BSI Journal - Online Archive


Vol. 2September – October, 1952No. 5

Photo by Lyman B. Smith
Dr. Alberto Castellanos, bromeliad authority of Argentina, collecting Puya harmsii, one of his own new species. The giant cacti (Trichocereus pasacana) like many other cacti join with the bromeliads to form the typical picture of the desert lands of the Americas.


Editorial Office: 718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida.
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Write to Miss Victoria Padilla, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, Calif.



The second annual meeting of The Bromeliad Society was held on Sunday afternoon, September 14, 1952, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Overton in Glendale, California. Thirty members and their guests were present.

The meeting was called to order by the president, Mr. Mulford B. Foster, who flew west from Florida especially for this occasion.

The Treasurer, Mr. Overton, gave his report and stated that there was $530.00 in the treasury with no outstanding bills.

The President then gave a report of the meeting of the Board of Directors held the day previous, explaining in particular the matter of affiliation and dues. This was followed by a detailed discussion of the cultural handbook. The following agreements were reached, subject to any changes that might be found necessary.

It was decided that the Cultural Handbook will take the place of the January-February, 1953, issue (Volume III, No. I). It will be approximately 52 pages in length with a heavy cover. It will contain no advertisements, but have a directory of plant sellers, as well as a list of members whose gardens are open to visitation. The contents of the handbook will be left to the discretion of the Editor. One handbook will be given free to each member. The sale price will be $1.50. In order that the Editor might proceed with the work on the handbook, a motion was made by Mr. Cooke and seconded by Mr. Schick that the handbook and bulletin be combined and that the price and discount and amount of copies be left to the Board of Directors, following the suggestions made by the various members. This motion was unanimously carried.

In order to help finance the printing of the handbook, members will he asked to purchase additional copies. The Editor will take up the matter with the printer regarding the possibility of printing a number of especially bound copies. A list was made of the members present who would buy additional copies. Many members pledged to purchase extra copies of the handbook. This amounted, so far, to 150 copies of the regular edition and 25 of the special edition.

The business part of the meeting was then adjourned and was followed by a plant auction led by Mr. Foster, the returns from which would go toward the handbook fund. The sale brought in $153.50. This amount was due to the very generous gesture of the President, and other members who brought many of their fine plants to he sold. The members were deeply grateful.

The afternoon ended with refreshments.

It is indeed gratifying to note the interest of teenagers in our Society. From far-off New Zealand comes our latest–Don Sands, 6 Dundas Road, Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand. He has one greenhouse full of cacti and is now building a second, which he hopes to fill with bromeliads. He wishes that some of the members would write to him.

Also from New Zealand comes a plea from Harold Martin, 15 Taiere Tce. Onehunga, Auckland. He wants to know whether any members have radio sending sets. If so be would like to communicate with them via air and talk over bromeliads.


Alberto Castellanos

During my botanical trips in the Republica Oriental del Uruguay the years 1946-48, I had the chance to find several novelties for the flora of that country, which I published in Lilloa XX (1949) 237-249. Here I present another one, which at the same time represents the southernmost locality of the geographic area of the genus Billbergia, viz. the collection of the species B. nutans on Uruguayan territory.

The present note shows not only the differences between two taxonomically related species, but also their geographical areas, viz. those of Billbergia nutans and Billbergia distachia var. straussiana.

The differences between both species may be expressed in the following way:

A    Inflorescence nodding, 1-lateral. Ovary furrowed, outer tepals pink, inner green indigo-fimbriated . . .B. nutans
B    Inflorescence subnodding, lateral, with flowers nearly horizontal. Ovary strongly furrowed, outer tepals light green, with the apex scarcely blotched with indigo, and the inner ones light green . . . B. distachia var. straussiana

Wendland in Regel, Gartenflora XVIII (1869) 162, tab. 617. Baker in Curtis, Bot. Mag. CV (1879) tab. 6423. Castellanos in Descole, Genera III (1945 ) 171, tab. 36.

B. Bonplandiana Gaudichaud (1889) nomen nudum y B. Bonplandiana Mez in Fl. bras. (1892) 421, tab. 76 et Mon. (1896) 329 no. 31.

B. linearifolia. Baker, Brom. (1889) 72, no. 5.

B. minuta Mez in Fedde, Repert. XIV (1916) 244 et Pflanzenreich (1935) 196 no. 47.

Plants epiphytic or terrestrial, in the latter case rhizomatic (± 60 cm high) with dark green phyllodes, bandshaped and canaliculated (± 70 cm long × 1,5-2 cm broad), the face bright, the back grayish, with spinulose margins, the apex extended and generally dead. Meritals central (± 40 cm long × 4 mm diameter) covered with bracts longer than the internodes, the lower ones greenish and the upper ones pinkish (± 9 cm long × 2 cm broad) with the dorsal side scarcely lepidote.

