Copyright 1986 by the Bromeliad Society, Inc.
|Vol. 36, No. 5||September—October 1986|
Editor: Thomas U. Lineham, Jr., 1508 Lake Shore Drive, Orlando, Florida 32803
Editorial Advisory Board: David H. Benzing, Racine S. Foster, Sue Gardner, Harry E. Luther, Victoria Padilla, Robert W. Read.
Cover Photographs. Front: Guzmania mitis. Photograph by Rolf Rawe. Description is on page 202. Back: Navia splendens L.B. Smith. Photograph by Bob Wands for Selby Gardens.
|195||Roberto A. Kautsky, Honorary Trustee Bob D. Whitman|
|196||Meeting Friends in Australia Aja Coester|
|200||Icones Bromeliacearum III: Billbergia zebrina Robert W. Read|
|202||Guzmania vanvolxemii vs. Guzmania mitis Rolf Rawe|
|203||Breakthrough Advances in Propagation Philip V. Ammirato|
|207||Report of the B.S.I. Judges Certification Committee William E. Frazel|
|209||Habitats of Brocchinia, a Descriptive Account G.S. Varadarajan|
|217||Vriesea paraibica Rediscovered Elton M.C. Leme|
|220||Botanical Gardens Planned for Corpus Christi, Texas Sue Gardner|
|221||Doing It by the Numbers; A Slide Filing System George H. Anderson|
|222||Bromeliad Flower Arrangement, No. 11: Christmas Swags May A. Moir|
|224||Harden Your Plants to the Cold Herb Plever|
|227||Questions & Answers Conducted by Bob Heer and Tom Montgomery|
The Journal, ISSN 0090-8738, is published bimonthly at Orlando, Florida by the Bromeliad Society, Inc. Articles and photo-graphs are earnestly solicited. Closing date is 60 days before month of issue. Advertising rates are listed in the advertising section. Permission is granted to reprint articles in the Journal, in whole or in part, when credit is given to the author and to the Bromeliad Society, Inc.
Please address all membership and subscription correspondence to Membership Secretary Linda Harbert, 2488 E. 49th, Tulsa, OK 74105. Subscription price (in U.S. $) is included in the 12-month membership dues: single - $15.00, dual (two members at one address receiving one Journal) - $20.00, contributing - $20.00, fellowship - $25.00, life - $750.00. Please add $5.00 for international mail, except for life members. For first class mail for any class of membership, please add $5.00. Funds over $15.00 from contributing and fellowship members help to pay the cost of Journal color illustrations.
Back issues: Order 1984 and 1985 issues from the editor @ $3.25 for U.S., $4.00 for all other addresses; 1976-1983, $15.00 U.S., $20.00, international, per volume, from H. W. Wiedman, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Calif. State University-Sacramento, Sacramento, CA 95819. All orders postpaid. Make checks payable to B.S.I.
Printed by: Robinsons Inc., Orlando, Florida.
Typography by: New Horizons Phototypesetting, Inc., Orlando, Florida.
Bob D. Whitman
|Fig. 1. Roberto A. Kautsky|
Roberto Kautsky could certainly be considered a seasoned collector since he has explored the Brazilian jungles for nearly half a century. Mr. Kautsky has turned over his mineral water bottling business to his son so that he can devote more time to his beloved flora of Brazil. In his retirement, it has also enabled him to collect on an average of twice a week.
As a collector, his achievements rank with those of the great plantsmen whose names are so familiar: André, Glaziou, Burle Marx, and Foster. He has introduced nearly 100 plants new to cultivation in the Araceae, Begoniaceae, Bromeliaceae, Cactaceae, and Orchidaceae, to name but a few. Bromeliads which Mr. Kautsky discovered include Aechmea kautskyana, Billbergia kautskyana, Cryptanthus scaposus var. scaposus, C. scaposus var. kautskyanus, Neoregelia kautskyi, N. liliputiana, and Tillandsia kautskyi.
The Dominquez Martins Cultural Center (museum) has recognized Mr. Kautsky for his botanical achievements by dedicating a permanent exhibit to the work of this distinguished plantsman. In May 1986, the Board of Directors of the Bromeliad Society, Inc. recognized Roberto A. Kautsky's contributions to the Bromeliaceae by unanimously electing him an honorary trustee.
Thank you, Mr. Kautsky, for your pioneering efforts and foresight in preservation and conservation for the benefit of future generations.
t was a wonderful journey that I planned for the autumn of 1985: to visit Australia again. This time I would begin in Perth, continue 3,200 miles across the continent to Sydney, and then make stops up the east coast as far as Cairns. The purpose of my trip was to visit as many of the Australian bromeliad societies as possible, to see collections, and to find out how the Australians grow these wonderful plants. I already knew that their growing conditions are much better than they are in Germany, but I wanted to learn more about their growing methods and how they spread knowledge about bromeliads.
My first stop was Perth in Western Australia. I had corresponded with Geoff Lawn who promised to drive me around. So on a Saturday morning we started from my hotel and Geoff brought me first to the show at one of the big shopping centres in suburban Perth. There I met members of one of the two bromeliad groups in the region. When I entered the centre, a large table full of perfect specimens of various bromeliads surprised me. What a colourful sight. Most of the plants were neoregelias, as this seems to be their favored genus, but how beautifully they can be grown here under the conditions of the 32nd parallel. I wandered around the display admiring aechmeas, billbergias, and the shiny, red-leaved rosettes of neoregelia hybrids. While I was still pondering, a lady came from the direction of a group of shops, stood next to me and asked, "Oh, aren't they beautiful. What are they made of?" You see, there cannot be enough information.
Society members were spending their weekend at the show, offering plants for sale and giving lots of enlightening hints. Tillandsias were rare. Again and again I heard how difficult and expensive it is to import these plants from America, mainly because the Australian quarantine laws are so rigid. As a result, collections of Tillandsia can become a reality in this country only by the very slow means of seed culture. Still, there was on display a perfect T. tectorum fastened on a Banksia cone, a really good way of showing this plant to best advantage.
Perth has a warm but dry climate. Hechtias, dyckias, and some species of Puya can be grown in the open with good results even though some winter nights become rather cold. For Vriesea and Guzmania species, however, the protection of a plastic-covered house is necessary. During my days with Geoff Lawn, I was shown different ways in different gardens of solving this problem. One man had created a jungle in his suburban lot thickly planted with trees and shrubs, mostly evergreen, mixed with perennial ginger. Small spaces at the bottom of these plantings contained various bromeliads with even Vriesea fosteriana doing well. Most other collections I saw had a plastic-covered house for less hardy species. I especially admired in Geoff's own collection his Aechmea fosteriana, A. recurvata, A. nudicaulis, and his brightly coloured neoregelia hybrids, some his own crosses. Everybody in Australia it seems tries to create new hybrids and cultivars.
Sydney, on the Pacific coast, has a much moister climate. Also situated about the 32nd parallel, this area enjoys much rainfall and a generally humid climate, a big advantage for bromeliad culture. Here, again, I met two different groups of bromeliad friends. My correspondence had brought me first in contact with the Bromeliad Society of New South Wales by way of Ann Boon. She invited me to go on a bus trip with them to visit bromeliad nurseries near Newcastle, north of Sydney.
We started on a very rainy Saturday and while going north I got most excited about the spear lilies (Doryanthes excelsa) growing in the eucalyptus forest along the road. These magnificent natives of New South Wales are the biggest lilies one can imagine: a clump of more than 100 spear-like leaves at the bottom and the flower stalk with a globular head of red flowers four to five metres high. The closely related Doryanthes palmeri has a much longer, stretched-out flower, also red. It occurs farther north in Queensland. They have been included recently in the Agavaceae, part of the large and varied lily family.
At the first big nursery we visited I recognized the owner, Lou Forrest, whom I had met years ago at the Botanical Gardens of Sydney. He now cultivates orchids and bromeliads. He is still intensely interested in the botanical side of things, and has a good number of species, including tillandsias.
