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.
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 — MARCH-APRIL, 1974
Tillandsia sucrei E. Pereira — Photo by Richard Oeser, M.D.
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 — $1.50
RICHARD OESER, M. D.
|Dr. Oeser in his greenhouse near Freiburg.|
Atmospheric tillandsias are very modest in their demands. For the amateur grower they are a specially favored group of those plants known generally as bromeliads. In earlier times they were found only in botanical gardens where they were sheltered and cared for, though they seldom had a long life. The cause of the high mortality rate was their accommodation in warm unventilated greenhouses, where high temperature and humidity prevailed and little change of air was provided. The fact that most tillandsias came from mountainous country where temperature and humidity fluctuated by day and night and where the air was always in motion was over-looked. In fact, the night temperature of those hilly regions can actually fall to freezing point.
Tillandsia enthusiasts have also been fascinated by the growth of these plants on telephone wires, where neither humus nor a constant humidity has been at their disposal. I never imagined, as I devoted my interest to them, that these plants could germinate and develop fully from seed on wire in my own glasshouse. After this had happened, however, we can say that as the goal had been achieved quite accidentally, the accommodation and care of atmospheric tillandsias should be such that their seed should be able to germinate and the seedling develop to maturity on wire in our glasshouse. In a lesser way, Tillandsia usneoides should grow plentifully if hung in the air.
Since many enthusiasts still have difficulties in raising tillandsias from seed, even when using my method of sowing on twig bundles, the following description will indicate how my glasshouse is cared for and what activities take place in it. The glasshouse is of a simple lean-to construction built on a south-facing wall with a floor space of 15 ft. × 25 ft. and interior heating only on the outer walls. Floor heating has been rejected. The heat is thermostatically controlled and varies between 54°F and 60°F. In my case the heating only comes on in very cold nights.
Ventilating windows in the roof and side walls are always wide open in the warm season by day and are closed in the evening after watering the plants. I have never observed any ill effects arising from the high humidity prevailing until the morning ventilation.
|Self-sown Tillandsia schiedeana on wire — about four years old.|
On the cold dark days, watering is carried out every 2 or 3 days. One must note that with closed windows and circulating heat, the atmosphere in the glasshouse is generally less favorable, and those places that in summer have been found especially favorable are no longer so. The plants must therefore be re-arranged by trial and error, a fact that has already been stressed by others.
On the glasshouse floor, four raised beds of large funnel bromeliads have been constructed. These plants hold a great deal of water in their reservoirs and therefore contribute somewhat to the atmospheric humidity. From the beginning the purpose was to accommodate as many tillandsias as possible, and to that end coarse (2-inch) plastic-covered wire netting was hung under, and roughly parallel, to the glass roof. The netting is sold here for fences and is covered in yellow plastic. At intervals the wire mesh is allowed to sag away from the glass, forming folds whose lower edges fall with the line of the lean-to roof and are some 12 inches away from it. Through these "troughs" the sprayed water flows and thoroughly moistens the mesh and plants below.
|Five-year-old seedlings of T. argentea, T. gardneri, T. funckiana.|
The tillandsias hang close together under the wire mesh on twigs of vine and other suitable wood, and on my twig bundles. The dense colony creates a favorable microclimate and the plants partly shade one another which is also desirable.
These details are all significant for the success of tillandsia culture. A small tillandsia sowing in an otherwise empty greenhouse has small chance of success.
An essential preventative measure at the beginning of the warmer season (here at the beginning of March) is the provision of shading to protect the plants from burning. I use a plastic netting of the texture of very coarse sacking to allow adequate light to pass: this remains in position until September. The shading remains in place on wet and cloudy days as removal entails too much work. In any case this is less damaging than exposure to unexpected sunshine. (However, plants that are hung in the open air and have been acclimatised are never burned in our temperate climate.)
Essential care is given daily in summer: in winter every two to three days is sufficient. Water with a high calcium content is unsuitable, but as we have very soft water (a German hardness of 3°) from the Black Forest, the house supply can be used without further thought. The plants are sprayed with a fine sprayer using warm water when the sun is low in the evening.
To feed the plants they may he dipped in a very dilute fertiliser solution. This is only done for those plants requiring special attention. Routine feeding is carried out in summer with a ½-gallon hand sprayer immediately after watering at intervals of about a week. The sprayer holds a fertiliser in the recommended concentration. Since the plants are wet before the application of fertiliser, this process is especially effective. Also, of course, such a hand sprayer can make the feeding rather more selective. I have not observed damage by this type of feeding but this frequent mild application of "air-borne" fertiliser does ensure the abundant growth of the tillandsias which, without such feeding or the constant wind, rain and fog-borne nourishment of the natural state, seldom flourish.
After the evening watering, the ventilators are closed and the humidity remains quite high until the next morning. At this time the ventilators are opened and the humidity falls rapidly. In winter, the humidity in the heated glasshouse falls as water condenses on the glass and runs away. Of course, routine feeding and watering does have drawbacks. This activity causes a vigorous growth of algae on the glass which in summer serves as a supplementary filter for the sunlight but which must be removed each winter. I do this with the aid of a high pressure jet of water.
