THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY
A non-profit corporation whose purpose is to promote and
maintain public and scientific interest and research in bromeliads throughout
the world. There are 4 classes of membership: Annual $7.50; Sustaining
$12.50; Fellowship $20.00; and Life $150.00. All memberships start with January
of the current year.
There are 4 classes of membership: Annual $7.50; Sustaining $12.50; Fellowship $20.00; and Life $150.00. All memberships start with January of the current year.
1970-1973: Lottie Cave, Wm. Dunbar, Elmer Lorenz, Edward McWilliams, Patrick Mitchell, Eric Knobloch, Kelsey Williams.
1971-1974: David H. Benzing, Fritz Kubisch, George Kalmbacher, Wilbur Wood, W. R. Paylen, Kathy Dorr, Amy Jean Gilmartin, Bea Hansen.
1972-1975: Jeanne Woodbury, Ralph Barton, George Anderson, Virginia Berezin, Victoria Padilla, Charles Wiley, Ervin Wurthmann, Jean Merkel.
Adda Abendroth, Brazil; Luis Ariza Julia, Dominican Republic; David Barry, Jr., USA; Olwen Ferris, Australia; Mulford B. Foster, USA; Marcel Lecoufle, France; Harold Martin, New Zealand; Richard Oeser, Germany; Dr. W. Rauh, Germany; Raulino Reitz, Brazil; Walter Richter, Germany; L. B. Smith, USA; R. G. Wilson, Costa Rica; J. Marnier-Lapostolle, France.
Published six times a year: January, March, May, July, September, November. Free to members.
Editor: Victoria Padilla
CONTENTS — NOV., DEC., 1972
Streptocalyx poeppigii — Photo by W. Rauh.
Articles and photographs are earnestly solicited. Length is no factor. Please mail copy and all questions to the editor, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles, California 90049.
Individual copies of the Journal — $1.25
LYMAN AND RUTH SMITH
|G. C. K. DUNSTERVILLE|
|Nora Dunsterville stands beside the trunk of a Brocchinia micrantha which can reach over 20 feet in flower.|
Last February on our way back from Brazil we stopped in Caracas to visit Cora and Julian Steyermark for a few days. The next we knew we were off with Julian on a whirlwind trip to the Lost World. Of course we know that is not the proper name for the Guayana Highlands, but the variations on "Guayana" are most confusing and bromeliads there are certainly out of this world.
On the way we joined Stalky and Nora Dunsterville, veteran travelers, campers, and orchidologists, and Loubette Herrick, a one girl guide service out to look over new territory to show visiting biologists. It took us two days over good paved roads to reach our destination. First we left the mountains and rain forest around Caracas and went east along the coast through dry dwarf forest to Barcelona. There were few epiphytic bromels along the way, but Bromelia humilis occurred both naturally and planted in dense masses to protect the road shoulder. They looked like very good protection too against both erosion and trespass. Near Barcelona we turned south through gently rolling savanna with scattered twisted trees, by pipe lines and oil wells and finally crossed the Orinoco by a great new bridge to spend the night on the far bank in Ciudad Bolivar.
The following day we continued east and south through increasingly wild and mountainous country reaching the end of the pavement just south of El Dorado. At a small village Julian picked up an Indian helper and we continued south into Lost World territory. We camped in the dense forest and began to see epiphytic bromels but still nothing spectacular.
|Summit of Cerro Autana|
Early on the third day we left the forest and emerged on the Grand Savanna, a vast rolling grassland cut by low gallery forests and bordered in the far distance by weird geometric peaks. Straight ahead was the exactly rectangular outline of Ptari-tepui and it was easy to believe that nobody had yet scaled its vertical sides to explore the summit.
By the side of the road we were pleased to see a large sign proclaiming the vast area a national park. A little further on we came to a typical bog display with much Brocchinia reducta mixed with pitcher plants and various endemic shrubs. Later we were to see this small Brocchinia by the acre if not the square mile.
Brocchinia, Navia, and all but one species of Cottendorfia are restricted to the Lost World area and so far have frustrated all attempts at cultivation except for Brocchinia micrantha which survived in a park in Caracas for a number of years (see Brom. Soc. Bull. 11:41. 1961). It is hard to see why they should be so difficult when orchids from the same area are grown successfully.
We continued on the good gravel road in the direction of Santa Elena and saw much more Brocchinia reducta and a scattering of the similar but much larger B. hechtioides. Brocchinia was to continue the commonest bromeliad and often dominant above all other vegetation throughout our brief visit. For a much more detailed and authorative account of the genus see Julian's article in The Bromeliad Society Bulletin (11:35. 1961).
Two hundred kilometers south and east of El Dorado the good road and also our available time came to an end by the top of a giant waterfall and in sight of Mount Roraima, the inspiration of Conan Doyle's famous yarn of the Lost World. We turned back and shortly stopped for the night by a rocky stream.
On the following morning we sampled several gallery forests finding a number of tillandsias and other familiar bromeliads, but best of all the ten foot Brocchinia acuminata that is sometimes epiphytic, a rather rare event in the primitive Pitcairnioid subfamily.
After lunch we took a road west and made a flying trip to the Mission at Kavanayen. We came closer to the imposing mesas or tepuis than on any part of our trip but did not stop or see the good reasons to that we had the day before. We returned to the main road and soon stopped by a river for a third night in the open.
The next morning we hit the home trail and were soon in the forest. There one final bromeliad thrill awaited us that we had somehow missed on the way in. On a massive granite outcrop by the side of the road were dozens of the giant Brocchinia micrantha second only to Puya raimondii in size. Similarly it has a stout trunk with a big rosette on its top, but the leaves are thornless and the inflorescence a tremendous delicate spray of tiny flowers.
|J. A, STEYERMARK|
We had one regret, however, that we lacked the time and the vigor as well to scale any peak to find a Navia. So this part of the story must be second hand though from the best possible source. Julian Steyermark has been scaling tepuis since 1944 when he went up Mount Duida and brought back four new navias to add to the mere 10 known before. At that time it was a hike of several days with Indian packers from the river or road end to the objective tepui. Usually several days more were needed to cut a trail up through the talus forest to the foot of the cliffs. Then with luck a cleft in the rock wall would be located to reach the summit, but some attempts have failed at this point.
