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 President David Barry, Jr. Editorial Secretary Victoria Padilla Vice President Fritz Kubisch Membership Secretary Jeanne Woodbury Treasurer Jack M. Roth Board of Directors
Nat De Leon
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Jack O. Holmes
J. G. Milstein
W. R. Paylen
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Charles A. Wiley
Wilbur G. Wood
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
Bromeliad Guild, Los Angeles, Calif., W. R. Paylen, President|
Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay, Florida, Harry Cunningham, Jr., President
Greater New York Chapter of The Bromeliad Society, New York City, J. G. Milstein, President
Bromeliad Society of Broward County, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Tom 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, N. Z., Mrs. F. B. Hanson, President
Louisiana Bromeliad Society, New Orleans, La., Mrs. William B. Wisdom, President
San Mateo County Bromeliad Society, San Mateo, Calif., Doris Beaumont, President
Delaware Valley Bromeliad Society, Philadelphia, Pa., Patrick Nutt, President
Bromeliad Society of Orange County, Calif., Kelsey Williams, President
San Diego Bromeliad Society, San Diego, Calif., Cleoves Hardin, President
As this bromeliad flowers but rarely, it was not until this year that it was possible for us to determine its identity in spite of many years of cultivation and the presence of many mature specimens. A careful examination of the inflorescence led to Aechmea subgenus Platyaechmea according to Mez in Pflanzenreich and L. B. Smith in The Bromeliaceae of Brazil. After a thorough reading of the diagnosis of all the species enumerated under this subgenus, we arrived at the conclusion that it must be the plant described by E. Regel in Gartenflora of 1888, plate 1281, fig. 2, under the name of Quesnelia wittmackiana, later placed by Mez under Aechmea wittmackiana in the Pflanzenreich.
Aechmea wittmackiana is a very handsome plant and easy to cultivate on condition that one places it in full light. Even without the inflorescence it has great beauty in its banded leaves.
—Cap. St.-Jean Ferat, France.
|Workers constructing pipe framework of trunk and limbs|
ISPLAYING BROMELIADS planted on a simulated tree affords the opportunity to present more plants in a green house than by usual methods, and in addition presents a dramatic spectacle of the first order. We now have at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden an artificial tree, the limbs covered by cork bark, that has about one hundred different bromeliads growing on it, nearly every one a picture of prime health and beauty. A misting system has been installed, operating manually at the turn of a single valve.
Each plant is given an identifying number on a small square plastic tag of an unobtrusive brown color that is nailed into the cork beside the plant, and tablets identifying these numbers are attached to the wall of the greenhouse for the use of the public. The tree stands in the center part of the greenhouse, so that it can be viewed and inspected from each of two paths that run the length of the green-house. If a plant can be viewed from both sides of the house, the number of a plant is placed on both sides of the branch, and there is a complete tablet for each of the two walks, so that the observer need make as few steps as possible to identify a plant. The tablets with the numbers and names of the plans are enclosed inside a clear acetate plastic sheet that protects the paper from being dampened by the daily waterings.
The tree was started in January 1965. Because of the manifold and unexpected problems and emergencies of a great botanical garden, work could not always proceed continuously, so that there were interruptions. Also in the beginning, when it came time to plant we had enough plants for the tree, but there were many duplications. These were planted so as not to delay the general effect, but as time went on, duplications were replaced by new kinds not on the tree.
|The finished mature tree. Spanish moss is draped everywhere in the tree.|
It was Mr. Rudolf van de Goot of our staff who planned and supervised its formation. (This idea is not original with us). It is devised first of all as a skeleton made of used galvanized two-inch pipe. This skeleton then was painted with red lead.
Then the trunk and branches were covered completely with osmunda fiber, firmly tied in place with wire and twine. The next step was to put cork around the osmunda. The cork was ordered, but unexpectedly arrived in flat slabs. These were soaked for twelve hours and then put around the trunk and branches and tied firmly with ropes.
The cork was put around the limbs leaving a narrow open space on top for planting the bromels in osmunda fiber. The slabs were firmly secured to each other by clamping with stout wire and similarly secured across the open spaces on top left for planting. The plants were carefully planted down into the osmunda fiber. The crumbling of osmunda fiber goes on at such a rate that once in two or three years it has to be replenished by stuffing fresh material in the space between the cork and the pipe.