With the accommodation described above, and when the seed-bearing plants are not removed, the following will occur. The ripe seed capsules on tillandsias will spring open on warm days and the seeds will emerge, unfurl and float away before they can be captured. In this manner, seeds from Tillandsia aeranthos, schiedeana and caput-medusae have settled on the wire mesh, often in exposed places, then anchored themselves and germinated. When I detected these colonies of unplanned tillandsia seedlings in places where it was not easy to reach them, some were already 2-3 years old and in excellent condition. Of course they had profited from the care described above, but the most astounding thing was that they were unburnt although sometimes only 8 inches from the glass roof. At the same time, seedlings on twig bundles in sheltered places had occasionally been burnt by an unexpected bout of sunshine in March. The survival of these randomly sown unplanned seedlings on the wire, exposed to the full sun I can only try to explain.
If tillandsias are sown by accident or design on vine twigs to which adult tillandsias are fixed, they can germinate. But sooner or later on a warm day, perhaps with only a short spell of sunshine, these seedlings become a burnt sacrifice! So the case that dead wood may heat up sufficiently to burn small tillandsias is confirmed. That they can, under similar conditions, survive on the wire mesh, I have proved by deliberately placing seeds on the wire with my fingers and observing them. I have had no ill effects with the germinating seed, even seed hanging insecurely has shown the first green stage of germination and then hung for a year by the "parachute" but growing despite this. Even so, the growth is retarded in comparison to seedlings on twig bundles (where misfortunes through bacteria and fungus are not likely to occur). A sterile atmosphere also prevails on the wire which is not a suitable host for the lower plants.
I have no intention of advocating the sowing of tillandsia seeds on wire, my purpose is rather to show the extreme conditions under which these plants may be accommodated from germination to flowering. The experienced gardener has difficulty in accepting that tillandsias do not like conventional potting which is, of course, contrary to most accepted plant culture. One might, perhaps, think in terms of hydroculture. Here, however, tillandsia culture distinguishes itself in the predominant factors of light and air, and the fluctuating humidity requirements. Growth depends, without doubt, on the leaves (i.e. I suggest that the primary absorption of nutriment is via the leaves). What is less conclusive is that tillandsias, after reaching a certain stage in their growth, use dead leaves or captured organic material by absorption through the roots. Therefore one may successfully cultivate some tillandsias (notably lindenii, brachycaulos and caput-medusae) from a certain age as pot plants at the expense of losing their unique individuality. As pure air plants they are heaven and nearer to our hearts!
Furthermore, it has been shown by chance that smooth-leaved funnel bromeliads, whether as a tillandsia or vriesea, can behave thoroughly like atmospheric tillandsias, from germination to the completion of the initial small rosette of leaves perhaps an inch in diameter. Indeed they will even grow on wire in an emergency! But these early forms of growth do not resemble the mother plant. They have hair fine leaves and as yet possess no water reservoir. After the metamorphosis from atmospheric to funnel bromeliads, which I found to be about 3 years after sowing, a very swift growth sets in. In a mixed sowing the true funnel bromeliads outgrew their atmospheric brothers by a factor of 3 in 1-2 years.
Similarly to these funnel bromeliads, Tillandsia pruinosa undergoes a certain change. It also develops rather thin scaly leaves which become thicker and more succulent in the adult form, the transition occurring at 2-3 years of age. In other seedlings (e.g. Tillandsia caput-medusae) such a metamorphosis has not been observed.
|Oeser hybrids — T. brachycaulos × T. caput medusae|
These short notes should show that, in a well ventilated and cared-for glasshouse, new observations are constantly being made which in turn pose new questions. Our knowledge is standing only at the beginning. As more and more people become enthusiasts perhaps these lines, which result from the systematic relation of observations to the growing body of knowledge about bromeliads, will help them. These endeavors are never boring. They make the growing of these fascinating plants less random, insure greater possibility of success, and win new friends to our hobby.
—Freiburg, West Germany. (Translated by Dr. R. Deeming, Germany)
WILLIAM ROGERSIn this article I wish to list some plants I know of besides bromeliads which hold water and give some possible reasons for this occurring. My knowledge comes as a professional gardener who has worked with hothouse plants and as an amateur botanist. We think of the water tanks of bromeliads as being somewhat unique to that family. It is probably the group with the most highly developed water-holding apparatus, but many other plants have similar systems.
The other plants I know of are all Monocotyledons, members of Liliaceae, Musaceae, Commelinaceae, Pandanaceae, and Araceae. It would be of interest to hear of any Dicotyledons with similar habits.
Most of the plants I list have a similar stem structure, a small button-like growing tip which doesn't elongate, from which arises a rosette or fan of leaves, each of which encircles or nearly encircles the growing tip, which helps provide the water-holding structure.
