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.
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.
1973-1976: Robert G. Burstrom, Leonard Kent, Eric Knobloch, Elmer Lorenz, Patrick Mitchell, Edward McWilliams, Harold W. Wiedman, Kelsey Williams.
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 — JAN., FEB., 1974
Vriesea 'Mariae' — Photo by Elmer Lenz
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.
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GEORGE KALMBACHERFor its size the Dominican Republic has a wealth of bromeliad species. Its area is a little over 19,000 square miles, a little bit more than the combined states of Vermont and New Hampshire. Yet it has 58 known bromeliad species, and that's not counting the different subspecies varieties that occur. Tillandsias are the big thing with 28 different species, Pitcairnias with 9, Vrieseas 8, Catopsis 5, Guzmanias 4, Bromelias 2, Aechmea 1, and an Ananas comosus escape, the true pineapple when growing wild, but representing a retrograde small form. The full list with species will be given later in this article.
As is typical of those countries where bromeliads flourish in the native flora, persons who are capable of identifying them are rare. To find out where desired kinds are to be found is pretty much of the time an insurmountable task. I spent time with the three persons in the Dominican Republic who, know bromeliads, one of whom is Luis Ariza Julia, a business man living in Puerto Plata, whose interest in the local bromeliads over the years has made him the most knowledgeable man on Dominican Republican bromeliads in the world. Then there is Dr. Jose de J. Jimenez, whose profession is that of a medical doctor, a man in love with all the plants that grow in that country, who has collected for his herbarium enough to make it the largest private one in the country. The third man to introduce me to some of the plants of the Dominican Republic is Dr. Alain Liogier, a professor of botany and Director of Botany of the ambitious botanical garden at Santo Domingo with plans to become in ten years an outstanding tropical botanical garden.
Let me make the observation at this point that these three men who are so valuable to knowledge of Dominican plants have a very good knowledge of English, and from what I know, German as well in the case of Luis and Jose. It is no doubt their ability to gather information through these language channels that has enabled them to be of such paramount use in the study of the bromeliads of their country. Readers know about Luis Ariza Julia since he is an Honorary Trustee of the Society and has written for the Journal . . . Since I speak no Spanish, it was most fortunate that I could communicate with these gentlemen in English.
|Tillandsia capitata — garden of Luis Ariza-Julia|
|Aechmea mulfordii — garden of Luis Ariza-Julia|
It was my good fortune to meet Luis and his wife at the World Bromeliad Conference in Houston, Texas, in June 1972; and hearing from him about his garden that contained some bromeliads that I was not acquainted with, I discussed the possibility of paying him a visit. So it was in March, 1973 that I spent three weeks in the Dominican Republic. I was also told about Dr. Jose de Jimenez and I wrote to him. His cheerful letters decided me to spend time visiting with him. And the letters from Dr. Liogier were further reasons for my looking forward to botanic forays in the Dominican Republic.
I made several deliberate tours of Luis' garden and visited three impressive outstanding tropical gardens of relatives of Luis and will give details of bromeliads in these gardens later. Dr. Liogier took me out on two excursions the first days of this trip. The following week Luis took me and Jose on a two-day trip up into the highlands toward the mountain resort of Constanza, stopping here and there wherever they saw promising interesting epiphytic bromeliads, and places they knew to have particular plants they wished to collect.
On the third day Luis took me on a trip along the northwest coast, then southward part of the way near the Haitian border, then into highland country where a new paved road had opened country, rather remote, that had not been easily accessible before. This three-day trip was the highlight of my trip, and you can imagine my appreciation since I was the only person outside his country that he had taken on such a trip of exploration. The Dominican Republic, incidentally, has a very commendable highway system, so that we covered a lot of ground. Adding further to the completeness of the trip, Luis' chauffeur, Juan B. Polanco, proved an adept acrobat and tree climber in retrieving plants. He knows epiphytic bromeliads and orchids, but not by their botanical names. I will share with you latter the details of this excursion.
Interested in phenomenon? Tillandsia recurvata is what I call a phenomenon plant. Besides growing on trees, shrubs, cactus and rock faces, its dramatic speciality is growing on stretches of telephone wires. Its abundance on the telephone wires in the very heart of Santiago, the second largest city and one of the oldest in the hemisphere, is fantastic. The streets are very narrow and there is a profusion of wires overhead. There are sets of lines loaded in long stretches of closely growing — continuous or variously spaced — clusters of this "ball moss" or "bunch moss". These sets are probably old wires because there are other wires without them that may be too new or with a covering that discourages them, or possibly too high.
