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
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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 Charles A. Wiley Editorial Secretary Victoria Padilla First Vice President Jack M. Roth Membership Secretary Jeanne Woodbury Second Vice President Fritz Kubisch Treasurer Virginia Berezin BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Nat DeLeon, Florida
William Dunbar, California
Edward McWilliams, Michigan
Julian Nally, Florida
Russell Seibert, Pennsylvania
Mary Wisdom, Louisiana
Ralph Davis, Florida
George Kalmbacher, New York
Fritz Kubisch, California
W. R. Paylen, California
Ralph Spencer, California
Charles Wiley, California
Wilbur Wood, California
Virginia Berezin, California
George Milstein, New York
Victoria Padilla, California
John Riley, California
Jack M. Roth, California
Jeanne Woodbury, California
Ervin Wurthmann, Florida
Adda Abendroth, Brazil
W. B. Charley, Australia
Charles Chevalier, Belgium
Mulford B. Foster, U.S.A.
Harold Martin, New Zealand
Richard Oeser, Germany
Prof. Dr. W. Rauh, Germany
Raulino Reitz, Brasil
Walter Richter, Germany
Dr. L. B. Smith, U.S.A.
Marcel Lecoufle, France
PICTURE ON THE COVER –
This interesting form of Neoregelia carolinae was displayed at a recent flower show in Los Angeles, California. It is a seedling grown by Frank Doerr of Whittier, who states that all other seedlings in the batch had a normal habit of growth.
Articles and photographs are earnestly solicited by the editor. Length is no factor. Please mail all copy to the editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049.
ROBERT C. MAC EWAN
|Aechmea mexicana growing in Florida|
A hanging basket specimen of Aechmea mexicana swings from a mesquite limb near my door. It rarely fails to elicit an appreciative oh-h- or ah-h- from each visitor, for it is large, but for no other good reason is it especially significant. Frankly, its leaves are suffusely chlorotic, and they are too short, too flat, and tend to flop unattractively. To me, this particular planter is exceptional only for the Achimenes which surround the bromeliad. As I have known Aechmea mexicana in a place where it was truly queen, it is difficult now to accept it otherwise.
I best remember 1968 for a short trip in September when Dr. T. M. Howard and I twice traversed the Sierra Madre Oriental of east central Mexico and had many wonderful experiences. In the space of a day and over a highway distance of 200 miles, the great variety of life zones is bewildering. The variables of altitude, temperature, and moisture combine in a number of ways to produce great changes in the flora. While the temperature almost regularly varies indirectly with altitude, the matter of precipitation and humidity is quite another thing. The land may be wet or dry depending upon the atmospheric source of rain and whether a larger land mass arises to intercept it, thus largely to deny it to some area flanked on one or both sides by slopes more liberally bestowed with rain. In general, the exposed eastern slopes of the Sierra are humid, while those facing westward toward the Central Plateau, and even some depressions within the eastern slope, are mildly to starkly arid.
Driving south from the Sierra del Abra below Cd. Mante and topping the ridge above the great valley of Cd. Valles, we could see the rise of bluish mountains far to the south. The terrain here is fairly dry, but is populated by diverse flora which betray the fact of adequate rain at least in another season. About thirty miles south of Cd. Valles, the road begins a gradual descent, and the bluish mountains first seen from the ridge soon begin to tower above us. Here a citrus grove perches on an almost perpendicular plot laid out so precisely as to defy one's imagination of the engineering of it. Aechmea bracteata is occasionally seen growing upon the limbs of roadside trees, and several species of Tillandsia are frequent in epiphytic association with orchids and cacti, amid an ever abundant flora of cryptogams. Fan palms, bananas, and an arborescent white-flowered nettle are frequent along the roadside, but most spectacular are the large vermilion and burnt-orange colored clusters of mistletoe which rise above the foliage crowns of even the highest trees. Leaving Mexico Highway 85 before the road has fully penetrated the deepening narrow defile, we then began our primary objective of traversing Mexico Highway 120, which roughly bisects the state of Queretaro. Spanning a magnificently rugged and beautiful section of the Sierra Madre Oriental, this newly improved road reaches an altitude approaching 9,000 feet before descending to the austere plain of the Central Plateau. At its northeastern end, Highway 120 begins in the state of San Luis Potosi, extending first to the village of Xilitla and then another few miles before entering Queretaro.
I well recall the approach to Xilitla, for the road is a milder type of "Cliff-hanger," laid upon luxuriantly vegetated slopes of a great V-shaped ravine winding among the mountains rising above us. Across the ravine the slopes often present great vertical rock faces of massive limestone, beckoning to the botanist if he were only able to fly! But the slopes along the road are scalable and a veritable jungle of epiphytes covers a huge tree that has fallen. The altitude here is approximately 3,000 feet. This is the locality of an optimum habitat of Aechmea mexicana, but even now neither it nor the specific character of its habitat has yet become apparent. The sky is clear and bright with sunshine, the air is humid although the ground seems fairly dry, and we are yet uncomfortably warm in T-Shirts.