The construction and development of our bromeliad tree has been an achievement not only in beauty and as a spectacle, but as an educational exhibit is of unusual benefit for any visitor or student who is interested in acquiring knowledge about this favored family of plants.
In addition to this tree we have a smaller one at one end of the room that consists of a part of an old tree skeleton that had been used for attaching bromeliads for some years. This was also covered with cork just before the new tree was set up and was also newly planted. These bromeliads are similarly numbered and tallied.
There is a bench that runs along one side of the same room against the window that contains additional bromeliads, including the small terrestrial ones. This exhibit is arranged in a quasi-naturalistic setting.
Altogether there are in the one greenhouse room close to two hundred different identified bromeliads. This compact display of so many kinds easily accessible in a great metropolitan community can well help popularize this characterful group of plants. The greenhouses are open to the public every day of the year.
We hope the collection on exhibit will bring joy and knowledge to many—that it will introduce a new world to the uninitiated, getting some to reach further and further into the satisfactions bromeliads offer. And to those already fascinated and more or less knowledgeable, that it will afford further progressive acquaintanceship.
—Taxonomist, Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Left—Tying osmunda fiber around pipe
Below—Working on the cork-bark base. Left-Mr. vander Goot.
THE PICTURE ON THE COVERGuzmania lingulata is apparently a bromeliad of many moods. There are large varieties and there are small ones; some have brilliantly red bracts and others have soft orange bracts; some are robust in appearance; others are more delicate. Dr. Lyman B. Smith, in order to make some order out of the confusion that existed with regard to this Guzmania, has given it five varietal names: Guzmania lingulata var. lingulata, G. lingulata var. splendens, G. lingulata var. cardinalis, G. lingulata var. minor, and G. lingulata var. flammea. Several years ago a very husky specimen of G. lingulata was brought to southern California from Ecuador. From its appearance it would be the same as that now listed in the trade as Guzmania lingulata var. major (Broadview). Whether the two are the same plant has not been determined. Also, the origin of the name G. lingulata var. major (Broadview) is not known.
The picture on the cover was taken by the eminent landscape architect and photographer Ralph Cornell.
AN INTERESTING EXPERIMENTOMETIME AGO I READ in the garden section of our local newspaper an article about growing better roses with banana skins. The article went on to say that banana skins are very rich in potash and phosphorus and closed by saying that the United Fruit Company was interested. So was I.
Having three old Aechmeas (each over five years old) which had never bloomed, I decided to try an experiment. These Aechmeas were A. chantinii, A. orlandiana, and A. × 'Bert.' The chantinii had started to grow a stolon, but after an inch and a half of growth, it had stopped and showed no change after several months. A. × 'Bert' had very poor coloring and had made no growth for months. A. orlandiana had developed an offset, which I had left on the mother plant for ten months before it was large enough to remove.
Here is what I did. Taking a piece of ripe banana skin, I diced it into cubes about the size of a small pea. I dropped three of these cubes in the tank of each plant. They floated on the water for a while and then sank to the bottom.
About three weeks later this is what happened. The stolon on A. chantinii had started to grow and now has become a strong offset. A. × 'Bert' now has a beautiful color and is growing a new leaf. A. orlandiana is rapidly growing another offset.
Two months later I put three more cubes into each tank. If these plants show signs of blooming, you will really hear from me.
—L. de Planque, Newark, N. J.
HARNESSING SNAIL POWEROne of the frustrations of gardening is how effectively to punish a snail! If one rants and raves, the witless critter withdraws serenely into the calm and quiet of its own private world, leaving one feeling more helpless than ever. Oh, for the power to make the culprit remorseful for the havoc wrought; and to make him cry "uncle" would be joy incarnate! Squashing him somehow confers no satisfaction, no feeling of compensation for the loss suffered—a plant devoured or a bloom destroyed requiring another twelve-month wait.
