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 $10.00; Sustaining
$15.00; Fellowship $25.00; and Life $200.00. All memberships start with January
of the current year.
There are 4 classes of membership: Annual $10.00; Sustaining $15.00; Fellowship $25.00; and Life $200.00. All memberships start with January of the current year.
1976-1979: Robert G. Burstrom, Leonard Kent, Elmer J. Lorenz, Edward McWilliams, Harold W. Wiedman, Tim Lorman, Sue Gardner, Herbert Plever.
1977-1980: William Kirker, Leslie Walker, Eloise Beach, Kathy Dorr, Fritz Kubisch, W. R. Paylen, Amy Jean Gilmartin, Edgar Smith.
1978-1981: Jeanne Woodbury, Ervin Wurthman, Victoria Padilla, David H. Benzing, Louis Wilson, Joseph F. Carrone, Jr., Timothy A. Calamari, Jr., Roger Vandermeer.
Adda Abendroth, Brazil; Luis Ariza Julia, Dominican Republic; Olwen Ferris, Australia; Mulford B. Foster, USA; Marcel Lecoufle, France; Harold Martin, New Zealand; Dr. W. Rauh, Germany; Raulino Reitz, Brazil; Walter Richter, Germany; L. B. Smith, USA; R. G. Wilson, Costa Rica; Robert W. Read.
Published six times a year: January, March, May, July, September, November. Free to members.
Individual copies of the Journal $2.00
NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 1978
Editor: Victoria Padilla
No article is to be reprinted without the expressed consent of the editor.
Articles and photographs are earnestly solicited. Length is no factor. Please mail copy and all questions to the Editorial Office, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles, California 90049.
|Explorer, writer, artist, lecturer, botanist, naturalist, horticulturist, hybridizer, landscapist, photographer, raconteur, bromeliad grower, bromeliad collector, and gardener. Co-founder of the Bromeliad Society, Inc., President from 1950 to 1959, Editor from 1951 to 1958, Director and Honorary Trustee.|
It goes without saying that the dominant figure in bromeliads in America, if not the entire world, for the past forty years was Mulford B. Foster, of Orlando, Florida. He was such a vibrant personality and left such an indelible mark on horticulture both here and abroad that it is hard to conceive that he is no longer with us to share in the joy which we derive from growing bromeliads.
My association with Mulford Foster dates back to September 17, 1950, when he flew from Florida to California to preside over the opening meeting of a group of bromeliad enthusiasts whose aim was the creation of a society. Never did we dream that it would have such an auspicious beginning and that immediately it would become a world-wide organization. But Mulford Foster's enthusiasm was so contagious and his energy so boundless that we were swept up to set our goals far beyond our immediate sights.
Mulford Foster became interested in bromeliads in the 30's when they were practically unknown in this country, and it was due largely to his indefatigable work with these plants — searching for them in the hinterlands of South America, growing them in his beautiful garden in Orlando, hybridizing, lecturing, writing — that they have become so popular today. What has never ceased to amaze me was his great knowledge of all things horticultural, for he had no formal training along that line. His father had insisted that he enter business college and for four years he was in banking, although at every spare moment he was off to the woods, collecting plants, reptiles, and other animals. Later he became associate editor on his father's newspaper in Philadelphia, but he left this position to become a representative of the Davey Tree Expert Company. In the meantime his naturalist inclinations had led him to photography and then to painting.
It was a trip to Florida in 1923 that decided him to settle in that state and to enter the field of landscape design, which career he followed for the remainder of his days. Not at all satisfied to grow the tropical and sub-tropical plants that others had collected, he was bent on getting his own. He and Mrs. Foster, therefore, went on collecting trips in virtually all the countries of Latin America, following in the footsteps and along the trails used by such explorer-immortals as Andre, Humbolt, von Martius, and Glaziou. From these trips he reintroduced many old plants and discovered many new ones, bringing back almost 200 species of bromeliads new to science — an achievement yet to be broken.
A collecting trip with Mulford Foster to Jamaica was a revelation to me insofar as his knowledge of plants was concerned. He could identify every plant that he saw, no matter how mean or unobtrusive, and from a distance of at least 100 yards he could distinguish a pitcairnia from a grass. When he saw a bromeliad on a tree, he did not wait for the boys to collect it, but was the first one up, chuckling in glee that here was another treasure!
Mulford Foster indeed was one of a rare breed of men whose destiny was to leave an everlasting effect on all he met. To me he was always a good friend — helpful and considerate, and a delightful companion with his endless store of anecdotes.
At future shows the "Best in Show Award" will be called THE MULFORD FOSTER BEST IN SHOW AWARD.
Miss Eloise Beach
Mr. and Mrs. Nelson R. Boice
Mr. and Mrs. Roland L. Vacalier
Mr. and Mrs. Gene L. Clark
Mr. and Mrs. Richard A. Conant
Mr. Richard R. Conant
Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Dohl
Mr. and Mrs. V. O. Donatello
Mr. and Mrs. George T. Dougherty
Mr. and Mrs. Odus S. Dunlap
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Eberhardt
Mr. and Mrs. Walter L. Freeman
Mr. and Mrs. Bert T. Foster
Mr. and Mrs. David Foster
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Horton
Mr. and Mrs. William L. Kiser The Lyles
Mrs. Lucile B. McMichael
Mr. and Mrs. Roy Oishi
Mr. and Mrs. Tibor Pataky
Mr. Jim Pearce
Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Rainey
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Sias
Mr. and Mrs. Edward C. Simmons
Mr. George Stuart
Mr. and Mrs. John A. Sutton
Ms. Gloria Wilson
The Bromeliad Society, Inc.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wiley
Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Lorenz
Mrs. David Barry, Jr. and family
Mr. and Mrs. Tim O'Reilly
Mr. and Mrs. Mike Kashkin
Mrs. Frank Overton
Kent's Bromeliad Nursery
W. R. Paylen
Bromeliad Guild of Los Angeles
The finest bromeliad garden in the West and one of the most intriguing in all of the United States is that belonging to Jack Roth of Hollywood, California. Situated in the hills and commanding a fine view of the city, the garden is in a thermal-belt area, enjoying a frost-free climate that is particularly well adapted to the growing of subtropicals of all kinds. Palms, cycads, succulents, ferns, and orchids combine with bromeliads to make a garden that can boast of an exuberant year-round display of eye-catching color. Covering some 2½ acres of hillside property, the garden derives much interest from being on several levels, so that the spectator can enjoy the plantings from different angles.