Having browsed among the epiphytic flora of the fallen tree, I was returning to the car when Dr. Howard called that he was venturing into the edge of the forest. Following him, I was soon amazed that so grand a place had lain nearby. A well-worn trail wandered among the boulders, grasses and low trees, and soon rose more steeply into the ever darking confines of the forest. The air became cooler and so moist that it seemed surprising that one was not moving among microscopic airborne drops of water. The forest floor became a wet and often slippery tangle of roots and hummocks interspersed with litter and dark humus underlaid by rock and clay. Upon every available substrate grew a profusion of tropical flora, all within this very dark, cool, wet glade, roofed twenty to thirty feet above by the forest canopy shutting out the heat and brightness of the sun.
To enumerate the genera and species there would require much time, study, a wealth of authoritative literature, and likely an experience and capability beyond this writer's means. Essentially, though, the flora was dominated by many species of lichens, mosses and ferns, and secondarily with a variety of begonias, dwarf palms, epiphytic and terrestrial orchids, and, to a lesser extent, bromeliads, epiphytic cacti, ginger, peperomia, and the coffee tree. But the plant which I remember best was Aechmea mexicana, for it was definitely the outstanding species and exhibited those dimensions of success that one may attribute to an optimum environment of a species. For one thing, the Aechmea seemed to be limitlessly adaptive, for it was epiphytic, saxicolous, and terrestrial all within the scope of any one narrow view, but this was characteristic of a good many other species also. Given such an abundance of moisture saturating the air and soil, this aspect of the environment seemed essentially hydroponic. Begonias luxuriated even upon rocks where their roots mingled with the lichens thinly coating the rock. The color of the Aechmeas was a rich dark green; I do not recall any with chlorosis.
The abundance of individual plants was staggering. It seemed that one could hardly put hand or foot anywhere without landing upon at least one seedling of the Aechmea, which were often barely recognizable in their minuteness. The frequency of plants of a size was clearly pyramidal, thus numerically fewer with increasing size, culminating in one grand matriarch which stood between four and five feet high, and whose greater leaves on a single plane arched outward to a span or six or seven feet.
Among all of this flora, practically none was in flower or fruit, and so too it was with the Aechmea. We looked about a very small area only, as we could not spare the time to venture farther up the provocative trail onto the mountain. Following too brief a stay, we were off and on our way into the state of Queretaro.
But our experience with Aechmea mexicana came as we chanced to stumble into a covert recess of a northernmost extension of humid tropical forest. It happened near Xilitla, in the state of San Luis Potosi, on the east slope of the Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico.
—San Antonio, Texas.
FORMS IN THE BROMELIACEAE
DAVID H. BENZINGAlthough growth form in the Bromeliaceae is basically a short stem bearing closely placed leaves in a tight spiral, many modifications on this pattern occur among the family's 2000 species. Several biologists have recognized these growth habit modifications as adaptations for life among the diverse and extreme environments inhabited by various bromeliads (Pittendrigh, 1948). The Bromeliaceae, like many plant groups comprised of relatively closely allied species, apparently underwent an evolutionary divergence of growth form concomitant with speciation and exploitation of new and diverse environments. This evolutionary diversification was strongly influenced and restricted by the group's morphological and physiological prototype. For this reason basic rosette architecture is essentially retained throughout the family even though many species are adapted to extremes in terrestrial or epiphytic life. Relatively few species are caulescent with long vegetative stems supporting widely spaced leaves.
As successful epiphytes and arid soil inhabitants, bromeliads thrive in environmental conditions intolerable to less specialized plants. Morphological variations on the basic rosette form with correlated physiological adaptations appear to be directly related to one or both of two environmental factors characterizing many bromeliad habitats; namely, deficient available water and nutrient supplies.
The most primitive family members, those exhibiting traits closest to the evolutionary precursor of all bromeliads, are species belonging to the largely terrestrial Pitcairnioideae. Primitive pitcairnioids like most monocotyledons possess strap shaped leaves and a conventional dependence on soil for mineral and water uptake. Growth forms derived from this basic body plan and the environmental conditions for which each type is adapted are described below.
1. Terrestrial-succulent type. Plants characterized by this growth form are generally native to seasonally or permanently arid soils where mineral deficiencies either do not exist or are not severe. Thickened leaves function as water storage organs and little or no water is impounded by overlapping leaf bases. Minerals and water are acquired for the whole plant by a well developed root system. Mineral and water uptake by foliar absorption plays little or no role in nutrition. Physiological and morphological specializations among terrestrial succulents probably relate to water conservation rather than mineral procurement; e.g., Dyckia, Hechtia (Pitcairnioideae), Orthophytum and some Cryptanthus (Bromelioideae).
2. Tank types. Most tank species are epiphytic in relatively moist environments where rainfall and evaporation rates permit long term or permanent water impoundment within cavities formed by tightly overlapping leaf bases. Debris accumulation in, and animal habitation of, tank water provide these species opportunity to meet nutritional needs by mineral and water uptake from the tank. Roots function primarily as holdfast organs; e.g., most Bromelioideae, many Tillandsioideae.