A dirty trick in anyone's book is to stab in the back one who has just rendered a service. Here follows the why and how of harnessing snail power and inducing the unwitting monster to render a favor before his execution. Those of us who grow Aechmea fasciata out of doors here in southern California have often noted that through the basic structure of the flower cone remains sound, the beauty of it is usually marred by the dead flowers which mildew from winter rains or from the humidity resulting from prolonged winter precipitation. Here the flower head itself will last outdoors a good eight months, but generally in an unattractive condition because of the black spotting.
Note was made that in a group of Aechmea fasciata cones one was conspicuously bright and pleasing. Closer observation revealed that a snail had visited it during the night and consumed the dead blossoms, which had become moistened the day before. Some of the scurf also had been eaten. No damage was done to the plant itself, but this particular cone remained conspicuously clean and pink throughout the winter.
One can easily enough arrange with malice aforethought to have this accomplished by restricting a snail in a plastic bag capped over the inflorescence and securing it. This is an effective method where one has a number of plants and has no time for hand trimming.
—William Drysdale, Riverside, Calif.
RED-TIPPED LEAVESThe phenomenon of red-tipped leaves probably reaches its greatest development in Neoregelia spectabilis. Red-tipped leaves are also found in N. marmorata, N. zonatus, N. ampullacea, N. cruenta, and even in Hohenbergia stellata in strong light. What causes the red tips? The easy and pat answer is that the red tips result from a concentration of the red plant pigments called anthocyanins in the tips of the leaves. My college text, Plant Physiology, by Meyer and Anderson, states that hereditary factors, a high concentration of simple sugars (which on condensation form the anthocyanins), light, temperature, and drought influence the production of anthocyanins. Increased light is definitely a factor in the appearance of red tips in Hohenbergia stellata. But how explain the red tips in Neoregelia spectabilis, which are present in practically any light intensity? Apparently heredity is a factor here, but what mechanism is involved? Is it that the tips of this plant are so constructed that simple sugars accumulate there and then are condensed to anthocyanins?
Close examination of the leaf tips would seem to reveal some evidence of partial dehydration. The fibrous vascular tissue stands out in sharp relief against the surrounding sunken tissue. Dehydration of leaf tips in some plants, as in Dracaena marginata, goes so far as to cause tip die-back. While not proceeding this far in N. spectabilis, I believe that the partial dehydration of the tips would favor anthocyanin formation by slowing translocation of sugars from the tips; then, too, deficiency of water in the tissues favor pigment formation.
The attractiveness of the red tips to insects, in their role as pollinating agents, and natural selection by this means, would tend to perpetuate the red-tipped forms rather than the undistinguished plain-tipped forms.
—J. A. Stephens, Sebring, Fla.
The Bromeliad Society of Broward County Fort Lauderdale, Florida, consists of a serious group of bromeliad growers. Under the leadership of the president, Miss Irma Gall, the members are planning a study for the identification of Aechmea and the pollination and growing of seedlings of this species. Mr. Ralph Davis, who has done much work along this line, will lead the discussion.
Our congratulations go to the newest affiliated society of the Bromeliad Society—the San Diego Bromeliad Society, San Diego, California, of which Cleoves Hardin is President. This is a very enthusiastic group, living in an area most conducive to growing bromels outdoors. Those residing in this section and desiring to attend meetings should get in touch with Mr. Hardin, at 9209 Harness, Spring Valley.
Many inquiries have been received about Robert Wilson's second volume on his work on bromeliads. He writes: "About Volume 2 of Bromeliads in Cultivation, we could write a book on the problems that have ensued since we first had the idea to do something in book form on bromeliads. There are stacks of notes all ready, but nevertheless much needs to be done to tie everything together for Volume 2. Perhaps we can tackle these notes some time this year."
Bromeliads have made their appearance in spring shows throughout the United States—from New York to Hawaii. In Honolulu, the bromeliad exhibit won the prize for the best display in the All Island Flower Show put on by the Pacific Orchid Society in March. Mrs. Frances M. Thompson (whose flower arrangements at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel are known the world over) and Howard Yamamoto (who probably has done more than any other single individual to promote interest in bromeliads in the Islands) were responsible for the beautiful exhibit, which covered an area 32 feet long. The bromeliads were grouped around a reflection pool. Miss Beatrice Krauss of the Pineapple Research contributed many miniature pineapple, which added greatly to the effectiveness of the exhibit.
