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
HOLIDAY GREETINGS!There is probably no more appropriate way to express the warm, friendly feelings engendered by the Christmas season than by using the pineapple—long a symbol of friendship and hospitality. It is for this reason that one sees the pineapple used so often as household decoration.
Only in Hawaii could pineapples be used so lavishly in a table arrangement as shown above. Those pictured here are of course miniatures, supplied in this instance by the Pineapple Experiment Station in Oahu. The arrangement is the creation of Mrs. Frances Thompson, one of the leading floral arrangers in the Islands. It is she who makes the outstanding arrangements in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, always an attraction to visitors from the mainland.
DAVID BARRY, JR.N RECEIPT OF SHIPMENTS of bromeliads that have become excessively dry during transit, make a solution of two level tablespoons of sugar (any type of sugar) and one level teaspoon of a balanced fertilizer (dry or liquid) to a gallon of water. Immerse the plants in this solution for an hour before potting them. The normal water content of the leaves will be restored and the sugar-fertilizer will be absorbed through the leafage to stimulate the plants at a time when their feeding roots are dead.
This treatment is useful for all kinds of plants and cuttings that have become dry. The fibrous network of roots attached to the plant may be extensive and thus appear reassuring. But, before the root system can take in food for the plant, feeding roots must be formed again, as these fine, terminal hairs are quickly killed by exposure to air.
On the subject of helping the plant recreate its feeding roots, the essential treatment here is to use a well-aerated, loose, open, fibrous potting medium that will permit oxygen to reach the roots. A heavy dense medium can suffocate a plant at this time, although it might get along nicely in such a medium later, after the feeding roots have been reformed. This last generality concerns plants that are not epiphytes, although some kinds of bromeliads, such as Vriesea splendens, can practically live in a bog
THE PICTURE ON THE COVERThis beautiful hybrid Vriesea was among the first to be officially registered by The Bromeliad Society. It is a hybrid of Walter Richter of Crimmitschau, Germany, who is the leading figure in the world today carrying on the tradition of the older horticulturists who gave us so many handsome hybrids.
Vriesea × 'Flamme' is a cross between V. barilletii and V. × 'Vigeri.' It was made in 1954, the first flowering occurring in 1957. No description of this handsome bromeliad is necessary—the splendid photo by Mr. Richter speaks for itself. This hybrid is not to be confused with the hybrid made by Duval in 1902 called V. × 'Flammea'.
Photographs of other hybrids of note which are being registered with the Society will appear in the Bulletin from time to time.
THOMAS E. SEUSS
(From the Bulletin of the Bromeliad Society of South Florida)
OST BROMELIAD SUCKERS, offshoots, pups, or whatever you prefer to call them, should be started in a 4-inch pot. Extremely large plants like Bromelia balansae, Hohenbergia stellata, or any other with a very large base should be put into a 6-inch pot.
If the pup is the type that develops on a long stolen, cut it about one inch from the base of the pup. Usually the pup will show a slight swelling at the base which identifies the point from which to measure in order to make the cut. After the pup is cut from the mother plant, it should be left to dry and harden for at least 48 hours before being potted. If the pup is large enough to have developed its own roots, it should be potted immediately.
To obtain the maximum number of pups from your favorite bromeliad, remove them when they are about one-fourth the size of the adult plant. If the pup is allowed to grow too large it will become crowded, thereby affecting its future shape.
The type of pot used depends on what you intend to do with the plant as it matures. Plastic pots have the following advantages: offer excellent drainage, remain clean, stack and store easily. When they are washed in any detergent, they look like new. The appearance of the pot is important if you intend to show or sell the plant. It is just common sense to use clean pots; however, I have never had a single case of rot or fungus from using pots that had not been cleaned. These pots serve well on a bench and are ideal for wire type racks where the lip will be supported by the wire. The light weight of the pot will keep the wire from sagging. The lack of weight is advantageous in shipping.
The disadvantages of plastic pots are their lack of weight which require weights to keep the plant from tipping over, the inability to use rhizome clips to anchor the plant in the pot, and the usual wire pot hangers will not be effective on the thin plastic lip.
The potting material seems to have but one basic requirement—drainage. Bromeliads will grow well in bark, fern root, tree fern, leaves or other mulch, peat, rocks, sand, charcoal, marbles, or any combination. Years ago some of the early experts recommended equal parts of peat, perlite, and sand. I am still using the mix. Other growers seem to be doing well with every new combination of products known to the plant world. I prefer the sand, peat, perlite mix because it is essentially a dry mix. It is easy to lose bromeliads from soggy conditions. When a bromeliad starts to rot, you have lost a plant. A dry condition will result in only a few curled leaves. This mix is also economical. It packs well and keeps the new pup tight and upright.