3. Atmospheric types. These species often occupy epiphytic habitats too dry to permit long term water impoundment. Absence of open, expanded leaf bases precludes water and debris capture even when these plants occur in localities where sufficient water is available to maintain tank bromeliads. Traditionally, minerals obtained by atmospheric species were thought to arrive as components of airborne dust particles which, when dissolved, and released in rainwater or dew, could be absorbed by heavily trichomed leaf surfaces. Recently, several investigators have demonstrated a new mineral source for plant nutrition in the form of nutrients leached from terrestrial plants. Analysis of water collected subsequent to runoff from foliage indicates many terrestrial plants normally lose sufficient mineral matter by leaching to potentially sustain normal growth in other plants living beneath leached plant parts. As noted in an earlier publication (Benzing, 1969), atmospheric bromeliads commonly attach to limb undersides or along vertical water courses on tree trunks. Large surface to volume ratios produced by characteristically small leaves and the high wetting and absorption capacity of tillandsioid trichomes permit atmospherics to take full advantage of water borne minerals from overhanging plant organs. Inherently slow growth rate among atmospheric species relative to other Bromeliads even when the former are provided excess nutrient may represent an adaptation effectively precluding growth rates which in nature would outstrip available nutrient supplies and induce fatal or debilitating mineral deficiencies. Two subgroups can be recognized within this category.
(A.) Atmospheric myrmecophiles. Species belonging to this category are like typical atmospheric types except that the basal portion of each rosette is swollen into a hollow chambered bulb by the greatly inflated, tightly overlapping leaf bases. Some atmospheric myrmecophiles possess less dense trichome cover than typical atmospheric species. Atmospheric myrmecophiles frequently harbor ants which by depositing excretory products and remains of prey carried into bulb cavities probably supplement leachate minerals. Bulbous growth habitat may have evolved as a direct adaptation to myrmecophilous symbiosis; e.g., Tillandsia butzii, T. bulbosa, T. caput-medusae, etc.
(B.) Typical atmospheric types. Unlike the above category these species lack well developed bulbous growth form. All true atmospherics belong to specialized portions of the genus Tillandsia; e.g., Tillandsia usneoides, T. baileyana.
Figures 1, 2, 3. Developmental stages in Tillandsia
Figure 2 illustrates the abrupt transition production of juvenile and adult leaves.
Except for the speculated origin of myrmecophilous atmospherics, the questions of how each growth form evolved and the relationships among derived bromeliad growth habits remain largely unanswered. A possible second exception to this statement is a hypothesis describing evolution of the typical atmospheric growth form from the basic water impounding habit prevailing in the Tillandsioideae. Tillandsioid tank species in genera such as Guzmania and Vriesea and primitive Tillandsias like T. multicaulis live in relatively moist habitats and, as adults, depend on water and debris impoundment; however, their seedlings are not equipped with catchment devices. As a result, tank species seedlings are morphologically and possibly physiologically more similar to atmospheric species than to their own adult stages. Like adult and seedlings stages of atmospheric species, tank seedlings are thick leaved, often more heavily trichomed and slower growing than their water impounding later life phases. Although seedlings of tank tillandsioids do not face environmental extremes encountered by true atmospheric types partial preadaptation to these extremes may exist in tillandsioid seedlings.
Close morphological comparison between adult atmospherics like Tillandsia usneoides, and T. ionantha and water impounding more primitive T. multicaulis and various Guzmania and Vriesea seedlings suggests that adult atmospherics are in a sense greatly enlarged seedling stages of more mesic ancestral species. Such a relationship, if valid, suggests atmospheric Tillandsias evolved from more primitive tank species by a process known as neoteny. Neoteny describes evolution accompanied by retention and/or elaboration of primitive juvenile characteristics in adult stages of derived forms. If neoteny exists in Tillandsia, certain Tillandsia species can be considered highly specialized plants retaining as adults many seedlings characteristics possessed by ancestral or more primitive species. Neotenic origin of specialized Tillandsias is supported by development in species like T. multicaulis. These developmental stages are illustrated in figures 1-3. The transition from juvenile to adult growth form is quite abrupt in this species (Fig. 2). Evidence for neotenic evolution also exists among certain broad leaved tillandsioids which produce small atmospheric-like offshoots or stolons from the parent rosette. It is possible that the proposed evolutionary sequence could be read in the opposite direction - that atmospheric traits in tank species seedlings represent relic characters once featured in adult stages of ancestors. Considering the highly specialized nature of atmospheric species this alternative is not likely.
—Oberlin College, Ohio.
Benzing, D. H. 1969 "Roots in the Tillandsioideae and Their Role in the Epiphytic Environment." Bromeliad Society Bulletin. (in press)
Pittendrigh, C. S. 1948 "The Bromeliad-Anopheles-Malaria Complex in Trinidad." I. The Bromeliad Flora Evolution, 2:58.
DR. GEORGE MILSTEIN
If you have many bromeliad offsets and seedlings to grow and dread the onerous task of multiple potting and repotting, this method could present a simple solution. It is not only easy to do, but it can be adapted to any sized space or any number of plantlets.