The affiliated society in New York City as usual walked away with all the honors at the annual International Flower Show held in the Coliseum. The naturalistic setting was the work of the president, Dr. George Milstein. Those who received prizes were Sig Sussman, Herb Plever, Marlene Robinson, Fred Henning, and Tony Mina. Dr. Milstein received a large silver bowl as his award for the best non-competitive display by an amateur.
In California, the Bromeliad Society of Orange County had a noteworthy display at the annual Fern and Shade Plants Show in Pomona. Fritz Kubisch made a special trip to Mexico to bring back Tillandsias in bloom for his exhibit. Probably there has never been a finer exhibit of flowering Mexican Tillandsias as this one by the indomitable Fritz, who had made two trips to Mexico for the sole purpose of collecting bromeliads. His first trip in 1967 ended in catastrophe, for his entire load of bromeliads was frozen while en route home, but his second trip was a complete success, as he did not lose a single plant. Also prominent in the same show was the splendid exhibit put on by the Bromeliad Society of Orange County, of which Kelsey Williams is president. The exhibit won second place.
Although still a small group the Delaware Valley Bromeliad Society does not lack for enthusiasm. Its exhibit at the Philadelphia Spring Flower Show was awarded a special bronze medal by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The display consisted of a 12 x 12 foot lath house, minus the front, fashioned after the Paul Whippo lath house that was pictured in the March—April issue of this bulletin. Against a backdrop of choice Tillandsias were many fine specimen plants. Paul Whippo, Peter Cox, Paul Buckman, and Betty Barry created the exhibit.
Word has been received from the Bromeliad Society of La Ballona Valley, Culver City, California, that this group is planning to stage an all-bromeliad show, entitled "The World of Bromeliads" on April 27 and 28, 1968. The show will be competitive and members from all over are invited to participate. For further information, write to the Bromeliad Society of La Ballona Valley, P. O. Box 444, Culver City, California 90230.
It is always with regret when we learn that one of our charter members must resign from the Bromeliad Society. A letter has just been received from J. A. Schuurman of Brisbane, Australia, in which he says that because he is retiring he must say good-by to his fellow members. We wish him many years of pleasure among his beloved plants.
P. RAULINO REITZ
|Canistrum cyathiforme (Veil.) Mez|
PIPHYTIC OR TERRESTRIAL PLANT with broadly linear leaves, 0.4-0.8 meters long, 65 mm wide, spotted with dark green, the marginal spines small but the terminal one inrolled from the blade and stout. Inflorescence elevated on a prominent scape, many-flowered; outer bracts rigid, purplish-green with strong marginal spines; floral bracts inconspicuous with terminal spines; flowers yellow, 65 mm long; sepals free; petals 45 mm long.
Brazil, states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Parana, and Santa Catarina. Plant very easily cultivated and showy even without flowers.
|Quesnelia imbricata L. B. Smith|
Rupicolous or epiphytic plant to 0.5 meters high, the few leaves in a subcylindric rosette, 45 cm long, 3-4 cm wide, finely spinose, rounded to a small point at apex. Inflorescence simple, subdense, on a more or less curved white-lanate scape; scape-bracts entire, roseate; floral bracts membranaceous, exceeded by the sepals; flowers sessile, suberect; sepals membranaceous, roseate; petals red.
Brazil, states of Parana and Santa Catarina. Inflorescence very showy but of short duration. Plant difficult to cultivate.
THE NATIVE PINEAPPLES OF BRAZILN THE AUGUST 3, 1966 ISSUE of Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazilian periodical, appeared this article by E. J. Giacomelli:
"Our wild pineapples have many applications. Aside from the good strong fiber provided by their leaves, they may be planted as an effective living fence around fields. In landscaping they can be used for their ornamental qualities, especially the variety tricolor of Ananas bracteatus, which has showy striped leaves, green in the middle, red and yellow on the margins. Ananas ananassoides is particularly suitable as a house plant cultivated in individual containers. It is the replica of a real pineapple on a reduced scale. For crossing with cultivated varieties the wild pineapples represent an important item.
