BSI Journal - Online Archive


Vol. 2July – August, 1952No. 4

Etching by Morris Hobbs. (see page 38)


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Mr. Morris Henry Hobbs, of New Orleans, La. etcher, architect and enthusiastic bromeliad collector has executed many delightful etchings, but the one pictured on our cover this issue is especially interesting to the members of The Bromeliad Society. In the Cajun Country the moss picker poling his scow, laden with Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) through the Louisiana cypress swamps is a familiar scene. Mr. Hobbs' eye is much more sensitive than the finest ground lens and when he transfers a picture from his mental negative, by hand, onto a copper plate, he carries you directly to the scene of his subject. You could sit for hours and observe the locality, sit in perfect silence and study the detail of every living thing there and still I doubt if you would find all that Morris Hobbs could show you in his sensitive recording.


Dr. F. C. Hoehne, our honorary trustee from Sao Paulo, Brazil and director emeritus of the Instituto de Botanico, has recently published a sumptuous work on Brazilian orchids

entitled "Iconografia de Orchidaceas do Brasil." We have no hesitation in recommending this work because it is the rich fruit of a lifetime of intensive study of all groups of plants in the field and herbarium. From his early youth, when his ability was already so notable as to win him a place on the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition, until the present, he has discovered, cultivated, described, and illustrated a host of orchids. The book thus draws on an unusually broad background and has a very wide appeal.

For the amateur or the traveler there is the orchid itinerary over all the states of Brazil

with interesting scenes from widely different types of habitats in which orchids may be found. Incidentally most of what is written about the orchids applies almost equally well to their tree-top neighbors the bromeliads.

For the artist or any lover of the beautiful there are 146 full page colored and 278 black and white illustrations, including many original designs by the author for possible decorative effects in such articles as textiles, tiles, and postage stamps.

For the scientist there is the summary of all the genera of Brazilian orchids with keys and descriptions and in nearly all cases a full page illustration of each.

Mere words can not give an adequate idea of this album of orchids so we hope our readers will be able to see it shortly. It is planned to announce an agent for it in this country at an early date.

Lyman B. Smith
Smithsonian Institution

Aechmea x fulgo fasciata var. tricolor Hort. Dutrie
Aechmea fulgens Brongt var. discolor Beer
X Aechmea fasciata (Lindl.) Baker


Charles Chevalier

The seed beds and hybridization are powerful tools in the hands of the gardener, having largely contributed to the improvement of cultivated plants. The repeated sowing of seed beds has, thanks to the variation completed by the judicious choice of the best, created varieties infinitely superior in type. Thousands of examples can be found in horticulture, and in the more restricted domain of the Bromeliaceae, the case of Aechmea fasciata and Neoregelia Carolinae and N. Marechalii are very suggestive. These species are cultivated in Ghent, (Belgium) on a large scale and the seed beds planted each year have had the effect of transforming the original type to such a degree that it is difficult, for example, to imagine that the A. fasciata of the Ghent horticulturists, with its great, richly powdered leaves, has come from the species with narrow leaves and rather poor coloring.

I have shown in a previous note1 the role played by hybridization in the creation of new varieties of Bromeliads. It seems interesting to me today to examine the influence of the parents upon the results of fertilization.

Whenever one practices cross fertilization with the view of obtaining new forms one starts with the idea that the putting in contact of the organs of reproduction of two plants belonging to a species or to different varieties must result in intermediates which share the characteristics of the two individuals from which they are derived.

The knowledge of the influence of the parents upon the results of fertilization is then of the greatest importance. This question, very controversial, has already caused much ink to flow. For certain ones the power of the male and female elements in the determination of the form of the descendants is entirely equal. Others affirm that only the strongest parent, the most virile, whatever may be its sex, makes the most powerful impression upon the hybrid. The practitioners have believed they could discern that the male parent influenced, in particular, the form and the color, and the female parent the temperament, robustness, etc. The Lyonais botanist, Viviand-Morel, estimated that, as a general rule, one can only foresee what will be the reciprocal influence of the parents upon the products of their crossing.