First, get a piece of the black polyethylene material which is used for outdoor mulching. It should be from 12 to 14 inches wide and as long as your need or space will determine. Bring the two long edges together and join them in a double fold which is secured by stapling along the entire seem. (see fig. 1) This forms an open-ended tube. Close one end by again making a double fold and stapling tightly. (see fig. 2) You now have constructed an open-ended sack or bag, which you evert inside out in order to hide the two seams made so far. It is now time to stuff the cushion, for that is what you are making. Any good potting mixture will do, but do not forget to include a liberal helping of charcoal. The writer prefers finely chopped osmunda or tree fern chunks mixed with leaf mold, coarse German peat moss, and a liberal helping of perlite. This should be packed into the pillow as firmly as possible. It will loosen up eventually. (see fig. 3) The open end is now sealed with the double fold and stapled.
Seedlings and offsets can be placed in the planting mixture by piercing holes in the plastic with a stick or knife and inserting the plantlet through the opening. It is a good idea to use a damp planting mix when first stuffing the cushion. After that, water can be poured through a hole made anywhere on the cushion and then sealing the opening with plastic tape. Larger plants can be grown in cushions with a larger circumference. Long cushions can be coiled or arranged in S-shapes to accommodate them to any size or shape.
The advantages of using this method are many. Much space is saved; watering is not needed too frequently. Plants are not moved too often, which permits a better undisturbed root development. Too, the method is economical as it saves on the purchase of pots. As the plants are removed, it is a good idea to close up all unused openings with plastic tape.
As one can readily see, there are many advantages in putting plantlets to bed on this simple planting cushion.
—Long Island City, New York.
SU-SHIEN MA(This is the English Summary of an article appearing in the Journal of the Horticultural Society of China for April 1968.)
Three methods for the rapid multiplication of pineapple are described in this paper. The etiolation-decapitation method, the decapitation-cutting method, and the division method—all are developed from the leaf-bud cutting method of the author. These methods are based on the principle of decapitation; that is removing the shoot apex to force the growth of adventitious or lateral buds.
Leaf-bud cuttings, which consisted of a leaf attached with a piece of stem and a bud, were first taken from the crown of the pineapple and then struck in sand. After the buds grew to a suitable size, they were decapitated.
In etiolation-decapitation method, the etiolated growing bud 1.5 cm in length obtained through deeper planting of the leaf-bud cutting was decapitated. In the decapitation-cutting method, the bud was allowed to grow to form a plantlet with green leaves 4-5 cm in length. The plantlet was then cut off the original cutting with a piece of stem attached at its base and planted as a cutting In both cases the original leaf-bud cuttings were replanted to force the growth of adventitious and lateral buds. When these buds grew to plantlets of 4-5 cm in length, they were harvested and the original cutting replanted. The processes were repeated until the original cutting gradually became exhausted. For both methods, a single leaf-bud cutting on an average produced three plantlets within a period of six months.
In the division method, young plants 7-8 cm in length obtained in the formed methods were divided into halves by cutting longitudinally through its shoot apex and the halves planted. New plantlets developed from lateral buds in the leaf axil. The division method was considered to be effective to speed up the propagation cycle owing to the fact that the young plants soon attained suitable size which could further be divided.
All the experiments were done in the greenhouse; sand was used as the rooting medium. Soil temperature around 28°C was maintained during the winter months by soil heating cables. No disinfection of the cutting was used in this study and no trouble with rotting occurred. The role of apical dominance and the effect of decapitation in relation to these methods were discussed.
Did you know that
Although it is an accepted fact that Columbus was the first European to see and taste a pineapple, there are several references which indicate the presence of the pineapple in the Old World many centuries before. In the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh there are carvings on the walls of different articles of food served at a banquet, one of which appears to be a pineapple. Also models of pineapples have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
PETER TEMPLEIt is well known that Billbergia pyramidalis is a good tree climber; its long stolons grope around the trunk and branches ever crawling, winding, and getting higher and higher. Even when potted, it still preserves its stolon and climbing habit, but it is not well known that when planted in the ground this true habit disappears and is lost. No stolons are sent out, but instead a tight clustering habit develops and flowering appears to be more prolific.
In the countries of Europe and the islands off West Africa where the climate permits the outside planting of Billbergias, B. pyramidalis is widely used and the cluster growth effect when in flower is a sight to behold.
There are also two distinct phases of B. pyramidalis. One has the wide soft-leaved light apple-green leaves terminating in a bluish tip with terminal cusp and the other with leaves hard and thick, dark grey-green and narrow, cross-banded with scales, and terminating with a point. In the latter phase the inflorescence has a tendency to be elongated and drooping, resting in an inclined manner on the leaf rosette. This may indeed be an old French or Belgian hybrid, but I have no information about this. Flowering of both forms occurs at the same time—about September.