From the house one can look down to the pool, which is surrounded by large containers of bromeliads, cycads, reed epidendrums, and succulents. Beyond is a wandering path that leads to a Mexican fountain and then to a hill slope covered with neoregelias. Everywhere are bromeliads. The paths are bordered by sun-lovers, particularly special species of aechmea, such as A. distichantha, which seems to be in bloom all the time.
On the house level are the greenhouse and lath house. The greenhouse, a structure of 17 by 50 feet, is the shelter for the more tender bromeliads — guzmanias; streptocalyx; some aechmeas, such as A. chantinii, A. fendleri, A. dichlamydea var. trinitensis; and the various forms of the variegated ananas. Here, too, are housed the new untried acquisitions from here and abroad, of which there is always a bountiful and continuous supply, for Mr. Roth keeps in touch with the leading collectors throughout the world.
The lath structure, covering an area of over 800 square feet, is situated at the rear of the house, part of the growing space making its way up a rather steep hill. Here on display are some of the most valuable of Mr. Roth's bromeliads — notable specimens of vrieseas, neoregelias, nidulariums, aechmeas, and tillandsias are to be found hanging from supports or growing in containers on the ground. Ferns, cymbidiums, cycads, small palms, and aroids help to create a truly tropical atmosphere. An automatic humidifier helps to keep the otherwise dry air humid. Also installed are warning devices that go off if the temperature should reach a dangerous low — but this has occurred very seldom.
Close by the garage is a section where new tillandsias and other bromeliads are kept to be hardened off. These plants are placed on benches covered with a wide wire mesh, which allows for the air to circulate around the new comers. These are misted daily and are not potted or attached to supports until they show definite signs of new growth. Sometimes this extends over a period of several months. Mr. Roth does not like plants displayed singly — this being especially true of tillandsias. Alongside the house and garage he has tillandsia trees — each one flaunting only one specific species, such as T. rothii. He will cover fences with the smaller species, such as T. tectorum and T. stricta, which he has growing by the hundreds.
One of the great charms about this garden is the almost endless variety of bromeliads that are grown outdoors the year round. Although Mr. Roth has a warm spot in his heart for tillandsias, he is interested in all bromeliads, and it is safe to say that he has the largest private collection in the West. Every year sees him embarking on a trip — to South America, Mexico, Central America — in search of new species and hybrids. He brought back hundreds of new plants from Ecuador this year, many of them being new species yet unnamed. His garden is truly a collector's paradise!
W.W.G. MOIRHaving been a consistent reader of anything on Darwin's theory of evolution, especially the articles in Natural History Magazine on "This View of Life" by Stephen Jay Gould, I sent for his new book Ever Since Darwin. One should know something about any author's experiences in his field of work besides his writing, for he might be purely a reviewer of other people's experiences, observations and guesses. One must also have had considerable experience in the same field of research. I have had over seventy years of experience in collecting and studying mutants and variants in plants. I have grown them and forced them by use of microclimates in our garden to create variants. Some of these changes are very large jumps, others small. I have written about them for 50 years. By going to native habitats of these same plants, not just once but several times with intervals of years between visits, I have observed what had happened in these environments. Often one finds the same changes happening in the wild as one finds in his own created environments.
On the whole, there is usually considerable change in the environments even seeing them with only short periods in between visits. There are many reasons for the changes, one of them being man's actions. The world's climatic changes, which are greatly due to man, have no doubt taken and will continue to take a toll on what now exists. This is what has happened in the past and what will continue to happen but to a greater degree because there are more people.
I doubt that in the ten years since Gould has been teaching at Harvard he has had a chance to do much along the lines I have followed in studying plants both in native environments and in man-made duplications of these. I hope that he can do this before long. I also hope he lets his eyes see what happens and not have his theoretical mind control what his eyes see, which is a habit of many observers. It takes time to train one's self to do this, but the rewards are great.
Let me comment on his basic explanation of Darwinism in the Prologue of Ever Since Darwin. One has to reread his statements many times and then not be sure of his viewpoint. I sometimes am left with the feeling he is not sure himself. I rewrite his two main points as I feel they should be. (1) All organisms can create variants and mutants, some of which act almost like separate species. (2) The control of the further development of these variants and their survival is by the environments they are born into.
These two facts are what I believe Darwin meant in his conclusions. By natural selection he meant environmental selection. The changes in what words mean over the years is considerable, for in rereading what I wrote 50 years ago I see this fact even though the conclusions of my actual observations have remained unchanged.
But most of the theories presented from even before Darwin have been based on temperate zone plants, plants grown by man and many not in their native habitats. The tropics have a vastly greater number of species per unit of area. The variation in environments is greater in the tropics, even to great differences from one side of a tree as compared to the other side in some sites. It is amusing to see the detailed maps and descriptions of zones of environment that have been described and written up by people in their offices and who then go out to look for the proof of their dreams. Nature does not do things in zones; she makes a patchwork quilt of environments in both micro and macro sized areas.