Next door, the large, widespreading houses of Robert Larnach's wholesale nursery displayed many bromeliads, mostly hybrids which he crossed and selected. After lunch, we visited the third nursery that day, the famous Burbank Company, with an enormous display of flowering azaleas, camellias, and other spring flowers. We also saw their tissue culture laboratory, but, of course, we had to say outside because the inside was kept sterile. They were using tissue culture for orchids. Our guide informed us that they will soon propagate many other plants by this method.
In Sydney there were shows galore. I visited two of them during the fortnight I stayed there. The first was in a tent on the lawn of the botanical garden with both the Bromeliad Society of New South Wales and the Bromeliad Society of Australia presenting exhibits of such quality it was impossible to choose the better. In spite of the rain and mud, the members were tireless in displaying and discussing their beautiful plants. Here I was introduced to the members of the latter society and met their president Ruby Ride and secretary Joan Norden. Joan and I commiserated with each other over the hard life of bromeliad society secretaries. She told me of a third show, to be held on my last weekend in Sydney. I needed no urging and made plans to attend "Bromeliad Scene '85" at the Pennant Hill Community Centre. There the arrangement of colourful aechmeas and brilliant neoregelias crowned by a branch decorated with gray tillandsias was impressive. In addition to the display, they had a day-long raffle with prizes including well grown plants such as Vriesea fosteriana, other vrieseas, and Aechmea orlandiana. The terrible weather discouraged good attendance. I had to admire the dedication of these people who spent their entire weekend advertising their society, striving to recruit members, and spreading knowledge of bromeliads. We agreed to exchange our publications, and they made me a complimentary member.
Now it was time to continue my journey to Brisbane in Queensland. On the very first day of my arrival, friends rang to say they wanted to drive me to Alexandra Headlands to see Grace Goode's garden. It was a must, they said. I was astonished that they knew I was there. Well, they said, it was just the grape-vine. And so I spent the most wonderful day in that magnificent garden. It is the only garden I saw completely and exclusively landscaped with bromeliads, but you have already read about it recently in the Journal. A most impressive new nidularium lacking a name showed its rather black bracts forming the nest. At the back of her garden was a tree with brilliant red flowers just coming out of the old branches, an African Schotia latifolia, lovely in this warm climate and strong light. A marvelously large clump of Aechmea nudicaulis in full flower was growing on a branch. I must mention the display of Portea petropolitana flowering in full sun; a large oval of a small neoregelia that we call N. schultesiana, but which Grace calls by a hybrid name; her collection of cryptanthus hybrids with colours we can only dream of; fences draped with Spanish moss; a beautiful enclosure of tillandsias, to her the aristocrats of the bromeliad family. I have never before seen anything like that garden. It is not to be missed.
Back in Brisbane, I finally met the president of the Bromeliad Society of Queensland, Len Trevor and his wife Olive. They had just moved to Ferny Grove, an outer suburb. They built there a glorious shade house with bromeliads as far as the eye could make out, cultivated both for sale and as a hobby. Large Tillandsia imperialis plants were the first sight, then Vriesea elata with a flower stalk, and all kinds of variegated species, which people evidently like. A lovely sight enjoyed all day long.
The Queensland Society donated quantities of plants to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens when they were newly established on top of Mt. Coot-tha. I had to see that, too, and found a valley with rocky outcroppings, big trees overhead, and a little lake at the bottom. On one of the outcrops a magnificent yellow pitcairnia was in full flower (fig. 2). Massed plantings made a beautiful sight in this spot. In the bottom of the valley, neoregelias had been used to fill the banks of the water course to advantage, their red hearts gleaming in the sun. In other places there were billbergias, aechmeas, a few hardy dyckias and hechtias, some evidently not yet acclimated, but the garden is new and it will take a number of years to establish things including the bromeliads.
Pitcairnia xanthocalyx Martius (identified by H.E. Luther from this photograph) flowering at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens at Mt. Coot-tha, Queensland.
My next visit was announced by the telephone-wire grapevine. This time, I travelled by bus to Cairns, 1,400 km north, with stops at Rockhampton and Townsville. I arrived in November, truly the best time to visit this small, tropical city. All the streets are lined with flowering trees, the pink Cassia javanica, yellow Cassia fistula, a pinkish-yellow hybrid, flaming red Delonix regia, the native Pelthroporum pterocarpum, all in full bloom. I saw frangipani as large as I had ever seen, and an enormous African tulip tree, Spathodea campanulata. It was the end of the dry season and the time of a feast of flowers.
My host and hostess on two successive weekends, Geoff and June Bennett, live in a beautiful tropical house high on stilts in a pocket of a valley between the mountains surrounding Cairns. All those rising peaks are covered with rainforest and in the flat areas there is cultivated sugarcane. In this spot the Bennetts care for their extensive bromeliad collection.
Most of their plants are on the ground, potted, or planted into a mulch. Billbergias and aechmeas grow as epiphytes on the trees (fig. 3) because with the massive rain showers that is the only way they can survive. Less hardy species grow in a shade house, and large growths of Portea petropolitana provide a flowering border. A wide path through the trees has a border of ginger and heliconia. Their tillandsia collection is grouped under a dense shadecloth cover constructed at the entrance to their home.
There was time to explore the area. Geoff knew a dry path leading through a mangrove swamp where the flora and fauna were of great interest to me. Then there was the rainforest with plants I had never seen before, and vines, cycads, Calamus species, and rattan palms. On the banks of a little river running clear and cool near their house I found an interesting native ginger. Hornstedtia scottiana.
|Fig. 3. The massive rain showers of tropical Cairns compel Geoff and June Bennett to grow billbergias and aechmeas as epiphytes, as shown in this portion of their shadehouse.|
On the last day of my visit we called on John and Helen Richardson, bromeliad friends on the other side of Cairns. They had a great number of potted plants of many kinds standing on benches and on the ground, shaded by the large rainforest trees. Under a smaller tree on a lawn, neoregelias shone with red foliage and red centres in the extreme sunlight. A magnificent display of nidularium hybrids was centered under a flowering native tree, Phaleria clerodendron, covered with sprays of white, sweet scented flowers growing straight out of the bare trunk.
Can you doubt that I had a lovely, most informative time in Cairns thanks to these hospitable friends?
Two bromeliad sights remain to be reported: a blazing red Bromelia balansae at the entrance to the office building of the Fletcher Botanical Gardens in Cairns, and an embankment beautifully landscaped with Billbergia pyramidalis in the botanical gardens of Darwin, Northern Territory, my last stop.
Vice-President and Editor
Frankfurt am Main
Robert W. Read
Photograph by Claudia Bonsack1
"Bromelia zebrina. White-barred Bromelia"
[Plate 2682 of Curtis's Botanical Magazine, 1826, now correctly known as Billbergia zebrina (Herbert) Lindley].
illbergia zebrina (Herbert) Lindley, is only one of the many members of this genus illustrated in Curtis's Botanical Magazine. This one by William Herbert, who also is credited with the description and authorship of the specific epithet, has had a checkered history for one reason or another. First described by Herbert in the genus Bromelia in 1826,2 it was transferred to Billbergia the following year by John Lindley,3 who did nothing more than cite the correct combination and original place of publication.
Publication here of the original plate, upon which the species is based (the type illustration, in lieu of an actual specimen), should help avoid any problems that may arise as a result of the erroneous citation of the plate in the Smith and Downs monograph (Fig. 710, A-G).4 That figure is not "(Bot. Mag. pl. 2686)" as stated. Figure 710, F ("Section of ovary") does illustrate the most essential characteristic of the species (the turbinate ovary), but the inflorescence is not so clearly that of the species and could be misleading. The illustration by William Herbert was drawn from a plant "flowered in the stove at Spofforth, in June , being planted in a small pot of peat on a warm flue."2
Herbert further wrote: "This beautiful parasite (sic) was cut with a portion of the wood from the stem of a great tree in the neighbourhood of Rio Janeiro. Its hard and knotty stumps adhere inseparably to the trunk, at least they are not easily parted by a hammer and chisel. By the posture of the leaves when imported, the plant seems to have grown upon the side of a nearly upright trunk . . . . The leaves of this species are most singularly barred at uncertain intervals with white."