"Our so-called wild pineapples belong in the genus Ananas, with the exception of "gravatá-de-rêde" (webbing bromel), which is a Pseudananas.
"Ananas ananassoides, our ananás-do-compo"' (field pineapple) is very common on the plains in the State of Sao Paulo. Like the indaiá-palm it indicates barren soil. Its leaves are stiff and narrow, curved and armed with fine but embarrassing spines; up to 1 m long, 2.5 cm wide. The fiber is considered to be as strong as that of caroa (Neoglaziovia). The fruit is 10 cm. high by 5cm wide, rather fibrous and full of seeds. The crown is as long as the fruit or even longer.
"Ananas erectifolius" (erect leaf pineapple) has a smaller fruit than that of Ananas ananassoides, only 6 by 4 cm. On top sits a well-developed crown surrounded by smaller ones. The leaves are about 1 m long and stand up almost straight. The margins are nearly spineless but their tip ends in a strong spike. The fiber is considered of excellent quality, much appreciated by the Indians of the Amazon. It does well in a moist climate. There is also a purple-leaved variety of this species.
"Ananas bracteatus, our ananás-do-mato" (underbrush-pineapple) has very long bracts on its fruit. The leaves are over 1.5 m long, and have strong spines on their edges. In the variety called "red underbrush-pineapple" the ripe fruit has the same bright-red hue of the flowering cone. It is 22 - 25 cm long by 10 to 12 cm wide and has no seeds.
"Ananas fritzmuelleri, our "ananas-silvestre," has strong spines like Ananas bracteatus and Ananas ananassoides on its leaf-margins, but the direction of the spines differs. On the lower part of the leaf the spines point downward while the rest points towards the tip of the leaf as do all the spines in A. bracteatus and A. ananassoides. It lives along the coast in the southern part of Brazil and is very hardy. The fruit is 20 cm long by 10 cm wide, has many long bracts and a multiple crown. It produces many offshoots. The leaves are 2 m long."
|Ananas cayenne albo striata|
The variegated form of the pineapple is one of the most decorative of the bromeliad family and has been used for years on the Continent as a container plant. It is a highly sought-after item, but has always remained scarce and expensive.
Pictured above is a form called Ananas Cayenne albo striata by Mr. Marcel Lecoufle of France. He obtained his original plants in 1957 from a pineapple grower living on the Ivory Coast of Africa, who grew these plants in the front of his house. Mr. Lecoufle is of the opinion that this is a superior form and that it will be commercialized some day in the near future. It is characterized by white stripes along the leaves on both sides and many narrow stripes near the center of the leaves. The leaves are comparatively spineless.
Mr. Lecoufle believes this variety is different from the ones growing in the United States under the name of Ananas cayenne variegata, which have the center of the leaf white or rather cream.
ADDA ABENDROTHRIENDS OF MINE, WHO LIVE out in the country near the town of Itu in the state of Sao Paulo, one time sent me samples of Tillandsias that grow wild in their vicinity. Among them was a young plant that at first appeared to be T. stricta. When it bloomed a year later, though, its single stalk bearing only a few white flowers hooded in ample green bracts, showed it to be another species. The size of the plant was then that of a well-developed T. stricta. Searching through notes and keys and literature in general, I guessed it to be T. pohliana. I found little mention of it in papers consulted. Dr. R. Oeser in Germany, to whom I wrote about my new acquaintance, said that this might be the correct identification. Although the plant was not outstanding, I thought the densely scaled leaves and the green and white flower-stalk would make an effective contrast with bromels that have colorful leaves, so I decided to collect a few seeds, send them on to the Society, and make a suggestion in that connection. My plant not having set seed, I asked my friends to send me more specimens.
A few days ago a parcel arrived containing among other plants five well-grown pohlianas, much larger than the previous ones, with immature seed pods. Closer inspection revealed a startling novelty in the overall pattern of he rosette of each specimen. Pohliana's leaf assembly is shaped like a heart, or rather like the image, or symbol, commonly used to depict a human heart. The outline is perfect, although barely suggested by the tips of the leaves.