I believe that Bellair2 is much nearer the truth when he maintains that the transmission of the characteristics is a quality of the individual and that it belongs neither to one sex nor the other. He believes further that in the species it is the male which possesses it the most often.

The examination of numerous hybridizations made in the Botanical Garden of Liege by the late Joseph Marechal and by myself permits me to bring my modest contribution to the knowledge of the influence of the parents in the crossing of the Bromeliaceae.

Without wishing to diminish the value of the observations of the master horticulturist, Leon Duval, of Versailles, France, his observations seem to me subject to caution. Duval attributes to the male parent a preponderant action in the coloring of the bracts among the hybrids of the Vriesias, and in support of his theory he cites, in particular, V. x Morreno-Barilettii produced by crossing V. Barilettii by V. Morreniana. The hybrid has the bearing of the mother, the yellow and red coloration of the father. V. brachystachys fertilized by V. Krameri produced V. x cardinalis of which the bearing and the bracts recall the mother, but its intense color is that of the father. In the crossing V. x Morreno-Barilettii by V. x cardinalis the influence of the father appears in the child, V. x Rex, in coloring its bracts an intense red, its bearing approaching that of V. Barilettii. Another example is, according to Duval, more striking still. V. Rodigasiana has a pannicled flower stalk and green bracts. Fertilized by V. x Rex, it produces V. x Vigeri. This one has conserved the branched flower stalk from the mother, but it is strongly colored in red like V. x Rex.

In the cases cited by Duval, in taking account of the order in which the crossings have been effected, it seems indeed that his theory is confirmed by the facts. However, in order to be convincing, it is proper to conduct the experiments anew, in making the contrary proof, that is to say, in reversing the order of the parents.

The examination of the hybrids obtained at Liege does not permit me to affirm the predominance of the father in regards to the color. The few examples given below show that the contrary can produce it, and that it is no longer possible, on that basis, to formulate this principle of a general rule.

Vriesia x Closoniana, brachystachys major, were obtained in 1884 by the crossing of V. x Morreniana by V. Barilletii with green bracts. The flower spike recalls the form of the latter with an added red coloration at the base of each bract which they owe to the mother. The same crossing, but performed in reverse, in 1889, gave V. x leodiense, very little different from the preceding. One cannot then account for here the action of the father in giving the color. The case of V. x President O. Lamarche is still more striking. V. Barilletii was fertilized by V. incurvata and this species which has yellow, orange and red bracts, received at the same time the pollen of V. Barilletii. The plants resulting from this double crossing did not present among themselves any essential difference. The form of the spike recalled that of V. incurvata and the plants from the crossing where V. Barilletii was the pollen carrier were more colored than those of the crossing made in the reverse order.

V. x Mephisto has bracts vividly colored in red; fertilized by V. Pastuchoffiana, which has green bracts, has produced V. x Papa Chevalier, identical with the father in bearing, marbled foliage, strength and form of spike, but with the strong coloration of the bracts of the mother.

V. Lubbersii develops a vigorous, branched flower stalk with green bracts; fertilized by V. x Mephisto with a single, dark red spike, it results in variable plants, some with a single flower stalk, others with branched stems, but carrying vividly colored bracts, darker still than those of V. Mephisto, and of a violet tint, non-existent in the two parents. The influence of the father dominates here.

These examples show well that the power of transmission of the characteristics of the parents is generally a quality of the individual, that it acts as a male element or as a female plant. I believe to find again the proof in the following examples: V. Saundersii is a species with green bracts, disposed on a branched panicle on an arched flower stalk, the lateral spikes more or less raised up and holding themselves more or less fast against the main spike. Upon fertilizing V. x Barilletii with the pollen of V. Saundersii, Kittel obtained V. x Kitteliana, more vigorous in all its parts than the parents. The influence of V. Saundersii is met again, particularly in the coloration of the foliage and the arrangement of the flower spikes. V. x Kitteliana fertilized by V. x Vigeri gave me plants varied as to form and coloration, but the form of the flower stalk revealed again the preponderant influence of V. Saundersii.

This preponderant influence in the transmission of certain morphologic characteristics is revealed again, from the point of view of the foliage, among all of the descendants of V. psittacina and V. carinata. The pale green coloration of the foliage is met again among the majority of the hybrids of the first and second generations.