Smith and Downs4 indicate that the distribution of Billbergia zebrina is from southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northeastern Argentina at low elevations, from 15-30 m altitude. They also list six different specific epithets in synonymy, in six different genera.
- Claudia Bonsack, a part time student volunteer in the Dept. of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, has researched the literature for bromeliad illustrations and photographed the color plates, where possible.
- W. Herbert. Curtis's Bot. Mag. 53: pl. 2686, and text; 1826.
- J. Lindley. Edward's Bot. Reg. 13: text of pl. 1068; 1827.
- L.B. Smith, R.J. Downs, Bromelioideae. Flora Neotropica. Monograph no. 14, part 3: 2026-2027, fig. 710, A-G.
Curator, Dept. of Botany
Washington, D. C.
n 1982, while collecting in Colombia and searching specifically for guzmania and large, high altitude, green-leaved tillandsias, I came across a small batch of G. vanvolxemii on the eastern side of the very high Quindío Pass.
These plants were growing on the steep road embankment and I managed to obtain only one specimen, all others being totally out of reach as is so often the case. Fortunately this lone plant survived the stresses of transport to Capetown and has now flowered for the first time. You can see from the cover picture that it is a superb species well worth cultivating.
The rosette is 60 cm in diameter and the whole inflorescence 90 cm long. The individual flowers are white and those which were pollinated are fruiting so that I can propagate this species.
The plant grows easily enough and I have it potted in fern roots and am growing it in a fibreglass-covered house where I keep all my other high altitude plants. During summer, the temperature reaches 30° C regularly, but I mist very frequently during the afternoon and early evening.
The plants are grown very much drier during winter when night temperatures will drop down to 5° C. This regime suits the plants very well and there are only a very few species from above 3000 meters which object to the high summer temperature.
Groot Drakenstein, South Africa
[Dr. Lyman Smith points out that this is not typical G. vanvolxemii with a densely cylindric inflorescence but G. mitis, a synonym, with an open one. Significantly both types are from Quindío. Mr. Rawe has been told of this observation and concurs.]
Breakthrough Advances in Propagation
Philip V. Ammirato
he last twenty-five years, and in particular the last ten years, have witnessed a dramatic increase in our ability to propagate plants using a broad range of techniques collectively called "plant tissue culture." We have been able to do so by utilizing the inherent ability of higher plants to regenerate, to make more of themselves. Shoot apical meristems (the hundred or so cells at the very tip of an actively-growing shoot or root) produce a continuous supply of leaves, stems and lateral or secondary shoot apices that can grow out to produce branches. Root apices produce secondary roots. Plants can also produce adventitious organs. "Adventitious" comes from the same root as "adventure" and generally means we are "surprised" to find something, such as the production of roots on stems or shoot buds on roots. In addition, plant cells often have an ability to resume growing even after they have stopped. For example, cortical cells will resume dividing to become a phellogen or cork cambium and produce the corky layer on trees. Plant biologists have been able to tap these responses and do dramatic things with them.
The key to plant tissue culture is aseptic (sterile) technique. The nutrient or culture medium that is needed to grow the plant cells contains salts, sugars, vitamins and sometimes plant growth regulators or hormones. Should microorganisms or fungi be present, they will grow faster than the plant cells and overwhelm the tissue; therefore, all extraneous organisms must be eliminated and this requires aseptic technique. It is perhaps the most demanding part of the operation for everything must be sterile or free from contamination. The medium and all equipment must be sterilized, often by placing in an autoclave (a type of pressure cooker) and the plant itself must be cleaned of all organisms. Luckily, most internal tissues of plants are free of microorganisms and only the surfaces must be cleaned; this is termed "surface sterilization." (There are exceptions to this, however, and endogenous microorganisms can cause unexpected trouble. It is something to keep in mind when attempting to grow plants in culture.) For most plants, however, a treatment with dilute commercial bleach (sodium hypochlorite) followed by rinses in sterile water will remove contaminants. Therefore, with the proper medium, aseptic techniques, the right plants and know-how, some remarkable things have been achieved, with even greater accomplishments promised for the future.
The most fully-realized manipulations to date fall into the category of meristem culture or micropropagation. Most botanists, whether amateur or professional, realize that often one can remove a shoot from a plant, place it into a misting bench and have it root, producing a new plant. It was realized about thirty years ago that a shoot apex removed from a plant and placed in culture would root and form an entirely new plant. Therefore, if you had a plant where only the terminal shoot apex was growing and the others remained dormant, you could excise all the shoot apices, place them into culture, and retrieve plants, one for each apex added. Furthermore, it was realized that if the plant were infected with viruses and only the very top of the shoot apex, the "apical dome," were cultured, the resulting plant was often virus-free. Meristem culture has become a powerful tool in producing virus-free stock plants. A more elaborate procedure is now generally used. The plants are first grown for several weeks at an elevated temperature to partially inhibit virus growth, then the apical dome is carefully excised and the material grown in culture to retrieve whole plants. Finally the plants are subjected to rigorous testing to ensure they are virus-free. Flower production in ornamentals and crop yields in agricultural plants are often dramatically increased by the elimination of viruses.
Soon after scientists realized that shoot apices could be cultured and single whole plants recovered, they discovered that the natural ability of shoot apices to produce axillary buds could be manipulated. With the proper conditions a single shoot apex in culture could be induced to develop many axillary buds precociously. Each one of these could then be excised and rooted. Using this technique many plants could be achieved from one shoot apex. It has been estimated that clonal micropropagation based on precocious axillary branching could result in a millionfold increase over conventional methods. This discovery has revolutionized the production of many ornamentals. Most of the Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata cv. 'Bostoniensis') produced commercially in the United States are propagated by aseptic culture techniques. This is also true of the Gerbera daisies that have made a recent appearance at local florists. Orchids, chrysanthemum, African violets, ficus and rhododendron, to name just a few, now are propagated by meristem culture or "mericloning." The technique is being increasingly applied to crop plants and already is being used for the production of sugar cane, potatoes, pineapple, taro, yams, strawberry and asparagus. Amateur botanists have discovered the technique and more and more homes have small meristem culture facilities. Courses teaching these techniques have appeared in botanical gardens and universities.
There is more to the story, however. As scientists experimented with the right culture media and conditions to promote shoot growth and shoot proliferation, they discovered that certain treatments would cause the plant cells to divide and grow in an unorganized manner. This mass of rapidly dividing unorganized and basically undifferentiated cells is termed a "callus" and its growth is termed "tissue culture." Since you are not really growing tissues in the biological sense, a synonymous term is "cell culture." The callus can also be placed in a liquid medium and agitated, using one of a number of techniques, producing a "suspension culture." It should be realized that rarely does one grow single individual cells using these techniques. This can be done by using a remarkable technique developed only within the last ten years, termed "protoplast culture." The technique depends upon the use of enzymes derived from fungi to dissolve the cell walls and pectins that surround each plant cell and "glue" them to each other. By doing so, each cell floats freely in the medium giving a true cell suspension or culture. (Removing the cell wall does create new problems, however, for without it the cell itself or "protoplast" will swell and burst. Adjustments must be made in the medium to prevent that.) If the enzymes are removed, the cell walls will grow back and, with the proper conditions, the cells themselves will grow.
Of what use are these new techniques of tissue, cell and protoplast culture? For one, plant biologists have learned that these cells, at least from certain plants, have the ability to stop growing in an unorganized way and start to grow into plants if given the right stimuli and conditions. When cultured, some species will form many shoots from a callus, in a process called "organogenesis." These shoots can then be rooted, much as with the multiple axillary buds from meristem cultures, and whole plants retrieved. However, in this case, the shoots come from rapidly growing cells and millions of cells can be grown from just a few hundred in a couple of weeks. Many more plants can be propagated using this technique than by mericloning. There are potential problems with this technique, however. Inducing the cells to divide in an unorganized fashion seems to increase the chances that chromosome and genetic changes will occur. Therefore, special care must be taken to prevent changes if the goal is clonal propagation. However, this technique can be useful to produce desirable changes, ones that cannot easily be obtained using traditional plant breeding or plant mutation methods. The technique is called "somaclonal variation" (soma = body or asexual) and has already produced improved lines of tomatoes and garlic.