Every new addition to your collection should be repotted immediately. If every plant in your collection is potted with the same drainage and in the same mix, they will generally require the same amount of water. This will enable you to place the plant in any area of your yard or greenhouse and water evenly without any fear of rotting some and drying out others.
LYMAN B. SMITHS I FIRST HEARD THE STORY, the victim of the anecdote was Asa Gray, but if I were a better biblical student, I could probably cite a verse where Adam said it to Cain. Anyway the story runs that some amateur brought a living plant to Asa Gray for identification, whereupon the great botanist told him to dry it first if he wished to have it named.
Amateurs who necessarily deal almost wholly with living plants consider this a very apt characterization of the professional delving through the old hay of an herbarium and the musty tomes of its library. They are right too, so far as they go, but they do not go all the way. For instance, it would be wonderful to have a living specimen in full bloom of every species of bromeliad to help one make identifications. It would be heavenly, also it would be astronomically impossible on the question of space alone.
"Then why not just have a color photo of each species?" says the camera fan. Now nobody can deny that a color photo can be a tremendous help, especially with ornamental species, but there comes a time when you need to know some intimate details like the shape of the unrolled sepal, the appendage on the petal, the form of the pollen or even the structure of the stomata—and to date nobody has discovered how to dissect a photograph to observe these things.
So it comes back to the dried pressed specimen that is but a sorry reminder of its former living glory, but that combines ready availability with minimum space requirements. However, there is still more basic reason for using the dried specimen. Nowadays, the number of known species of plants is so tremendous that we have a very detailed and exact system for distinguishing them. This need has given rise to the type system, a sort of botanical bureau of standards, where the first specimen described in a species is the type or standard for the species and all subsequent specimens can bear that name only if they agree closely with that type. Thus the type has to be a dried specimen, or if on rare occasions it is an illustration it must be accompanied by details of the flower.
In his own interest, however, the professional botanist must struggle to bridge the gap and correlate the characters shown by living and dried specimens of the same species. This can be quite confusing at times and I have strong memories of visits with Mulford Foster, when he would lead me through his bromels and ask "Now what would you call this one?"—then twist the knife when I gave up by saying "That is your new species so and so". Another time, the spirit of Asa Gray must have been very close when I received a fresh specimen of bromeliad from Mr. Teuscher of the Montreal Botanic Garden. Its floral bracts clung closely together like the shingles on a roof and its other characters combined in a picture that was no match for anything I knew. Before describing it as a new species, I put it in press to dry and preserve it. A few days later, I took it out in the condition shown in the figure above and immediately recognized it as Vriesea patula that draws its specific name from its outcurving floral bracts, a character produced by drying. In short: It was dry—I could name it.
—Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
ADDA ABENDROTHPANISH MOSS IS FAIRLY COMMON in our area. It grows on old trees in gardens. In the wilds it hangs in long tresses from trees along brooklets out in the country.
As it is a member of the bromeliad family, I have included it in my note-taking and registered a few things that happened to strike my fancy. There is really nothing new; the notes are just a collection of oddities. In vain, I have tried to locate someone who is interested in this genus and who might help me learn more about it.
Around Teresopolis I have located—for sure—two different forms of Tillandsia usneoides. Less sure I am about a third, somewhat larger form. Our commonest form has curls about 2.5 cm in diameter and blooms in southern spring from October to November. A smaller form, much rarer, has curls only about 1 cm wide, shorter tresses, and smaller, thread-like leaves. Its flowers are smaller than in the "common" form and come in southern fall, in February. The third form is about one-third larger than the common one and is very rare. It looks hairy because its scales have long, tapering outer cells that stand up. The "common" form has shorter hairs, the cells being hardly widened at the base. In the small form the scales mostly come in a continuous layer.
I did not get my information about T. usneoides in the United States, but from members in Florida who sent me some strands. Two samples succumbed, but a third, this time coming from New Orleans, has survived five years. It pined away in half shade, but it has improved after I gave it more exposure to wind and sun about a year ago. It has tight curls, tighter than our small one, and is much whiter. It has feathery outer cells on its scales, standing up. It has not bloomed for me.
I have been wondering why American pictures I have seen of Spanish moss show plants having more or less straight leaves and stalks. Ours grow in graceful curves. A few days ago I found a clue. Apparently something in the weather is responsible. Up to May of this year we had unusually heavy rain; now we are entering the dry period. It is cold—55 to 70 degrees. The air is very clear. The short sunlight hours call forth red in many plants, and also on the cheeks of some humans. The Tillandsia curls are tightening. After ten days of wonderful weather, a cold wave came from the south bringing two days of heavy rain, not just a make-believe sprinkle as would be normal for this time of year. After the rain the usneoides looked entirely different from a few days back; now they looked as if they had stepped out of an American picture. All their stalks and leaves were nearly straight. The one from Louisiana stretched only its newest leaves, sideways in two graceful waves. With the return of sunshine the plants slowly tighten up again.