A curious thing, each time that a species with streaked foliage takes part in a crossing, be it as a mother, or be it as a father, the off-spring lose this streaking if it is white, and it becomes very attenuated if it consists of zebra markings or marbling. Such is the case, notably each time that V. fenestralis, V. tessellata etc., are crossed with Vriesias with green leaves. This disappearance of the streaking is observed equally well among the hybrids where V. splendens intervenes. With V. Saundersii the streaking disappears equally and is replaced by a dark coloration of which the intensity is strongly variable.

When a streaked species is crossed with a species with colored leaves, this latter characteristic persists. It is what one observes in V. x Leopoldiana (V. splendens x V. Malzinii) where the coloration of the father is even strengthened. In the double cross of V. tessellata by V. ensiformis (V. Warmingii) and of V. ensiformis by V. tessellata, the streaking disappears and the foliage assumes the pretty tint of V. ensiformis. V. Pastuchoffiana, of which the beautiful large leaves are marked with numerous irregular dark lines, transmits every time this particularity, however attenuated, to its descendants. It is the case, notably, with V. x Papa Chevalier, obtained by the crossing of V. x Mephisto by V. Pastuchoffiana.

The fertility among the Vriesia hybrids, even among those of the second and third generations, remains constant.

Conclusion: It is difficult, in my mind, to foresee what will be the reciprocal influence of the parents upon the products of their crossing. Sometimes the father predominates, sometimes it is the mother. Now, one of the sexes exercises its influence on one part of the plant, at another time it is the other. It is necessary, finally, in the second and third hybrids to take account of the influence of the first progenitors, of which the action remains, at times, preponderant after several generations. There is no doubt that V. Krameri has contributed, it may be directly, it may be by its immediate descendants, in the creation of a good number of Vriesia hybrids with vividly colored bracts.

As for the hybrids of M. L. Dutrie, obtained in a series of crossings where Aechmeas, Nidulariums, Neoregelias, Guzmanias, etc., took part, it has not been possible for me, because of the war and its consequences, to follow at close hand their development. It is implied, meanwhile, in the observations of the distinguished horticulturist of Ghent, that if every hybridization brings surprises, it seems that he also is a partisan to the idea that the transmission of the characteristics of the parents is an individual quality.

Conservateur honoraire, of the Botanical Gardens of the University of Liege, Belgium
Bulletin Horticole, 1947, P. 217, (thanks to Frank Overton for translation)


  1. Vol. 1, No. 3, P. 19-24.
  2. Bellair-Hybridization in Horticulture.


Mulford B. Foster


The genus Brocchinia is a most interesting section of the bromeliads. Not known to horticulture and seen by only a few botanists and explorers, they live on the high savannahs of the "Lost World" areas in the Guianas, Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia.

They are terrestrial plants growing in great masses, some of the species having branched inflorescences that are over twenty feet in height. Their only rivals in height among the bromeliads are some of the puyas in particular, Puya raimondii, the tallest of all the bromeliads.

The Brocchinias, generally growing in rather swampy areas on the high plateaus, have narrow leaves with spiny margins and their flowers are small.


The genus Connellia, originally consisting of but two species both native to the "Lost World" of British Guiana, was later included in the genus Puya but now that two more new species have been discovered in the "Lost World" area of Venezuela by Dr. Julian Steyermark, the genus has been restored by Dr. L. B. Smith.

These rare, isolated bromeliads have a puya-like appearance, are terrestrial, and live at altitudes of seven to eight thousand feet above sea level. In common with the Brocchinias they too are unknown to horticulture and only a few botanists have seen them in their native habitat.


The genus Hechtia is strictly a North American branch of the Bromeliaceae. Most of the species in the genus are native to Mexico but three species are found in Texas. More than thirty species have been classified. Salvador, in Central America, seems to be their southern limit.

Most of the species are to be found growing in rather dry, rocky areas and in appearance they resemble Dyckias and Encholiriums to which they are very closely related. Their leaves are heavily armed with marginal spines.