There is a second way that cells in culture can regenerate. In a number of species, when the proper signals are given, the cells begin to act like fertilized cells and grow into embryos. Normally, embryos grow via the sexual process with the fusion of a sperm nucleus with an egg cell. These embryos, however, grow from somatic cells and are therefore called "somatic embryos" and the process "somatic embryogenesis." Because cells can rapidly divide in culture to produce millions in only a few weeks, somatic embryogenesis offers the prospect of generating millions of embryos in that time. This technique has been successfully used in cultures of carrot, caraway, celery, coffee, citrus, papaya, and the daylily (Hemerocallis). These tiny embryos are complete, each containing a shoot apex and a root apex. They float freely in the medium. Their growth in large numbers raises the prospect of artificial seeds. This suggests the possibility of producing millions of somatic embryos that could be coated or encapsulated to produce millions of artificial seeds that could be stored, shipped and planted just like regular, zygotic seeds. There is still much work to be done but the prospects are intriguing. At this time, however, there are a fair number of plants where many copies can be made either by organogenesis or embryogenesis and, more and more, we are seeing the use of these techniques for practical applications.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect involves the use of the plant cells stripped of their cell walls. It was discovered that protoplasts can be made to fuse with other protoplasts and one area of work currently being pursued is the use of protoplast fusions to achieve hybrids that could not be obtained through regular plant breeding. For example, there is a "somatic or parasexual hybrid" between two species of tobacco that could not be made naturally. The resulting hybrid has the disease resistance of one parent and the commercially-valuable traits of the other. A second area of current research involves the use of protoplasts as the recipients of only parts of cells or genetic material, such as cloned DNA. We are now truly in the realm of genetic engineering. This is an intriguing area of current research but it may take a while for practical results to emerge. It is a complex, difficult subject best left to another article. However, the development of genetic engineering techniques and their utilization in plant improvement rests on the ability to grow cells and regenerate plants from them. This is also rapidly developing with many practical and wonderful applications right now.
Thomas and M.R. Davey. From Single Cells to Plants. Wykeham Publications (London) Ltd., London and New York and Springer-Verlag, New York. 1975. (An easy to read presentation of, the entire subject.)
J.H. Dodds and L.W. Roberts. Experiments in Plant Tissue Culture. New York. 1982. (An introduction to basic techniques).
D.A. Evans, W.R. Sharp, P.V. Ammirato and Y. Yamada, editors. Hand-book in Plant Cell Culture. Volume I. Techniques for Propagation and Breeding. MacMillan Publishing Co., New York. 1983. (A complete presentation of both basic and applied techniques. Volumes 2 and 3, due out in mid-1984, will detail the applications of these techniques to particular crop species.)
Reprinted with permission from the
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
William E. Frazel, Chairman
he committee this year held elections for members from the several regions to serve three-year terms. Those elected are:
|California Region||*Jennie Wisley|
|Florida-Georgia Region||*Polly Pascal
Robert L. Smith
|New Orleans Region||*Sara Lee Jones|
|Oklahoma-Texas Region||*Valerie Steckler
Robbi A. Baham
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
G. S. Varadarajan
The Smith and Downs monograph on Pitcairnioideae (1974) recognized eighteen species within the South American genus Brocchinia. B. amazonica L.B. Smith was recently added (Smith 1984), and a new species is being described (Varadarajan MS). The range of Brocchinia is from the regions of southeastern Colombia to southeastern Venezuela and adjacent Guiana in the east, and north from Gran Sabana in Estado Bolívar, Venezuela, to Rio da Serra Arca in Amazonian Brazil in the south. The altitudinal range of the genus is from sea level to approximately 2,900 meters.
Before discussing habitats, I have summarized below some problems associated with the status of collections and the distributional data. We now know that several brocchinias are native to the hard-to-reach cerros and tepuis (collectively known as the table mountains or sandstone mountains) in the regions of the Guiana Highlands of Venezuela and the Amazonas-Vaupés of Colombia. This information has been made possible by the increased botanical exploration of these regions. Since the mid-20's of this century, field collections in the Guiana Highlands by Tate, B. Maguire and his associates, Steyermark (Huber and Wurdack 1984) and by R.E. Schultes and Garcia-Barriga in Colombia have been significant in providing opportunities for locating new species of Brocchinia as well as increasing the number of dried specimens in several herbaria.1 Until these botanical explorations were undertaken, our knowledge of Brocchinia was limited to a very few species, namely, B. hechtioides Mez, B. micrantha (Baker) Mez, B. paniculata Schultes, and B. reducta Baker.
In spite of the recently increased botanical activity in these areas, we do not yet have enough collections of Brocchinia or field data to support research in depth on the genus. For example, many floral characters remain largely unknown and distributional data for some of its species are dubious.
To illustrate the problem specifically, I have selected a few brocchinias from the table mountains of Estado Bolívar and Territorio Federal (T.F.) Amazonas in Venezuela, B. bernardii L.B. Smith on Urimán, B. cowanii L.B. Smith on the cerro Moriche, B. cryptantha L.B. Smith on the cerro Yapacana, B. delicatula L.B. Smith on the cerro de la Neblina, B. hitchcockii L.B. Smith on the cerro Parú, and B. secunda L.B. Smith on Ptari-tepui. These species, probably endemic to their respective areas, are all apparently known only from a single collection.
|Fig. 5. Large colonies of Brocchinia reducta along open savannas, Gran Sabana, Venezuela.|
|Fig. 6. Montane forests in relation to savannas: the sandstone table mountains of the Guiana Highlands with alternating zones of savannas and montane forests, Auyan-tepui, Venezuela. A shrub-dominated dry savanna appears in the foreground and a grass-dominated swampy one in the background, both typical habitats of some species of Brocchinia.|
Fig. 7. Cliffs and ledges of table mountains include Brocchinia habitats.|
Auyan-tepui photographed from an airplane.
Until more collecting is done, it is premature to decide whether these species are restricted to one place or are more widespread than present collection data indicate.
From my recent visits to several herbaria housing Brocchinia in the United States and South America, I estimate that about a third of the species are represented by a single collection and the remainder by never more than 50 specimens each. While the relatively large size of some bromeliad species could discourage collectors, I find in Brocchinia that the smaller (dwarf) species (e.g. B. bernardii, B. cowanii) are less well represented in herbaria than the larger species (e.g. B. tatei L.B. Smith).
In this situation, I am aware that habitat descriptions for Brocchinia must be incomplete. At the same time, I have endeavored to maximize predictability by basing the description of habitats largely on my own field observations supplemented by field data of other botanists including Huber, Steyermark, and Zarucchi who are actively engaged in exploring regions of Venezuela and Colombia.
I have recognized here three principal habitats of Brocchinia:2 open savannas, montane forests, and exposed summits of the table mountains. The altitudinal distribution of these habitats ranges from sea level to about 2,900 meters.
In characterizing the open savannas that include Brocchinia, I follow Huber (1982) and Huber (in press). Huber's savanna types are both the low- and highland savannas (fig. 5). Lowland savannas (sealevel to about 700 meters), often merging with riverine habitats, occur in T.F. Amazonas, the Amazonas-Vaupés region, and adjacent Brazil. B. prismatica L.B. Smith, for example, figures as a fairly common species in the Rio Ventuari region of T.F. Amazonas, 3 while B. acuminata, B. paniculata, and B. serrata L.B. Smith are found in the Río Cubiyu, Río Cuduyari, and Río Kananari region of Colombia.
Highland savannas supported by the underlying sandstone Roraima formation are found along the tepuis and the Gran Sabana of the Guiana Highlands. The altitude of these savannas ranges from about 800 to 2,900 meters. For the sake of clarity, I distinguish the highland savannas applicable to Brocchinia into two subtypes: the relatively dry, shrub-dominated (e.g. Clusia, Vellozia), and the swampy grass-dominated. Brocchinia reducta and B. steyermarkii L.B. Smith-deserve mention as frequent inhabitants of the two highland savanna subtypes. The latter species of Brocchinia is presently known only from the Gran Sabana region of Estado Bolívar.