An attempt to find out how many branches a T. usneoides strand puts out in one season was unsuccessful. I had marked different strands with a bit of thread of different colors, but the growing season coincides with the house cleaning in sparrow land; the birds make use of the Spanish moss and dragged my plants away.
Other birds also like the material for building their nests. One black beauty weaves a long bag exclusively from T. usneoides skeleton. How he comes by it is a puzzle. The threads in the nest are black and shiny and look like fresh material. I never succeeded in scraping the fuzz off the "bone" of living strands; it is too soft. Dead strands lose their scales and soon decay. Ornithologists who don't know plants say the nests are made of horsehair. Some horsehair is no doubt used in nests here, but so is Tillandsia skeleton. The little even-spaced knots in the black "hair," which mark the beginning of a new shoot, are the trademark of T. usneoides.
—Teresopolis RJ, Brazil.
If they have not already done so, all members are urged to get their renewal in to Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliff Drive, Los Angeles, California 90026, immediately so as not to miss the first issue of the new year. Room is still available for those commercial members who wish to be listed in The Buyer's Directory.
Dues for 1968 will remain unchanged. Annual—$5.00, Sustaining—$7.50, Fellowship—$15.00, and Commercial with listing—$15.00.
WILLIAM S. CATEWe had rather mixed reactions last year (1966) as to the use of Omaflora to encourage flowering of our bromeliads. We used a mixture of one teaspoon of Omaflora to one gallon of water and filled the cups of a number of our reluctant bloomers. We had four types of reactions: none, heart or center died, inflorescence aborted, inflorescence was as good or better than normal for the plant. Following is a breakdown of the results:
1—Smaller than normal bloom
|Aechmea caudata var. variegata||
3—Very large bloom
1—Aborted bloom (a large off-shoot accidentally treated)
|Aechmea bromeliifolia var. rubra||
2—Aborted bloom (bloom only half way from base
of cup to top of leaf whorl and very small)
|Portea petropolitana var. extensa||
1—A stalk developed out of center topped
by a new plant—since removed and growing
|Quesnelia species (Q. arvensis?)||
10—Good large blooms
|Elmer P. Lenz|
|Aechmea caudata var. variegata—treated plant had bloom twice the size of normal plant|
When blooms did result, the time from treatment to first sign of inflorescence was from two to three months. All of the plants were outside under fifty percent saran shade, except for Guzmania berteroniana, which was in the greenhouse.
We conclude that in some cases Omaflora can be helpful. However, in others the results are less than beneficial. The Quesnelia and Aechmea caudata var. variegata reacted very well. One word of caution as to the use of this chemical—The plants should be fully mature before being treated.
J. A. STEPHENSTREASURE TROVE OF RARE PLANTS, some of them requiring special attention, others just different, such is the commercial nursery known as, Fantastic Gardens. I was employed there for a year when the establishment was still owned by Bob and Catherine Wilson. It was a year in which I not only learned the idiosyncrasies of the lesser known ornamental plants, but also came to appreciate the forthrightness and independent spirit of my employers.
Bob was often impatient (and had a right to be) with customers who, after loading their station wagons with expensive plants, were inclined to dismiss casually the cultural do's and don't's carefully promulgated by the Wilsons.
The nursery consists of 3½ acres on the outskirts of South Miami. The place on 67th Avenue is now nearly hidden in a residential area that has spacious homes with swimming pools on acre lots. It was "way out" in the country, though, when the Wilsons purchased their acreage. The driveway through the nursery, lined on one side by the green houses and on the other by the lathhouses, is partially shaded by an alley of large cecropia trees.
Many people come just to browse among the fascinating plants. There is always something new and interesting coming into full beauty. Children are tolerated only under the strict control of their parents. There was a sign in the office that said, "Please leave your shoplifting bags here." There are too many plants from which a mere cutting is worth the taxi fare all the way from Miami.
The whole endeavor started in 1936 as a cactus nursery and continued as such until World War II. Growing cacti in Miami would seem to be anomalous where there are so many other plants you can grow there. But cacti are, after all, low-maintenance plants requiring little care and no water at all along the lower east coast of Florida; in fact, they get entirely too much during the summer monsoons and occasional hurricanes.
Returning to the nursery after the war, the Wilsons decided to collect from world-wide sources, propagate and offer for sale tropical foliage and flowering plants, including bromeliads, the kinds that could be seen only in the world's leading conservatories. The reputation of Fantastic Gardens as a repository and commercial source of unusual plants that were not available elsewhere was gradually built up during the following years. The Wilsons' collections of gesneriads, aroids (especially the alocasias and dieffenbachias), rhipsalis, gingers, ornamental bananas, ferns, peperomias, commeliads, rare orchids, and, of course, bromeliads were unusually complete.