Now a new and very promising factor has appeared, the helicopter. As the photographs show, the otherwise inaccessible summit of Cerro Autanat was quickly reached. There the dominant species is Brocchinia hechtioides. Not in evidence in the summit photograph is the rare Navia pungens, originally discovered on the much larger Cerro Guanay to the north. To date only a small but wide sampling has been made of the hundreds of tepuis that extend from Tafelberg in central Suriname across southern Venezuela and into southeastern Colombia. With this new conveyance we can hope for intensified exploration of this still mostly Lost World.
JACK ROTHI have been collecting and growing bromeliads for over twelve years, and during that time many of the larger plants have refused to bloom. In desperation I decided to treat these plants with acetylene gas and found the results to be very rewarding. The plants I treated were both in the glass house and under lath. The plants were fully grown but had never had a bloom spike until treated with the gas. The following is the method I used.
A small tank (which can be rented) filled with acetylene gas was rigged with an on and off valve coupled with a yard of rubber hose approximately one-half inch in diameter. The length of the hose facilitated the working with the tank in that the tank could be stationed on the ground while treating plants at a higher elevation. The gas was turned on and the end of the hose inserted in the cup of the plant that was filled with water. This lasted for a count up to ten, approximately ten seconds. During this time the gas bubbled in the water. The gas was then turned off and the plant returned to its regular place, the water and gas remaining in the cup. I have noticed that all the newly produced spikes are of regular size and of good color, and there has not been any apparent plant damage to date. The following is a listing of the plants, date treated, and the date of the new spike.
A. dichlamydea var. trinitensis|
A. × 'Ignotus'
A. × 'Dubiosa'
A. × ' Bill Hobbs'
A. × 'Anonymous'
A. × 'David Barry'
Aechmea × 'Tam Star'
Vriesea alta de serra
July 21, 1971|
October 5, 1971
I will again treat these plants sometime in May, 1972 and keep the results so that some comparisons can be made.
W. W. G. MOIR AND MAY A. MOIR
|Entrance to the Moir Garden|
We were very pleased to read "Why Bromeliads May Change" by Dot Harris in the January 1972 issue of the Journal of the Bromeliad Society. It brought back in our minds many of our experiences in the tropics and in our own garden which many people call a small botanic garden. We are plant lovers and grow all sorts of plants as ornamentals and as plant material to be cut for flower arrangements. Recently some of the staff of the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, here in Hawaii on the island of Kauai, came to collect 110 species of bromeliads and an equal quantity of other plants, but not our orchids.
We have observed plants in the wild and collected (mostly orchids) in over 30 countries of the tropics and in at least 100 different environments from sea level to 13,000 ft. elevation; from desert to rain forest and all manner of conditions between. Fortunately, being together at all times, one of us took copious notes and later in the day we discussed these and added to them.
The very condensed subjects of Dot Harris's article can be greatly enlarged upon. But let us digress a moment. We have lived all our lives near the sea so that when we went plant hunting at higher elevations we found ourselves short of breath and easily tired. As we traveled in the Andes we were told about the Indians who had lived all their lives in the high mountains. When these people were taken to low elevations to work, they were almost useless because of their reaction to heat and higher barometric pressure. They had to be returned to their mountain homes. So if elevation can affect humans in this way plants must feel much the same way.
Dr. Pierre Dansereau, of the New York Botanical Garden, in his book Biogeography reminds us under his section on Laws of Ecological Fitness of his "Law of Inoptimum" — "that no species encounters in any given habitat the optimum conditions for all its functions". One may see a luxuriant growth and then move it to another spot, and it becomes even better or the reverse may be true. These differences may occur even in a small area among epiphytes such as bromeliads. A bit more light, a bit better water supply, by being on the side of the tree where the prevailing wind will deposit its moisture, or its association with other plants such as ferns, epiphytic cacti, or orchids which furnish decaying parts to enrich the media the plant grows in may make a world of difference. Orchids are very often indebted to bromeliads for the humidity they receive from the heart of the bromeliad plants.
In the Americas we often noted that an orchid plant in a drier area existed because of the benefit it derived from being next to a bromeliad. The association of one epiphyte with another and their peaceful coexistence is something we humans should study and learn a few lessons from them. In Honduras we collected in a dry, rocky savanna and noted that a reed epidendrum grew so much taller when its roots were mixed up with that of hechtia plants. Why? Maybe it was some connection of roots that benefited each other or the hechtia collected moisture, mostly dew, and funneled it to the orchid roots, but the size of the small hechtia did not seem to be enough.
Again we have found that many epiphytic plants when grown in pots just fold up. They need their roots relatively bare to get the elements they require. We also have noted that when one collects big plants that are in luxuriant growth, they are less likely to thrive in captivity than if one collected small plants. It is a matter of having too many factors that have to be adjusted to for the big plant. We have grown huge specimens from very small plants collected in nature by giving them their requirements in the new location. That was why copious notes were needed for us to know how to duplicate their native habitat.
We are not able to bring bromeliad plants into Hawaii from the wild because of our quarantine regulations. So we took details on how seedlings were growing in nature and grew most of our plants from seed. Our masses of Tillandsia cyanea were from seed sent to us by Mr. Mulford Foster some ten years or more ago, and these really interested us in more bromeliads. However, we had known such bromeliads as Billbergia pyramidalis, B. nutans and B. venezuelana all our lives and grew them like every other plant in the ground. But today the garden is mostly planted on erect tree fern logs and from fiber on top of the ground; the logs are held erect by rocks and this set up has lasted for over 20 years. The tree fern logs give the bromeliads an excellent way to display themselves by climbing down all over the log. With different lengths of logs an excellent landscaping can be accomplished.
We found that sea level plants from near the Equator were not good plants for us to collect nor were the very high elevation plants on the Equator. Hawaii latitude is 20 - 21 degrees north. Of course this applies to those of us who grow our plants out of doors. In greenhouse culture you can choose your own degree of temperature.