The montane forests (fig. 6) are in some respects similar to the true Amazonian rain forests and the Andean cloud forests; however, each type of forest has its unique geologic history, floristic composition, and physiognomic characteristics (Simpson 1975, Simpson and Haffer 1978, Steyermark 1982). Most of the botanically explored montane forests of the table mountains are in the Estado Bolívar and T.F. Amazonas of Venezuela, and in Guiana.
Brocchinia species occurring in the montane forests are understorey species (e.g., B. acuminata L.B. Smith and B. tatei L.B. Smith) or occasional epiphytes (e.g., B. paniculata and B. tatei). The forests are sharply delimited from the adjacent savannas at various altitudes of the table mountains. Ecotones between the savannas and the forests are inhabited frequently by B. micrantha (fig. 8) and B. tatei, and occasionally by B. acuminata L.B. Smith and B. paniculata.
Brocchinia habitats on the summits of table mountains are associated with the moist, rocky, or sandy substrata underlying the sandstone cliffs, bluffs and ledges (fig. 7). Unlike the savanna habitats, accessibility to plants occurring on the exposed summits is always a problem. The altitudes of such habitats range from approximately 1,000 to ca. 2,500 meters. Brocchinia hectioides, B. maguirei L.B. Smith, and B. melanacra L.B. Smith are some examples (table 1).
My observations in Ptari-tepui, Mount Roraima, and Auyan-tepui in Estado Bolívar, and those of Huber and Steyermark (pers comm.) in other sandstone mountains of Estado Bolívar and T.F. Amazonas reveal an interesting situation: Brocchinia, nine out of ten times, co-occurs with one or more other taxa of Pitcairnioideae. For example, in my expedition to Auyan-tepui I found Ayensua (A. uaipanensis (Maguire) L.B. Smith), Cottendorfia (C. brachyphylla (L.B. Smith) L.B. Smith), Connellia (C. varadarajanii L.B. Smith & Steyermark), and Navia (N. splendens L.B. Smith) all sharing the same rocky or sandy substrata with B. acuminata and B. hectioides at two different altitudes. Recent botanical expeditions by others to the cerro Duida and the cerro de la Neblina also document such correspondence of growing sites between Brocchinia and other Pitcairnioideae. It should be noted that dwarf (less than 50 cm) brocchinias were all collected from the sandstone bluffs and ledges together with cottendorfias and navias.
|Savannas||Montane forests||Exposed summits
of table mountains
*Species represented by 1-3 specimens.
†Author's proposed new species (in MS).
Several research parameters in Brocchinia can be related to this study of habitats. For instance, the suggestion of Tillandsioideae-like facultative tank epiphytism in B. acuminata, B. micrantha, and B. tatei (Benzing et al. 1985) lacks thorough ecophysiological interpretation. Such research will be especially significant since the genus may be a key taxon in the putative evolution of the subfamily Tillandsioideae from Pitcairnioideae. Also, the recently documented unusual instance of carnivory in B. reducta (Givnish et al. 1984) (fig. 9) appears to be directly related to type of habitat and its limited nutrients. Further, in Brocchinia, epiphytism and carnivory are invariably associated with structural modifications (e.g. broad leaf-sheaths, rolling of leaves to result in cylindrical form, and restriction of absorbing scales to the leaf-sheath). Dwarf species, on the other hand, are not accompanied by these structural modifications.
The overlap of habitats among Brocchinia and the several pitcairnioid genera supports their phylogenetic relationship envisaged by several workers (Smith 1934, Robinson 1969). Questions relating to tendencies such as epiphytism, carnivory, dwarfism, etc. have been examined until now with very limited ecologic-geographic/distributional data.
I hope that this descriptive account will stimulate further research to obtain answers to the several questions relating to the ecosystem and phylogeny of Brocchinia.
|Fig. 8. Ecotones between the savannas and the montane forests are inhabited frequently by brocchinias such as B. micrantha (shown here).|
Fig. 9. Brocchinia reducta, a widespread species, with its leaves rolled vertically to form a cylinder, is found to be carnivorous. Gran Sabana.
- [For related discussion and illustrations, see also Journal articles: Julian A. Steyermark, "Brocchinia; genus of the Guayana. " 11:35-41; L.B. Smith, 'Julian A. Steyermark. " 29:195-201].
- Please refer to table 1 for a list of species arranged by habitat.
- Huber's duplicates at VEN numbers 1642, 2024, 2533, 2546, 2660, 2704 are examples of the collections of the species representing this region.
I thank Drs. G.K. Brown, A.J. Gilmartin, R.W. Read, H. Robinson, and J. Steyermark for their valuable suggestions during various stages of preparation of the manuscript. My thanks are especially due to Drs. O. Huber, J. Steyermark and J. Zarucchi for the field data on the habitats of Brocchinia. I gratefully acknowledge the help and assistance of Mr. Francisco Oliva-Esteva during the field work in Venezuela. I am especially thankful to the curators of the following herbaria for rendering me permission to consult the specimens: COL, CH, MO, MY, NY, US and VEN and to Mr. Oliva-Esteva and Dr. Zarucchi for the permission to use their slides. I wish to acknowledge the support received from the NSF (Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, BSR-8306999) for conducting field research in South America during 1983-84. Also, I am grateful for the short term visitor fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution. Thanks are due to my wife Usha for typing the manuscript.
Dept. of Botany and Marion Ownbey Herbarium
Washington State University
Elton M.C. Leme
e were touring through the country in the region of Visconde de Maúa, State of Rio de Janeiro, near the border of the state of Minas Gerais. After crossing the border, we heard about plains called "brejos," located between hills, crossed by streams, and covered with arbustive vegetation, which is typical of those places. The plains are flooded or marshy areas where the forest is low. The trees, depending on the quantity of water accumulated in the soil are thinner and less crowned, but rich in epiphytes. Before long, we came to a place that had been pointed out to us. To our great amazement we saw that practically all the vegetation of the plains and its surrounding hills had been pulled up. As consolation, if any is possible in view of such destruction, there were still a few square meters of flat land where the vegetation was still standing. A stream, with its course governed by drainage canals, crossed right through the middle of the remaining vegetation. Around us we could see pasture land where cattle contentedly grazed the good grass growing in the fertile lowlands.
The small tract of remaining vegetation was sufficient to give us an idea of the floristic richness of the area. Among other species growing epiphytically, we observed Aechmea pineliana, Canistrum giganteum, Nidularium sp. closely related to N. fulgens, but an unusual form, Vriesea psittacina, and also a small population of the little known Vriesea paraibica (fig. 10), which I shall describe as follows:
Vriesea paraibica Wawra
Plant epiphytic, flowering 25-45 cm high; leaves about 10, ligulate, rosulate, suberect, 20-42 cm long, forming a funnelform water reservoir at base; sheaths broadly ovate to oblong-elliptic, 6-12 cm long, 4.5-6.5 cm wide, green or slightly purplish on both sides with dense and inconspicuous white scales; blades sublinear, 14-30 cm long, 2-3 cm wide, apex acute to subrounded and apiculate, green or reddish on both sides, with sparse and inconspicuous white scales mainly beneath. Scape 13-25 cm long, about 5 mm in diameter, erect or curved, shorter than the leaves, glabrous, greenish or reddish; scape bracts imbricate, ovate or elliptic, acute and apiculate, subglabrous, about 30 mm long, 15 mm wide, greenish or reddish. Inflorescence simplex, erect, oblong or subelliptic, densely flowered with 8-15 flowers, 8-12 cm long, 3.5-6 cm wide, strongly compressed, equaling or slightly exceeding the leaves; rachis stout, internodes very short; floral bracts distichous, at anthesis (at least) the upper ones very densely imbricate and then wholly covering the rachis, ovate, acute, carinate toward the apex, apex slightly incurvate, 40 cm long, 20 cm wide, glabrous, equaling or slightly exceeding the sepals, red with greenish apex. Flowers emerging very slightly from the bract on one side, 45-55 mm long, short-pedicellate; sepals lance-ovate or oblong, apex broadly acute or subrounded, obtusely carinate, 30 mm long, 10 mm wide, glabrous, free, yellow; petals sublinear, apex obtuse, 45-50 mm long, about 8 mm wide, yellow, bearing 2 lanceolate-acuminate 10-mm long scales at base, connate for 5 mm; stamens and pistil exserted, filaments subcylindric, adnate to the petals for 5 mm; anthers linear, base and apex obtuse, 9 mm long, dorsifixed above the base for ¼ of its length. Capsules terete, stout, acuminate, slightly exceeding the sepals.