Epiphytic plants are even more subject to these changes in environment than terrestrial ones. But it is among them we can find the most unusual facts that question and tax the minds of observers in this field of study. We find many plants that reproduce their kind and create variants without the process of reproduction by seed. It is purely asexual reproduction. Most have been forced to do this by living in windy areas where insect pollinators cannot reach them. Some have even seemingly lost the ability to set seed for repeated self and sib crossing by man has failed to produce seeds on them.
The asexual propagations of mutants has become a very exciting and horticulturally a very remunerative operation. In this process one discovers that species of plants have very definite types of mutants, a real program of how to do it. I can just hear Gould say but this is not Darwinism; but basically it is Darwinism, and it is only by environments that the mutants are brought about and maintained. Really, it matters not what the name of this process is, for it is one way of how evolution takes place. While I am at it, the process is not always progress toward a better form but rather towards a form that fits the environment where the particular form is best adapted to grow.
Now to continue with the discussion of these mutants. For a clearer understanding of the subject I shall always call this asexual change mutants and those that arise through seed as variants. This distinction helps to understand the problem, but the patterns resulting from both are very similar.
Some variegated leaf mutants are definite patterns of stripes, and horticulturally they have been given names like albomarginata, lineata, striata etc. (or the other Latin ending to agree with the gender). There also are many intermediate stages of these. In other plants there are spots instead of stripes and in still others wedges of color or rather loss of green color. All these losses are degenerate mutants. Yet they can mutate back to the normal form again. One cannot reproduce these mutants from seed.
Then there are definite patterns of mutants in long narrow leaves versus short broad ones; patterns of other colors as well as white, of silver or darker bars or designs on both upper and lower sides of the leaf or only on one of these; of every intermediate intensity of color and above all of definite productions of volume of plant and even of ability to breed or not breed.
Just think of all these factors and the innumerable combinations one can add up and go out and hunt for them. Bromeliads are the easiest plants in which to observe these occurrences and to bring them about by gardening with microclimates. I have described in previous articles the occurrence of these mutants especially in the species Aechmea chantinii, (tessmannii, amazonica, zebrina and the mixture called 'Dark Goddess' or 'Pink Goddess'). One can bring out these differences (all asexual) by changes in the microclimate around the plant. Any consistent reduction from lush growth brings a change in some clones while others are more resistant to change. Constant removal of parts of a plant, as you give away new growths, can force the plant to send out a new mutant almost in protest. Crowding the plants in limited areas will bring out mutants in Aechmea caudata, and one sees gorgeous albomarginata forms pushed up higher in the bed of green leaved plants. These mutants may be the broad short leaf form or the long narrow leaf form. Take them off and grow them and you have a better chance of having them make fine specimen plants. If left in place they revert to the solid green plants on the next growth from the base of the plant. Another part of the large clump of A. caudata may be mutating to striata or lineata forms and others to giant green forms and the whole clump, a matter of only ten feet across. But remember the garden was built with microclimates to bring these out with these epiphytic plants grown in the open on the ground and on rocks and not on trees thus getting more light.
The two genera of Hibiscus and Panax that are used for hedges in Hawaii mutate in great numbers of forms due to the constant trimming. These are variegated or even pure white forms to every conceivable cutup leaf form you can think of. In fact, any one of these can mutate back to the type form or to any other form. Unfortunately many have been described as new species.
Sugarcane and citrus are crop plants that are very likely to mutate, and as in all these cases the majority show a loss of some quality while very few show a gain in a superior quality. But the superior ones pay off in crop improvement.
In orchids, the other very prominent epiphytic family besides bromeliads, one sees very few mutants but no end of variants. In these there are also definite patterns of occurrence with types of environment. In some species elevation above sea level brings them about, while in others where all exist but a few feet above high tide no end of variants in color, size of plant and length of flowering peduncle arise. I have published on these.
Colors of flower variants also have very definite patterns of occurrence, but are most noticeable in red flowers that produce mutants of every gradation of color from red to yellow, through the lovely oranges, and these are variable in intensity of color by the sunshine whereby some fade and others deepen. I will not go into these more as I have written so much on the subject and how these mutants act in breeding as compared to the breeding of the type form. Nature is most complex, and simplicity is not known by plants. I have no experience in the species of the other four kingdoms of organisms. Maybe plants act differently to these.
If these definite patterns of mutants and variants that can be brought out by type of environmental changes are not according to Darwinism, just what ism do you place them in? When you see these happenings without the benefit of sex and you know what type of mutants or variants to look for in each species and each of these are tied up with environment, you know it is joint effort. But which came first? Were mutants and variants acquired characteristics which became hereditary after environments worked on the original forms, or did they always have these characters?
One plea to scientific researchers: please go and study nature a lot more and then duplicate your observations in a garden to check on your observations. All of you should go and see nature a lot more than you do. People are too artificial, too well protected by artificial new inventions to conform to any control by environment.
It is too bad that more of you did not see the wilds long ago and begin your study at the peak of development before man became the worst pest and polluter of environments. But go now and see the existence of mutants and variants before too many of them become the lowest common denominator of the patterns or go out of existence. Even if by a wide chance man's damage could be stopped the plants left could come back and reproduce these beautiful mutants and variants all over again, for it is inborn in them to vary.
The entire subject above is greatly complicated by the process of natural hybridization even between the extreme variants of a single species. But the difficulty here is that hybrid vigor adds another force and joins with environment to overcome the species and leaves only the hybrid because of hybrid vigor. Soon the hybrid becomes stable (less variable) and becomes more or less a new species with all its own variants and mutants. It is a part of evolution but maybe not Darwinism, but it is a very big part of evolution.
3311 Kahawalu Dr., Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
I chose a spot under the crabapple tree where the plants could rest upon marble chips and also receive dappled sunlight. After putting my larger specimens of Aechmea, Billbergia, and others outside I admired my work. My very own "tropical" garden.