These ball mosses began to appear on the approach to the city and became more numerous in the heart of the old city. Something paralleling this occurred in several hamlets in the drier areas in the northwest. On approaching these settlements that consisted solely of homes and establishments stretched out for some distance along the road with no back streets, I noticed the first clusters of this Tillandsia, with increasing crescendo up to a central point, and then upon leaving the town a more or less decrease until a vanishing point was reached.
Now the question: what is the explanation of this? What occurs to me is that it is the amount of carbon dioxide incident on human activity that fosters this phenomenon. Any suggestions?
What is interesting about this plant also is its great range and abundance. It is found from Florida down to Argentina and over to Brazil. As far as individuals are concerned it likely has more clumps over the warm parts of this hemisphere than any other bromeliad. Tillandsia recurvata has uninteresting flowers, but is a shining example of a plant pushing through vast regions. It, with Spanish Moss, is a conqueror of air spaces. All the great number of plants that people are apt to be acquainted with, that are bound up with the necessities of human life, agriculture and otherwise economic, need the good earth for support and normal growth of their roots, yet here are formidable populators that have become adapted to a different kind of world.
Come, now, and drop in on Luis' garden. He is down at sea level just a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean. He is interested in growing the native bromeliad species. These naturally can be grown outdoors the year around—shade is provided by trees—except that there are a few that grow as cloud forest plants, such as Tillandsia caribbaea and compacta, that do not get established properly under his garden conditions. T. ariza-juliae, which he discovered and which is named after him, is represented by a sole specimen . . . . there were only a very few to be had to begin with. Some of his bromeliads are very large such as T. baliophylla and Vriesea tuerckheimii.
Supplementing the natives are some "foreign" ornamentals. Three that were in bloom during my visit were among the "cream of the crop" among cultivated bromeliads: Aechmea dichlamydea, var. trinitensis, Hohenbergia stellata and Aechmea mulfordii, previously called Gravisia fosteriana. The latter when it was transferred to Aechmea could not be called A. fosteriana, because there was another plant already called by that name. In order to have the name continue to honor Mulford B. Foster it was given Foster's first name by Dr. Lyman B. Smith. It is a really spectacular plant but too large for northern windows. When I was in Hawaii in November, 1972, I saw this plant in blossom in the famous Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, an outstanding exciting display, a feature of the Garden at that time. But no one knew its name—which included me at the time—its label was missing. It had been given to the Garden with its name by the donor, Howard Yamamoto, who was not available to examine it. So, see, it was in Luis' garden that I found out from him its name a few months later.
|Mrs. Julia Bermudez uses bromeliads as a part of landscape design.|
One of Luis native species acquisitions are a few plants of Vriesea tuerckheimii, which blossom for him regularly every year, but one does not. The one that does not is from high altitudes, the type locality at Constanza, the ones that do he recalls are from Samana Bay at sea level, where he has seen a whole hillside covered from top to bottom at the shore with V. tuerckheimii. In visualizing this you will recall that this is a large plant. Incidentally, Luis points out that the great disparity of stations of this particular species indicates its great adaptability. His garden also has Tillandsia capitata which, so far as is known, grows only at one locality in the Dominican Republic, on a limestone hill in the eastern part. This same form, he notes, grows in Cuba in a similar habitat. His mounted clump of a Mexican plant of this species is a foliage masterpiece of slender copper-red growing leaves . . . . It never need flower!
Luis has plants of Vriesea sanguinolenta and I have just today (July 23) received a letter from him in which he says; "Will have a magnificent inflorescence of V. sanguinolenta with 8 spikes on a plant from Panama which I have had for years, that never flowered before. I used Florel on it but not on the native plants of that species, as they flower without artificial stimulation."
At the time of my visit Luis' Vriesea glutinosa was showing its final flowering phase with large stalk, branches and bracts glowing a strong dark red, but as Luis pointed out to me, flowers had failed to emerge, just as not one had emerged the year before. This intrigued me inasmuch as Ed Sard of our New York Branch had told me about his specimen that had acted somewhat like Luis' plant. The stage is set, is it were, and the props are there, but the actors fail to show up! I wonder if this is a clone that behaves this way all the time, or if a limiting factor could be the cause, since here at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this species fulfills its complete cycle and large red flowers push out in normal order slowly as the days go by.