Fantastic Gardens has four greenhouses. Some of the rare tropical plants the Wilsons collected would not tolerate the dips to the low thirties that occur with some degree of regularity in January and February in the Miami suburbs. The bulk of the plants, however, which can take a little chill, are housed in extensive slat or saran houses which were erected as the need arose. In addition many plants for local landscaping are grown in containers in the open. Bob and Catherine liked to keep a bench of African Violets in one of the greenhouses so that they could exhibit their superb growing techniques on a plant that was familiar to every housewife.
Bob had come into possession of a few bromeliads before World War II and had planted them about the Gardens. During the war he was called away and spent two years in Haiti on an experimental rubber plantation. When he came back to Florida, he found that the bromeliads in the nursery were growing despite neglect. On account of this, Bob and Catherine decided that they would make every effort to augment their bromeliad collection, and eventually it became a prominent plant family in the Gardens.
The Wilsons made several trips to Central and South America to collect bromeliads and other unusual plants, and that is when they fell in love with the highlands of Costa Rica. They returned to Costa Rica in 1963 to stay. They collected seeds of the better bromeliad species and had them sprouting all over the nursery in community pots and on tree-fern slabs. Importing plants in the old days was an exercise in futility because fumigation techniques of the Plant Quarantine were well calculated to insure nearly 100 percent kill. It is my understanding that Plant Quarantine now foregoes fumigating when inspection reveals no scale or disease and dips the plants instead. The dip, usually Malathion, is seldom lethal.
In between shepherding customers around the gardens, the Wilsons planted bromeliads on pieces of odd-shaped driftwood that is found along the Florida beaches. Each finished composition was the result of unhurried and painstaking craftsmanship. The Wilsons were most solicitous of their plants. When Bob observed that the galvanized wire of pot hangers caused leaf burn whenever it touched the bromeliad, he hit upon the idea of covering the wire with plastic tubing.
The piece de resistance of Fantastic Gardens was, and still is, at the main entrance. It is a small rockery planted with bromeliads of every description, truly an immovable feast for the bromeliad lover. In the winter months these plants revel in nearly full sun that has lost its sting and color up to show their gratitude. In the heat of the summer, a Ficus pandurata towering over the rock garden filters the rays of the sub-tropic sun. Much thought and planning went into the location and construction of this rockery. Huge flat stones, some of them slightly basin shaped, created by sedimentary action in prehistoric times, were hauled in at considerable expense from east-central Florida (they are found no where else), and placed by crane in irregular tiers on a mound of earth. Then began the task of selecting bromeliads and finding the niche for each where it would be displayed to best advantage.
Bob and Catherine's book Bromeliads in Cultivation Vol. I, which describes the species from Abromeitiella through Greigia, is a landmark in bromeliad literature. They are currently working on Vol. II, while at the same time they are setting up a scientific botanical garden specializing in epiphytic plants, together with a field station for scientists to study plants and other natural subjects in the rain forests of southern Costa Rica.
FREAK SEEDLINGSOST BROMELIAD ENTHUSIASTS have at some time or other tried their hand at growing from seed. It is expected that each seed produces a single normal seedling having one stalk. What goes wrong when a single seed out of a batch produces 4 to 6 stalks from the one crown from the one seed? These are all joined at the base and form a mass of growth which stays retarded and never grows more than a few inches high. If divided into single plants, each one of these quickly breaks out into multiples growth again. It seems impossible to make them grow into a single plant.
From a batch of Neoregelia carolinae seed, one seedling burst out into this type of growth, the rest being normal. For several years this one plant was divided up into single plants by cutting each one off and potting it singly. All but one immediately broke out into multiple suckers three inches high and these remained so, but one remained single and to our surprise grew as a single plant. It grew only to ten inches across before developing the red center and had only six leaves. We now wait offshoots from this plant to see if these will remain true or flare up into normally full-sized N. carolinae. We have named this one miniature N. carolinae minor.
—W. B. Charley, Bilpin, N. S. W., Australia.
NIDULARIUM FULGENSIn Baltimore we had a Nidularium fulgens for a decade as an attractive house plant. In all that time, however, it never bloomed, and except for one tiny seedling-like sucker which failed to develop, it produced no offsets. After our move to Florida we had it for a time in the house and then in the greenhouse; it ultimately rotted off at the base. The replacement we obtained, a smaller plant, did not seem to thrive in the greenhouse; and after being advised by a local friend that this species does better in the open, I placed it in a shady spot outdoors. Now, not many months later, it is coming into bloom. Coincidence? Maybe; but it looks as if its behavior is uncommonly dependent on the environment.