We also found it necessary to consider many other points. The environment of the plant, that is, whether desert, savanna, dry forest, rain forest, or some mixture of these had to be provided for. One important factor was, when was the dry season? When was the wet season? From 10 degrees south to 10 degrees north there is the Equatorial Belt of two rainy seasons and two dry seasons, each relative, and at no set time for this belt but considerably different by country and location within this belt. From 10 degrees north to the Tropic of Cancer and again 10 degrees south to the Tropic of Capricorn there is one dry season and one rainy season, each about 6 months long; but remember the southern hemisphere is the opposite season to that of the north at any one time. There are exceptions in small areas. Take for instance Hawaii, although in the North Tropic Belt in general it has the wet season at the same time as the South Tropic Belt, but the temperature is the same as the North Tropic Belt. Yet in the Kona District of the Island of Hawaii the conditions are the normal North Tropic Belt. We have noted other areas with similar exceptions and have been attracted to them as there is less to worry about in moving plants from them to our garden.
Still other plant factors occur. Some plants flower by the season while others flower by the calendar. The latter group are the most difficult to grow when moved out of one Belt to another and must be kept under plastic or glass overhead cover to control the water for flowering. Again the watering of plants depends on their wet season in their native home, then follow this pattern. Of course if one has enough plants of a species, one can experiment to see how they will take to our seasonal changes of weather.
We have observed that epiphytic plants are in great masses where there is good air circulation of moist air. Sometimes just 20 feet away in still air not a single epiphyte is to be found. Our noses soon adjusted to detecting the air changes and we saved ourselves from looking in the still areas. The windiest spots had the most plants provided it was moist wind. Besides the moisture, the drying out of the plant by the wind was necessary between rains. The most beautiful display of flowering plants are seen under these conditions.
Also remember that all plants are very greedy for food to make them grow. In nature most of them receive far more food than the average grower will give them. We well remember the luxuriant plants under a bird roost. In one case in our own garden we remember a case of B. venezuelana dying down until there was just a stump, then the birds roosted over it and it was not long before there were 5 or 6 new growths bursting forth. Soluble fertilizer in the watering (a siphon from a bucket) plus a liberal coating of sterilized manure at the base once or twice a year has keep our bromeliads healthy and luxuriant. If you feed heavily after the new growths have gotten well started you often develop giant new plants.
From reviewing our notes and discussing our observations we knew that no one condition would suit our many plants, so we set about creating many micro climates to simulate their native habitats. A small forest area to the windward side of the main part of the bromeliad garden, kept moist, furnished moist wind to circulate over the bromeliads growing in the open. A white painted wall reflects light and heat to plants that need warmer and drier conditions. Our hollow tile walls up wind of the forest area have the tiles turned on their side so that wind is filtered through the moist tiles and the plants can be grown right up against the wall. If the wall were solid there would be dead air and heat and the plants against the wall would cook in the afternoon sun.
We have 25 to 30 degrees difference in temperature between parts of the bromeliad garden on a sunny day, with the forest area being called the "ice box". If we do not know the conditions under which a plant normally grows, we just have to guess and watch it to see if it is happy; if not, then we move it and try another location. We just lift it up and set it down in a new location. It does not need to be planted till the right place is found.
In nature there is no uniform condition in any area. That is why we laugh every time we see maps of climatic factors with lines connecting points of the same temperature, rainfall etc. Plants do not live by averages. Vary your watering ever so often and even check their rapid growth at points to toughen them up against storms and other adverse weather. Orchids are much harder to care for because they have resting periods usually in their normal dry season in nature, and this is the period when new growths are formed.
The conditions in our garden must be satisfactory, for bromeliads thrive and seedlings are being produced on other fern logs in the garden or right in the cups of the leaves in the case of the Aechmea berries.
Going back to Dansereau's Biogeography one reads, "On the side of heredity, each population of living plants and animals bears a patrimony which is generally richer than the genome of each compound individual. The tightness of linkage and the stringency of inner capabilities very early limit the free expression of all inherent characteristics. Mutation very slowly and randomly provides new raw material for variation within this already restricted pattern. Most mutations are doubtless eliminated by the interior arrangement and without any exposure to selection by external agents."
We get lovely new mutations that have given us new plants. Most recently a strong silvery gray Aechmea chantinii formed at our front door. On the new growth of a dark leaved chantinii, of the ash blonde type from Holmes Nursery in Tampa, Florida, a yellow green stripe formed the full length of one leaf. Evidently this was the spot on the stem where the all silver green plant arose. It is much lighter than the normal chantinii and the bars across the underside are very faint. Aechmea caudata developed striped plants that are intermediate between the green plant and the shorter var. variegata. We have been interested in mutations for a great many years and have found mutations in vigor as well as in color and these vigor changes maintain their size indefinitely. Many of you also know of plants that double their chromosome numbers and take on heavier texture and firmness of flowers.
Dansereau remarks "transmission of hereditary features is subject to the mechanics of mutation, ploidy variation, and hybridization, all of which are largely independent of environment as to their incidence but entirely so to their continued preservation." So it is not at all amiss to say that the changes between the native habitat and the new home in your collection can produce definite changes that may or may not become permanent. Dansereau's Biogeography should be interesting to read for you who wish to delve into the subject more deeply. However, a book that would lead you to a good understanding of all the conditions in nature in the tropics is the book called The Tropics. It is by three Frenchmen - Edgar Aubert de la Rue, Francois Bourliere, Jean-Paul Harroy. The book is out of print just now, but we are sure you may find it at a public library or some scientific library. It was published by Alfred Knopf, New York, in America. The translation from French has kept the very expressive language that is in the French copy. The first third is the most interesting, for Aubert de la Rue, a geologist, is a remarkable describer of nature in its many conditions. The colored and black and white pictures are a real treat in themselves.
We could continue and describe many of the places we have studied, but we shall leave that to Aubert de la Rue who has described them so well.
In closing, we cannot help remarking about the vivid colors we have in our garden mostly by placing epiphytes out in stronger light. The beautiful purple translucent leaves with the light showing through of B. elegans is not found in nature. The red and orange bracts of the guzmanias, when in flower, are very showy. Guzmania zahnii and G. sanguinea, when in blossom, are works of art as is Guzmania lingulata 'Magnifica'. The small Neoregelias - ampullacea, parviflora, punctatissima, tigrina and the shellacked red leaves of schultesiana, all growing in full light, are eye catchers for those who come into the garden. They are grouped together on fern logs which are three to four feet tall. Near by is Vriesea imperialis with its rich red of a different shade. But the beauty of bromeliads is their great variation from season to season. Just now V. glutinosa, a large plant whose leaves have a beautiful leaf pattern, has a flower spike three feet tall with many branches all bright red.