Inflorescence nodding, subracemose, glabrous, with the axis zig-zaged, whitish, 2 mm in diameter, with 10-12 flowers each 5 cm long with a brownish bracteol, deltoid, 2 mm high, ovary green (± 13 mm long × 6 mm diameter), irregularly furrowed with infinite white and appendiculated ovules; external tepals imbricated, triangular (± 2 cm long × 6 mm broad) pinkish, and blue at the apex. Interior tepals fasciolated, acute (± 35 mm long × 6 mm broad), with two green basal ligules with laciniated margin; from the calyx upwards slightly revolute and with blue margin; stamens of the same length with green filaments and dorsifix anthers, yellow, thin and long (± 8 mm long); style green, cylindrical, 3,4-4 cm long, ending in three stigmatic branches (4 mm long) which rise twisted and untwist at maturity. Protandric. Berry somewhat dry, and rugose.

Type locality: The species was described from a cultivated plant of unknown origin.

Material studied.–Uruguay. depto. Rivera, 20 km from Tranqueras and 3,75 km from the Brasilian frontier, in Campo de los Potreros, in the place known as Subida de Mendez at 31° 10', leg. Castellanos 22 11 1947, LIL, no. 15. 303.

Geographical area.–From Minas Gerais (Brasil) southwards, passing through Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santa Catharina, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraguay, Uruguay to the north of Argentina, in the botanical provinces, Tucumano-boliviana or Yunga (Rosario de la Frontera in Salta and Calilegua in Jujuy ), Misionera, Correntino-paraguaya (in several localities) and Uruguaya north of Tranqueras.

Obs.–Cultivated in Buenos Aires, this year (1951) it flowered in August, an opportunity we used to classify it. Up till now this species was not known with certainty to occur in Uruguayan territory. The quoted latitude is up till now the most southerly point of the geographic area1 of the genus.

Map showing the distribution of the genus Billbergia:
B. nutans . . . . . -----
B. distachia var. straussiana . . . . . \\\\\


Smith in Anais Bot. Herb. "Barbosa Rodrigues" II (1950) 13, pg. 3 of the separate.

Syn.–Tillandsia distachia Velloso, Fl. flum. (1825) 137, Icon. III (1835) tab. 141 sub distachia.

Billbergia pallescens Koch et Bouche ap. Baker in Curtis, Bot. Mag. (1878) tab. 6342.

B. Bakeri E. Morren in Belg. Hort. XXX (1880) 166, tab. 8.

B. Bakeri Morr. var. straussiana Wittmack in Gartenz. IV (1885) 487.

B. caespitosa Lindman, Bromeliaceae herb. Regnelliani (1891) 35, tab. 8, fig. 41-46.

Plants in the vegetative part similar to those of the preceding species, but the phyllodes (± 50 cm long × 1,5-2,5 cm broad) and with yellowish spots irregularly distributed. Meritals central (± 20-32 cm long × 7 mm diameter) covered with bracts longer than the internodes, the lower bracts greenish-yellowish and the upper pinkish (± 7-11 cm long × 1,5-2 mm broad) and with the dorsal side sparingly lepidote.

Inflorescence loosely subracemose, subnodding, lateral, glabrous, few-flowered, generally of four almost horizontal (± 6-6,5 cm broad) flowers, very shortly pedunculated (peduncle 1 mm long) and the bracteole squamiform; ovary green (±8 mm long × 4 mm broad) longitudinally furrowed; exterior tepals deltoid (± 15 mm long × 5 mm broad), green and with the apex scarcely spotted with indigo; the interior tongue-shaped, canaliculated, bright green and without spots (± 4 cm long × 5 mm broad) ; stamens a little shorter, with yellow anthers more than 4 mm long; style green, 4 cm long.

Type locality.–Brasil: Santa Catharina.

Mat. stud.–Cultivated specimens from Brasil, Com. Kolischer 1947.

Geographical area.–From Minas Gerais (Brasil) to the south, passing through Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo. It is apparent that its area is smaller than that above mentioned species and restricted to Brasilian territory.

Obs.–Cultivated in Buenos Aires, it produced flowers twice during the second half of June, whereas B. nutans always flowers in the second half of August.

Mez, Mon. (1896) 329 no. 31 considered B. caespitosa Lindm. (1891) and B. linearifolia Bak. (1889) synonymous of B. Bonplandiana Gaud., an opinion he did not maintain in Pflanzenreich (1935) 197 no. 48, where he claimed that B. caespitosa Lindm. and B. Bonplandiana Gaud. were synonymous of B. linearifolia Bak. The type of this species of Baker is Balansa no. 612, which Hassler consulted for his Brom. parag. consp. (1919) 296 and considered as B. nutans Wendl.; at the same time the type of B. Bonplandiana Gaud. is Bonpland no. 1110 collected in Corrientes but its description was not published (nomen nudum).