Within a week it was a minor disaster! The petals from the crabapple blossoms had fallen all over the bromeliads — they appeared unsightly. A recent rain had made the falling petals stick to the leaves. I know that this probably happens in their natural habitat, but I just didn't want such shabby looking plants. A week later the "pollen chains" from nearby Oaks fell, adding to the unkempt appearance. I have since prepared another "plant place" far from any flowering tree or shrub.
Now (August) after some heavy rains, the plants look clean and healthy — the debris on the leaves and in the "cups" is gone. There is one other precaution I must take before bringing the bromels back to the sunporch before the cold weather sets in — the spiders seem to find them very desirable dwelling places. All plants will have to be checked and rinsed.
Here on eastern Long Island, many people are totally unfamiliar with the bromeliads, but a couple of my neighbors eagerly await "pups" or duplicate plants that I have. Hopefully they will soon derive the great satisfaction that I do from my bromeliads.
Dean H. Velser, Bellport, N. Y.
H. ALTON LEEIt doesn't take long for a new disciple of "bromelianity" to learn that a collector couldn't hope to acquire all of the exotics which grow in nature — let alone all the hybrids — even if he had unlimited time, money and space. And, of course, not all plants will cooperate and grow in all areas. So the important matters of selection and discrimination have to start early.
Some of us lean towards one genus. Others choose a type of plant growth or favorite colors as rationale for the collection.
But even the most careful collector is surely finding the problems of selection and discrimination becoming more and more complicated, particularly with the advent of so many hybrids, many of them unknown to all but a few people.
I've been collecting bromeliads about five years and it seems to me that there have been several hundred (absolute minimum) new hybrids announced each of those years.
Many of these hybrids are glorious and vast improvements on their parents and few serious bromel-lovers can resist them.
But hybridizing can also become a very serious problem without some selection and discrimination, which seems — increasingly — in short supply. Without it, the collector-buyer and, ultimately, the hybridizer-seller are going to suffer lots of headaches.
Sometimes, it seems to me, a lot of the hybridizing is being done — to the point of mindless increase — not so much for the improvement of bromeliads and the plant kingdom, but purely for financial reasons. Greed, even. The end result may become a hydra effect with more and more numbers of plants with more and more exotic names.
But improvements? Worthwhile things to collect? I'm beginning to have some reservations.
There are many fine and reputable hybridizers who save and sell only the very best and most worthy additions to bromeliad culture.
Yet, there are also a lot of careless hybridizers turning out too many children of uncertain parentage and adding to the confusion and frustration of collecting. It may be fun and a kick to hybridize, but a lot of times, we seem to end up with inferior and/or similar plants tagged with new and interesting names and very high costs.
Of course, we collectors have played a large part in spawning this unfortunate situation. Too often our own greed to own more and more plants with fascinating names encourages unscrupulous or just sloppy plantgrowers to produce trays and trays of not very spectacular seedlings.
A number of local friends here who have concentrated a little more specifically on neoregelias than I have tell me that so many neo hybrids with uncertain "roots" are flooding the market that even the most discerning expert is hard-pressed to keep them straight. If a label gets lost — which happens all too frequently for all of us — then a puzzle can become a catastrophe. And the problem is certainly not limited to one genus.
To complicate matters more, I find that many plant sellers who don't even hybridize are also into naming plants, if a clone seems slightly different. So we have regional series of plants cropping up, which are unknown in other parts of the country.
Collectors who'll take anything "new" have encouraged this practice and, often, end up with similar plants of questionable quality.
I'm the first to advocate that bromeliad growing and collecting should be a fun and stimulating avocation. But as we have learned in all too many other aspects of living, a world without some rules and standards ends up being a disaster and very little fun for anyone.
I think there needs to be much more conscientiousness on the part of all of us about registering new plants and keeping good records. There also should be much more selection about what is introduced, so that only really fine and different plants join the bromeliad lists.
And at the same time, in the helter-skelter push to have fancy hybrids, let's not totally neglect original species. There are still some very fine bromeliads from nature, which are being seen less and less in even the largest collections. Surely, there can be a balance between the new and "improved" and the original.
Americans, in particular, have always been beset with a mania for quantity, often at the expense of quality. I'd hate to see this disease spread into even the joy and pleasure of plant-collecting and hybridizing. But I think the threat is definitely growing.
|Vriesea × Rosa Morena|
Farm boy, conservationist, landscape designer, indoor plant decorator, nurseryman, horticulturist, hybridist, lecturer, bon vivant, affectionate husband, and good friend to all who know him — such are the epithets which may be applied to Ervin Wurthmann of Valrico, Florida. However, no description of him would be complete without reference to his devotion to his plants, his sincerity of purpose, his high ideals with regard to the creating of hybrids, his boundless enthusiasm for the entire bromeliad family, and his unceasing loyalty to promulgating their popularity and culture.
Ervin Wurthmann grew up on his father's farm in Wisconsin, which he left when the time came to attend the state university. After World War II, his father felt it expedient to sell the farm, and young Ervin decided to seek his fortune in warmer climes. Soon he was working in Soil Conservation for the Department of Agriculture in Florida.
The turning point in his life proved to be when he met the charming and talented Velva Dean, who conducted a successful indoor plant business known as Velva Dean's Tropicals. Soon they were married and he joined forces with her in going out wholeheartedly in the propagation of houseplants. Three or four years later his attention was attracted toward bromeliads — and he has been one of their most ardent enthusiasts ever since. He has been in the landscape business since 1961, designing both interior and exterior gardens and always using bromeliads to their fullest advantage. Among his most successful accomplishments has been his work at the internationally famous Tampa Airport.