My, what pleasure these bromeliads give a gardener.
EDGAR LEE SMITHNames, names, names! Shakespeare asked "What's in a name?" Well, if it is a bromeliad's name, it is very often quite difficult to remember and sometimes seemingly impossible to pronounce. And for the novice bromeliadeer this can be quite an obstacle in learning about bromeliads. The writer's experience with bromeliads, until recently, had been mostly with the more common species and varieties. But with the increase of my collection and knowledge (both still very small) I have had to come face to face with beautiful and interesting friends with difficult names and a friend's name must always be learned.
Bromeliads seem to suffer from a lack of common names. This is probably due to their being rather unknown among so many plant enthusiasts. But in reality, this is a great advantage, for using the exact scientific name definitely defines a specific plant and practically no confusion can result, once the plant has been properly identified. The botanical name is recognized in all countries whereas a common name is often confined to one or two countries. Like the names of people, the scientific name consists of two parts; first the generic name followed by the name of the species and a third varietal name if needed. Perhaps if hybridization continues so rapidly, a "social security" number may have to be added to identify individual varieties.
If bromeliads were referred to by household names think how confusing it could become. Take for example the name "dusty miller" which can refer to any of several different and unrelated plants. And think how many completely different flowers are called "daisies" or "lilies". Quesnelia marmorata is called Grecian Urn Plant; well, someone could easily transfer this common name to Billbergia × 'Fantasia' for it certainly could pass by that title also. Thus confusion of the two plants would result.
It must be admitted that names such as Abromeitiella brevifolia, Tillandsia andrieuxii, Tillandsia dasyliriifolia, Deuterocohnia meziana, Fascicularia pitcairniifolia, and Tillandsia aequatoralis require a great amount of tongue twisting and patient pronunciation unless of course you are a natural linguist. It would seem that perhaps for these examples, as well as for other bromeliads, a common name would be easier to learn and to pronounce. But by using the formidable but correct botanical names we can eliminate much confusion as to plant identity. And being able to be an unfaltering name dropper at society meetings is of image-enhancing value even though you may only have nutans, pyramidalis, a fingernail (oops spectabilis), or a "I don't know what it is".
Among the bromeliads which seem to have been given common names are
Ananas comosus (and others)
Vriesea × `Mariae'
Permanent wave plant
Heart of flame
Grecian Urn plant
There are probably other bromeliads having common names. Of course no attempt has been made to include here those names usually used by the local inhabitants of bromeliad countries, but only those common names used by the people and encountered in publications in the United States.
So what's in a name? The genus, the species, and when necessary, the variety; all that is needed to refer to one specific individual plant. Thus, in spite of the difficulty for the novice in pronouncing and learning the scientific names, the lack of common names is a great advantage in this fascinating hobby of growing bromeliads.
- Bromeliads seem to do better, especially to reproduce
better, if they are set deeply into the potting material, so lower leaves
disintegrate and the stem is exposed by the removal of these leaves.
- Bromeliads do not seem to make good growth if any
restricting device, such as wire, cord, or rope crossed the lower leaf area.
When fastening bromeliads to bark, tree trunks, etc., it is best to fasten the
restricting band just at the point of junction of roots and rhizome-like base
- Old outer leaves should be removed not only for the sake of
appearance, but also to encourage the development of offshoots.
- Dry, non-fat milk solution is recommended to clean the
leaves of plants.
- Clean and sterilize pots before re-using.
KELSEY WILLIAMSOne of the most interesting and intriguing things about growing bromeliads is to observe how they respond under different cultural conditions. Here at the Nursery we grow bromeliads in controlled glass houses, outside under lath, and in polyethylene houses. It is the polyethylene houses that I will elaborate on here.
We have two lath houses full of many different kinds of bromeliads which are grown under normal conditions, exposed to the elements in this area until early October of each year. As soon as the night temperature drops to below 50 degrees, we cover these two houses with 6 mill, clear polyethylene cloth. When the job is finished, the houses are almost air tight. They run east and west, and there is a door in each end to give good circulation on hot days. If the daytime temperature is 70 degrees or lower, we open one door; if it is higher we open both doors. On cool days the doors are kept closed and the temperature rises as high as 95 degrees. The bromeliads seem to love this kind of condition, and the humidity is always high, almost like a sweat box. The houses are watered with overhead sprinklers, and a rain forest condition is created every time they are turned on.
There is a small automatic unvented gas heater in each house that comes on when the temperature drops to 50 degrees. On the coldest nights during the winter, the temperature will drop to 40 degrees. These bromeliads are grown in the same potting mix and given the same fertilizer as all the rest that are grown outside and under glass. The period under polyethylene usually lasts for about six months, and by that time the plastic begins to break down and we have to take it off.
The interesting thing about this kind of growing is that the growth of the plants is much better, the coloring is more outstanding, and there are more flowers than in any other place in the Nursery. I have come to the conclusion that the high humidity, the high daytime temperature, the good lighting conditions, and the unvented gas heaters are the factors that produce the good-looking bromeliads. Perhaps other growers might also like to experiment with this type of culture, and find it satisfactory.
—Buena Park, Calif.
ADDA ABENDROTHOnly a few species of bromels live on the island of Paqueta in Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro. Among them are four small Tillandsias, including the variety minor of T. usneoides. Although the smallest of the lot, this last one is worth a closer look.
The only type of usneoides I found on Paqueta is a form of the variety minor, the third in my collection. One was sent to me from Louisiana, very white and fuzzy; the one on Paqueta is mostly greenish-grey; from California I received one that is brownish. I want to find out where the brownish one is at home. Will readers please let our editor know in case they know? A good type picture is on page 38 (left) in the Rauh book.
The Paqueta T. usneoides var. minor is happy when it hangs in or from trees or shrubs. The minor variety responds to leafy trees or shrubs better than to the upper naked branches the major variety usually hangs from. The two kinds have different ways of life. I shall describe that of the minor type.