Considering the native Aechmea nudicaulis, Luis says it is not worth garden merit because the inflorescence is not exserted enough. Guzmania eckmanii, named for the famous Hispaniola botanist-explorer, is found only on the island, both in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. Luis has this endemic growing in his garden. It had flowered and the post-inflorescence stalk, long, upright, and unbranched was evident for me to see.
|Vriesea ringens growing in the botanical garden.|
Two other fine inflorescences worth mentioning were a large-type Ae. tillandsioides var. kienastii, the best I have seen in my limited experience, and a variegated Ananas bracteatus with a showy starlike and sun-rayed effect that could be called a study of beauty in geometry!
Despite all these exciting possibilities as exemplified in Luis' garden with its native bromeliad riches and introduced kinds, the native people, even with their love of plants and flowers and the many gardens in the yards of many, many people, even those of the very poorest, about the only bromeliads one may see are occasional Bromelias, and they are grown for defense against encroachment or protection.
Luis' garden is not an organized one. Quite different was the garden in Santiago that belongs to Mrs. Julia Bermudez who designs and emphasizes landscaping. She has been strongly influenced by Japanese ideas, so that here one sees bromeliads, for instance, growing in large handsome oriental jardinieres. Bromeliads are among her favorites, but there are other plants. Everything is done with a special touch, and taste and imagination are everywhere. A giant piece of driftwood adorned with bromeliads was a work of art.
Bromeliads in the garden of Luis Ariza Julia
|Aechmea tillandsioides var. Kienastii|
|Ananas bracteatus var. variegata|
A clump of Aechmea weilbachii had three jim-dandy stalks of flowers. Could it be that they were varnished with red lacquer?
I visited what probably are the two outstanding tropical gardens, and these both belong to, and are the work of, one man!—Gustavo Tavares. One is located in Santiago, his original home and the location of his department store; the other is in the resort town of Sosua, where he has his week-end home. He has some bromeliads, but his forte takes in the fantastic Heliconias as well as showy orchids and colorful trees, shrubs and various ornamentals.
The Spanish Moss, Tillandsia usneoides, is called Guajaca by the Dominicans. It is to be found in the pine woods, but is not the rampant populator it is in our southern bayous. As one drives along speedily it may be hard to distinguish it from the Old Man's Beard, (Usnea) that gives it its specific name. Incidentally, a Tillandsia lescaillei that we collected had some Usnea tangled in the inflorescence . . . . . In scanning the trees for epiphytes one may come across clumps of green that are tropical mistletoes. Since they are green—so are temperate ones—they are not wholly parasitic, since they could have no chlorophyll if they were. Bromeliads are easily distinguished from orchids.
Soon after my arrival Dr. Alain Liogier took me to the botanical garden of which he is Director of Botany—Jardin Botanico Dr. Rafael M. Moscoso. Extensive collecting of local plants is being pursued for planting in the garden. Alain took me to view the propagating area, or nursery. A few bromeliads were growing in the shaded plots. There was one fairly large species with leaf markings and bands, a very variable species with regard to such patterning. Of the several plants of that kind, there were two that intrigued me no end I thought the patterns were so beautiful. Dr. Liogier, since he had seen no blossoming and not knowing the species beforehand, could give me no name. It was a couple of weeks before I got a clue to its identity, and this was when Luis identified such an acquisition as we were collecting. The plant I refer to, Luis called Vriesea ringens. In fact, there were two of them that I brought back with me, but one died. I sent Luis my slide of the botanical garden plant after I got back and had it developed, and asked him if that was not V. ringens. He replied yes, there is no other bromeliad like it in the Dominican Republic. I have learned since that there is a plain green form. What an anticlimax!
(to be continued)
Well, why not grow them? This genus, for various reasons, has not attracted much interest or publicity and might therefore appeal to people who are looking for something a little different from all those familiar aechmeas, billbergias, and so on. Surely, in such a large genus, it would not be unreasonable to expect a number of fine plants and colorful flowers.
Information concerning the growing requirements of these plants is not so plentiful as one might wish; and, as is so often the case, the species which are described in articles are not obtainable. So we are faced with the interesting task of discovering their requirements for ourselves.
Nomenclature, too, is not always so accurate as it might be, although this can add interest to the culture of the genus ; one never knows what fascinating plant may turn up, hiding under some pseudonym. Obviously, there is a lot to learn and some interesting discoveries to be made.
