important in growing house plants is to touch them and to speak to them as often as possible. Some plants will live if they are ignored, but they want attention. This does not mean just looking after their cultural needs; plants need to be noticed and loved. The plants that I get irritated with or handle roughly die.

Billbergias are nice. They propagate freely, bloom often, and can be massed around the rare varieties for company. A person with a tray full of Billbergias is not going to be out of blooms very often. They stand filtered south light very nicely. I just hope that the person who grows Billbergias has lots of friends who want broms because Billbergias are the chief exponents of the population explosion!

—2927 Florence Street, Berkeley 5, California.


AECHMEA × 'BURGUNDY'

WILLIAM DRYSDALE

Aechmea × 'Burgundy'

here is a plethora of bromeliad hybrids suitable for glasshouse culture, but the number of those suitable for outdoor culture is by no means generous. One of the finest hybrids qualifying is a product of Mulford Foster's labors. He has named it Aechmea × 'Burgundy' and described it in these pages in April 1962 as "perhaps the richest burgundy red leaves ever to adorn an Aechmea."

This redness varies in intensity somewhat, not surprisingly, due to exposure; but in good light it is nearly a uniform burgundy both on the top and undersides of the leaves, and the redness is more persistent in all exposures than most red-leaved bromeliads. Though the upper surface takes on a good deal of green if grown in moderate light, the undersides remain a good uniform red and the effect if viewed from the sides or from below (and indeed even from above) is one of redness.

The plant has rather narrow semi-rigid leaves (about 1½ inches wide) which are about two feet long and edged with rasping spines. The flower scape is nearly as long as the leaves and is semi-pendant. Some growers prefer to stake it upright, to make it more conspicuously white. As the flowers develop, this part of the stem becomes colored as the remainder. The buds resemble beads and are most striking in that the base and the tips are banded red, the intervening area being white. This striping does not shade from one area to the other; rather the break is sharp and clearly defined. The inflorescence remains attractive for months. The individual flowers are a deep dark blue, attractive but not exciting.

This hybrid is of the easiest culture, thriving in an undersized pot, as well as a generously proportioned one, or directly in the ground out of doors, where it will successfully live through the winter in mild areas as southern California and Florida. Of course this means outdoors under an umbrella of leaves of a tree or a ceiling formed by the overhang of a roof, and not exposed to the clear sky on frosty nights. The plants appear in first-class condition without any particular effort as to care.

While this subject is worthy of glasshouse culture, it is as an outdoor plant that it is most notable.

—4300 Isabella Street, Riverside, California.

From Ervin Wurthmann, landscape specialist, comes this further note on Aechmea × 'Burgundy':

Landscape plantings of Aechmea × 'Burgundy' came through the big Florida freeze of 1962 practically without a whimper. Temperatures of as low as 18° F. produced little or no foliage damage. In most of these plantings, there was a protective canopy formed by trees which prevented frost from settling on the foliage.

Aechmea × 'Burgundy' seems to take after Aechmea distichantha (one of its parents) in its moisture requirements, preferring to be somewhat on the dry side. In using this Aechmea for landscaping, one should remember to provide it with good drainage, especially in wetter climates such as are often experienced in Florida. Planting on a raised bed would be advantageous. A coarse mulch, either wood chips, oak leaves, or shredded bark, will hold down weeds and keep maintenance to a minimum. The plant prefers plenty of light, but it needs some shading from the intense midday sun.

All in all, Aechmea × 'Burgundy' has a tremendous potential for landscaping when stock for planting is more plentiful. It has everything to recommend it.

—5602 Theresa Rd.. Tampa, Florida.


BROMELIADS AS SEMI-AQUATICS

W. B. CHARLEY

We are well aware of the fact that some bromeliads, notably Cryptanthus, which grow on rocks in the beds of running streams, and some which grow in swampy ground do come under the above category, but are there other varieties that will grow under these conditions?

To find out just how wet a bromeliad can be and like it, the following experiment was carried out during the six months of the hotter season.

A corner of a glasshouse with concrete floor was flooded; this area has filtered sunlight through the walls. Many varieties of bromeliads were placed on the floor standing in their pots in one inch of water. The potmix became immediately equal to very swamp ground. In a few weeks every one of these plants showed new growth and lush foliage, with the exception of the older leaves which could not respond because they were 'fixed' in growth. Shortly, these plants began to suck with great vigor; in fact the pots became so full of suckers that one had the impression of luxurious tropical growth.

Such treatment could closely resemble the condition under which many bromeliads grow in a rain forest where everything growing is subjected to constant and saturated wet. We are convinced that bromeliads will grow quite happily in a nice damp well-drained potmix, but they will certainly really "flare up" under the "wet" treatment. Experimental culture may be carried out in a shallow dish of water.

—Mt. Tomah, Bilpin. N.S.W., Australia.


IN THE NEWS —

Word has been received that Dr. Werner Rauh, of the University of Heidelberg, is working on a book devoted solely to Tillandsias. It will behoove all of us whose German is rusty to brush up on this language, as this work will be of great value.

It was with regret that we learned of the death of Joseph Schneider, long associated with the famed cactus garden of the Huntington Botanical Garden in San Marino, California. His special interest was the collection of Puyas, Dyckias, and other xerophytic bromeliads, and many of our plants came from the seeds which he distributed.

The Louisiana Bromeliad Society can well be proud of the beautiful exhibit of bromeliads they presented in the lobby of the Bank of New Orleans on May 23 through 27. The officials of the bank were more than pleased and the attending crowds and enthusiasm exceeded all expectations. Eric Knobloch was the chairman.

The Bromeliad Society of New Zealand recently put on a display at the flower show staged in Auckland by the House Plant Society. Many choice plants were exhibited, among which Vriesea gigantea and V. platynema variegated were outstanding. One plant of the latter species was especially bright, the center of the plant being creamy-white contrasting with the grey leaves and deep purple blotches at the tips. Among the specimen plants the prize would go to Neoregelia concentrica var. prosperine, which had ten flowering heads in a six-inch pot. As the Auckland Star said, bromeliads were the highlight of the show. They appeared in other exhibits as well. Among the most striking plants was a huge Ananas bracteatus var. striatus, which had been voted Houseplant of the Year by that Society.


C. S. Wiley
Aechmea recurvata var. ortgiesii showing color
when grown on a rock not achieved by other media.

Aechmea recurvata var. ortgiesii is found in its native land Brazil growing on rocks and trees in part to full sun. Accordingly, when Mr. Charles Wiley, the author of the article on Page 104, planted this unusual little bromeliad on a sunny rock, it felt perfectly at home. A sturdy little individual, this Aechmea has been known to withstand onslaughts of freezing weather with little ill effect. It seems, also, to be tolerant of drought, for it can be planted in the cactus garden (in California), kept on the dry side, and grow, flower, and offshoot freely.

In this writer's garden, planted in soil among succulents, this Aechmea has produced a nice clump of small plants, none exceeding ten inches in diameter. It colored brilliantly when it first came into flower, but the stiff recurved leaves soon returned to a tannish-green. However, the inflorescence remained a bright rose for several months. It is highly attractive.

This plant entered horticulture in 1860 as Ortgiesia tillandsioides and later became known as Aechmea ortgiesii and as Portea tillandsioides, not attaining its proper name until 1952.

—V. P.


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