It would be interesting to know how and why these adaptations arose and what use the plant has made of them. It probably prevents desiccation of young fast-growing tissues in dry weather, helps provide a seal against drying out in such plants as the leek and the banana where the lower part of the leaf clasps the trunk before opening out into the blade. It may help prevent the attack of some insects. On the other hand, plants must have some powerful way of preventing rot in such conditions. For instance, in warm temperatures many bromeliads grow quite well wet, but in cool weather—below their normal requirements, they are very susceptible. This could be a breakdown in the plant's controlling system, or it could be a low temperature disease attacking, for which the plant has no resistance.
It is quite possible that a number of these plants put out exudations into their tanks—the Pitcher Plant is an extreme example. A friend who has one in his house assures me he never waters the pitchers yet they are always full of moisture. In his case the exudation contains materials to attract insects and then to digest them. Exudations in other plants might contain materials to digest fallen leaves and small animal droppings, possibly to help with evaporation control, lubricate especially where young fast-growing leaves overlap, sealants to prevent rot bacteria to get to susceptible tissues, and chemicals to control such disease organisms.
The shape of the water-holding apparatus probably affects the humidity of the plant's microclimate. The wide open tank types, such as nidulariums, with a big water surface, would have more evaporation, a much more humid atmosphere surrounding the leaves. Plants such as Aechmea recurvata with clasping leaves would have less evaporation, be conserving of water, and have a drier foliage microclimate. In bananas, arums, the young foliage grows in a surrounding of tougher old leaves which help create that humidity. To give a contrast — maples throw their new leaves at a time of the year when the humidity and temperature balance are naturally suitable.
EXAMPLES OF WATER-HOLDING PLANTS
The most accessible plant to the home gardener is the common leek in Liliaceae. In our New Zealand climate with wet winters it holds water all the time except when flowering even though the cup is small and open. In the leek the leaves form a sealed tube, the cup being only the top inch where the leaf-blade breaks away from the tube to fan out.
In a past issue of this journal Astelias are mentioned. Like the leek they are also in Liliaceae. About ten species occur in New Zealand, being mainly epiphytic or saxicolous. They look much like broms and live in similar habitats, forests, cliffs, mountains. They haven't attracted the attention of gardeners as they are big and rather weedy, and the flowers aren't very interesting. The plants form rosettes like broms, rather like a very skinny Aechmea calyculata. A closely related species Collosperum hastatum is fan shaped, the leaf bases of which are swollen.
The Traveler's Tree, Ravenala madagascariensis, and the banana Musa species belong to Musaceae. The Traveler's Tree has deep tube-like leaf axils. The water in the tube is said to be drinkable if nothing else is available, hence the name. The banana-like trunk is actually a series of enclosed leaf bases rather like the leek. It is the top section where the blade flares away that holds the moisture.
In Pandanaceae some Pandanus and Freycinetias appear to hold water. They are also rosettes of leaves like broms, but the plants do extend into trunks in some cases. My knowledge of these is from occasional plants of Pandanus species in hothouse collections, and Freycinetia banksii, which is common in New Zealand forests.
In Commeliaceae [sp] Rhoeo discolor and possibly other species hold water in the leaf axils. Here again the structure is very similar to broms.
In Araceae, Zantedischia ethiopica, the common white arum, has deep tubular leaf axils arising from a tube. In the young active growing stage the axils are full of water; however, by the time the sprouts are fully developed it seems mostly to have disappeared.
—Auckland, New Zealand.
AMY JEAN GILMARTINCollecting bromels in Mexico for home growing seems to be the activity of a favored few. It was with real envy that I saw some of the tillandsias which the members of the chapter in Corpus Christi, Texas, had been able to bring back from sites in eastern Mexico and were successfully nurturing in their gardens and greenhouses. Several of the members of the chapters in Corpus Christi and Houston asked me for the correct address to write to in Mexico in order to obtain the necessary Mexican collecting permit. This does seem wise in view of the story that is circulating in botanical circles. I quote from the June, 1972, issue of the Plant Science Bulletin, page 18:
"Several scientists from the United States were
recently expelled from Mexico because they had not obtained the proper
authorization from the Mexican government to carry out their field work . . . .
In the light of the need to protect rare and endangered species, it is quite
understandable that authorization from the Mexican Government is necessary
prior to collecting plants . . . ."|
I have been able to obtain my own Mexican plant collecting permit by complying with their regulations of collecting no more than six of each species and sending one dry specimen of each species to the Instituto National de Investigaciones Forestales, Calle Progresso No. 5, Coyoacan, D. F. The address from which I have been able to obtain the Mexican permit is as follows:
Licenciado Noe Palomares|
Secretaria de Agricultura y Ganaderia
Direccion General de Aprovechmientos Forestales
Aquiles Serdan Num. 28
Mexico 1, D.F., MEXICO
|Puya raimondii Harms|
Those of our readers who are aware of the very diverse forms assumed by the different species of that very interesting natural family of plants, the Bromeliaceae, to which belong the Pine Apple, and the so-called grey moss that grows on the trees of the South, will not be surprised to learn of still another form differing as widely from these as they from one another, and which is here represented. It is known as Puya gigas. The following account is by Edouard Andre, the well known French horticulturist, botanist and writer.