Page 65 —i
Abromeitiella — a-brom-eye"-ti-el' a
Ananas — anay' nas
aurantiacus - um — awranty' a cus — um
bivittatus — by-vi-tā tus
desmetiana — dez met" ee ā na
fuerstenbergiana — feerst" en berg i ān a
kermesiana - um — ker mess" ee ā' na
lateralis — latter ā' lis
liboniana — lib o nee a' na
lindeniana — lin den ee ā' na
lindleyana — lind" lee ā' na
lingulata — ling ew lā' ta
litoralis — lit o rā' lis
longibracteata — lon ji bract" ee ā' ta
lorentziana — lor entz" ee ā' na
lubbersianus — lubber see ā' nus
lueddemanniana — lewd" i mān ee a' na
vittata — vit tā' ta
zonatus — zoh nā' tus
PROF. DR. W. RAUH
(syn.: Tillandsia cereicola Mez)
V. cereicola is a stemless plant up to 45 cm high. The numerous leaves form a narrow, erect or spreading rosette; their brown ovate sheathes are 6-8 cm long and 4-5,5 cm broad; the densely grey lepidote blades are linear-triangulate, long acuminate and involute-subulate toward the apex, 35-45 cm long and 4 cm broad above the sheath. The inflorescence scape is slender, erect or pendulous, up to 25 cm long and a little shorter than the leaves. The scape-bracts are longer than the internodes and shortly laminated. The inflorescence is pendulous and compound of 3-5 spikes; these are 20-30 cm long, complanate, 12- to 20 flowered. The primary bracts are much shorter than the spikes. The rose colored flower-bracts are imbricate, erect, narrow lanceolate, membranaceous, glabrous, up to 3,5 cm long and 7 mm broad. The flowers are strongly erect, up to 5 cm long. Sepals are free, membranaceous, .2-3 cm long and 6 mm broad. Petals are greenish and spotted pale violet, reddish violet, when dried, at the base with two big ligules. Stamens and pistil are exserted.
The culture is similar to that of other Tillandsialike Vrieseas—that means much light and not too much water.
Closely related to V. cereicola is V. rauhii L. B. Smith, discovered by the author near Cajamarca. It differs from V. cereicola by the very narrow, not complanate, but more rounded spikes and the shorter flower bracts.
Mrs. Beryl N. Allen has been a very active member of the Bromeliad Society since its beginning and of the Tampa Bay Bromeliad Guild since its formation in 1963.
When I first visited Mrs. Allen we walked about her many plants with pencil and paper, for her hearing aid was not functioning that day. We had become acquainted through the Society's Round Robins, of which she is chairman. She has kept as many as fifteen Robins going at one time—in the United States, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc. And what a job this is, especially trying to locate lost and delayed Robins.
Although she is 79 years old, she keeps very busy caring for her home and hundreds of bromeliads and other plants in her small backyard, which includes a large slathouse and a lean-to greenhouse. She lives alone with her big black poodle dog, Sable, who is good company but hard on the plants. Just now she is in the midst of potting up some 300 seedlings. She is also taking an evening refresher course in gardening and landscaping at the courthouse. She entertains many out-of-town growers and keeps up a terrific correspondence with people all over the world, in addition to the Round Robins.
Mrs. Allen has been a widow since 1962. While running a small commercial nursery, she cared for an invalid husband for fifteen years and raised nine children and two grandchildren. She has so many great grandchildren she has lost count. She says they have "all turned out very well." Is it any wonder with such a mother? She and her husband, who was a railroad man, came to Florida in 1926 with six children in a 1914 Ford with a makeshift trailer attached behind it. Her father was a newspaperman back in Iowa where she grew up and married, so she comes by her love of writing quite naturally.
She started growing bromeliads in 1947 with the gift of an Aechmea caudata var. variegata and soon began adding them to her nursery stock. Later she began to grow them from seed sent to her from all over. Lee More, the collector, even named a bromeliad that he had collected in South America for her—Aechmea Beryl Allen. She gave up most of her commercial nursery some years ago; now she concentrates on bromeliads, although she still has hundreds of begonias and other plants in her greenhouse, having been an active member of the Begonia Society almost since its organization.
—Mount Dora, Florida.
ROBERT W. READAlthough Jamaica possesses some sixty or more species and varieties of bromeliads in ten different genera, less than a third are worthy of cultivation in the average collection and most of these are already common. A few, nevertheless, are poorly known.
Tillandsia juncea: A number of different plants in cultivation have carried this name; however, I have seen nothing closely resembling the Jamaican plants. They form large colonies with needle-thin quill-like leaves which turn reddish in full sun. The plants are typically interconnected with elongate scaly rhizomes.
Tillandsia compressa: The Jamaican forms of this species are probably the most ornamental. Typically the species produces 10-inch sword-like spikes of inflated pink or red bracts on plants closely resembling T. fasciculata. As a result of hybridization with the latter species T. compressa is often found with a smaller, branched inflorescence.
Guzmania lingulata: Although a commonly cultivated species, the Jamaican form differs by producing bright red bracts without the orange or yellowish-red coloring typical of the cultivated forms. The leaves also vary from bright red-maroon to deep apple-green and almost always have red striped leaf sheaths. This very variable species is found growing on limestone outcrop in wet regions.