With an ever-expanding business, the Wurthmanns found it necessary to look about for a new home and nursery site. After several years of searching they chose a 4.3-acre wooded lakefront in the rural community of Valrico — some 14 miles from Tampa. They were so delighted with the spot they called it Dunrovin-South, for they felt it was a place they would never want to leave. Besides a comfortable, commodious ranch-style home, the estate boasts of five large greenhouses and a number of shade areas for the hardier bromeliads. It is a pleasant place with bromeliads everywhere under the large spreading trees.
Despite the great amount of time spent on his landscape work, Mr. Wurthmann has in the past few years registered a number of very promising bromeliad hybrids. Although living in a section of the country where the neoregelia is the most popular of all bromeliads, he has directed his attention chiefly to vrieseas, and his crosses are both charming and unusual, a number having a soft rosy hue not found in many bromeliads. Among his most successful vriesea crosses are 'Black Beauty,' 'Little Chief,' 'Purple Cockatoo,' 'Velva Wurthmann,' 'Double Pleasure,' 'Rosa Morena,' 'Seminole Chief,' and 'Junior.' His best aechmea cross, he says, is 'By Golly'; others include 'Mem. Ralph Davis' and 'Ra-Ru.' Of his neoregelias he prefers the one known as 'Glossy Print.'
|Mr. Wurthmann in his outdoor growing area.|
What does Ervin Wurthmann have in mind for the future? He wants to continue landscaping with bromeliads and by so doing make them a more popular plant. He will continue with his hybridizing. He hopes to develop hybrid vrieseas that not only have brilliant inflorescences but which have colorful foliage as well. He has in mind to make a few outstanding neoregelia crosses that are different from most of those seen today. He would like to use such species as Neoregelia kautskyi, and compacta, as well as the Richter hybrid 'VulKan' in his hybridizing. He feels that too many hybrids that are produced today are merely repetitions of those made in previous years — it is his earnest desire to produce something new and unusual as well as beautiful.
|Bromeliads of all kinds fill the patio of Dunrovin. Here is Mr. Wurthmann flanked by two Vriesea imperialis.|
VERNON STOUTEMYERMost of the five major plant hormones, namely the auxins, cytokinins, the gibberellins and ethylene now have many practical horticultural uses. The remaining one, abscisic acid, was the last to be discovered and is at present largely of theoretical rather than practical importance. However, it is involved in a number of essential plant processes and the chances are that it will, in due time, become easily available and will be used to modify plant responses.
Abscisic acid is an isoprenoid compound related to the carotenes of plants. It is also related chemically to the gibberellins and these two phytohormones may have a common precursor which is probably mevalonic acid. The chemical pathways involved in the formation and utilization of this compound are still somewhat uncertain.
Abscisic acid (ABA) is primarily a growth inhibiting hormone and a gibberellin antagonist. ABA inhibits the formation of the enzyme a-amylase where the latter occurs in response to gibberellic acid. Thus ABA is responsible for the dormancy of seeds by rendering food reserves unavailable. It inhibits other growth processes by blocking the formation of the ribonucleic acid (RNA) necessary for the synthesis of proteins.
The name, abscisic acid, is perhaps not the most descriptive term since another important plant hormone, ethylene, and also the chemical compounds which produce ethylene, are considerably more effective in producing abscission of leaves and other plant organs. The name is due to the historical accident that the first group to report it was concerned with the role of this hormone in causing the abscission of bolls on the cotton plant. This was a research group headed by Addicott on the Davis campus of the University of California. At first they termed the fraction which they had isolated Abscisin II. Another independent group headed by Wareing in Wales was concerned with the action of the hormones causing the formation of terminal dormant buds in woody trees and shrubs and they had called the unknown substance dormin. When the chemical structure of the two substances was elucidated, it was found that they were identical compounds and because of a few days' priority in publication by the Davis group, it was decided to call the new plant hormone, abscisic acid, the term now used in the technical literature.
The formation of dormant buds and the consequent cessation of growth is a mechanism without which it would not be possible for woody trees and shrubs to survive in cold climates. The same hormone is also involved in the type of seed coat dormancy, found in many plants of colder climates, that prevents premature germination in the fall which would result in the freezing of the young plants in the following winter. Seeds of this type require the treatment known as stratification in which the moistened seeds are exposed to temperatures a little above freezing for a certain period of time. During this period the abscisic acid disappears and gibberellins accumulate. This renders the seeds ready to germinate as soon as the temperatures rise sufficiently. Direct applications of gibberellins will also break dormancy.
Recently abscisic acid has been shown to be involved in the closure of stomates on the leaves which takes place under water stress. This is an important survival mechanism for plants growing in dry regions which probably evolved long ago when the early plant species left marine environments to colonize dry land. Probably ABA could be used to increase the drought tolerance of plants. However, the problem is that stomatal closure restricts the intake of carbon dioxide and thus depresses growth rates.
There is now some evidence that the geotropic responses of roots (responses to gravity) are controlled by ABA. Also ABA inhibits the flowering of long day plants, but many short day plants can be induced to flower by applying ABA. Possibly the ABA and the gibberellins have a common precursor and the form to be produced may be controlled by day length. This seems to be a process in which minute quantities of the plant pigment, phytochrome, are involved.
In spite of incomplete knowledge and uncertainties at the present time, the recent expansion of information on the action of ABA on plants has given us remarkable new insights into the relationships between the various phytohormones and into the system of checks and balances by which plants adjust themselves to their environments in all kinds of climates.