"On May 2, 1876, I left Pasto to cross the eastern Cordilleras and explore the Lake Cocha, a subalpine lake to the south of Columbia, whence rises the Rio Guamues, one of the principal tributaries of the Amazon. I will now therefore only give an account of one of the plant discoveries then made. We were proceeding on our way in file through water to our knees, in the midst of rushes, which form a vast marshy circle round the Cocha, and between the small hillocks, on which Cassias, Osmunda cinnamomea, and pretty rosy Cardamines grow, when I suddenly perceived rising up before me a kind of mast like a telegraph post set up in this singular landscape. Having approached it, I found it to be a gigantic Bromeliad, the strangest that any botanist had ever seen; on small hillocks, just out of the swampy ground, rise up, or rather spread out, rosettes of sharp-pointed hard leaves, of a green color and white and furry underneath, provided with formidable black spurs diversely hooked. From the centre of the leaves sprung the stem, varying from 20 ft. to 30 ft. in height; the color a grayish black, covered with wool, which was most abundant at the top. This wool protects the flowers from the inclemency of a zone, the altitude of which is more than 300 metres (10,000 ft.) above sea level. The disposition of the flowers on the stalk gave it the appearance of an enormous club. I did not see the flowers, but I was assured by the natives they were very beautiful, being at first white, and then passing to rose and violet before fading away. I had already met in the Cordilleras many species of Puya, from the occurrence of P. lanuginosa (Schult.), with flowers of blue or verdigris, to P. chilensis, with yellow outside petals, but nothing of the kind had been so striking to my eye either for size, habit, or manner of flowering as this Puya.
"Several months after this, when at Lime, M. Raimondi, the Peruvian traveler, spoke to me of another giant Bromeliad which he had discovered in the department of Ancachs. This plant, which grew in the Puebrada de Cashapampa, and on the road from Huinac to Cajamarquilla, not far from the little town of Huaraz, had stems 33½ feet in height (nine metres) and its flowers, which were disposed in panicles, he reckoned at not less than 8,000 on each stalk. He found it at an altitude of 3,800 meters above sea level. M. Raimondi's plant is still unknown to botanists."
Along the swampy waters of the Cocha. — Drawing by Emile
after a sketch by M. Andre.
Some person of wealth and ability, and so disposed, could undertake, somewhere at the South, the cultivation of this plant, giving it suitable temporary protection in winter by glass, with the prospect of having a sight when it comes into flower which would cause plant-lovers to make a pilgrimage to it from all directions.
It has already been introduced into France.
BILL SEABORNIn Issue No. 6 for 1973 Mr. Bernard Stonor in his article "The Variegation Problem" states "I have been told that bromeliads are not suitable subjects for meristem propagation." Mr. Stonor, who lives in West Australia, is not aware that work has been going on in this field in southern California for quite some time.
In the not too distant past, Mr. Tok Furuta and Mr. Toshio Murashige, both horticulturists at the University of California in Riverside, California, arrived at our Nursery one bright morning, and after much explaining and talking about "Meristem" or tissue culture, departed with two species of Cryptanthus. They returned in a few weeks with 300 Cryptanthus plants which they had obtained, via Meristem, from the two specimens obtained here at the Nursery. As both gentlemen were vitally interested in the survival of the Cryptanthus plantlets, we planted them and were happy to report four weeks later that there were only four casualties in the entire lot.
About a week later Mr. Furuta and Mr. Murashige appeared at the Nursery again, this time eager to try out "Meristem" on a variegated bromeliad. They departed with Aechmea fasciata var. albo-marginata. After the passage again of a few weeks they returned with several flasks of plantlets from the Aechmea fasciata var. albo-marginata, which contained about two hundred plants in all. There were only two variegated plants in the entire lot, and they were not albo-marginata, but hetro-variegated. I am growing on the green plants of the experiment, as Mr. Furuta assured me that upon the first flowering, Meristem plants always produce a much larger inflorescence than either seedlings or offsets. It will be interesting to see if this is true. Although tissue culture is not a fool-proof way of obtaining desired plants, it is certainly a quicker way than growing the plants on from seeds.
LYMAN B. SMITH
Professor Eizi Matuda is Japanese with all that it implies in the love of beautiful flowers. He is also a hardy and effective man in the field and a well trained and dedicated biologist, who has well served his adopted Mexico.
Born in Nagasaki, Japan, he received his botanical training in Taihoku Imperial University and in the National Institute of Natural Science in Taihoku, Taiwan. His first professional work was as associate instructor in the National Museum of Taihoku, where he covered a wide field of animals as well as plants. In the few years between 1916 and 1921 he discovered 127 new species of flowering plants and ferns and also one new land shell and one new genus and 4 new species of fresh water fishes.
When he moved to the State of Chiapas in Mexico in 1922 he founded an agricultural station in Soconusco District and a private Biological Institute containing the Matuda Herbarium with 650,000 plant specimens from southern Mexico including 6 new genera and 800 new species. His animal collections consisted primarily of 5,500 bird skins and 600 reptile specimens.