Like Dyckias they have lateral inflorescences with the exception of two species, H. melanocarpa, and H. tillandsioides, both of which have a central inflorescence. The later species was known under the generic name of Bakerantha for many years but when more was known of this delicate looking Hechtia with its lovely pink flowers, the genus Bakerantha was thrown into synonymy. It is perhaps the most delicately beautiful of all the Hechtia species and certainly the most refined member of its tribe. Their leaves appear to have smooth edges and only under a hand glass can the minute spines he seen.

The Hechtias are rather unique among the bromeliads in that although each flower possesses both male and female parts, stamens and pistil, either one or the other is aborted or undeveloped on different plants, so the plants appear to be of separate sexes until the flowers are examined closely. Most of the species have small white flowers. Dry capsular fruits produce very small winged seeds and are dispersed by the winds.


Muriel Waterman

I had no idea that bribery and corruption were so rife in our Bromeliad Society! Our president sent me Neoregelia carolinae variegata which was raised behind the Iron Curtain, thence it eventually came to Mr. Foster and from him to me. A much traveled plant. And he said he was charging me a high price for this, namely, that I write an article for the Bulletin! Now as I just had to own this plant, what could I do? And if you do not enjoy what I write, you know whom to blame!

I am a comparatively new collector of bromeliads, but I love them immensely.

This part of New Zealand has a hot humid summer, and frosts in winter are comparatively light. I grow all the bigger and stronger plants in the garden but such smaller ones as Cryptanthi, Vriesias, and delicate ones as Guzmanias, I grow in an unheated glass-house, where the windows to the north-east (our best quarter) pull down to the height of the shelves where the boxes of plants are, or up to varying heights till they reach the top. All the year I have them partially open, and in summer open to their farthest extent, so the whole side has only fine wire netting to keep birds out. So fresh and airy, just as our Bulletin says the bromels like. I lost two Guzmanias outside last winter so since then that genus is kept inside.

Whether outside or not, I plant in leaf-mold. In the garden I make a large basin-shaped hole, put in leaf-mold, then the plant, then pack the sides with more leaf-mold and on top of that I draw up the scooped out soil. They thrive in this and have a lovely lot of offshoots and flowers.

I water every second day unless it rains. In the glass-house I water each day with a child's watering can, sprinkling all leaves twice quickly. This seems to give them plenty of moisture without watering the roots in any other way. In there, Vriesia retroflexa is out at the moment, making a vivid display and being much admired by visitors. Aechmea fulgens discolor has finished flowering and now has lovely red "berries" which I hope may contain seeds. Also, much admired are Vriesia splendens, V. hieroglyphica, Aechmea orlandiana some of the Cryptanthi, Dyckia Fosteriana and many more.

In the garden I have grown Cabbage Trees and a Norfolk Pine to partially shade my plants from the midday sun. One of our members shades hers by cut branches of a small tree. Another grows his under bushes, and it is wonderful how acclimatized the bromels seem to become. The sun here is very strong but around Auckland there are many humid or misty days, when the leaves are all spangled with moisture. Of course our summer is over when yours is beginning.

Winter, naturally, is an anxious time, but the bromels mostly come through well. One lady, in the middle of the night last year, suddenly realized there was a frost and dashed out to cover her plants with sacks, newspapers and so on. As there were not enough she covered the last ones with a pink eiderdown!

Last winter there were four consecutive, quite severe frosts, very unusual around Auckland. Of course, I water very little then; our winters are inclined to be pretty wet in any case. In summer I water these outside plants freely, at the roots as well as filling the "cups," as I am sure that helps the plants to make "pups." I now have nice large clumps all over the place.

I have had several packets of seeds given me. These I grow to about an inch in size and then give two of each species to each member here around Auckland. This is one way of increasing the distribution of plants as New Zealand has no commercial grower of bromeliads yet. Soon, however, there will be more than I can supply! In many instances people have only to see a bromel in flower to become a "fan."

At the moment (May) Billbergia vittata X B. horrida and B. leitzii have bright red-bracted buds in the garden, and several Neoregelias and Nidulariums still have their colored centers although the actual flowers are over. A clump of three Ae. paniculigera has three buds just appearing, as has also a single plant of the same species. Aechmea calyculata has a nice thimble-like head on a stem three inches long at present and seems to be still growing.