Each leaf has the exact length required to complete the contour, two rounds at the top tapering into a fine point below, a nice plump heart 45 cm. wide. The height of the rosette in the center is 7 cm. The plant has about 60 leaves, the longest 30-33 cm by 19 mm wide at the base. The ends are very thin. The texture is thick but not stiff, strong enough to hold the leaves in their inherent pattern. The blades are crosswise concave and slightly curved one way or another. Dense white scales cover the plant; there is only a. hint of green in the middle of the rosette. The older leaves on my new plants are brownish, ingrained with country dust, so typical of the Brazilian interior. My first plants have lost the trace of brown. The two-waved spike in the new plants is 39 cm long, clothed in leaf-like scape bracts, the tip of each just long enough to reach the outline of the heart. The green flowerhead now rests on the tip of the heart. In bloom it stands out a little. The natural position of the rosette is vertical.
While I was admiring this odd piece of vegetable craftsmanship, I wondered why I had not noticed anything like it in my first plant, except that the leaf tips all occupied a uniform level. Then and there I made an inspection, and what did I find in the largest of the first set of plants? A heart in the making! The plant is not yet fully grown, but I can see it is actively engaged in building the heart. Most of the leaves point up in a tubular tuft; the tuft is beginning to split at the top to make the upper lobes, while a few of the outer leaves have turned back (within the last three weeks) to lay out the tip. I know this process of changing leaf posture for I have watched it in another species of Tillandsia. The folding-back of the outer leaves is done one by one, each leaf taking several days to accomplish the feat. In the present instance I would have noticed what was going on sooner or later anyway.
The pohlianas received come from trees. One has its root system sunk in a piece of bark. In others the mass of roots spreads in a smooth concave "foot." One holds on to a thin, dry bough. The plants look as if they like the open. The climate on the Sao Paulo plateau is dry during the cooler season with only occasional rain. Summer is the rainy period. In early life pohlianas develop like all our narrow-leaved Tillandsias. Soon the short stem turns down while the leaves keep growing up. Individual leaves seem to know just when and where to turn when their time comes to shape the heart.
The Society is proud to be able to offer to its members an abridged version of this book in English. Our thanks go to Mr. Richter, who gave us his approval for the translation, and to Mrs. Adda Abendroth, our stalwart trustee from Brazil, who offered to do the tremendous job of rendering the German into English. A section of the book will appear in each of the issues of the Bulletin.
(The book in its original form may be purchased from E. A. Menninger, the Flowering Tree Man, Stuart, Florida.)
(Translated by Adda Abendroth, Teresopolis, Brazil)
BromeliaceaeHAT BROMELIADS ARE TRULY the house plants of today and of tomorrow as well is the thesis which I intend to justify in the course of this book. That this is not my idea alone can be evidenced by the growing number of bromeliad enthusiasts throughout the world. Even in areas where bromeliads were considered mere "parasitos" in the past, they are now coming into their own. A friend of mine living in Brazil writes that in the large South American cities well-groomed bromeliads of outstanding species are in demand and fetch reasonably good prices.
The desire for rare plants is a natural outcome of the demand of modern times. Our rising standard of living makes us wish for plants around us everywhere: in the home, in the office, in the club, in places of entertainment, in all of our daily life. Ornamental foliage and flowering plants put a piece of nature into our city life, and acquiring a bromeliad is truly owning a fragment of tropical nature.
Such plants, of course, should be of a kind suitable for house cultivation. They should be able to withstand dry air, for dry air is common since homes are now equipped with central heating system or some other kind of indirect heating that automatically makes for dry air. Too, house ornamentals should not require time-consuming care; the housewife has no spare time nowadays. Bromels answer these requirements.
As distance shrinks under the impact of air transportation, humans give in to their yearning for plants coming from lands no longer too far away, but, nevertheless, are still the exotic lands of their dreams. It is the call of distance that begs and charms. To share one's home with tropical animals is difficult; in comparison the cultivation of tropical plants is easy.