It was in this period that Eizi Matuda developed his interest in bromeliads which he found in profusion in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico. At first he had to build up a reference collection with outside help and in the process discovered a number of new species.
Once he had built a reference collection, he was able to make most identifications himself and also to describe new species on his own. More discoveries followed here and culminated in his "Las Bromeliaceas de Chiapas" in "Anales del Instituto de Biologia," vol. 23, nos. 1 and 2. 1952.
|Tillandsia intumsecens L. B. Smith|
In 1949 he came to his present post as full time investigator and professor in the National University of Mexico. This move to Mexico City was a real tribute to his ability, but one that might be expected to decrease his output in bromeliad research. Consider that Chiapas was one of the least explored states of Mexico and that a competent investigator might be expected to produce results, while the area around Mexico City has been combed over by botanists great and small for well over a hundred years. Even so Eizi Matuda continued to discover and describe new bromeliads. These were early summarized in his "Las Bromeliaceas y Araceas en Estado de Mexico," but he still continues to publish in leading botanical journals of Mexico and the United States.
In his late seventies when most of us would be content to follow botany in the herbarium, he is still vigorous in field work. The great size of two of his recent discoveries, Hechtia caerulea and Tillandsia superinsignis indicate that he must have entered areas of very difficult access in order to find such conspicuous novelties in a region already so well known.
In December of 1972 at the Latin American Botanical Congress in Mexico City I had the pleasure of meeting him and discussing our common interest in the Bromeliaceae. Another day I had the privilege of examining his herbarium and was much impressed with its quality. Evidently he believes that a flower can still be beautiful even in the herbarium.
All the above are admirable in a scientist and teacher, but they do not necessarily result in the high esteem in which Eizi Matuda is held by his colleagues and pupils. From his friends I learned that he has taken some twenty homeless boys from the streets and raised and educated them. To Professor Eizi Matuda my deepest bow and saludos.
—Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., U. S. A.
(Continued from Issue No. 1)
The most important facet of my trip to get acquainted with the bromeliad flora of the Dominican Republic was a three-day trip by car over good roads which involved about thirty-five different species in habitat. It was pretty much in high country with Santiago, the country's second largest city, north-central in location, serving as a base. This magnificent opportunity was due to the generosity and planning of Luis Ariza-Julia. His other guest was Dr. Jose de Jesus Jimenez, who accompanied us on the trip to the mountain resort of Constanza and return. Then Luis took me on a small side trip, and on the third day we took the longest drive of all. At the wheel of Luis' car was his chauffeur who doubled as capturer of plants. Juan was adept in scampering up tough inclines and quickly up into trees, collaborating in our sort of "monkey-business". I am also indebted to Luis for his broad knowledge of the bromeliad flora, and to Dr. Jimenez for his encyclopedic knowledge of the country's flora. (Dr. Jimenez is the author of Supplement #1 of Catalogus Florae Domingensis, which translated adds up to the Catalogue of the Dominican Republic Flora.)
It took us all of the first day to get to Constanza, with the necessary stops on the way. The first third of the way was along the north-and-south main highway, too civilized for excitement in bromeliads, but we did see in flower Bromelia pinguin, grown in many tropical countries as a fierce hedge plant. The stout woolly inflorescence was backed by a set of radiating reddish-orange narrow bracts, (looked like a dozen), pointing to every numeral of an imaginary clock. The bold coloring of this species, as well as that of its congener, Bromelia balansae, similar in habit and use, and in floral coloring, is really dazzling.
It was after we left the main road above La Vega, and took the road to the west that proceeds through Jarabacoa to Constanza that we experienced the greatest concentration of different species of the three-day trip. The distance from the turn-off to Jarabacoa is less than fifteen miles with a net climb of about 1450 feet in altitude. There were ten different species that engaged our attention during that short run. In a further 13 miles (to El Rio), now in pine forest country (Pinus occidentalis), there were another nine species to absorb our attention.
This is not to be considered a real survey, but just our own "sampling". However, it probably amounted to pretty much the limit of possibilities. And again, I should say that a few bromeliads such as the very common kinds — Tillandsia usneoides, T. balbisiana and T. recurvata — were not given a second glance.
It was in the first part of the run on the side-road to Constanza that we encountered four small-type tillandsias — polystachia, setacea, juncea and valenzuelana. After reaching the top of that climb the pine forest prevailed and our finds were T. fasciculata, Vriesea didistichoides, Bromelia plumieri, and two Catopsis—berteroniana and floribunda. Berteroniana is very common and very widespread, found from Florida through the West Indies, Central America to eastern Brazil. Floribunda also has an extensive range—Florida to Venezuela.
Our destination that night was the mountain resort of Constanza, in a region so high and cool that its climate, although in the tropics, was capable of cultivation of temperate vegetable crops, such as potatoes, onions, cabbage and spinach. Long before we reached Constanza we passed many fields of non-tropical vegetables. Two level-lands with mountains between produce such garden vegetables for the whole country. The area was a fortunate mixture of cool and warm country agriculture. For instance, there were plantations of the dwarf Cavendish banana, the hardiest of the bananas, a heavy producer and good eating, too.