—Roger K. Taylor, Winter Garden, Florida.
TOLERANCE TO COLDOnce again we have winter with us and most of us have already made some attempt to reduce the toll of broms which will die or be severely damaged. The following are tender broms which I will look after more carefully this year.
V. splendens is the only Vriesea that succumbs in my shadehouse and I have found it much more tender than is generally realized.
Guzmanias are very tricky and all of them must have special attention.
Aechmea fasciata usually suffers some leaf damage. A. orlandiana is badly affected while A. chantinii is extremely tender. Billbergias × 'fantasia,' B. × 'Muriel Waterman, and other rarer hybrids are prone to damage.
Cryptanthus must be watched carefully because they normally like damp conditions, which with the cold can prove fatal.
Tillandsias are generally hardy and seem to suffer least of all.
—from Bromeliad Society of New Zealand News and Views
Which bromeliads stand up to a heavy and incessant rain plus frost which winter brings? From my observations over a period of three or four years, the following plants will stand up to these conditions very well indeed. All have been grown in an open rockery and in most cases were sodden when the frosts came. Aechmea recurvata and var. ortgiesii, also var. benrathii never showed a mark. A. calyculata is also a good hardy one. A. pineliana is fairly hardy. Billbergia nutans rarely marks. Not a bit hardy are Neoregelia concentrica var. plutonis, A. pineliana var. minima, and B. pyramidalis. All of these will be grown in pots in the future and kept inside during the winter. Plants I have had damaged this year and never before were B. × 'Elvinia Slosson,' B. distachia, and one of two unnamed Billbergias. Aechmea triangularis has always been outside in the winter though protected by shrubbery. This winter it is in exactly the same spot, but the leaves have been badly marked—really blackened.
—Mrs. Hanson—from Bromeliad Society of New Zealand News and Views.
AECHMEA WEILBACHIIAlthough an old "war horse" in bromeliad collections Aechmea weilbachii var. leodiensis never appears commonplace. Quite the contrary, it maintains its well-tailored appearance long after the inflorescence has faded and its offshoots are full grown. In too much shade the plant is all green, but with strong light and even some sun it takes on an orange-pink suffusion at the base which is very attractive. The flower is both beautiful and long lasting. The plant suckers freely and is tolerant of temperatures approaching freezing, thus can be used to advantage to finish various landscape details. It looks striking in a pot, thrives when grown terrestrially, and is most obliging on a bromeliad tree. It is indeed a most accommodating plant.
—William Drysdale, Riverside, California.
Tillandsia viridiflora is an interesting bromeliad, which at first glance because of its soft leaves would not appear to be a Tillandsia. A medium-sized plant, its leaves, about 1½ inches at their widest part, are green above and purple on the underside. The flowers are white.
Of easy culture, T. viridiflora is to be found growing in trees or on rocks in southern Mexico and in British Honduras at elevations ranging from 800 to 1800 meters. When still quite young, this bromeliad puts out little plantlets around its base. These can be easily detached and started as separate plants.
This bromeliad entered horticulture in 1844 under the name of T. grandis, and it was so called by Dr. Lyman B. Smith until very recently. It has been known as T. macropetala, T. orizabensis, T. longiflora, T. virginalis, and was listed as T. viridiflora by Baker in 1888, which is now its proper name.
(Translated by Adda Abendroth, Teresopolis, Brazil)
CLIMATE — DISTRIBUTIONAll plants are limited to where they can grow; they can survive only in certain areas. Their habitat may be widespread or may be restricted. It may abridge a continent or be limited to only a few square kilometers. This aspect of plant life is known as endemism and means the distribution of a family, a genus, or a species.
The bromeliad family lives exclusively in the American tropics and sub-tropics. Its northern border is in eastern Virginia in the United States, at about the 38th northern parallel, where a few species of Tillandsia may be found. The extraordinarily hardy and slow-growing species Fascicularia and Greigia represent the southernmost members. They can be found in Chile as far south as the 44th parallel. If we locate a given area on a globe or map, we can more or less realize what a great influence difference in climate is bound to exert on the plant and how great a variety of peculiarities in the appearance of plants we may expect to find.
South America, the main distribution area of the Bromeliaceae, has its greater part located in the southern hemisphere. Latitude, kind of countryside, and other factors determine the climate which, given the size of the continent, is extraordinarily variable. As to the type of landscape, we may roughly distinguish three north-south zones. The Andes, with elevations up to 7,000 m, transverse the continent from north to south like a gigantic backbone. A narrow strip of land on the west coast has a climate of its own because the high mountain range cuts off all influence from the interior. Scarce rainfall on the coast leaves its mark on the vegetation. The two, in places three, northern main ranges, on the other hand, border highland valleys with a climatic condition different from the main one. Towards the south these three ranges unite into a uniform chain, which is the home of the giants of the family—the Puya.