Guzmania monostachia exhibits several interesting color phases in Jamaica, of which the commonest is the bright orange-bracted form. There is also a very nice form with pure white floral bracts.
Guzmania erythrolepis is a fairly uncommon species which produces a large arching or drooping club-like inflorescence of overlapping cherry-red bracts and white flowers. It is found both on wet limestone and on trees in dense forest.
Aechmea paniculigera is the only Aechmea native to the island. It forms a rather large plant, which if grown in full sun acquires a lovely reddish glow in the leaves. The 2-to 3-foot erect inflorescence of many small flowers is supported by a stalk with a number of huge pink bracts. This species is also commonly found on limestone or in trees.
Hohenbergia: Jamaica has produced a dozen or more species of Hohenbergia, but while none can compare with H. stellata two are worth trying. H. inermis produces an elongate arching inflorescence exhibiting small yellow cone-like spikelets on short stalks along its length. H. urbaniana also produces small yellow spikelets but they are arranged in a dense cluster at the tip of the erect stalk. The color is long lasting, and both species thrive on fence posts or limestone outcrop in full sun.
Unless you have growing conditions with very cool moist nights and day temperatures constantly around 70°F. don't try the Jamaican Vrieseas, Tillandsia complanata or T. fendleri. V. sintenisii exhibits forms with intensely colored maroon or burgundy leaves but they lose their color and stop growing even at 600 ft. elevation in Jamaica. Both Tillandsias thrive in full sun above 3,000 ft. elevation, but the former only in the coolest areas; the latter produces plants 6 feet tall.
(Translated by Adda Abendroth, Teresopolis, Brazil)
Having dealt at length with the growth factors involved in bromeliad cultivation, I am now going to present the subject in current terms for the benefit of the beginner.
Cultivation in the home or in the office is of course less complicated than in the nursery. Incidentally—and unfortunately—that makes life harder for the plants. There is no all-out substitute for the light coming from above in the glasshouse. Light coming from a window is always restricted to one side. Happily that drawback does not affect the majority of bromels too much; they can even stand an occasional change of location or a turn-about, a thing not every plant will take. Generally, though, the indoors afford only very few spots that will answer the manifold needs of light of bromeliads. But bromeliads can adapt astonishingly well to light conditions that are not too good; the plants will survive but put on a different face. Precisely bromeliads are living proof of the belief that only good light produces fine leaf color or design. Nonetheless there are exceptions. For example the banding of Vriesea splendens and its relatives becomes beautiful only in half or full shade; these plants can't stand full sun. The same applies to Cryptanthus species and hybrids; some love strong light and take it well if they can get accustomed to it gradually.
During the dreary days from October to March it is well to give bromeliads the lightest spot in the room; place them in a south, west, or east window. In summer a south window may get too much sunshine, which would harm the plants if means are not provided to subdue the rays during the hottest hours of the day. In a previous chapter I mentioned putting bromeliads outside on a balcony in summer, but that requires some advance planning. As was said, only hardy species are suitable for the outdoors, and even they need a transition period in which they get used to stronger light. It will suffice if you cover them with a piece of tissue paper or a transparent cloth during the hottest hours of the day to avoid leaf burn.
On the other hand, a supply of extra artificial light by vacuum tubes is an important possibility. The benefit the plants derive from artificial light was discussed, but no mention was made of the fact that plants can be quite close to vacuum tubes without getting burned. It is not yet known whether this also holds for other sources of artificial light. Bromeliads, however, definitely resent too close proximity to the infra-red lamps that are sometimes employed to heat a plant window. As in this case it is not the air that gets heated but the objects touched by the rays—here the leaves—and they may burn to death if they are too close to the lamp.
Warmth is one of the most important items in indoor cultivation. Sufficient warmth helps to get good results. Generally there isn't much to pick from as far as location goes; we must adjust to prevailing conditions. Luckily, it can be said that where humans live—bromeliads like to live also. A cosy clime implies temperatures around 20°C; it makes no difference whether that may be 18° or 22°. The plants will adjust easily. Rooms that primarily serve another purpose, and where temperature is less than pleasant, are not the right place for bromels: The plants will suffer and become injured, often beyond recovery. In winter it is advisable to protect all plants from direct draft, for example, a cold blast coming from a window opened for aeration. Although the leaves of a bromeliad cannot be called delicate or dainty, cooling off fast may hurt the whole plant. Young plants always need more warmth than adults. They should get the best location there is and will amply repay such consideration.
Temperatures below 12°C are prohibitive for most bromeliads if they must be endured for some time. Rooms that get heated only occasionally are unsuitable for the kind of bromeliad you buy in the trade. The only exceptions are those that must be kept cool and dry in winter as if they were succulents—this includes Dyckias, Hechtias, and others.