University of California, Los Angeles
Oregon Bromeliad Society
Bromeliad Society of Greater Mobile, Alabama
Eric Knobloch Bromeliad Society, Louisiana
WERNER RAUHPlanta caulescens, florens usque ad 40 cm alta. Folia numerosa, dense inserta, polysticha, reclinata. Vagina indistincta, 2,5-3 cm longa, 2,5-3 cm lata, denso cano lepidota. Lamina usque ad 15 cm longa, supra vaginam 15 mm lata, involuta, reclinata, denso argenteo - cano lepidota, angustae triangulata, apice subulato. Scapus inflorescentia e 6 cm longus, erectus, teres, 5 mm diametiens, viridis, glaber. Foliascapi imbricata, multo longiora quam internodia, acuminata, mox dissicata, nervata, glaber. Inflorescentia simplex, ensiformis, complanata, plus minusve 10 cm longa, 2,5 cm lata, 10-14 flora. Bracteae f1ora1es distichae, dense imbricatae, 3-3,5 cm longae, explanatae 2 cm latae, ecarinatae, acuminatae, marginae membranaceo - limbatae, sepala superantes, primo luteae, nitidae, sub anthesi dissicatae, turn distinctae nervatae. Sepala usque ad 3 cm longa, 8 mm lata, acuminata, posteriora 2 mm connata, carinata, pallida viridia, glabra, leviter nervata. Petala linguiformia, 45-60 mm longa, 4 mm lata, apice serrata, recurvata, basi alba, in triente superiore luteola - viridia. Stamina usque ad 40 mm longa, antherae 7 mm longae, in parte superiore floris inclusae. Stylus inclusus.
Habitat: Sucre - Cochabamba (Dept. Chuquisaca, Bolivia), km 70, in rupibus abruptis, epiphytica, in valle fluminis Rio Chico, 1700 m.
Ho1otypus: H. Hromadnik 2 PB 77 (20.7.77) Nr. 46776 in Herbario inst.bot.system. heidelbergensis (HEID).
PLANT caulescent, flowering up to 40 cm high; leaves numerous, polystichous, strongly recurved, up to 18 cm long. SHEATHES scarcely distinct, 2,5-3 cm wide, pale densely white lepidote: BLADES narrow-triangular attenuate, involute, up to 15 cm long, 15 mm wide, densely white lepidote; SCAPE erect, up to 6 cm long, green, glabrous, longer than the blades. SCAPE BRACTS imbricate, the lower ones subfoliaceous, the upper ones lanceolate, lepidote, soon drying.
INFLORESCENCE simple, lanceolate, complanate, up to 10 cm long and 2,5 cc wide densely 10-14 flowered; rhachis green, applanate; FLORAL BRACTS erect, imbricate, distichous, ecarinate, 35 mm long, acute, even, yellow; the lower ones at the time of anthesis already dried and then strongly nerved.
SEPALS shorter than the floral bracts, up to 30 mm long, 8 mm wide, yellowish-green, the posterior ones carinate and connate for 2 mm, glabrous, slightly nerved. PETALS narrowly lingulate, white at the base, yellow-green in the upper third their tips serrulate and curved back; stamens and pistil included.
HABITAT: Dry valley of the Rio Choco near the road Sucre-Cochabamba, 70 km north of Sucre, on steep rocks, 1700m, Bolivia, Dptm. Chuiquisaca.
HOLOTYPUS: 46776 Herb. Inst. Heidelberg. COLLECTION NUMBER: H. Hromadnik Nr.2PB77.
This beautiful new dwarf Tillandsia with its white leaves and yellow flowers is probably closely related to T. xiphioides, but it differs from it in the following characteristics: the blades are not flat, but involute; the scales are spreading; the petals ungulate, yellow and not white.
This attractive plant, when flowering, is not very difficult in cultivation. It has already flowered in the collection of the author; it is also cultivated in the Botanical Gardens of Heidelberg and Linz, Austria.
1) The plant is named in honour of Lotte Hromadnik, the wife of the author.
Often a particular cytokinin is unusually effective on a particular plant species. An experimental new cytokinin of the Shell Corporation, SD 8339, was found to be unusually effective with orchids. Unfortunately, production of this chemical was recently terminated by this company. According to Dr. Joseph Arditti, noted orchid authority now located on the Irvine Campus of the University of California, a satisfactory substitute is now available. This is 6-dimethylaminopurine (6 DMAP) which is item number D-2629 in the catalog of the Sigma Chemical Company, P. O. Box 14508, Saint Louis, Missouri 63178. This chemical, when dry, should be kept in freezing storage. A stock solution can be made by dissolving 1 mg of the chemical in 1 ml of 95 per cent ethyl alcohol. This should be refrigerated.
There are several other compounds which are reported to be active on some tissues but which have dropped out of the recent catalogs of the chemical companies, probably due to a lack of demand.
I have raised most of them from seedlings or pups, using only rainwater and misting with fish emulsion every two weeks. This seems to be working fine, as they are thriving, and many have bloomed and given pups. Most of them are placed outdoors in shade for the summer (late May to mid September). In our cold Northeast winters my large bromeliads are kept on a south exposed sun porch with the lowest temperature at 55°F in full sun. The small plants are put under fluorescent lights and misted twice a week to keep them growing. I use a potting mixture of chopped osmundine fiber, Canadian peat and sand, one third of each.
The durability of bromeliads never ceases to amaze me. Early last March I left an Aechmea 'Black Jack' outside where the temperature went down to 20°F. I had put it out in the afternoon when the temperature was 50-55°F. and forgot to take it in overnight. This was tragic because it had bloomed the fall before and now had two healthy pups coming along nicely. The leaves slowly turned brown, and as it died I kept cutting it back. The third week in June I pulled the brown stub with roots and tossed it in the rubbish can. Six days later while bagging the rubbish a tiny glint of green caught my eye. The old dried up roots of the aechmea were trying to start a new pup. I repotted the roots, and a new 'Black Jack' is starting to flourish nicely. Even in neglect bromeliads are rewarding.
Brad Harrington, Rochester, New Hampshire
|Display of guzmanias, vrieseas, aechmeas, nidulariums, and tillandsias, at Culver City, California.|
Many splendid bromeliad shows were held throughout the United States this past year, and we commend all those who worked so hard to make them successful. Members in South Florida, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, to name just a few, are all to be congratulated for their untiring efforts to bring bromeliads to the fore in the horticultural scene.