Paqueta is ornamented with many imported trees. Among them Tamarindus seems to be the bromel's favorite. An old Tamarindus on the corner of the beach where I live is loaded with epiphytes, most of them the Spanish moss. In the branches above, usneoides looks much like the lichen for which it was named (Usnea barbata). Sheaves of them are more or less of the same size and color, hang side by side, sometimes entangled one with the other. Trees with less dense foliage carry fewer strands of the bromel. A dry myrtle shrub in my garden, composed of thin, short branches, holds a few specimens low enough for observation. My pet gets full sun all day long, no protection from nearby leaves, no care whatever from humans. Seen from even a short distance, the bunch looks worthless and dead. But from close-by, using a lens, I see glossy purplish skin under the netting of scales stretched tight over juicy pulp. Despite its frail appearance, T. usneoides minor is a valiant and very resistant plant. Sun and severe drought periods, storms shaking the host and the branches it clings to, birds going to no end of contortions trying to pull away a wisp — the bromel can take it all.
This usneoides is fascinating because it manufactures its own combine. The process can be followed step by step. The final longish clump of intertwined strands firmly anchored in its lofty domain begins with a line of 2 or 3 successive shoots onto a random branch by the wind. The line of shoots continues development, rolls a leaf around a twig for a holdfast, adds more shoots ahead to make a single pendant. This main thread is only slightly undulated; straight leaves are spaced apart on it. When the leaves are nearly full grown, the main thread begins to twist and to curl, thereby changing the position of the leaves. They point no longer sideways now, they point up and down. When a breeze swings the branch it holds on to, a pointed leaf tip slips into a curl, its kink helping to keep it in place. Meanwhile sideshoots bulge from the axils of the leaves on the main stand; rarely more than one or two in succession. They too push their leaves through curls or roll one around a convenient hold on the host, thus helping to consolidate the developing cluster.
In the Tamarindus tree settlement begins with an usneoides branch landing on one of the large compound leaves. The leaves of the new pups thrust in between the leaflets, a section of stem winds around the host's petiole. By the way, the second and longest of the three leaves of a new pup is composed of a section of stem, a leaf-sheath enclosing the heart of the new pup, and the blade of that sheath. It is the section of stem that does the curling and the rolling around a support. The long black "hairs" or "wires", the "bones" that endure in the herbarium, are series of "sections of stem" referred to above. They grow a lot from the time they first sprout until adulthood. A tiny knot marks where one section ends and the next begins. Incidentally the knot identifies bromeliad origin as distinguished from the fungus Marasmius, which produces "black hairs" without knots, but which, like T. usneoides', are sometimes found in birds' nests.
With time, here and there a branchlet of the usneoides dries and withers. But in between survivors linger. Rain can stimulate them to new growth.
The clusters of T. usneoides minor in Paqueta are rarely over a meter long. What impresses is not their size but their lumpy appearance. The crumpled lumps are foci of new growth; the spots where the more compact main branches sprout, which, however, seldom develop to adulthood.
My plant from Louisiana doesn't thrive. I received it 9 years ago, expected it to produce the long draperies I had heard people who had seen them talk about, and had seen on picture postcard from the Glades. Mine is a thin, very curly, white strand pining away.
The plant which tempted me to write this story came from California, a sprig in an air letter. The sender wrote that it is brown instead of green. It arrived the color of earth, and crumbly. Under treatment parts of it recovered life-likeness, disclosing dirty-yellow skin under its coat of scales. Attempts to coax it to grow, however, failed. A later remittance also arrived very dry. I tied the most promising bit to a leafless shrub in the garden. For a while nothing happened. Then two successive days of rain did the trick. The new growth was at first a dainty pale green. Twenty days later the skin in the top part of the leaves, just above the kink, is yellow. The sender says he cannot remember the plant's origin, that it arrived in a lot of other bromels long ago. My guess is it comes from the seaside, as it is so much like the plant in Paqueta. Once I received a similar plant from the Iguassu Falls, very dry country in the Interior of Brazil.
RICHARD OESER, M. D.Organic life is inseparably connected with the drive to exist, multiply, and change. Living beings which are not able to adapt themselves to constant change are doomed; this has always been a fact since the beginning of life. The remains of such plants and animals, now extinct, can be found in museums of paleontology.
With regard to adaptation, sexual propagation surpasses vegetative multiplication by a wide margin, and consequently, it has been the dominant principal in animal and plant life which has led to a complexity of possibilities, surpassing our wildest imagination.
The union of the egg and the sperm cell is the condition under which a new being (embryo) is formed; this offspring consists of half egg-cell and half sperm-cell and is formed in a complicated way by the division of chromosomes. This embryo carries the characteristics of both parents and is related to them, but it is not identical with the parents. On the other hand, plants which are formed in the vegetative way are always absolutely identical with the parent plant even if the propagation of these plants runs into the thousands. In flowering plants the male or sperm-cells are formed in the anthers and are called pollen. It is necessary for the pollen to come in contact with the pistil where it has to germinate and grow towards the ovary to unite with the egg-cell.
On this often long path the pollen has to overcome many mechanical and/or chemical obstacles. In other words, the pollen can, for biological-chemical reasons, not be accepted by the female organism. It will succumb and pollination will not take place. In science this process is called pollen incompatibility.
Surprisingly pollen incompatibility occurs more often in self-pollination than in pollination involving another plant of the same species. When a plant accepts pollination by another species, hybridization occurs. In horticulture this is of major importance, as in the case of Aechmea chantinii. This plant was introduced into Europe in 1877. An explorer, Baraquin, discovered it growing on a garden fence of a native hut in the upper Amazon. In 1878 it was first classified as a billbergia, but it was finally described as an aechmea in 1889. This plant proved to have one great drawback—all the attempts made to self-pollinate it were unsuccessful. This plant was either self-sterile or it was a case of pollen-incompatibility.
As this plant could be only vegetatively propagated, it became a very rare item and continued to be so for almost 100 years. In 1964 some members of the Bromeliad Society chartered a plane to Iquitos, Peru, where they found many specimens of Aechmea chantinii. These they brought back to the United States, and these plants, which originated from different seed-plants, could easily be cross-pollinated and produce viable seed. In this way Aechmea chantinii became a favorite nursery item. Not too long ago I saw a beautiful specimen in the lobby of a big hotel; the plant was grown in Germany.
Probably there are many bromeliad fanciers who, like myself, have tried to self-pollinate a rare species of which there was only one specimen available only to meet with failure in spite of otherwise correct procedures. It may not be a coincidence that just these plants that appeal to us the most in regard to color and flowers are self-sterile. They, however, develop such distinct markings on the flowers that foreign pollinators such as insects and humming birds, are attracted so that seeds develop through cross-pollination. But the risk of becoming extinct without offspring is more probable, as it was in the case of Aechmea chantinii. It is difficult to say whether self-sterility brings the plant any advantages.