The simplest forms of bromels, the Billbergias, are among the hardiest of house-plants. They are green all the time and look nice even when not in bloom. It is typical of bromeliads not to wither away in winter as many other plants do or remain unsightly for long periods. For instance, if you get a bromel that is not in spike, or if you have an offshoot sprouting after the mother plant has bloomed, yours is still a good looking plant, provided you can give it an appropriate and minimum care. Even Billbergia nutans, the most common of all, has charm in its upright posture of narrow, hard leaves. The crown comes with the spike of pink bracts surrounding the dainty flowers. Billbergias require but little care. A number of them are highly decorative even when not in flower and far surpass commoner foliage plants in hardiness. As long as water is present in the leaf axils, watering is not important; the earth in the pot may get dry occasionally without any harm to the plant. However, such neglect should not be constant and permanent. There are some Billbergias that have colorful leaves. They need a little more attention, but are very beautiful and suitable for keeping in a room. Theirs is the future; they are still rare these days but greatly worth while.
The many advantages of the Billbergias fully make up for the short life of the flower spike. The colors are surprising. Counting the span from the first appearance of bud to ultimate fading of the inflorescence, the plants offer several weeks of pleasure which compares favorably with other plants.
Perhaps the best of bromeliads is Aechmea fasciata, nowadays offered for sale nearly everywhere. It is fascinating to watch the development of the spike of this plant from its very beginning. Usually plants are bought when the spike is in progress, which is missing part of the show. It is better to select a specimen in which the spike barely issues from the leaves. The growth is slow, but it is a source of daily pleasure. Enthusiasm grows as the head rises, spreading its powder-pink spiny bracts disclosing the pale blue flowers that turn red the following day. The entire torch, pink, blue, and red, is most exotic. As individual corollas become unsightly, pull them out or cut them off with a pair of scissors. The torch remains in color for months. Neoregelia species announce their readiness to flower by producing bright color on their inner leaves. Like the rising sun it starts with a pale red hue getting stronger all the time. When the flowers are ready to open, the heart-leaves take on an intense red glow. It is the plant's way to attract insects and birds to carry out pollination.
Bromeliads possess an extraordinary capacity to win in the battle for life. Certain species of the genus Tillandsia arouse our admiration as we come to understand the ingenuity with which they manage to adapt to difficult conditions in their homeland. If we wish to cultivate such plants, we must understand their normal functioning in order to be able, to give them what they need. Some species have very few roots, or no roots at all, which means they depend entirely on the moisture in the air to be absorbed by their scales. To grow these plants in our home requires a terrarium or a window-case. Reproduction of the epiphytic way of life is possible in a room if you select the right kind of plants. A certain amount of study, however, is necessary. A plant cannot talk to a human and say what it needs. To learn merely from observation is a hard task for a beginner. Disappointments may cause disillusion. Because of the great number of species it is not easy to select the kind best suited for what you can offer. This book is intended to help and advise.
HOME AND DISTANCEIn perpetual change lies the continuity of living Nature — in her nothing is more constant than change. Immense is the sequence of generations of humans, of animals, and of plants. If we look at a plant and do not limit our contemplation to its physical aspect, we perform not only a review that loses itself in what has been, but also make an inquiry into its future development. The formation of a new species is not a settled thing. Incessantly, in perfect constancy, generation follows generation, apparently stable and permanent in the picture of its characteristics. But that is an appearance that misleads. Each species produces mutations, spontaneous deviations from its standard pattern, but this happens over long periods. We humans generally consider our own life-span as a measure of time, but that term is far too small to permit proper evaluation of the evolution of species. Changes take place over a much longer period, depending on the way of life of the plant under consideration. Thus we cannot know much as we look into the future; we know nothing of the eventual end of all evolution. Such a look is like a glance into the immensity of the universe.
The plants in our homeland are known: they have been studied and classified. Plants that come from far away are a different matter. They confront us with a picture that is hazy; time and again we realize that our knowledge concerning them contains many gaps. This is natural because some regions of our earth have not yet been completely explored botanically so that surprises in the way of new finds cannot be excluded. Also simultaneous discovery and denomination by more than one scientist in different places have sometimes caused confusion in nomenclature.
Therefore it seems risky to write about plants, such as the Bromeliaceae, the global picture of which is not yet totally clarified. The wealth of forms in the bromeliad family is so great that it almost confounds even the specialist. It contains giants and dwarfs, definite contrasts, and again others are so much alike that only a well-trained eye can tell one from the other when it is not in bloom.