The first plant I acquired was labeled Pitcairnia flammea var. pallida. And by the way, I can never understand why, of some six varieties of flammea, var. pallida appears to be the only one grown in Australia. Maybe some of the others are here, but under different names. Anyway, the plant finally flowered and turned out to be P. undulata, an interesting if not exactly colorful species. A seedling of undulata flowered at the same time, which enabled me to identify the first plant. These plants were easy to grow and quite hardy despite their somewhat soft leaves, needing only plenty of water and some feeding when growth was active to build up to a flowering sized plant.
Another early arrival was Pitcairnia andreana, a small plant with attractive wavy foliage and a very showy inflorescence in yellow and orange. Here at any rate was one fine species. This variety proved a little more difficult to grow; clearly it is not so hardy as many of the others and although it is not deciduous, it does appear to have a dormant period during the winter. At this stage watering may rot the plant. I am not sure that there are any active roots to absorb the water in any case at this time of year.
By now some of the characteristics of the genus were becoming evident, one of these being the long time taken for the petals to develop in the buds before the flower finally opens. The inflorescence seems to grow steadily at first with the buds appearing without any delay. Then there is a long spell during which nothing much seems to happen until finally the petals emerge and open. Fortunately, the sepals, sometimes the entire inflorescence, are usually colored as well as the petals, so the spike is attractive for a long period before the flower opens. The petals last three or four days before withering.
Pitcairnia flammea var. pallida finally arrived, a nice hardy plant, easy to grow, which soon flowered. While the white flowers may not be particularly ornamental, they do have one interesting feature not often found in bromeliads—they are scented. A further point of interest was that the scent closely resembled that of the flowers of an olive tree which was flowering at the same time. So this species, too, proved worth while, for an unusual reason.
With so few plants available locally, there was only one way to increase my collection—grow them from seed. After a few not so successful attempts, the requirements for growing from seed soon began to sort themselves out. Fortunately, the seed, like most seed of the subfamily, remained viable for a long time, and I don't think any seed I obtained failed to germinate. The seed is very small and may take a long time to germinate, but sooner or later it will do so.
The seed was sown on top of a compost of coarse sand plus some leaf mold, and a clear plastic bag was placed over the pot. The seed was kept just moist until germination commenced by spraying when necessary. As soon as the leaves begin to appear it is better to remove the plastic bag, giving the seedlings plenty of air. Growth can be very slow in the case of most species, and the seedlings generally do much better if left in the original pot until they are a fair size. It is also, I think, a mistake to transplant them at the beginning of winter. Even if they are quite large, I still prefer to leave transplanting until the spring and it is clear that growth is active.
As we might expect, not all the seed which we obtain is correctly named, and some interesting plants may appear. I must admit that I have never heard of many of the species being offered, so that is another point of interest, waiting to see what they are like. The first lot of seed I acquired included Pitcairnia carinata. This has proved to be a hardy, easily grown species with an all red inflorescense up to one meter high, colorful for a long time before the flowers finally open. A similar plant is labeled Pitcairnia roezlii, but this has yet to flower. Seeds labeled P. heterophylla have yielded seedlings with extremely long, narrow leaves. This species is more or less deciduous, very slow growing, with a small bulbous base; it is obviously not heterophylla. On the other hand, seed of the species angustifolia (?) has produced robust plants with unusually broad leaves. One never knows just what is going to come up. These seedlings have the usual grassy leaves, but they are almost devoid of scales. Some of the other seedlings I am growing also show this feature, while many other species are densely covered with white scales. It would be interesting to know whether these smooth-leaved plants are primitive types just beginning to evolve scales.
One of the most interesting species I have grown so far is Pitcairnia mirabilis var. tucumana. The name was enough to make me order seed; surely a plant with a name like that must be interesting, and var. tucumana suggests that it comes from the Tucuman hills, which I believe are in northern Argentina, so it should be hardy. Unlike most other species, the seed germinated quickly and the seedlings grew fast. The plants finally grew into strange affairs quite unlike any other pitcairnia I had seen. There is a large bulbous base with several tufts of tillandsia-like leaves sprouting from various points on top. These leaves are provided with small, innocent-looking thorns, but careless handling of the plants soon revealed the purpose of these spines. They are very sharp and penetrate one's fingers with ease, becoming detached from the leaf at the same time. This plant grows well in the open, taking sun, wind, rain, hail, anything that comes. While my plants have not yet flowered, I am told the petals are green.