Specimens examined: Brazil: State of Minas Gerais, near the border of State of Rio de Janeiro, on the road Visconde de Maúa to São José do Rio Preto. Collected by Elton M. C. Leme no. 714 and Roberto Menescal, August 1985. Deposited in RB.
Vriesea paraibica was originally described in 1883 by Heinrich Wawra, Ritter von Fernsee (1831-1887) from the type-plant he collected in the region of Juiz de Fora, State of Minas Gerais, about 200 kms from the area where we found the species (fig. 11). The name of this bromeliad must come from the Paraíba do Sul river, an important water course in those parts. It seems to be very scarce both in cultivation and in herbaria. Among other few supplementary known collections of V. paraibica, the one undertaken by Auguste de Sainte-Hilaire around 1817 must be pointed out. According to a report from his work, Voyages dans l'interieur du Brésil, published in 1830, this keen observer of the customs of the society and nature of the land where he had been, left Villa do Principe on April 9, 1819. His next stop was the Guanhães Farm, crossed by the creek of the same name. The seat of the farm was in a plain surrounded by hills covered with woods.
Fig. 10. Vriesea paraibica Wawra|
is a rare species rediscovered by the author in 1985.
Fig. 11. Vriesea paraibica, tab. 36, sect. B,|
Wawra's Itinera Principum, 1883.
Everything points to the fact that Wawra's specimens of Vriesea paraibica were collected near the farm. The vegetation must be similar to what we observed in Sao José do Rio Preto. Saint-Hilaire observed that, even at his time, the original vegetation of the land between Villa do Principe and Guanhães Farm was practically destroyed and replaced by several agricultural activities and pasture lands.
The specimens we collected fit, in practically all characteristics, the original description of the species. The only discrepancy is that the color of the leaves was reddish. This fact is, however, unimportant and even can be explained by the more intense light to which they were exposed in their habitat. We also noticed that there was a certain variation in the length of the scape and inflorescence in the population itself. This fact was surely influenced by the health and vigor of each individual. On the other hand, the most important characteristics that that identify the species appear constantly, and this fact permits us to say that Vriesea paraibica is now well represented in cultivation and no longer in danger of disappearing.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
lans are being developed for a new botanical garden in Corpus Christi, Texas. An outstanding site of over 100 acres of undisturbed woodland, mesquite brush, and natural wetlands, just minutes from downtown Corpus Christi has been donated by local developer, Henry Tucker.
The property, which stretches along the southwest bank of Oso Creek, is bounded on the south by the sprawling, world-famous King Ranch. It is already a place of considerable, but wild, beauty and is home to many native plants and wildlife such as deer, javelina, and raccoons. Many species of birds, from small songbirds to swimming and wading birds, utilize the thickets and wetlands. Among the most impressive are large flamingo-pink roseate spoonbills, white pelicans, and great blue herons. The property contains an Indian burial ground. A nature and historical interpretive building is planned, with large areas of the garden site to be developed as nature walks. The major gardens and Mexican colonial style buildings will be near a lake. Protected courtyards will create the microclimates needed to cultivate subtropical plants and to shelter them from the coastal Texas winds.
Many Corpus Christi Botanical Society members have taken an active role in promoting and developing the gardens and are planning to build a major collection. The society has been a major contributor to the special fund established for the construction of a bromeliad greenhouse. Other fund raising activities include selling a specially created poster.
Executive Director of the Botanical Gardens
Corpus Christi, Texas
t this time of year with fluctuating temperatures, the danger to the dry growing tillandsias can be caused by too high a humidity, or levels of dampness in the air. Although the species lost may be endemic to locations similar to those that survive, it can be the actual taxonomy of the plant that creates the problem. Species like argentea and magnusiana retain the old leaves and these can become too moist, attracting the development of fungal spores. If it doesn't deform the plant too much, it is advisable to prune down the old leaves to the minimum length close to the stem.
A similar situation can arise when more mature specimens of plants with a bulbous base, such as T. caput-medusae, build up into clumps, the conglomeration of basal leaves prevents the circulation of air around the plants. Here again, some pruning can improve matters.
George H. Anderson
What does it all mean? In this example 283 is the serial number that has been assigned to a slide. A is the overall grade of the slide and takes into account such things as correct exposure, composition of the picture and the quality of the plant. The name of the plant is self-explanatory. B stands for blooming. M indicates multiple plants. DC is the abbreviation for decorative container. HT means the plant made it to the head table and '84 is the year the show was held.
Other possible abbreviations include AA—artistic arrangement, AOM — award of merit, DG-dish garden, T — terrarium, BOS — best of show and HD — horticultural display.
All of this coded information is printed in pencil on the slide. The serial number which you assign to the slide will locate it in your filing system. All slides should be filed in numerical sequence in standard slide files. These usually hold 300 or more slides. The range of slide serial numbers should be written on masking tape which is then stuck on the outside of the case. For example: 301-600.
The letter grades are A, B and C with A being the best. You will have to use either a projector or a good slide viewing system to grade the slides as you catalog them. Whenever possible you should upgrade your slide collection by replacing C slides with A slides. When putting together a slide program most of the slides should be of A quality.
As I go through my slides I record the serial numbers and coded information in a master list on a yellow legal pad as well as on the slides. Initially you may find that this tabulation is all you need. Later on, depending upon whether you are a lumper or a splitter, you may decide to develop a system of cross-indexing. A good way to start this phase is to list your slides by genera. Other possible categories include blooming and nonblooming by genera, single and multiple plants by genera, artistic arrangements, decorative containers, horticultural displays, dish gardens, terrariums, award of merit plants and head table plants. Unless you are a perfectionist who thrives on detail it is best to keep your system simple and basic. The goal is to save work.
When you only have a few slides, it will seem silly to catalog them. However, as the number increases and you have to engage in a giant Easter egg hunt every time you try to put together a program or find the slide of a particular plant you will realize the need for a filing system. The great advantage of the one described here is the method of serially numbering the slides. This means that you will never have to rearrange your slides. Any rearranging you do will involve only the listing of the slides. No matter what you do in the way of cross-indexing each slide is accessed by its serial number no matter how many lists it is carried on.
May A. Moir
|Robert Chinn, Honolulu Academy of Arts|
|Fig. 12. A Christmas swag, one of a seven-foot pair, combining Tillandsia cyanea inflorescences, Portea petropolitana berries, juniper, Norfolk Island pine tips, and quantities of silver gray eucalyptus.|
y volunteer job at the Honolulu Academy of Arts is without a budget so I am forced to depend on my garden for material and inspiration. This year there were quantities of Tillandsia cyanea that had lost their bright pink color and turned to a lovely apple green. I know that these keep well when cut and out of water. What to use with the cyanea?
It was time to cut back the Portea petropolitana. Some were completely dry, but others still had plump, lavender berries. I have used these berries before made into bunches to resemble somewhat grapes for a della Robbia garland. With these two interesting shapes and colors, plus greens, I felt I could create something different and the swag in the picture, one of a seven-foot long pair, was the result.
I was given quantities of two types of juniper, Norfolk Island pine tips, and a large bundle of silver gray eucalyptus. The bases were of light weight plywood with styrofoam glued to the wood (to make matched pairs it is easier to fabricate them side by side). To begin with, a border of gilded Sterculia apetala leaves was pinned around the outer edge of the styrofoam. Then, starting at the base of the swag, the greens, tillandsia, and portea were pinned in place, using a goodly amount of eucalyptus. At the top of the swags a few Norfolk Island pine tips were used along with larger pieces of the portea so as to give the top importance. After two weeks I replaced some of the Tillandsia cyanea with freshly cut inflorescences.