All this is a matter of probability or chance; there are no rules. For example it does not mean that all aechmeas are self-sterile. There are many species whose flowers produce seeds because self-pollination is the rule as with Aechmea tillandsioides. We observe these differences throughout all the genera.
In the case of the Argentinean miniature tillandsias (T. loliacea and T. capillaris) for example, which are my favorites, with their inconspicuous flowers, seed setting is regular. The reason might be that because of the close position of the anthers and stamens, pollination is unavoidable. However, in the case of another closely related miniature tillandsia, T. crocata, with its relatively large, fragrant flowers, seed setting is only obtained by cross-pollination, as it is self-sterile.
Maybe the wide distribution of T. schiedeana in Central America is caused by regular self-pollination. T. lindenii needs cross-pollination. T. stricta and its relatives from Brazil set seed when pollen produced by the many flowers on the same plant are involved in mechanical cross-pollination. Otherwise, no seed will be set.
These are only a few examples of the wealth of available material to be studied. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. It is not always a fact that pollination is successful in every case. Temperature, day light, and humidity might play an important but hitherto unknown part. Very often we try hard but succeed in getting no more than one or two seed capsules on one inflorescence. On the other hand, it happened in my greenhouse that a Tillandsia gardnerii from Ecuador, which bloomed in mid-winter and was not even noticed, afterwards produced a perfect seed pod on each flower (approximately 20 per inflorescence). Was it possible that the extended flowering period on account of the low temperature (15ºC) or the short daylight hours caused this otherwise never-before observed fertility?
This unusual fertility tends to weaken the tillandsia and it becomes a prey to insects. The grower, if he is not interested in harvesting the seed, may be wise to remove the inflorescences after blooming.
At the same time and under the same conditions a Guzmania donnellsmithii produced seed without my assistance. I had never before been able to set seed on this Guzmania despite all my efforts. It is worthwhile to mention that some cryptanthus species can produce male and female flowers on the same plant and that in comparison some catopsis species (known to me) produce on the same plant either male or female flowers.
It is interesting to note that a relatively small plant family like the Bromeliaceae has so many ways of sexual propagation. We must accept these ways without being able to explain them. We find similar circumstances occurring in other plant families, especially in the cultivated species. The extremely slow-growing bromeliad is not a good object for these studies, as it would require much time and patience.
However, it is hoped that bromeliad growers will make observations and publish them. In the Journal of the British Bromeliad Society, Vol. II, No. 11, page 84, Ken Hornsey has written an article "Self and Cross Fertility in Bromeliads," for which we should be very grateful.
(Translated by Walter Goddard and W. R. Paylen)
ARLA RUTLEDGEA most rewarding bloom on a bromeliad can be the one on a plant you have grown from a seed. It will be the result of time, effort, numerous unprintable words and, most of all patience.
Certainly no one, other than Mother Nature, is present in the jungle to plant and care for the seeds as they grow happily in their ideal conditions. When plants are brought into cultivation the whole picture changes, as try as we might, we cannot achieve the exact growing conditions of that plant in its natural habitat.
Fortunately, most bromeliads will adapt well to cultivation and the theory that a seed germinated in cultivation under as ideal conditions as can be provided will have taken a step forward in adjusting and adapting to its surroundings. This has been proven with such as fernseea, which is almost impossible to bring into cultivation, yet seedlings are doing well.
Growing from seed is very important to people in areas where the supply of plants is not readily available, or when the demand is greater than the supply.
From the numerous methods used to germinate seed, one of the most successful is quite simple.
A clean 4" plastic pot filled to about ½" from the top with a mix of pre-moistened medium, such as Black Magic, is the first step. Smooth the medium as level as possible, then place the seeds on the top. It is not necessary to cover the seeds with the medium, however; in the case of plume type seed, such as guzmanias, vrieseas or tillandsias, it is well to spray them with a hand spray bottle filled with either rain water or bottled water.
Place the plastic pot in a 12" size plastic bag and put approximately ½ cup water in the bottom of the bag. Place a plant tag with the name of the seed and date planted in the pot and secure the top of the bag with a twistum. In this manner you have created a tiny greenhouse for your seedlings. Place the pot in a shaded area where the temperature is warm and preferably does not vary more than 10° between day and night.
Germinating time is variable. There is no set number of days but experience has shown approximately 8 to 14 days for such as aechmeas, billbergias, etc. Guzmanias, vrieseas, and other plume type seeds can take as long as three weeks. Tillandsias are by far the most difficult to germinate and handle.
When good germination has taken place, bring the pot into good light but no direct sun. When the seedlings have reached approximately ½" in height, open the bag a few hours a day for 3 or 4 days. This serves as a hardening period and begins to acclimate the seedlings to being out of their humid greenhouse. When the final day of hardening off arrives, pull the bag down level with the top of the pot and by this time you will usually find it necessary to pour a little more water in the bottom of the bag.
Try to keep the humidity near the seedlings as high as possible. If a greenhouse is not available, a kitchen shelf close to the sink is a suitable area. Spray the seedlings every few days to keep them moist. At this time you may begin to feed the seedlings carefully. Use a good balanced fertilizer at ¼ the recommended strength. Apply the fertilizer with the spray bottle, feeding in this manner once a week. Too much fertilizer will promote leggy weak growth, and used too strong will burn.
When the second set of leaves is well formed you may transfer the seedlings to a community pot. An ideal container is a plastic pony pack tray or any container of that type. Be sure to make holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill the container with pre-moistened medium such as was used in the germinating pot. Transplant carefully, placing the seedlings about 1" apart. Continue spraying and feeding the seedlings until they are approximately 3" tall.
The seedlings are now ready to be placed in individual 2 ½" to plastic pots, again using the same type pre-moistened medium.
At this time you may start watering with tap water, if you so desire, and reduce feeding to twice a month.
It is not unusual to have lost 10% of the seedlings in the transplanting process. Also, plastic pots have been recommended during the growing and developing period as clay pots will absorb the moisture from the medium and endanger the root growth.