Warmth and humidity are tied up with each other. Presence of water in the funnels and in the leaf sheaths illustrate this. The water thus stored cools off in cold air, and if it stays cold for long, it will cause decay of the tender inner leaves. Too much humidity in the soil in cold weather is also had. So, remember that warmth and humidity should be about the same; they should balance each other. In a cool location use water sparingly; where it is warm, supply enough. I am often asked how house plants should be watered. There is no one answer; one cannot say whether the plants should be watered daily or less often. What determines the amount of water needed is the general surrounding conditions, location, and time of year. Only a general picture can be presented.
Bromeliads for the most part have only a few roots. This is one reason why they should not stand in stagnant water. The compost in which they live, or should live, holds more water than ordinary soil employed for other plants. Therefore, avoid drenching. You will soon acquire the knack of giving your plants just enough water to keep them happy. If funnel and leaf sheaths contain water, which is the natural condition, occasional dryness of the potmix is not serious, as long as it does not become a permanent drought-state. The experienced grower knows that in the growth period—with us mostly in spring and in summer—he should spray and water more lavishly than during the rest period, which coincides with our late fall and winter.
I just wrote "spray" and I can see some of my readers frown. I know that you can't apply frequent sprays in the sitting-room, but you can in the plant window. Expose the plants to soft warm rain as often as possible; it washes away the nasty layer of dust that in time accumulates on the leaves. A warm shower bath can replace rain to a certain extent. By the way, plants that have a coat of scales should not be rubbed with a rag; it would displace the scales and spoil their looks.
Plants kept in pots indoors often develop a crust on top of the mix especially if the water used is calcareous. Some time ago a passionate plant-friend sent me a very simple recipe to overcome this drawback. It is said to be absolutely foolproof, and although I have not tried it myself, I dare to pass it on. Once a week my friend adds to each gallon of water he used a little superphosphate—as much as can go on the tip of a knife. All the pots get some of the solution, and the result is that the earth always looks fresh and sweet.
And now a final word about fertilizer. When you buy a bromeliad, you are not getting involved in an intricate feeding program. Those who have access to rain water should use that, as it contains some inherent nourishment. Also water from an aquarium is well-suited for epiphytes. Complete fertilizers in the trade may be used in weak solution; generally once a week is sufficient. It is not advisable to pour diluted fertilizer into the funnel; more often than not it will harm the plant. On the whole, be moderate and do not attempt to promote growth or flower formation with the aid of fertilizers.
Raising and Cultivating Tillandsias
In the foregoing descriptions Tillandsias were not included. This was done intentionally because the genus Tillandsia, which includes some 500 species, differs in many ways from other bromeliads. Its range, from Argentina to eastern Virginia, is the largest in the whole family. Occurrence spreads from sea level to altitudes of 3000 m and includes a great many different locations and varying surroundings—all of which have favored the evolution of a great wealth of different forms among the genus. No other genus includes as much contrast in size as does the Tillandsia; successive steps of the ladder begin with the minute Tillandsia crocata to creatures several meters high, such T. grandis in bloom. Variation covers also germination. So, despite its great affinity with the genus Vriesea, I prefer to treat Tillandsias as a group apart.
In addition, I have taken into account the increasing number of plant addicts who are interested in growing the small Tillandsias. I am convinced that these small plants will attract even more attention if sufficient material can be offered for selection—thereby broadening the basis for more extensive collections and better methods of cultivation, as was the case with cacti.
As I have said, the climate where Tillandsias live in nature varies a great deal. Being a close relative of Vriesea, many Tillandsias exhibit rain forest forms. The more extravagant forms however, are confined to the species that must live a hard life, in a land where there is a definite period of drought that is so pronounced in some areas that the trees shed their leaves. Dry country Tillandsias are all epiphytes and get an extra dose of light when the trees on which they perch are denuded of leaves. To secure moisture during the dry period, however, a special arrangement is needed. Dry-country Tillandsias possess it—a thick coat of scales. The scales act as an insulator from the heat and at the same time trap any bit of moisture from the air and guide it to the leaf tissue. A lavish production of dew in the long nights of the dry period, characteristic of such a countryside, provides sufficient humidity to guarantee survival of the plants. Tillandsias living in such areas are called "extreme-atmospheric."
Extreme-atmospheric Tillandsias demand careful consideration of their personal needs; otherwise, although hardy, they will not survive, as they are extremely sensitive. Preparation for the hard life begins with germination. My experience is that with them the process takes a few days less than with Vrieseas or Tillandsias coming from the rain forest. Possibly this is tied up with available humidity, an attempt to get the brood under way while moisture lasts. The seeds, like those of Group II, float on the air and get caught on the bark of trees. An airy abode like that has little nourishment to offer, and development proceeds very slowly after a speedy start. To reproduce these conditions in the glasshouse is often a problem, but it is wrong to assume that what one may consider to be improved surroundings will favor growth or accelerate development. The young plants simply do not react.
To spread the seed of an extreme-atmospheric species, for example, T. ionantha, on an earth mixture would be a gross mistake in view of the home conditions described. The correct way is to select some coarse and lasting fiber, such as osmunda, spread it on a layer of peat in a shallow clay dish, as previously described on seeds with haircrown. The only difference is that the growth of the seedlings is much slower and that makes raising far more difficult that with Vrieseas or Guzmanias. If the mix in the containers is too wet, there is danger of an untimely attack of algae; this would kill the seedlings as they cannot stand continuous moisture. What they need is frequent alternation of moist and dry. Let the mix dry out well and then give the seedlings a rapid spraying, allowing a moderate amount of moisture. Periodic spraying more or less equals conditions in the native land.