The eastern portion of South America is divided into two mountainous areas, averaging 300 - 600 m above sea level and boasting only a few peaks as high as 2700 m. They are single elevations in low mountain ranges or in tableland. Large wide flatland, often very arid is the predominant character of the region. Such are the hilly sections of Brazil and of Guyana, including the llanos, dry areas with poor plant growth, yet containing bromeliads.
An enormous flatland, covering 40 percent of the continent, lies between the east and west mountain ranges. Bounded on the west of the Andes, the low country touches the Atlantic at the mouth of the Amazon and in Patagonia. The Amazon and Gran Chaco regions attain elevations less than 200 m. They contain large and extensive river systems, of which the Amazon is the largest in the world. The luscious vegetation resulting from heat and abundant water, however, shelters only a relatively small number of bromeliads. A study of the various landscapes suggests that the family keeps away from the very hot and the very moist areas. The bulk of the great wealth of Brazilian bromeliads is concentrated in the south where the climate is temperate.
The east coast is washed by trade wind drifts and by the Brazil drift. They are definitely warm and increase the humidity and the rainfall on the land. The opposite happens on the west coast, which is subject to a cold drift flowing south north. The low temperature is further cooled by cold drifts coming from the bottom of the sea close to the land. This drift, called the Peru or Humboldt drift, reduces rainfall on the coast to a minimum.
The wind is also a decisive climate factor which affects all plant life. Wind coming from the ocean always brings plenty of rain, and in some areas it is this wind that determines both duration and intensity of rainfall.
Brazil, the home of the greatest number of bromeliads both in genera and species, has two distinct landscape characters: the lowlands of the Amazon and the highlands beyond. The Amazon basin—the greatest river basin on earth, is situated in the equatorial zone and is covered with an evergreen rain forest or jungle. The heavy rains during the wet season do not affect the Amazon so much as they do its tributaries, the Rio Negro, for instance rising to 12 m above normal during a rainy period. Such an overflow allows development of only high-crowned trees having long straight trunks, which, in turn, impose an epiphytic way of life on bromeliads. Only one-sixth of the rainfall reaches the ocean, the rest evaporating on the long way to the sea. As conditions like this also prevail along other tropical rivers, it is easy to imagine how wet the atmosphere must be. It is this humidity that makes life possible for most of the epiphytes, including bromeliads. Summer in the Amazon runs from July to October, when it rains less.
It is the hilly country of Brazil that contains the greatest number of bromeliads. The states of Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Catarina are part of the hilly area of southwestern Brazil, but because of the varied influence of the ocean, they do not have a uniform climate. The entire coast from Sao Paulo to northern Rio grande do Sul is covered with typical rain forest of a tropical character extending well into the south. It is the home of many beautiful bromeliads. On the actual plains, a tableland, the forest thins out and eventually gives away to "campos", vast prairies covered with brush. It is here that the hardy terrestrial, strongly-armed species of bromeliads live. Many bromels are also found in the eastern strip of the hilly country abridging the states of Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara (ex-Federal District), Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco, Maranhao, Pará, and others. The climate varies, and so do the plants. Tropical warmth dominates, subdued in the upper ranges. Rainfall varies even more than the temperatures. Compared with the interior of the continent, some regions of which have totally rainless months, the land near the coast has much rainfall, the dry season is shorter and not so pronounced. The rainforest on the eastern range is as luxuriant as that along the Amazon, but here bromeliads abound. Beautiful and very decorative Billbergias grow in the states of Bahia, Pará, and Pernambuco.
The Catinga formation in northeast Brazil with its scarce rainfall presents still another type of bromeliad habitat. The Catinga as a whole is not uniform. Immense plains of grassland alternate with stretches containing low, scrubby trees. Owing to a dearth of water, the bromels living there are of the hardiest type, often associated with cacti. Next to the Catinga lies the "sertao"—an uninhabited, natural country with extensive runs of sand and quartz. The vegetation betrays extreme lack of water; only plants able to store water can survive. Other than succulents, only a few extra tough bromeliads can take it.
The existence of bromeliads in Argentina and in Chile has its limits in the south. Peculiar to the Argentine and interesting for us are the plants of the dry prairies and semi-deserts. Here vegetation consists of an extremely dense combination of thorn-plants and succulents. This area is called the Monte. Tall trees are rare. Besides terrestrial bromeliads armed with heavy thorns (Bromelias and certain Aechmeas) a number of epiphytic species, especially Tillandsias are noteworthy. Semi-tropical climate predominates in the Chaco, a vast combination of woodland and grasslands. Here bromeliads make their stand with the cacti. Towards the highlands, copious mountain rain, principally in the summer, creates an island of abundant plant life that has almost a tropical character. Many epiphytes live here, among them many beautiful Tillandsias. One strip in the Argentine Andes, coming from the north and reaching .as far as the bromeliad limit to the south is devoid of trees of any kind. This is the home of the hardiest of bromeliads—the Dyckias, Fascicularias, strongly-armed Aechmeas, and lesser known species and genera.