Scouting around next morning, Luis took us to the type location of the endemic Vriesea tuerckheimii and to stations of T. moscosoi, which is another plant found only in the Dominican Republic, T. pruinosa, T. fasciculata var. uncispica, and an unnamed Pitcairnia.
It was in the afternoon of the first day that we had previously come upon Vriesea tuerckheimii in a setting I rejoice in remembering. This is a species of large proportions with dense rosettes of many large leaves, and there were more than a dozen of these plants embellishing a cliff — scattered mostly at the brink, but a few down on the sides, and one was perched part way down on the face, almost defying gravity, since its attachment spot must have been pretty meager. There were also some Agaves intermixed as a special bonus. Otherwise the cliff was bare, so that these prodigies stood out boldly.
In contrast, T. moscosoi is ever so much smaller, the narrow leaves 2/5 inch wide at the base, and about 5 inches long. These are rather rigid, curve outward slightly and come gradually to a long fine tip.
In cross section they are concave and down at the basal wide part, the sheath, are purplish black. The stout rosy inflorescence is about two inches long and nestles in the plant's center, being somewhat shorter than the leaves. The bracts are interesting—even in fruit—because of the spoon-like sheathing base with the "blade" reduced to a short needle-like affair.
Rauh's Bromelien, although rather comprehensive on Tillandsias and Vrieseas, does not include description, or even mention of the endemic Dominican species of these two genera. Therefore, in this article I will dwell a bit on some basic descriptions of these endemics.
On the way back from Constanza on the second day, we came upon Vriesea incurva, T. lescaillei and T. caribbaea. All of these highland species do poorly and fail in Luis' sea-level garden. T. caribbaea is delicate and a specimen I brought back was dead upon arrival in New York, but a T. lescaillei that I brought back here has two healthy fine offshoots coming along. It may be that our untypical damp summer may be responsible, along with daily watering.
Reaching for T. baliophylla requires agility.
Luis Ariza Julia with dried inflorescence of
Vriesea incurva seems to do well for both Luis and me here in Brooklyn. It had originally been considered a Tillandsia likely because it is rather small and looks like a lot of Tillandsias, but critical examination caused it to be put into its right category. (There is also a V. incurvata so that caution is indicated in this matter.)
In the same stretch on the way down the day before we had come upon and handled Catopsis nitida, C. nutans, and the Tillandsias baliophylla, hotteana and fendleri. C. nutans gets its name because its inflorescences droop, nutans meaning "nodding". Fendleri was in bloom, an immense affair, hardly Tillandsia-like, but there you are — it is a Tillandsia, just the same. It provided a sensation for me because of its very ample, even grandiose size of inflorescence, and realizing that such a large affair could get established on a tree, grow and grow over the years, come into flower and not get dislodged by wind or rainstorm, or fall over from losing its balance, or shift of weight. But then, when you think of it, even large bromeliads can be remarkably light in weight. If you wish to derive the pleasure of knowing what this outstanding plant looks like, pick up your copy of the Bulletin, Vol. XV, #1, and see photo page 3.
Tillandsia baliophylla has similar body proportions with a grand dense cluster of leaves 2 to 3½ feet long and 3 inches wide. The inflorescence may reach about six feet, is many branched, usually bipinnate, but can be simple or even thrice pinnate. The flowers are white. Although a high-land species, it thrives at sea-level in Luis Ariza-Julia's garden and flowered after treatment with Florel. It is also found in the Antilles and Mexico. (For an idea of its habit and appearance, see photo on page 109 of the Journal, Vol. XXII, No. 5.
T. hotteana of this same high-land area gives promise of getting established with Luis, and has two offsets doing very well for us so far. It is another endemic of the Dominican Republic so it is expedient to introduce some details of it. The leaves are narrowly triangular, and the scoop-like affair forming the base—the sheath—is about three inches wide with the whole attaining a length of about 10 inches. The sides taper very evenly to the very point, the width at the half-way point is about 1½ inches across. Leaves are leathery, light green on top and below, and there is an irregular scattering of brown speckles. There are fairly few leaves, they form an upright formal-looking vase with increasing flare toward the top. The inflorescence is stiff, stout and formidable, a foot high with a number of close-set branchlets of two or more flowers each. The bracts covering the branchlets are bright red, large, three inches long, the basal scoop 1½ inch wide, surmounted by a glorified bristle that constitutes the upper half of the bract.
We arrived in Santiago on the afternoon of the second day and Dr. Jimenez had to leave us, but Luis, Juan and I headed for a side road that goes to San Jose de Las Matas. We did not go that far — we went a distance of about 25 miles and before turning back came upon locations of three Tillandsias with very fine, small leaves — schiedeana, tenuifolia and setacea. Since these are extensively distributed and well-known on the whole, there is not much to ruminate upon except that I found the Dominican schiedeana inflorescences intriguing because of the very long tails or bristles to the appressed bracts. A little before the first flowers are to open, the red-bracted whole, a little bent, and with these reddish bristles, look like tiny prawns with their "feelers".