Dominant is, of course, the effect of color and shape of the flowers. Also here is much to choose from, enough to satisfy almost any taste. The flower arrangement in the bromeliaceae is extraordinary. In them we do not find the orthodox flower pattern, mostly it is a combination of many flowers into an inflorescence, the whole of which produces the color effect.
I am writing this introduction while on vacation on the Isle of Ruegen. As I lay on the beach yesterday, casually watching the play of the clouds overhead. I suddenly noticed the color scale of the spectrum on the rim of a cloud crossing the sun, filtered through my sun glasses. It was a continuous transition of colors, reminding me of the colors of bromeliads. Bromels have all the colors of the spectrum, but they are distributed in a peculiar way. While individual corollas are generally white, greenish white, or yellow with only a slight difference in a shade, the full color effect is due to the stalk or to large bracts or to a special short leaves in the heart of the rosette. The species that have a colorful heart often display a wonderful transition in the area where the tint blends with the natural green of the leaf blades. The color may be further enhanced in species where the blades are striped and on blades that get bronzed by the sun. This latter exhibit a noble patina, green or gray undertones veiled by red, brown, or black, depending on the aptitude of the tissues to respond to stronger or lesser caresses by the sun. There is no fixed rule. Some species cannot stand sunlight at all, getting burned instead of changing their color. More about this later.
What so fascinates people living in temperate zones is the lure of the tropics, a view of the tropical landscape arising in the imagination of those who occupy themselves with these plants. The tropics mean to us a world full of color, everlasting blue sky and sunshine, people having a southerly trend of mind, strange animals, wonderful plants, flowers, fruit. This is the picture that rises in our mind. But where there is light, there is also shadow. The fierce battle of survival rages everywhere. Far be it from me to indulge in lyric enchantment. Nevertheless, bromels, like other tropical plants, bear a halo of sunshine, or a touch of sombre virgin forest. They tell of the wuthering heights of the Chilean Andes, of the Argentine's rocky plains, of endless sandy deserts in Peru. Let us look at Brazil: the barren sertao is a bromeliad home like the rain forest along the coast. Majestic is the show. Above it all, is the fire of the sun, intense or subdued, whatever site or altitude may dictate. Some bromeliads get sprays of Atlantic foam, others far out in the interior of the country thirst for the night's scarce dew. Colombia and Venezuela call to mind the hot breath of the lowlands along the Magdalena River, but also the cold winds in the "Tierra Fria," the cold zone. The land bridge connecting South and North America shelters uncounted bromeliads; wondrous and colorful is the picture of its plants, its fauna, and its people. Steep "barrancas" in Mexico hold large patches of Tillandsias, many feet wide. In other spots, in the forests of Chiapas, grow wonderful bromeliads reflecting their extraordinary surroundings. We derive a certain amount of solace from this knowledge; it helps us to live through long days of gray and cold in our northern climate, the opposite of warmth and light of which bromeliads are a symbol. Most people like to have around them at least a glimpse of the sunny paradise they can't enjoy first hand.
I hope this book will enable my readers to visualize the plants described as much as the far away colorful distance that is their home.
VRIESEA FLAMMEAThis charming small Vriesea was first noted by Dr. Lyman B. Smith in Brazil in 1941. It is a robust grower soon forming a good-sized clump even in a small container. Like several other species in this genus, it is a shy bloomer unless it can be grown in this manner. The plant can be raised outdoors in the milder regions of southern California.
The species flammea is not too often found in collections; what is usually noted is the hybrid which was first described, by Duval in 1902 in the Revue Horticole. This cross is (× vangeertii) × Jonghei. From a compact medium-sized rosette of soft lettuce-green leaves rises a tall brilliant red flattened spike. In no way does it resemble the species bearing the same name.
It seems that the name flammea has caused some confusion in the past. On the cover of the Bromeliad Society Bulletin, Vol. IV, No. 3, is pictured a Vriesea with a beautiful branched flower stalk bearing the name of Vriesea × 'flammea'. In Vol. XI, No. 4, Charles Chevalier disclosed that this name was given very obviously in error and that the Vriesea with the branched inflorescence should be named Vriesea × van ackeri.