Neoregelias tended to dominate the displays throughout the South, and cryptanthus proved to be popular in Texas, however, Aechmea ramosa var. rubra entered by Virginia Masse won first place in the Dallas-Fort Worth Show, and Aechmea zebrina exhibited by Harry Bullis captured the first prize in the Florida International Bromeliad Show held in Miami.
In Southern California, the Bromeliad Council, consisting of the Bromeliad Society of La Ballona Valley, the San Fernando Valley Bromeliad Society, the South Bay Bromeliad Associates, and the Orange County Bromeliad Society, held its annual show in Culver City the first weekend in June. Although shows held elsewhere may have been larger, there was probably none that had such a wide variety of plants on display. Southern California is not the easiest place in the country in which to grow specimen plants, but no one would have been aware of this fact because of the high caliber of the bromeliads on display. Outstanding was the neoregelia exhibit of Dr. Donald W. Rock, who also won first prize for his Vriesea fenestralis var. nova. But spectacular was the exhibit of Leonard Kent, which contained over 44 different species and hybrids — all rare and difficult to grow, but all perfect plants. It was a display that drew onlookers back time and time again.
The editor regrets the fact that she does not get information about the various shows in time to describe them in the Journal. As soon as a show is scheduled, she would appreciate learning about it so that she can put it in a calendar of coming events.
ERNEST PETRUHaving many collected Mexican bromeliads and not wanting to see them put in pots after seeing them so natural looking in trees, I have tried to imitate their habit.
The material used for mounting varies from slabs to pumice, palm trunk, mesquite logs, oak limbs, osmunda poles, and a sphagnum lined basket. Some tillandsias are saxicolous (growing on rocks) and the pumice is a good mounting material for such a habit. Other species basically need a moisture retaining material like wood or fiber, which aids rooting.
A trick for mounting many small bromeliads, orchids, and peperomias is an inverted wire basket. Almost any size will do. First wrap plastic around the outside of the basket, then cover with wet sphagnum all the way around. Next wrap a heavy duty fishing line around and around, fastening the moss to the wires of the basket. Keeping from ¾" to 1" between spirals holds the moss efficiently to the basket. This also serves as something to hold the small plants to the sphagnum. Almost any size plant will do, but too heavy a plant will throw the basket off balance.
The plants securely fastened root rather quickly if sprayed often. No need to worry about overwatering as there is usually no more than ¼ to ½" of sphagnum moss and it is hanging and getting plenty of air movement.
The plastic only serves to keep the sphagnum from falling through and usually it gets holes poked in it as there are those plants that need a firmer attachment and they can be wired or tied to the heavy wire of the basket. The only drawback is that the longer they are left on the harder they are to remove. Their roots are tough and wiry and wrap around the wire tightly.
When used as a temporary or seedling nursery for small plants a more regular feeding and watering program and some protection are in order. Permanent or established IBs (inverted baskets) can be hung on a heavy duty swivel, thus making a turning plant collection in a small breeze.
A whole column can be made from hanging one basket under another. The distance they need to be separated depends on the height of the plants. A strong straight wire bent double about 1" at each end connects two baskets easily. A continuous column from ceiling to floor of a greenhouse or patio can make an attractive display without taking up much space. The individual baskets can be interchanged as the lower ones will possibly need to be brought closer to the top for more light.
By using small squares or rectangles of osmunda pole one can have real balls of T. recurvata dangling all around. A clear monofilament fishing line makes an excellent out-of-sight hanging cord. Mobiles are another interesting possibility, using many different species.
Ties used in mounting plants firmly can vary from glue to wire. A small piece of women's nylon hose will stretch over the base and roots, keeping a firm pressure on the plant until it roots. Then untie and it can be used again. When using wire or string the roots sometimes attach to these and it makes harder removal later. The glue has to be to a certain degree waterproof, at least until the plant can get its own roots into the material and become attached.
Corpus Christi, Texas
In the tissue culture experiments of J. B. Jones and T. Murashige with Aechmea fasciata and other bromeliads, an average of 500 aechmea plants were obtained from each explant. The survival rate was 90 to 100%. A few aberrant plants were observed. Tissue culture propagation was also successful with Ananas comosus 'Smooth Cayenne', Cryptanthus bivitattus 'Cafe au Lait' and 'Start,' Cryptbergia meadii, Dyckia sulphurea, and Guzmania 'Hummel's Supreme.' This method is not recommended for variegated bromeliads.
This aechmea should be of interest to the novice grower, for it is easy to grow, is attractive whether in flower or not, and is available in most nurseries that grow bromeliads. Also it is a medium-sized plant and so will not take too much room in the lath house or greenhouse.
Notable is its well-formed rosette with its shiny, bright leaves, 18 to 24 inches long and about 1 inch wide at the center. The plant pictured here had over 75 leaves, making a full upright yet spreading rosette. The leaves are edged with dark brown spines that give added interest. The stem and bracts are red; the small flowers have yellow petals that turn to white berries that last on the plant for many months.
Aechmea araneosa is a native of Brazil, being found near a roadside in Espirito Santo, at an altitude of 1,800 feet.
B. C. McKINNEY
|Photo by W. C. Frase|
"We were in the Bromelario and Mulford was telling me something about the plants. I had brought him the copy of the Gardener's Chronicle he is holding under his arm. It had an article about bromeliads in it." Tom Lineham, President of the Bromeliad Society of Central Florida, and I were sitting in W. C. "Bill" Frase's dining nook, listening as he recalled his association with Mulford B. Foster, the "Passionate Plant Lover", the "Father of Bromeliads", shortly after his death.