When the seedlings have begun to show good sturdy growth and seem to be outgrowing the small pots, they can then be placed in a pot, using a well drained loose mix. This should be the last necessary transplanting as this size pot should accommodate your plants to blooming size.
Some plants, such as a number of the smaller aechmeas and neoregelias, can be grown to blooming size in two years. The guzmanias and vrieseas take longer and are slower growing.
The most important things to remember are good light, protection from the cold, and humidity. Patience is also very important as the minute we plant a seed a vision of a bloom tomorrow comes into our mind and since some of these seeds are going to produce a plant 3' tall, it is wise to remember the time element involved.
Two men championed the growing of bromeliads in Europe during the later half of the nineteenth century—Edouard Andre—writer, editor, plantsman, landscape architect, and explorer—and Charles Jacques Edouard Morren—botanist, horticulturist, artist, professor, and writer. The bromeliad world today would indeed be poorer had it not been for the zeal and untiring efforts of these two plantsmen—one a Frenchman and the other a Belgian.
Morren, born in Belgium in 1833, came by his love of plants naturally, for his father Charles was a distinguished professor of botany. Young Morren had an exceptionally well-rounded education, majoring in philosophy and fine arts in his under graduate years and then going on to receive his doctorate in natural sciences. He continued his training in horticulture by visiting and studying at the famous botanic gardens of Europe.
Two illustrations by Morren
Photos taken at Kew by L. B. Smith
While still in his teens Morren became interested in plant illustration, endeavoring to reproduce plants as realistically as possible, in their true colors, and paying particular attention to all the nuances of light and shade. His illustrations, numbering well in the hundreds, appeared in the horticultural journal La Belgique Horticole, which had been started by his father. Among the many plant subjects which he depicted in his water-color drawings, 250 were of bromeliads, a plant family which had captured his attention. These plates are today in the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, England. They are of varying sizes, most of them being life sized. There are over 100 drawings that have never been published, and many are of types or species that never have been illustrated. No one has ever given us so many exquisite, finely executed drawings of bromeliads as has Morren. Each is a genuine work of art, at the same time capturing every scientific detail of the plant.
Once he embarked on his horticultural career, Morren undertook to become active in as many horticultural organizations and scientific endeavors as he could. He was a professor at the university as well as the director of the botanic garden at Liege, at the same time keeping in contact with botanists and their activities throughout the world. He wrote on many aspects of botany and horticulture, and in 1869 he addressed the Botanical Congress at St. Petersburg on the influence of light on plants, a lecture which aroused much comment.
Morren amassed a great collection of bromeliad species both at his home and at the botanic garden. His manuscripts concerning bromeliads are considerable, as he endeavored to describe with great exactitude, as well as paint in water colors, all the species that were actually known at that time (1882). Carl Mez said that he owed more to Morren than to any other bromeliad botanist.
Morren liked living plants, and it is a tragedy that he was not able to realize one of his great dreams—a trip to the forests and mountains of Brazil. But he practically wore himself out with all his activities, and to the great grief of the horticultural world died in 1886 at the age of 53. He left a son, E. Morren, who became the well-known hybridizer.
JOHN DAVID SKRIVANEKThe Bromeliad Society/Houston successfully bid for and received unanimous approval for the 1972 B.S.I. dinner meeting, the first one to be held outside the state of California. The young and enthusiastic southwest affiliate, which in just four short years experienced phenomenal growth and made "bromeliad" a household word in the greater Houston area, began almost two years of concerted planning to ensure a successful anniversary celebration for the B.S.I. Reaction to an annual meeting in the southwest was received favorably by many of the affiliates for a central location and it became apparent from the very beginning that the response in attendance would be outstanding. As a result, and after collaborative consideration, the concept of a World Bromeliad Conference was born to be combined with an All-Bromeliad Show.
The World Bromeliad Conference '72 was held at the Rice Hotel on June 3 and 4. Twenty-three of the twenty-five affiliates were represented, with participants from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, South America, the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe. Twelve B.S.I. board members and four honorary trustees attended. More than 300 B.S.I. and affiliate members registered for the two days of activities, and a crowd estimated at 6,000 swarmed through the All-Bromeliad Show and displays. Thousands more in the greater Houston area received on four television stations, prime time WBC '72 interviews and mini courses on bromeliad culture. Local newspapers carried interviews, stories, and special color coverage on the Conference activities. Neiman-Marcus and Foley's department stores of Houston featured window displays and Southern Living garden editor, H. C. Thompson, twice visited Houston to photograph and compile articles on bromeliads for the popular magazine. Rice Hotel officials concurred that the B.S.I. World Conference '72 was the most beautiful conference staging in recent memory.
The popular attraction at WBC '72 was the All-Bromeliad Flower Show and staging with affiliate, commercial, and educational displays from around the world. The twelve commercial and affiliate entries along with the plants entered for judging gave show goers an interesting and colorful variety of size, form, and color in the beauty of the Bromeliaceae. By noon of the first day, it was apparent that the well-stocked Bromeliad Society/Houston sales booth would be sold out the first day and arrangements were made with local nurseries for additional stock. Another sales booth featuring an assortment of literature on bromeliads sold out the first day. More than 150 individuals signed up for the repeat of last year's successful 'Short Course on Bromeliads.'
The beautiful staging for WBC '72 was due to the tireless and creative Fritz Kubisch of Culver City, California. Mr. Kubisch designed and planned the layout for the show rooms and the world globe display. Creating a smooth flow of traffic for the large area utilized was no easy task. Coordinating the erection of the large pine trees for the jungle walk, the world globe area, and commercial and affiliate display areas, Mr. Kubisch directed the seemingly indefatigable work crew two and one half days prior to the opening of the Conference.
The Bromeliad Society/Houston received the trophy from the B.S.I. by unanimous vote of the judges for the world globe and jungle walk staging. The world globe revolved on top of a mound some five feet high and thirty-five feet in diameter. It was surrounded by lush tropical growth and a large assortment of bromeliads in prime bloom. Cryptanthus 'IT' located Houston on the world globe. Next to the world globe, massive pine trees featuring Mexican tillandsias provided a canopy for the sales booths. Commercial and affiliate displays included a thatched hut with colorful parrot lights, a waterfall, contemporary room display of bromeliads in an assortment of decorative containers, solid areas of exquisite hybrids for mass affect, a gamut of bromeliad jungle scenes, and educational and photographic props. The B.S.I. gold medallion in plant competition was awarded to Bessie Jones, Willis, Texas, for her Tillandsia streptophylla. Susan Eatherton, Houston, von the silver medallion for Aechmea orlandiana var. Ensign. Entries from Costa Rica, Colorado, Austin, Corpus Christi, and Houston won bronze medallions. Molly Sheffield, Houston, was awarded sweepstakes for the most blue ribbons.