Going in a northwesterly direction about 35 miles from Santiago we came upon a T. circinnata location. This is another long-ranger, being found native from Florida, Bahamas, West Indies, Mexico and into Colombia (and is found additionally in many collections!) We continued in the same direction to Monte Cristi and then had to turn abruptly south (unless we had intentions of driving into the Atlantic Ocean, because that is just about the northwest corner of the Dominican Republic.) Going south kept us at or close to the border of Haiti. A new paved road had been opened up in this remote little-settled area, and Luis was out to explore it for the first time.
Near Loma de Cabrera we found T. paniculata. This the T. paniculata of Linnaeus, not the plant so-called by Schlechtendahl and Camisso (1831) which happens to be T. deppeana var. deppeana. T. paniculata is a very large plant on the order of Tillandsias fendleri and baliophylla. These three Tillandsias have the appearance much suggestive of some large Vrieseas such as V. tuerckheimii. Describing the T. paniculata that I have: The leaves are thick, large, rubbery, dark green, three inches wide for about half its (basal) length, then very gradually curving inward to a point about one half inch wide, where it quickly rounds to an attenuated tip. The leaves are very concave at the base, in effect forming large pockets. The whole habit is rather lax, the leaves are of impressive size but are few compared to similar appearing species and do not have the ornamental effect of spiraling and raying out that T. baliophylla and V. tuerckheimii have.
Back in that sort of wild country we found T. festucoides, a species with not much range, being found otherwise in southern Mexico and Central America. This was the last bromeliad I was to observe at hand on the trip, and as they say, "last, but not least", because I am happy to strike a beautiful final chord for the flowering specimen that was given me. It was like a grand clump of regal grass with some of the leaves an orangey red, but the real joy were the four seven-inch long, slender-stalked inflorescences, covered with conspicuously red bracts, and toward the tip, tight short branches with their little red bracts. (Ironically, this flare of color was an accident in a way — the inflorescence was a depauperated one. Luis informed me that normally the spikes are much longer and separate, and without the bright red color.)
|T. fendleri — inflorescence||Juan Polanco with T. fendleri|
While packing my plants with Luis' capable help I was not sure I could take the T. paniculata with me, considering what I already had and the limitations of the big box available for shipping. In fact, I had practically given up the idea, but was torn by painful vacillation. The stem at the bottom is quite stout, about the size of a child's wrist, and there were many leaves to the whole skedaddle. It was necessary to get rid of some of it — reduction. It was dirty and was reasonably hosed, but examination showed that the lowermost leaves had formed by their extended or enlarged sheaths more or less immune large pockets. These pockets for some way up the stem were reservoirs of decayed messy stinking debris. A filthy odor emanated as each pocket was opened by taking off the whole leaf. I was taking off one leaf after another until plenty of bare base showed, and I have to smile now as Luis, noting abstraction of so much foliage was convinced I had ruined the plant — had taken off too many feathers from this live bird — he felt I perhaps was denuding it beyond help. But after reaching pockets with no bad smell, we packed it up, and now with a dozen or so leaves that are left, it has taken hold here in Brooklyn and has been growing nominally fast, I would say. And I did not have to take all that stinking stuff from Puerta Plata to New York!
(to be continued)
ROGER K. TAYLORIn the writings on bromeliads, there are several potential sources of inaccuracy. Perhaps the commonest derives from a tendency of authors to over-generalize, to consider what happens to their plants as always happening to all. For instance one article in the Journal contained the assertion that Vriesea heliconioides produces offsets only if the inflorescence is promptly removed. This simply is not so — without the benefit of this "information" I've developed a small stock of this species from one original plant. The point is, the proponent of this idea grows his plants indoors, and different behavior in other environments was outside his experience. — Another case has to do with the optimum light intensity for variegated plants. A recent (1972) statement was to the effect that they require more than normal; a considerably older (1953) recommendation was for less. Both authors have wide backgrounds of experience, yet at least one must be wrong. Possibly both are: it may well be that there is no general rule and each variety has its own range of tolerance.
A number of factors affect the growth of the plants. Some of these are widely recognized, but I suspect that the situation is complex, with subtle influences and interactions beyond present knowledge. There follow some examples of unexplained behavior: I've had Nidularium fulgens for a good many years. It grew well enough but never produced bloom or offsets as a houseplant in Baltimore, or in a green-house after a move to Florida. I've had blooms here several times, however, in a shaded outdoors location. — Aechmea distichantha, in several locations outdoors, hasn't yet bloomed in eight years, though as far as I know offering no difficulty for other growers hereabouts.
Vriesea racinae does not appear to be easy to grow, and a few local friends having it report they don't usually get offsets after bloom. I've occasionally had two or three, in an apparently similar greenhouse environment. — Billbergia nutans for me has normally been a plant with narrow, spreading leaves; but in one large pot of it there are, randomly-spaced, four tubular growths of inch-wide leaves. — All of these I'd like to report, asking that others submit accounts of the same or similar observations for general information; they certainly aren't, at this stage, basis for pronouncement of any generalizations.