Bill Frase, a life-long horticulturist, remembered back in the fifties driving past Foster's complex of buildings on four acres of luxurious jungle near downtown Orlando, Florida — the Latchstring Tea Room, the Tropical Arts Nursery, the Orchidario, the Bromelario — home of the world's largest collection of bromeliads. Frase had often worked three to six months or more for a grower who specialized in a particular plant, to learn from him. He had been intrigued by the bromeliads he encountered in the wilds of Florida while in mosquito control work for the Air Force during World War II. It was 1956 when he decided to ask Foster for a job and stopped by the Nursery. Mulford was away; so he talked to Racine, Mulford's wife, companion on collecting trips, and business partner. She told him there was an opening for a propagator at Fairchild Gardens in Miami; but after a trip there, he found that moving to Miami and working for Fairchild did not appeal to him. Later, he did go to work for Foster.
"When I met Mr. Foster, I liked him right away. He and I became good friends — not just acquaintances — true friends," Frase recalled. He worked alone usually, doing whatever Mulford asked him to do — mixing soil, selecting and potting seedlings, and generally keeping the Bromelario looking nice. Racine would often do the watering. Son Bert Foster worked for his father at that time, and John Hall, now in Costa Rica, was another fellow employee.
When the Fosters began a move from downtown Orlando to Bromel-la, their 12-acre garden estate in Orange County, Frase helped dismantle the downtown buildings. He showed us the pictures he took of the sturdy, glazed greenhouses to help in their re-erection. Frase used some of the beautiful wood of the Latchstring Tea Room, a warm place popular with wedding parties, in expanding his own Orlando home.
"Mr. Foster was a man of many talents, but basically he was an artist," Frase continued. In addition to his nursery operation, he designed houses as well as landscapes. He was associated for a time with Frase's father-in-law, a building contractor.
Bill Frase smiled as he remembered Foster's risque stories and his philosophy, down to earth like his stories. He believed life originated and ended here on earth. "My ancestors were green algae," he would say. "When I die, I'm going right back to the earth." He had a love affair with the world, as Frase put it. From the age of five, he sensed what it meant to be alive. He did what he wanted to do and had a good time doing it.
Many people came to visit — often important people from great distances. "Some people didn't like Mr. Foster," Frase remembered.
There was a type of person that irritated him and he would be brusque with them. He didn't like people who asked what, to him, were silly questions. To such people, he was short and grouchy. But to those he respected, he was cordial and generous. "He and I got along famously," Frase said.
He appreciated the Foster's generosity. Racine would give him copies of the Bulletin (now Journal) of the Bromeliad Society. He is proud of his complete set. But the trait he admired most in the Fosters was their sincerity. After leaving their employ, Frase remained close to them, visiting every few months and talking by phone often. They were "true friends".
The public is still amazed and thrilled by bromeliads. Some people ran off to buy tillandsias or vrieseas at the commercial booths. Others found out what type of care the plant they have at home really needs.
One man from a large commercial greenhouse was shocked to find out that all the plants exhibited by us this year were grown in four apartments and one basement light garden. He couldn't believe bromeliads grow and bloom under those conditions in Chicago.
Some of our members do have greenhouses, but the rest of us do a lot of misting, have humidifiers or stay away from the bromeliads that require very high humidity.
Many of us have trouble getting Neoregelia 'Fireball' to turn red. We just can't provide enough sun. (It's attractive when green anyhow.) Many of us apartment dwellers can't even summer our plants outside.
Even with all the obstacles to raising bromeliads in the Midwest, our group of enthusiasts really love bromeliads. We even grow them from seed! Of course, we do envy you people out there in California, Florida, Louisiana.
Janine Kurth, Chicago
|Puya chilensis on cliffs.|
I had imagined that all Puyas in Chile grew on very high dry mountainsides of the Andes, even in the snow, so I was pleasantly surprised and excited to find them down on the coast road along the Pacific Ocean. We were on a drive north from Valparaiso and Vina del Mar searching for wild sugar palms (Jubaea chilensis) when we discovered Puya chilensis growing with cactus up on rocky cliffs.
These were in full bloom with a tall and striking inflorescence of large bell-shaped flowers of yellow-green with prominent anthers covered with orange pollen. The stalks were about four feet tall, the upper two-thirds well branched and covered with two-inch flowers and fat buds. The sepals were green and the bracts an olive green. The bloom continues for a month or more. The blue gray leaves of the thorny rosettes were about two feet by one inch wide. We saw many more plants in gullies in the drier mountains back from the coast where Acacia dealbata was in full bloom everywhere. The puyas were not yet in bloom, but we saw many old dry bloom stalks and all were upright except the one we photographed which had probably been pulled down to eye level.
We were told the Chileans like to eat the stalk when it first appears — it resembles a big fat asparagus spear which is sliced and used raw in salads much as palm hearts are eaten.
This area is fast developing with resorts and vacation chalets overlooking the ocean and the puyas may not be found here much longer. Even though it is now winter in Chile (July 1978), the beaches scattered here and there along the rugged rocky coast are quite crowded.
Mt. Dora, Florida
|Closeup of inflorescence of Puya chilensis.|
Although this attractive tillandsia has probably been in collections for some time, no one ever took the trouble to have it properly identified. In 1976 when visiting Jack Roth in California, Dr. Werner Rauh noticed it among a group of tillandsias that had recently been brought back from Mexico. The tillandsia interested him, as he had never seen it before although he had collected extensively in Mexico, so he took it back to Heidelberg to have it identified. After much investigation on his part, Dr. Rauh finally decided that it was a new species and named it after Mr. Roth, who had found it growing some 70 miles north of Manzanilla on the road to Puerto Vallarta.
T. rothii is a medium sized plant with 12-inch, firm, light green leaves, one inch wide at the base and tapering to a point. The inflorescence rises over 10 inches above the rosette. In good light the foliage turns a rich coppery shade. It is hardy in California gardens.