Bolivia is bromeliad country in a more moderate measure. Situated in the domain of the trade winds, all rain comes from the east, plenty of it, permitting the formation of luxurious rain forest. The western section is definitely a desert, especially in the south, rainless for years on end. In the rainy areas the rising humidity condenses into fog and clouds. The fog forest holds abundant epiphytes, including many bromeliads.
In Peru we can distinguish three climate zones. The desert of Bolivia continues north. An oddity in this area are the rootless Tillandsias that seem to float in large masses on the desert dunes. Their water requirements are met exclusively from the air. The second zone, the so-called Sierra, does not interest us. It is followed by the third zone, on the eastern slopes of the Andes. It is remarkable for being the home of the Puyas, the giants of the family, growing at great altitudes. The lower parts of the slopes have a tropical climate. Abundant rain delivered by the trade winds favor rich epiphytic growth, including that of bromeliads. Peru has some very interesting Tillandsias.
Covering about 300,000 qkm Ecuador has three different types of landscape. Here the Andes form two chains. Only their lower sections, having a tropical climate, interest us. The eastern lowlands are as yet little explored. Their dense virgin forests very likely preserve many unknown bromeliad treasures. The western lowlands, stretching from the Andes to the ocean, has a varied climate. Especially the northern section of the coastal strip is climatically favorable with its rain forests containing many epiphytes, among them beautiful Tillandsias, including T. cyanea and others.
In Colombia proximity to the equator combined with a high elevation provides a most varied climate. Between the western, central and eastern chains of the Andes lie the broad valleys of the Cauca and the Magdalena rivers, covered with luxuriant virgin forest. Humid winds coming from all directions bring abundant rain to all the mountains, up to 8,000 m and more, permitting development of vegetation on a grandiose scale. Towards the north (Orinoco) drier regions take over, changing eventually to a landscape similar to the Brazilian Catinga, which contains thorny bromeliads. This is the so-called "Tierra caliente," the torrid zone, which attains about 1,000 m altitude. Next comes the "Tierra templada," the temperate zone. Originally it was covered with forest, but now is under cultivation, many epiphytic orchids and bromeliads being lost in the process. The third zone, "Tierra fria," or cold zone, thanks to almost ever-present fog, has rich epiphytic development. The uppermost forest limit is at an altitude of about 3,000. A typical bromeliad of the Colombian rain forest is Guzmania lingulata var. cardinalis.
Mexico is situated on the northern edge of the tropics, and with only a few exceptions, marks the northern limit of the Bromeliaceae. Trade winds saturated with moisture absorbed from the hot seas of the Mexican Gulf carry abundant rain to the eastern slopes of the Mexican highland. Rainfall lessens in proportion to distance from the Gulf, so that the highland proper gets much less rain. Transition from moist to dry climate finds impressive changes in plant life, especially in epiphytes. Mexico is rich in bromeliads. Some of the host trees are deciduous. The ensuing changes in light are an important factor in the development of plant life. The Pacific side of the highland gets very little rain and is very dry along the coast.
It now remains to clarify the basic ideas underlying the various vegetation forms conditioned by climate, which are often mentioned in connection with detailed descriptions of bromeliads.
The Tropical Rain Forest Climate—Its main characteristics are constant warm weather, average temperature above 18°C, a minimum of one month of abundant rainfall of about 2/3 m and more; absence of a cool resting period in plant life, but a periodical dry rest period in the climate, which, however, is not very pronounced. The difference in temperature between the warmest and the coolest months varies from 1 to 6°C. The effect on plant life is the production of evergreen, high-growing forest, carrying a rich epiphytic flora favored by high humidity. On both sides of the equator, the rain forest widens north and south wherever the trade winds are intercepted by mountains. The mean annual temperature of the tropical belt which covers more than 40 percent of the surface of our planet varies between 24 and 30°C. Constancy of temperature results in the absence of an annual cold period. Nonexistent also are sudden changes from day to day, so keenly felt in temperate climes. Distribution of rainfall varies considerably as to locality. Rain comes mostly at certain hours of the day, in hefty gushes, with or without a thunderstorm. Mild, steady rain occurs seldom.