The description of Mez, mon. (1896) 329 no. 31 B. Bonplandiana: "Petalis virentibus apice margeneque indigotinis," . . . does not correspond to this species. And that of the same author in (1935) 197 no. 48 B. linearifolia: "sepalis viridibus apice indigotino-maculatis," agrees with this species, but it does not when he adds: "petala viridia late violaceo marginata." . . .

Mez in Fedde, Repert. XIV (1916) 244 says for B. minuta: "sepalis roseis apice violaceis  . . . Petala viridia margine late violacea," . . . data which constitute the essential character of B. nutans. See that species.

In dry conditions is difficult to distinguish both species because the colours disappear and the disposition of the flowers is not so well seen as in fresh conditions. The only character one has to take into account is the dimensions of the organs.

Fundacion Miguel Lillo Aguero 2406, Buenos Aires. Argentina


  1. The citations for Corrientes by Mez (1896) 328 and (1935) 197 do not indicate a locality.
  2. I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Lyman B. Smith for having communicated his combination and for having indicated the identity of B. caespitosa with the last species.

Photo by Lyman B. Smith
For a stretch of over forty miles the mountain sides between Cafayate and Alemania are literally covered with Deuterocohnia haumanii. Dr. Castellanos holds an inflorescence of this Argentinian desert bromeliad.


Lyman B. Smith

When I first met Dr. Alberto Castellanos at the second South American Botanical Congress in Tucuman in October of 1948, I had already known him for twenty years–twenty years of steady correspondence on our mutual interest, the Bromeliaceae. You can imagine my pleasure at finally meeting him face to face. We took advantage of our opportunity to settle several points of discussion in a few moments of conversation, where ordinarily it would have taken us weeks or months of writing. There in the garden of the Instituto Miguel Lillo where the Congress was held, were a goodly number of living bromeliads that made excellent demonstration material.

Among the species we discussed was one of particular interest to the Bromeliad Society, Bromelia serra. This species which is native to northwestern Argentina, has a short scape and an inconspicuous inflorescence about the size and shape of a baseball. Its name, however, often has been misapplied to popular ornamental species such as Bromelia balansae of Paraguay, Argentine Misiones, and southern Brazil.

After a week of meetings and lectures, the Congress was adjourned and the Instituto Miguel Lillo took its guests on a long field trip through the northwestern provinces of Tucuman, Catamarca, Salta, Los Andes, and Jujuy, and who should be our leader but Dr. Castellanos. We were to see many of the originals of the illustrations in his monumental work on Argentine Bromeliads (Genera et Species Plantarum Argentinarum, volume 3).

Early on October 18th we left the City of Tucuman in a fleet of busses especially assembled for the occasion. On the first day out we encountered the greatest contrasts of the trip as we crossed the mountain range between the province of Tucuman and northern Catamarca. Near the beginning of our ascent we stopped by the Rio de los Sosa to see the rain forest that is the result of the prevailing easterly winds meeting the first high sierras of western Argentina. The trees were loaded with epiphytes, but we soon found that these consisted of very few species, being principally Aechmea distichantha, and a small Polypodium and Peperomia. This rain forest is a narrow tongue running some three hundred miles south from Bolivia and ending in Tucuman. It has considerably fewer species than Misiones, the other tongue of Argentine rain forest in the northeast between Paraguay and Brazil, and this is probably because the lower minimum temperatures in Tucuman eliminate the more sensitive of the tropical species.

We continued up the Rio de los Sosa over a twisting mountain road and finally came out on the broad grassy intervals of Tafi del Valle. Grassland continued up to the pass at Infernillo, and then abruptly we were in semi-desert with giant candelabra cacti (Trichocereus pasacana) the most conspicuous feature of the landscape. Here we met our first Castellanos bromeliad, Puya harmsii, and took a photo of it and its author to celebrate the event (cover page). This gray desert plant was a strong contrast to the Aechmea distichantha with its open tanks of green leaves that we had seen a few hours before.

At the foot of the range we reached the town of Santa Maria where we found very dusty camping that night because no rain had fallen there for seven months. The next morning we started north along the Rio Santa Maria or rather its bed, through a land of low crooked trees and spiny shrubs with nothing but the bare stony dusty ground between them. On their branches we found the tiny gray Tillandsia aizoides and bryoides, Argentine relatives of our Spanish moss, and Tillandsia xiphioides unfortunately not in flower. Unlike most Tillandsias this last gets most of its display from its large white petals and is fragrant as well.