Having bromeliads is one of my favorite hobbies. And another thing I like about this hobby is the interesting letters I get from pen-friends. I now have correspondents in the U.S.A., Germany, Indonesia, and Australia. I do so enjoy their letters telling of their various experiments and adventures.

Long live The Bromeliad Society!

22 Otakau Road, Milford, Auckland, N2. N. Z.


Mrs. Muriel Waterman is our honorary trustee from New Zealand; there are few members who have worked so actively for new members in our struggling Society. So infectious is her enthusiasm that ten recruits have succumbed to her spell! And she doesn't just let it go at that; she buys the last ten copies of the bromeliad issue of the Missouri Botanical Bulletin (Sept. 1945) and sends them to the new Zealand members for Christmas with a neat reminder that their renewal to the 1952 Bromeliad Bulletin is due. And, as if that were not enough she has paid for three subscriptions so that she can have two extra copies each month just to loan around (for bait we suspect!) This is the real bromel booster spirit. We believe that before long they will have enough members to form a local chapter of Bromel Boosters Down Under.

Bromeliad Pups   
Mrs. Waterman is never in the doghouse but she is always finding "pups" on her bromeliads.
Her enthusiasm is classic! No one but a genuine plant lover could express herself so originally, so simply and effectively. She does not only converse about her plants but they speak to her.

Mrs. Waterman lives several miles from Auckland. When a package of bromels arrived sometime ago she went into a whirl after receiving a telegram from the airport which stated, "Please uplift carton bromeliads from Pan American." What happened after that is best described in her own words. "Not being dressed for a trip into the city I rushed into a covering long coat and tore down the road adjusting clothes, hat and buttons as I flew, yelling to the busman who was almost out of earshot, to wait for me. Luckily, he happened to see me, or I would have had to wait another hour, and it is an hour's ride to the airport. You can imagine with what animated suspension of anticipation I made that ride. It was a big thrill to behold my box of bromels being unpacked for inspection."

"When finished and back in the bus, I clasped the box to my bosom, practically 'talking' to them all the way home. What an event on this side of the world! After rushing into the house, I hurried through tea, since it was 5:15, then hurriedly shut up twelve coops of baby bantams, (a ceremony I usually do more lovingly) told my husband not to call me for anything under the sun! Then proceeded with my precious cargo to the sanctum of my glasshouse where I fondly unpacked each prize from another world. As I carefully unwrapped each plant I dipped it, head down, into one of two buckets of tepid water, (each a different depth); I allowed them to drain and then planted each treasure with its already prepared name-label. Finally I sprinkled the lot with a child's watering can. Already they looked as if they had come from a greenhouse across the street instead of from half way round the world!"


It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mr. Charles L. Cass of San Diego.

Mr. Cass was 77 years old at the time of his death and was probably the last of the early day importers and hybridizers of Bromeliads in Southern California. He supplied Mr. Atkinson with many of the plants from which the latter's well known crosses were developed and had devoted at least thirty years himself to the culture and hybridization of Billbergias. It is to be regretted that he kept no records of many of his crosses as many of them are still found in collections today, some mis-named and others un-named, with no clue as to their origin.

In recent years he directed much of his effort towards developing dwarf varieties of Billbergias, suitable for dish gardens, with considerable success. The hybridization of Platyceriums was another hobby of Mr. Cass'es and, mounted on the walls of his lath house were many beautiful specimens resulting from his work in this field.

Mr. Cass was a true plant lover, as any of us who knew him can testify, and we remember him as a very kindly generous gentleman, always ready to share his knowledge and his plants with his friends. We shall miss him greatly.


Racine Foster

In studying the useful bromeliads further we were rewarded with learning that there are a number of bromeliads which produce a commercially useful fiber. Only the one, Neoglaziovia variegata, found in Brazil, is used on any extensive scale for commercial purposes. It is not grown agriculturally but is gathered from the wild. The value of other members of Bromeliaceae is not unknown; for example: Bromelia sagenaria A. de C. which grows in and near the state of Para, Brazil, has two varieties, one known as "Branco" (white) which is stronger and lighter in color and therefore more desirable than the "Roxo" (purple) which is an inferior grade. The species will grow freely in sand or humus soil and although not commercialized yet, it has possibilities.