The Climate of the Monsoon Forest—The evergreen rain forest described above becomes known as a monsoon forest where a pronounced dry period takes over, the result of a more intensely marked change in the annual climate. Trees in the monsoon forest are not so high as those in the rain forest. Tree crowns have more branches and spread wider. Consequently, there is less variety in form among the epiphytes, but special adaptation (development of scales) enables them to overcome dry periods without difficulty. Trees shed their leaves as the dry period advances. Counterwise to conditions in the rain forest, terrestrial bromeliads are able to survive, as for example Cryptanthus in the periodically dry forest of northern Brazil.
Climate in the Savanna—This is marked by a definite period of drought, an average rainfall of less than 1000 - 2500 mm per year, and temperature differences from month to month up to 12°C. Transition type forest occurs in steps from luxuriant rain forest with its wealth of epiphytes down to the scrubby savanna growths. The solid mass of high verdure gives away to thorny brush and open grassy prairie. The dry period occurs in southern winter or in southern spring. These conditions struck the Spanish conquerors as being "against celestial order."
Inhabiting the ever-humid tropic rain forest, the majority of Guzmania species, epiphytes, and sometimes terrestrials in the northern Andes and the southern part of Central America, have first place. Next come species like Vriesea splendens and its kin from Guiana. They must have it warm. Central America and Brazilian Vriesea species, coming in part from a periodically humid rain forest, need lower temperatures, as well as a suggestion of rest period corresponding to the winter dry spell in their homeland. They are epiphytes, with only a few exceptions.
The large genus Aechmea is representative of a modern rain forest type; that is, they are plants that thrive in a less high temperature in the tropic forests of the east coast. Neoregelia and Nidularium have the same origin; consequently they are sturdier plants and have the beginning of armature on their leaf edges. Similar features are to be found in certain Aechmeas and Billbergias that grow in the same area. Scales on the leaves are on the increase because a constant supply of water is not available. The genera are epiphytes or rock dwellers, storing water in their tubes. However, such is not the case in Cryptanthus, which being terrestrials get moisture through their roots. They need scales only to survive the dry period. Because of drought adaptation has produced harder leaves, larger spines, and denser scales—as in the case of certain Aechmeas, Billbergias, and Bromelias. Modification in the landscape from low trees to shadowless grasslands affects bromels in various ways. Some genera take to the ground, wholly or in part. The process stiffens leaves and lengthens spines. These bromeliads display the typical Catinga formation, climax of the savanna.
It is in Mexico that we find extremes of the type, as far as hardiness is concerned, in the species Hechtia. They are genuine xerophytes or plants gifted with a rare ability to withstand outmost drought. Again we find this type of bromel in great numbers south of the tropic of Capricorn, which is beyond the tropical boundary proper.
The Dyckia, a near relative of the Hechtia, is a characteristic plant of the "Campos" in central South America, a dry and stony region, almost bare of plant life. A number of other genera, that cannot be considered ornamental, are able to cling to rocky slopes where they often build up large clusters, such a community being the surest guarantee of survival. Single plants are much more exposed to climate hardship. The southern bromeliad limit, down to the 44th parallel, contains plants of concentrated growth, low, still rosettes embracing the inflorescence. An exception are the giants of the family, the Puyas, which grow high in the Andes of Peru and Chile. Pitcairnia, a large genus but including few species of ornamental value, originated mainly in the Andes, where it grows in altitudes to 3,000 m. The plants find survival possibility in most difficult surroundings because they deviated from the funnel type of growth. They are grass-like, growing in fast close clumps, their ample root system finding sufficient water and nutrients. (To be continued.)
A NEW BIGENERIC CROSSAlthough the Roman poet Horace deplored the uniting of unlike things, it has become a hobby with certain horticulturists today who are having a gleeful time hybridizing plants of unlike genera. Bromeliad growers have not escaped this movement and although many worthless offspring have resulted, a number of fine bigeneric hybrids have been produced.
All bromeliad enthusiasts are familiar with the Cryptbergia, a crossing of Billbergia and Cryptanthus, made a number of years ago by Theodore L. Meade. Since that time only a few successful crossings of two genera of bromeliads have been recorded. According to Mulford B. Foster, the only successful bigeneric hybrids made in the Bromeliaceae have been made within the subfamily Bromelioideae—the species that produces berry-like fruits. Two of Mr. Foster's outstanding crosses are Neophytum Lymanii, a cross between Neoregelia bahiana var. viridis and Orthophytum navioides, and Neomea marnierii, a cross between Neoregelia carolinae and Aechmea chantinii.
The beautiful hybrid pictured above is an outstanding example of a crossing of two genera of the subfamily Tillandsioideae. This hybrid, as yet unnamed, was made by Mr. Walter Richter of Germany who in 1949 crossed Guzmania lingulata var. minor with Tillandsia biflora. The plant first bloomed in 1953. That it is a plant of great promise is obvious from the photograph. It is the first bigeneric cross to be registered with The Bromeliad Society.