When it comes to theorizing, each case must be evaluated on its own merits. The idea that variegation results from a virus is not new, being generally accepted e.g. in the instance of tulips. It has been offered as though firmly established for bromeliads too, but there are a number of questions requiring satisfactory answers first: known viruses transfer from plant to plant, and are extremely difficult to get rid of; why is the situation with variegated bromeliads so different? How are the several variegated forms in the same species, e.g. Nidularium innocentii, to be accounted for? Has the electron microscope ever demonstrated a virus in a variegated bromeliad? Etc., etc.
Some growers use names that have no botanical standing: their own unregistered designations, or obsolete ones. — At least one widely-used name, Aechmea hyb. "mini-cal," is almost certainly wrong, as the plant has a branched inflorescence (like that of A. caudata) and neither of the supposed parents has. Aechmea "penduliflora" is also misleading as to the appearance of the live plant, but apparently by the prevailing rules the name given from examination of a dried specimen must be retained. — Errors may arise and be continued through carelessness, ignorance or indifference: for instance the popular Vriesea hyb. Mariae is sometimes designated "Marie." And so on.
Mistakes by an author, or introduced by the compositor, occasionally escape the notice of editor and proofreader and appear in print. I originally thought the insecticide was "Malathon" [fix in old issues] because it was so presented in the Bulletin; another random example is three spellings of Ananas in one 1972 issue of the Journal.[check this] Really good proofreading is a demanding job, calling for competence in English construction and usage, spelling, and the subject matter as well as a sharp eye. Nevertheless some publications attain a high degree of excellence in this regard, a praiseworthy goal.
Even the highest qualifications don't guarantee against an occasional slip. Seeking identification of a then-unfamiliar Billbergia, I once sent a mature leaf and careful description of the inflorescence to a recognized expert, and was told "pyramidalis." It was B. euphemiae.
In summary: what you read may be completely faultless, but it is salutary to retain a degree of skepticism. In the words of the song, "it ain't necessarily so."
—Winter Garden, Florida.
VICTORIA PADILLAWhen I first started collecting bromeliads almost thirty years ago, it was a hit-and-miss affair. Bromeliads at that time were a very rare commodity; the nurseries that offered them for sale could be counted on one hand; and literature — aside from a number of highly technical botanical studies — was just not available. So the beginner who wanted to start a collection had very little to guide him in his selection of the few plants that he was able to procure. Bromeliads made up a wonderful, unknown world, and the grower had to depend a great deal on just sheer luck whether the plant purchased was one that he would like after it reached maturity and whether it would do well for him under his growing conditions.
Then I began to assemble data on the bromeliads that I thought I wanted as well as those which I was able to purchase. I had my own private card file, which eventually I found so helpful that I decided it might be of help to others and that it might not be a bad idea, to put it into book form. Also I had heard from Robert Wilson that he did not think that he would complete his Bromeliads in Cultivation. So fools rush in . . . As I had successfully written a book several years earlier, I did not think it would be too difficult to publish a second one. It was not quite so easy this time, as the publisher was based in New York, and I could not confer with him on many points.
In Bromeliads I have tried to write the type of reference work that I wanted when I started my collection. It is primarily a book to help the beginner in his selection of plants. Over 500 species are described in simple non-technical language—these are the bromeliads that the grower will find for the most part in cultivation.
In this book the reader will get some idea of what plants are available in horticultural establishments, what the various species look like, whether they are adaptable to his growing conditions, where the plants come from, how they live in their native lands, how they came by their names, and how these are pronounced. Also discussed are the general characteristics of the family, its introduction into horticulture, explanation of the nomenclature, culture, a glossary, and a bibliography containing most of the books on bromeliads presently available. It is the only popular book on the subject in English and is the first complete work of its kind to appear in English since 1889.
The book measures 8½ × 11 inches, is well illustrated in color and black and white, and because of its setup is easy to handle and to read. Copies may be obtained directly from the author, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049. The price of $12.95 includes postage.
"Everything comes to him who waits" can truthfully be said of the aechmea pictured above. It is Ae. ornata (Gaud.) Baker, which had been growing in the author's garden for a dozen or more years, forming a large clump but never flowering. She had just about given up on ever seeing an inflorescence when in the summer of 1973 emerged a brilliant flower spike from one of the rosettes which lasted in good color for several months.
In its native Brazil Ae. ornata is found growing on trees or on the ground in the forests and restingas of southern Brazil. In the author's garden it was planted in a rockery under a tree fern where it received dappled light. It was never fertilized.
It is a hardy, medium-sized plant whose many stiff dark green leaves, 18 inches long and over an inch wide, have daggerlike tips. The leaves form a flat rosette resembling that of a small agave. The flower spike may reach 8 inches in height. The petals are purple. Because of the bristly appearance of the inflorescence, the plant is sometimes called the "Porcupine Aechmea."