The World Bromeliad Conference luau banquet was held in the elegant Crystal Ballroom immediately following a social hour on the Rice Hotel mezzanine packed with a fantastic collection of brom lovers. The luau, complete with suckling pig and pineapple halves filled with fruit, set the pace for the activities that evening. The folding wall behind the buffet tables was opened and the revolving spotlighted world globe, surrounded by the flag of each country represented, overlooked the banquet area. Behind the world globe, the jungle walk with the massive pine trees appeared under dim simulated jungle lighting to create a scene of serenity and beauty. At the opposite end, the speaker's platform and tables for the dignitaries looked over the more than 300 assembled participants.
Master of Ceremonies, Marion LeBlanc of Louisiana, introduced Patrick Mitchell of Houston, World Bromeliad Conference '72 Chairman, who welcomed the B.S.I. to the Conference. Mr. Merrill O'Neal, BS/H president, welcomed the guests to Houston, and Mr. Bill Paylen, B.S.I. president, extended the welcome to the meeting. After the introductions of notable guests, Mr. Robert Wilson, Costa Rica, addressed the B.S.I. with a slide-illustrated program concerning his and Mrs. Wilson's lives with bromeliads.
It was a distinct pleasure to have Bob and Catherine Wilson at WBC '72. Their cordial manner and warm smiles endeared them to all present at the banquet. Since moving to San Vito de Java in Costa Rica some ten years ago, their lives have revolved around two things: building a collection of plants as a species reserve which now features some 350 species of bromeliads plus hybrids and some 3500 acquisitions of other plant forms and, secondly, their maintaining accommodations reserved for people who are making scientific studies. In this part of their endeavor they are closely associated with the Organization of Tropical Studies, a consortium of 30 U. S. universities. They have available for students of natural sciences a study area of over 300 acres mostly in original tropical rain forest, a delightful climate at 4000 ft. elevation (60°-70°), and an unequalled appreciation for plant life.
Patrick Mitchell, board member and Affiliate Societies Chairman, received the only B.S.I. award at the 22nd anniversary celebration. Pat's work with the affiliates and the outstanding job he did in planning and coordinating WBC '72 received hardy applause. BS/H presented Mr. Fritz Kubisch with a silver mug in appreciation for his friendship to the Houston society since its founding. It was largely through the efforts of Fritz, an Honorary BS/H member, that WBC '72 staging was such a success. In February of this year, 18 Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Austin members flew to Vera Cruz, Mexico, and then inland 80 miles to Fortin de las Flores where, with Fritz as guide, more than 3000 pounds of 35 species of bromeliads were collected, delivered to Brownsville for fumigation on three planes, and trucked to Houston, to be sold and used at the Conference.
The evening's activities came to a close with Pat Mitchell and Bea Hanson presenting the door prizes and a story from Mr. Mulford Foster. With a twinkle in his eye and hands clasped around a clump of Spanish moss, the B.S.I. Founding President related his now famous "Monkey Beard" story! The audience responded with a warm and thundering applause.
After the B.S.I. Board Meeting the next morning which included representatives from the affiliates and approval of B.S.I. affiliation for the New England Bromeliad Society, the Conference was held in the Sam Houston Room of the Rice Hotel. Four papers were presented to a standing-room-only crowd and the interest and questions from the attentive audience made this portion of WBC '72 most rewarding.
Marcel Lecoufle of France expressed the feelings of many others that a conference of this type should be held at least every three years in many different countries as have the World Orchid Conferences for some time. He discussed the origins of European bromeliad cultures, methods of cultivation with respect to light intensity, and showed extraordinary slides of his travels to South America and his greenhouses in France. Mr. Lecoufle also commented on the meristeming of bromeliads, a technique developed in France, that is still in the research stages.
Dr. Edward McWilliams, of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, reviewed his current research on bromeliads. He discussed the taxonomy, morphology, physiology, life history, occurrence, and biotic inter-relationships of bromeliads and indicated that the galloping popularity of the Bromeliaceae is way ahead of our scientific knowledge of this family of plants. Dr. McWilliams illustrated the epidermal peel technique for identification of sterile plants and a method for determining the viability of pollen grains by staining and microscopic observation. The pollen of hybrids tends to have a lower degree of viability than that of species.
Dr. David Benzing, of Oberlin College, Ohio, reviewed his research with bromeliads and observations involving foliar permeability and mineral requirements. He also discussed his interesting observations between xerophytic epiphytes and the tank epiphytes.
Mr. Ervin Wurthmann, Tampa, Florida, represented the commercial interest in bromeliads with emphasis on hybridizing. Exhibiting plants he brought with him, Mr. Wurthmann predicted that the bromeliad of the future will be a smaller plant with increased durability, hopefully spineless for handling and packing, and with bright foliar color. New methods will be used for forcing plants into bloom. Only the surface has been scratched with respect to the introduction of new hybrids.
The outstanding success of the World Bromeliad Conference '72 could not have happened without the overwhelming response and attendance from B.S.I. and affiliate members, the large number of area garden enthusiasts who came by to see and learn, and the hard work of so many people who helped put this Conference together. We can now look forward to the 1975 twenty-fifth silver anniversary meeting and celebration to be held in California.
This handsome vriesea is one of the giants of the genus, its leathery leaves measuring 6 inches in width and 5 feet in length. A native of Brazil, it may be seen growing at an elevation of 4500 feet on the barren rocky slopes of the Organ Mountains in the state of Rio de Janeiro, basking in the warm sun and enjoying the cool nights.
It is a hardy plant in subtropical gardens and is often used as an accent note amid other tropical foliaged plants—its leaves turning a rich maroon in good light. The imposing inflorescence may reach 6 or more feet in height; the yellowish, slightly fragrant flowers emerging from glossy, deep red bracts.
The above photo, taken by Bonnie Roberts of Wilton, California, is of a plant growing in the lath house of Jeanne and Mike Kashkin in Los Angeles.