This same combination of plant material could be used very effectively for a table decoration or as a wreath.
efore the start of our January meeting, most members talked about the freezing weather and its effect on our plants. I was asked if I kept vrieseas and guzmanias on the window sills during the winter, and people were surprised when I responded in the affirmative.
Like the many fine members who showed up for the meeting despite the frigid temperatures and gusty winds, our bromels can take the cold in their stride. It is the almost total drying out of all humidity in the air caused by excessive heating that will damage your plants in the winter.
During the cold season there is a substantial loss of humidity in the air because cold air cannot hold much humidity. The colder the outside air, the lower the humidity it can hold. In very cold weather it is not unusual for the relative humidity to dip to 10%. And if you compound this by heating up the air inside your house or apartment you can cause an almost total loss of humidity. This is not only bad for your plants—it probably has a more adverse affect on your own respiratory system.
It is relatively easier for members who grow their bromels in a greenhouse to keep humidity high while providing enough heat to moderate the freezing temperatures outside. Most of them will set their heating systems to turn on only when the temperature has dropped to about 55°F.
Indoor growers, however, are living with their plants and most of them have not learned how to adjust to and be comfortable with low temperatures indoors. They will raise the heat first before they think of putting on a sweater when the temperatures drop.
Each room of my apartment has a heating/air conditioning convector, but we never use the heat. The only concession we make to subfreezing temperatures outside is to open the convector valves. This heats up the small convectors with hot water, but we don't turn on the blower fan motor so only the area round the windows is slightly warmed.
Even so, when the outside temperature was 8°F (-12°C) at 6 A.M. a few days ago, my window sill thermometer registered 54°F (+12°C). When the sun comes up it raises the temperature a bit and the internal apartment temperature is in the low 60s which we find comfortable because we have adjusted to it.
My apartment is well insulated and has very thick walls with hot water pipes running through them. Most of the apartment is on the exterior walls of the building, but we have one long wall abutting another apartment. Thus, it stays warmer than a private house. Homeowners will no doubt have to use some heat to be comfortable.
It is imperative for all indoor growers to raise the humidity in their homes substantially with a humidifier. My preference is for the cold water type with a large reservoir. In this season I have to fill my humidifier's 10-gallon reservoir every two days. Five gallons of water put into the air each day creates a lot of humidity and I am able to maintain 50% relative humidity even in the cold weather.
To most readers an indoor temperature of 54°F at the window sill may sound very scary, but my window sill plants are thriving because they have become cold-hardened. In fact, 54°F is not very low for cold-hardened plants. Plants which I put out on my terrace in the spring are generally kept out until temperatures fall below 40°F in the fall. As the nights begin cooling down in the late summer and as they get cooler yet in the early fall, the plants gradually become accustomed—hardened—to the cooler temperatures.
The same gradual adjustment to cooler temperatures is made by the plants at the window sill so that by the onset of winter they have become cold-hardened and can easily take 54°F and even icy window panes without difficulty. Of course, if the temperature were to drop to below freezing and stay there for any period of time, ice would form in the cups and leaf axils and the plants would suffer major damage.
Cold sensitivity varies markedly among the different species and very cold-sensitive plants would surely succumb when subjected to sudden prolonged freezing. This often occurs in the South where bromels are grown outside. Indoor growers don't have the benefit of strong sunlight, fresh air circulation, and watering without messing up your home, etc., but we never get close to below freezing temperatures indoors. Except for the very high running costs, greenhouse growers have the best of both worlds.
The high altitude tillandsias don't have to be cold-hardened as they grow in mountain areas where the night temperatures go down to the 40s. I grow several hundred tillandsias hanging on cork plaques in the windows and they like it there in the winter when the humidity condenses on the panes and evaporates directly onto their leaves which are close to or even touching the glass. They don't even mind when the moisture freezes to ice.
Because the window sill plants have become cold-hardened I don't bother to remove those plants which are reputedly cold-sensitive. Depending on the size of the plant, their leaves are from ¼" to 3" away from the panes and some leaves are pressed against them.
Cryptanthus are supposed to be highly sensitive to cold and, in fact, I do grow most of my crypts under fluorescent lights. But my cold-hardened C. hyb. Carneval del Rio is mottled bright red and is thriving despite the cold.
Most of my guzmanias are also grown under lights or set back from the windows. The guzmanias on the window sills were placed there after they flowered in the spring or summer to get better light for maximum pupping, and they are pupping without ill effect from the cold.
I don't know why vrieseas have acquired a reputation of cold sensitivity.1 In my experience growing them indoors they tolerate a wide range of conditions without problems.
So don't raise the heat when the cold comes. Reach for a sweater and raise the humidity instead and start cold-hardening your body and your plants.
Reprinted from Bromeliana, the New York Bromeliad Society, 23(2); 1986.
1. E.J. Wurthmann, "Brazilian vrieseas prove to be freeze stalwarts." Journal 34:252-254; 1984.
Conducted by Bob Heer and Tom Montgomery
All readers are invited to send their questions and observations about growing bromeliads as a hobby to the editor. You will receive your answers directly and some questions will be published. This service is conducted, except as noted, by Bob Heer and Tom Montgomery, both of the Bromeliad Society of Houston, TX. We should have acknowledged their assistance in the May-June issue and regret the omission. We hope that their work will provoke further questions and in this issue publish two recently received letters.
Q. What is the best way to give bromeliads enough air circulation? Is it too much to have a fan blow on them?
A. The importance of circulation cannot be overemphasized. In many greenhouses there are two kinds of fans, exhaust and circulating. Frequently the exhaust fans are controlled by a thermostat, while the circulating fans flow continuously. They are usually not directed on the plants as this may produce rapid drying and thus the need for excessive watering. They are usually directed so as to produce general circulation in order to promote an even evaporation and drying cycle, maintain even humidity, and prevent growth of fungus and mildew. Air circulation is even more important in winter when the exhaust fans are running only occasionally or not at all.
Q. How cold can bromeliads get? Are some more cold hardy than others?
Your question does not specify survival or damage. Some bromeliads, such as Crypthanthus, begin to show damage after exposure to 50°F. In my yard, some discarded plants, under a covering of wet leaves, survived two nights in the low twenties. Some plants can tolerate ice in the cup for a few hours. One technique for saving a large collection that is exposed to freezing temperatures is to turn on the sprinkler system and let them ice over. I have no first-hand knowledge of the damage that might result, or if this just preserves the plants for propagation. Obviously, some tillandsias (such as T. usneoides and T. recurvata) can tolerate very cold temperatures, or it would be impossible for them to survive in areas where they thrive. As an experiment, I exposed a number of dyckias, guzmanias, hechtias and nidulariums, along with a few aechmeas to near-freezing and full sun. The discolor Aechmeas were reasonably tolerant, but the orlandiana and chantinii suffered. All other genera seemed to thrive with continued growth and enhanced color. Researching the altitude at which your species are derived should provide some insight into their cold tolerance. See Ervin Wurthmann's article on the cold hardiness of vrieseas in Journal for November-December 1984, p. 252-254 for details on that genus.