"Curaua," Ananas erectafolia, produces very long fibers which has an average of two meters length; each plant has a yield of 350 grams of fiber. The plant has a quick turn over as the leaves can be harvested twelve to fourteen months after planting just when the points of leaves start to become yellow.

Bromelia laciniosa Mart., "Macambira," is another one of the bromeliads growing in vast areas of northern Brazil which have fiber possibilities.

Neoglaziovia variegata, natively called "Caroa," grows extensively in dry, hot, northeastern regions of Bahia, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraiba and Piaui. The firm of J. Vasconcelos & Cia. of Pernambuco has gone into the preparation of this Neoglaziovia fiber on an extensive scale. They mechanically decorticate the fibers and manufacture it into ropes, twine and sacking. It has also been woven into cloth suitable for clothing. The fiber is said to be three times as strong as jute. Its thread No. 22, for instance, has a resistance of thirty-eight pounds.

Many thousands of acres of this unique fiber plant grow in the highlands of northern Brazil. The area is called "Caatinga" and is comparable to the mesquite areas of Mexico and the Southwest. In order to preserve the plant from extinction the gatherers are allowed to pull only two or three leaves from each plant at a time.

One of the important fibers of Mexico comes from Aechmea magdalenae a pineapple-like bromeliad which has an extensive range throughout southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Costa Rica. Panama. Colombia and Ecuador. Dr. R. E. Schultes in his paper1 says that the fiber or pita from this aechmea "is the basis of one of the most important native industries of the Chinantec and Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca" in southern Mexico, being made into hammocks, ropes, nets, fans, baskets and numerous practical articles.

Concerning gathering this bromeliad, Dr. Schultes states, "The work of procuring the fiber is accomplished chiefly by the Chinantec women who cut the leaves near the ground and remove the soft, flexible but strong fibers. The extraction process consists of rubbing the softer tissues of the leaf free from the fibers on a metate. The fibers are then thoroughly washed and freed from extraneous materials. When dry, the finished product is almost pure white in color."

Caroa fiber ready for spinning in the Caruaru factory of Jose de Vasconcellos & Cia
in the state of Pernambuco, Brasil.

Further in praise of the fiber of Aechmea magdalenae, Dr. Schultes says that it "is promising" and "is of superior quality." "It has been shown to possess great powers of resistance to the effects of salt water," and its "resistance to alkaline hydrolysis (caustic soda) is good."

Again, we must consider the versatile, ubiquitous Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) this time as a fiber plant which is now used extensively in the upholstery of Pullman cars, airplane or automobile seats or mattresses for beds and couches. The gathering and processing of this bromeliad takes place almost exclusively in Florida and Louisiana totaling a five million dollar industry in the two states.

In his article "Spanish Moss: Forest By-Product of the South"2 George S. Corfield says that: "The colorful phases and the romantic story of this activity make the industry in many respects unique among the industries of the world." He states further that "In the Cajun Country (of Louisiana) the Spanish Moss industry is known as a "lagniappe crop" or an extra revenue crop which nature furnishes without the help of man." However, after reading that the average picker gathers about 500 pounds a day of this light stuff, it would seem that man would have to do a considerable amount of work to obtain it.

And the processing is not exactly an easy job although it is slow. From six to eight months the moss remains in pits, trenches or mounds where the heat and moisture rots off the outer grey surface and leaves a tough, hairy, black internal fiber which toughens considerably after this curing process. Removed from the pits it is then hung on great stretches of wire for several weeks of thorough drying. The grades of fiber depend upon the length of time cured. A ginning process cleans the extra debris and straightens the curly fibers before it is packed into bales for sending to all major cities in the East and Mid-West for distribution to the manufacturing companies.

(to be cont.)


  1. Bot. Mus. Lean. Cambridge, Mass. 9(1941) 7-Plantae Mexicanae-IX
  2. From the "Journal of Geography" Nov. 1943 Vol. 42, No. 8.

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