Dr. Oeser, well-known collector of Tillandsias, was the first to develop a method of cultivation that equals native home conditions. He uses coarse-barked sections of branches on which to sow his seeds. The seeds are spread loosely on the bark and are kept in place by a silk thread rolled around the bark in spirals about 1 cm apart. It is important to use silk because it is strong enough to last a while. Wire is not advisable, as oxidation might hurt the seedlings. The branch sections are then suspended in a humid warm-house. Sprayings are made at intervals to allow sufficient humidity. After germination an occasional dry spell of limited duration is not dangerous; in some ways it is even advantageous. However, seedlings raised in this manner develop very slowly. Ordinarily only species that come from the most difficult home conditions are grown in this way. It takes years before the seedlings acquire respectable size. If the seedlings are crowded, it is necessary to transplant them onto another base of the same type. The plantlets must be loosened skillfully and refastened in the new location with a bit of peat fiber or sphagnum. Only rain water, or water from a pond or river, should be used for spraying. What nutrients this water may contain will usually suffice, but a much diluted solution of pigeon or cow manure may be added to the spray.
As with other seeds, such as orchids, comparatively close proximity of young plants favors growth. So let the seedlings alone until they have reached the size where they can shift for themselves, and then mount them first on small sections of branch and later on larger ones, or on cuttings or root that harmonize with the size of the plants and their way of growth. Species with few roots should be refastened without fiber or mix of any kind, or using only a small amount. Don't use wire. For mix, use fern-root such as osmunda or polypodium, and a little sphagnum or peat fiber. The idea is to make moisture endure a little longer than the naked wooden base would permit.
(To be continued. pages 161-166)
THOMAS E. SEUSSThirteen long years ago my wife and I sold our house and extra large garden, so that we could develop a new kind of garden. The size of our new property would be small and our plants would go up instead of out. It would be easier to care for; we both worked, and with this type of planting we would have more time for our respective employers.
The lot was selected on a canal for maximum humidity, and the house and garden began. Forty different varieties of palms were selected—then the trees that had the least foliage. Bromeliads and orchids were added, not in pots, but fastened directly on to the trunks of the palms and trees. As the trees grew, so did the bromeliad collection. They spread over the ground, up the trunks, and out to the tips of the branches. Mulford Foster said last year I had more bromeliads per square foot than in any garden he had ever visited. Some 955 stepping stones formed patios hidden among plantings, while overhead there were branches covered so thickly with bromeliads you could see no bark. Garden clubs and societies occasionally held their meetings here because of the atmosphere that the planting offered. The plants themselves became their programs.
As Fort Lauderdale expanded, our garden and waterway became a part of the growing city. My yard became more important to me, as the city moved far beyond us. It was a touch of the South American jungle surrounded by traffic and stone. The canal was polluted, like most American streams, and clogged with debris and water hyacinths.
On December 13 I watched a city spray boat turn from the river and head in toward the canal. My hideaway garden at the far end would be their final destination. Two occupants sprayed the hyacinths as the boat moved slowly in my direction. As I turned away to go across town to my place of business, I thought of the book Silent Spring. At the time I read it, I thought it was simply a far-fetched fantasy.
The next day I noticed that all my bromeliads were covered with small black dots, the size of scale. In the evening each dot was encircled with a large yellow ring the size of a dime. The next day the ring was the size of a quarter. I called the Division of Plant Industry, a part of Florida's Department of Agriculture. They confirmed my suspicion that my whole garden had been covered with hyacinth spray, a weed killer that could not be neutralized. The following day all the Nidulariums were dead. Vrieseas, Guzmanias, Tillandsias, Aechmeas, Pitcairnias, Neoregelias, Hechtias in that order followed in the next few days. Bromelias and the others followed after that. In all, the total casualties will amount to about 2500 bromeliads, 1200 orchids, and all the supporting foliage. I expect in a few more days the 955 stepping stones will be the sole survivors.
Florida's elements are demanding. The garden that had survived torrential rains, droughts, chilly winters, and many hurricanes is dead because of the work of two careless men armed with a solution powerful enough to cause a real disaster in a matter of hours. In less than two hours, a garden that took 13 years to build was destroyed.
I am writing this hoping all growers will give some thought to the spray programs going on in their communities and perhaps ponder for just a minute at what a personal "Silent Spring" could mean to them.
—Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
||Tillandsia multicaulis, a soft-green-leaved Tillandsia native to Mexico and Central America, looks more like a Vriesea than a Tillandsia. The photographs show it growing in open forest in Honduras, where it grows at an altitude ranging from 5,500 to 6,500 feet. The temperature here is from 34° to 84°F. on very rare occasions. Average rainfall in this area is about 37 inches, but fogs occur almost nightly. Photos by Frank Matthews.|