Some time ago I was given a small plant labeled "Dyckia velascana." It is a small species with rosettes of narrow, arching leaves about 8 cms in diameter. The leaf blades are about same width throughout their length, do not have a sharp thorn at the tip, and bear rather soft spines, widely spaced. The plant flowered in the summer, a 20 cm high stem with three yellow flowers. From the characteristics of the flowers I am sure that this plant is a pitcairnia. The growth habit is very similar to that of P. mirabilis tufts of narrow arching leaves on top of a large bulbous base. It is an attractive and interesting miniature plant, and I hope I can eventually find out its identity.
These are some of the reasons why I enjoy growing pitcairnias. They are full of surprises, there is a very large number of species to choose from, and they certainly add variety to a collection of bromeliads.
—Margaret River, Western Australia.
Vriesea leucophylla L. B. Smith var. subtessellata Utley|
(The machete gives some idea of the size of the plant)
Costa Rica, with upwards of 55 Vriesea species, is second only to Brazil in abundance of species in this genus. Considering the small size of Costa Rica, 19,652 square miles, (as compared with Brazil's 3,286,470) the presence of approximately 25% of the described species of Vriesea seems somewhat paradoxical. However, Costa Rica's central position in the Middle Oligocene migration routes proposed by Graham and Jarzen (1969) and the environmental diversity present in the country may go a long way in explaining the apparent anomaly.
During a recent trip to Costa Rica my wife, Kathy, and I collected a striking Vriesea in the Cordillera Central which has its closest affinities with V. leucophylla L. B. Smith from the Cordillera de Talamanca but differs from it in having transverse purple markings in the leaves and symmetrical sepals. While the specimen does not seem worthy of recognition as a species it seems well within the bounds of tradition to accord it varietal status.
VRIESEA LEUCOPHYLLA L. B. Smith var. SUBTESSELLATA Utley, var. nov. Fig. 1 A var. leucophylla L. B. Smith foliis purpureofasciatis, sepalis aequilateris differt.
Stemless, about 60 cm tall in flower. Leaves arching, many, in a crateriform rosette, about 35 cm long with pale appressed brown centered scales throughout, these tending to form poorly defined longitudinal bands below; sheaths elliptic about 13 cm long; blades narrowly triangular, 25 mm wide at the base, suffused with narrow, irregular, weakly anastomosing purple bands, which tend to be more distinct on the undersurface. Scape slightly curved, 30 cm long; scape bracts imbricate, red. Inflorescence cylindric, bipinnate, 22 cm long; primary bracts red, geniculate-spreading, glabrous at the base becoming densely covered with pale, dark-centered, trichomes distally, the lower bracts about 7 cm long; branches shortly stipitate, 2 flowered. Floral bracts glabrous, orbicular, 14 mm long, splitting sagitally and then appearing bifid. Flowers subsessile, sepals symmetrical to subsymmetrical, obovate, about 13 mm long.
TYPE : Costa Rica : Province de San Jose. Southern slopes of Cerro Zurqui, 4-4.5 km north of San Isidro (de Coronado?). Altitude approximately 1800 M. 29 June 1972, John and Kathy Utley #401. (HOLOTYPE: DUKE, Photograph US)
DISTRIBUTION: Known only from the type location.
The distribution (as it is now known) of var. leucophylla and var. subtessellata and their collection at mid to higher altitudes (1650-2000 M) on the mountain ranges surrounding the Meseta Central tempts one to make some speculations concerning the evolution of the two taxa. It is too early for generalizations of this type; however I hope to report further on this and similar situations in the future.
The field work which resulted in the collection of the specimen herein described was partially supported by NSF Grant GB 27365. I wish to acknowledge the logistical support of the Organization for Tropical Studies and the sage counsel of Dr. Lyman Smith.
Graham, Alan and David M. Jarzen. 1969, Studies in Neotropical Paleobotany, I. The Oligocene Communities of Puerto Rico. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 56 (3):308-357.
—Department of Botany Duke University Durham, N. C. 27706
During the past year three bromeliad groups were added to the roster of Bromeliad Society Affiliates. They are the San Francisco Bromeliad Society, California; The Alamo Bromeliad Society, San Antonio, Texas; and the St. Petersburg Bromeliad Society, Florida. For information about the affiliate nearest you or material on how to form an affiliate, write to Mr. Patrick Mitchell, 7000 Fonvilla, #506, Houston, Texas.
Preparations are under way for the Silver Anniversary celebration of the Bromeliad Society to be held in June, 1975. This gala event, which will include a show, tours, lectures, banquet, and other social functions will be held in Orange County, the amusement center of southern California.