Q. How often should you fertilize?
A. This is primarily a matter of goals. If you are growing for show, then only enough nutrients should be supplied to produce a compact, healthy plant that evidences good color and markings. An excess of nitrogen can lead to over-growth, lank leaves, and mostly green plant. Nor is it wise to feed in a manner that will stimulate cycles of growth as this may produce deformed leaves. Consideration then must be given to other factors such as the nutrients found in the mix, air, and water. Many bromeliads seem to do well out of doors with no deliberate feedings whatsoever. If you do feed, then it is well to remember the effect produced by each of the three main ingredients of most fertilizers. Nitrogen is associated with luxuriant growth and deep green foliage. Phosphorus is linked to root development and hardening or maturing of tissue, as well as to the blooming cycle. Potassium is essential to growth, development, blooming, fruiting, and disease resistance. This is, of course, an over simplification. There is a highly complex interrelationship among these three elements and the numerous trace elements. The latter are found in most fertilizers as contaminates and need not be supplied otherwise. Therefore, if you plan to fertilize you must consider not only how often, but in what proportion and how strong. Fertilizers are sold with the three main ingredients expressed in the same order; ie: nitrogen - phosphorus - potassium, or 10-10-10. This formula is referred to as balanced. Other proportions are sometimes more desirable for bromeliads, such as 5-20-20. Using this formula you might well feed every third watering with a quarter strength solution for healthy, sustained growth. Regular, consistent treatment is as desirable as any other factor involved. Fertilization to promote quick growth and many offsets has to be approached from another standpoint entirely. If this is your goal, then the nitrogen may be increased, such as a balanced formula, and the strength and frequency dictated by the results achieved. In every case of fertilization the type and species of the bromeliad must be understood. Many terrestrials need much more water and fertilizer than an epiphyte could tolerate.
Q. Is it advisable to grow vrieseas in osmunda fiber and, if so, what should be the fertilizer values and frequency?
A. Technically, Osmunda is a genus of fern. Osmundine is the name for the fibrous roots used to grow epiphytes. This comes in two types, the upper root mass that is hard and fibrous and the lower portion that is softer and more decayed. The former is preferred for epiphytes and the latter is more commonly used in the mix for terrestrials. This upper part of the root mass is indeed an excellent and durable material in which to grow vrieseas, yet has become prohibitively expensive if you have a large collection. It has many good qualities: long lasting, sturdy support for plant and roots, excellent drainage, good air circulation, and adequate water retention. It releases nutrients during its long and slow breakdown. This release of nutrients must be taken into account when considering a program of fertilization. Nitrogen is the principal problem here, as that released by the osmundine combined with that in a balanced fertilizer such as 12-12-12, could produce an undesirably soft growth. Something like 5-12-18 at half-strength every month or at quarter-strength more often might be indicated. As an alternative you might try more difficult plants such as Vr. saundersii in pots carved from Mexican fern and those with less sensitive roots in clay pots with a mix consisting of equal parts of medium lava rock, medium fir bar, 1-inch chunks of hardwood charcoal (no briquettes), perlite, and shredded tree fern. Not all vrieseas are epiphytes and do not demand such good drainage and circulation for their roots, but even the terrestrials should not be in heavy soil.
Q. What is meant by "adjusting the pH"? Why is it necessary or desirable?
A. First, we must have some understanding of the meaning of pH. It has to do with the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Acidity is measured by what chemists call its hydrogen ion concentration and is designated for convenience as pH, on a scale reading from 1 to 14; 7 is neutral and the readings above that are called alkaline while those below are called acid. Simple kits, available at little expense from plant nurseries or aquarium stores, make it easy to determine the pH of a given solution. One problem does arise in running the test, as it is colormetric in nature: turbid or chemically colored solutions are difficult to work with in determining the true colors that develop. There are several reasons for insuring that your water and fertilizer solutions fall into the acid range: a) the solutions found in tanks of bromeliads in the wild range from a pH of 3.8 to 6.5; b) the nutrients needed by the plants are absorbed only in the acidic range; and c) most tap water contains carbonates that cause it to have a pH above 7, making it alkaline. Watering with the alkaline solution and subsequent evaporation can, and does frequently, lead to the ugly and injurious deposits of sodium, calcium and magnesium carbonates on the leaf bases. A simple remedy for this condition is to adjust the pH downward to a range of Ph 5.6 to 6.5 by the addition of small amounts of citric acid. Some fertilizers affect the pH and the testing should then occur after the addition of the fertilizer. Citric acid is quite inexpensive unless used on a large scale, and it has the advantage of being biodegradable, preventing a buildup that might harm the plants.
Q. Do you recommend keeping water in the vase-type bromeliads?
A. Yes, it seems to have several advantages. The leaf axils are designed to hold water and are a means of supplying the plant with both nutrients and moisture. Care must be taken to insure that the retained water does not become too acid or even burdened with chemical salts derived from either the minerals found in most water supplies or the result of fertilization. Stagnation of the water can lead to putrification, damage to the plant tissues, and loss of the plant. Frequent flushing of the entire plant or dumping and refilling should alleviate this problem. Conversely, if adequate environmental control is available, superb plants can be produced by keeping the foliage completely dry. This has been done under strict maintenance of high humidity, constant moisture to the roots, adequate ventilation and some light control.
Q. Do birth control pills really help as a fertilizer?
A. Birth control pills have not been promoted as a fertilizer but as a stimulant to offset production. The theory is that when the pill is dissolved and the solution placed in the cup of a tank-type bromeliad, the hormones involved will be absorbed and offset production will be stimulated. Dr. John B. Anderson of Cairns, Australia, writes: "It must be pointed out that the use of the oral contraceptive pill in horticulture is not as an alternative fertilizer but a means of giving the plants extra hormones. The plant in fact merely uses the hormones in the 'pill' as a base from which to manufacture its own hormones. This seems to be well known amongst African violet and orchid growers of my acquaintance who use the pill in an effort to stimulate flowering at specific times of the year such as Easter, Mothers' Day, and Christmas."
The following letter from Mr. John R. Keller of Montclair, NJ is printed as a matter of interest. —Editor
"Upon reading the May-June  issue of the Journal, I was surprised at the answer to the question about which bromeliads are best for the house. I have a great number of neoregelias and aechmeas growing very successfully in south windows or near same. All the neos have been doing very well for me this past year and the color has remained true. I have had N. 'Royal Flush', N. 'Grande', N. 'Oeser's Delight Red', Neomea 'Strawberry', Aechmea 'Perez', A. 'Burgundy', and a good number of others. I have been pleased that even in winter I had pretty good color on many of the plants. The A. 'Burgundy' does not develop the intensely deep red that it may in the southern latitudes or in California outdoors, but it does stay a nice coral color. My humidity is between 40-60%.
"On the plant table at the New York Branch many neos are offered for sale and many in good color and I don't think everyone is growing them in a greenhouse. You probably will hear from other people around here about success with neos and aechmeas. All my other genera are doing well also. I have not bothered to grow them in the greenhouse because they have done so well in the windows and it is very difficult to find satisfactory windowsill plants, particularly in winter. I call one window the "rainbow window" with the colored foliage bromeliads on it. I save the greenhouse for the orchids and begonias which may be more demanding."
John R. Keller
Montclair, New Jersey
The purpose of this nonprofit corporation is to promote and maintain public and scientific interest in the research, development, preservation, and distribution of Bromeliaceae, both natural and hybrid, throughout the world. You are invited to join.
|Bob Wands for Selby Gardens|
|Navia splendens L.B. Smith. Collected by Enrique Graf of Caracas, Venezuela, on wet rocks in the Territory of Amazonas at about 600 m. Once acclimated the plant requires no special care. The plant pictured several years ago by J. Bogner [Journal 29:68-69], is not N. splendens, but appears to be N. phelpsiae—Harry E:- Luther.|
|Sept. 20-21||San Diego Bromeliad Society 16th Annual Show and Plant Sale, "Bromeliad Harvest." Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission free. Casa Del Prado, Balboa Park, Room 101. Jennie Wisley (619) 469-9151.|
|Sept. 27-28||Southwest Bromeliad Guild 15th Annual Show and Plant Sale. Hosted by Tarrant County Bromeliad Society to be held at Fort Worth Botanic Garden Center, 3220 Botanic Garden Drive North, Fort Worth, TX. Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission free. Flo Adams (817) 467-7500.|
|Oct. 4-5||Sarasota Bromeliad Society 8th Annual Show & Sale: Selby Botanical Gardens Conservatory. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bob Smith (813) 388-1921.|
|Oct. 25-26||Golden Triangle Bromeliad Society Annual Show and Sale. Parkdale Mall, Beaumont, TX. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Warren Loose (409) 835-0644.|
|Nov. 8-9||Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society Sale. Lee County Garden Council and Activity Center, US 41, Fort Myers, FL. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 pm. Peggy Bailey (813) 694-1803.|