In the vicinity of Tolombon we sighted our first masses of Deuterocohnia schreiteri, but from Cafayate to Alemania, a distance of over forty miles, the mountainsides were covered with Deuterocohnia haumanii (page 54). I believe this must be the bromeliad record for continuous ground coverage. Certainly no other species would be so recognizable as a distinct formation from the air, and yet it was only in 1929 that Dr. Castellanos had described it. That gives some idea of the remoteness of that part of Salta which we were then crossing.

We were interested in examining the stapes of this anomalous monocot because they showed a distinct cambium layer. Another very unusual feature for a bromeliad was its fairy ring formation such as is seen in certain mushrooms. The plant or colony grows outward and the central parts die leaving a nearly perfect ring of living plants (see Castellanos, Genera vol. 3, pl. 45).

In the same region along the Quebrada de las Conchas we came on the opposite case to the Deuterocohnia haumanii when we entered a small box canyon. Here on the sheer rock walls and only here grows the small Tillandsia that Dr. Castellanos named Tillandsia peiranoi after its first collector. As there must be hundreds of such places yet unvisited by any botanist, we can expect many more new bromeliads from Argentina.

A few miles before reaching Alemania we stopped where the road ran high above the Rio Guachipas. There in a briar patch that would have delighted "Brer rabbit" was Dyckia chaguar adding to the local defenses with its sharp leaf-spines. In naming this bromeliad, Dr. Castellanos simply adopted the Indian name for it. "Chaguar" means bleeding, presumably in reference to whatever comes in contact with this bromeliad.

At the end of the day we reached the provincial capital of Salta, and early the next morning took the train up to San Antonio de los Cobres high in the Andes on the line to Chile. The trip was an extremely interesting one but frustrating as far as bromeliads go. Near the beginning of our ascent we saw masses of Abromeitiella like a giant cushion moss on the mountainsides, but we were unable to obtain a close view. At the top of our climb at San Antonio de los Cobres, the country was largely bare rock too inhospitable even for Puyas. Of the few plants that grew there a large proportion were saline types that seemed out of place so far from the seacoast.

From Salta we journeyed north to Jujuy, then turned northeast toward Urundel. On the way we stopped at some low scrub forest of the type that would be called "Caatinga" in the northeast of Brazil. Dr. Castellanos pointed out that it shared Tillandsia loliacea and certain cacti with that region although some two thousand miles distant.

At Urundel we reached the turning point of our trip and also close to the mid-point of the various climates we had seen. On a day long trip up the Rio del Diablo and back we were in dry forest nearly all the time with Bromelia serra the characteristic ground bromeliad. There was enough rainfall, however, for a good quantity of Vriesia tucumanensis which also grows in southern Brazil.

From Urundel we returned to Tucuman by the most direct route with scarcely any stops, but before leaving we had the opportunity to study our collections and compare them with the herbarium material in the Instituto Miguel Lillo.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

Photo by Leo Falls
The charming patio of the Eric Knoblocks. Private courtyards, such as this, create unusually favorable conditions for bromeliads in New Orleans.


Eric Knoblock

The old quarter of New Orleans, surrounded by the spreading modern city, has surprisingly retained quite a number of its original brick and cypress buildings and its colonial Franco-Spanish atmosphere. As the city outgrew this old area the section gradually became a deplorable slum, but in recent years the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans have taken steps to give the old quarter a special status, and new people, charmed with the unique character of the surroundings, have come in and set about preserving and restoring some of the old houses.

One of the delightful features of these old dwellings is the private courtyard most of them have. The buildings themselves come right up to the sidewalk. In the rear, and surrounded by brick walls, is the patio, shared alike in the old days by the white family and their African domestic servants. The latter lived in a building in the rear, the lower floor of which served as a kitchen for the household. Nowadays these houses are usually divided into several apartments with a common use of the courtyard, and many lovers of plants have created interesting gardens subject to the very special conditions that a patio with high walls imposes on the gardener.

These courtyard garden-lovers have organized themselves into a group called "Patio Planters," several of whom have become interested in adapting bromeliads to New Orleans' outdoor patio gardens.

We had read of bromeliads growing on trees like Orchids, had seen pictures of trees fairly bristling with them; some of us had actually seen them in their native habitat where they enjoy the free moving air and the flickering sunlight of the forest. Ferns and other plants of the forest did not object to adapting themselves to courtyard life-in fact they thrived. Why not bromeliads?

Our climate, being warm and humid for the most part, provides conditions generally suitable for most bromels in the spring, summer and fall. The normally mild winters are more of a problem, however, for almost without warning the temperature may fall to a point that seriously damages, and sometimes even kills outright, all but the very hardiest of the bromeliads. This may not happen for several winters; then again it may happen several times in a single winter. I myself had the sad experience of losing many cherished plants when the weather bureau's prediction of a low of 37 degrees caused me to neglect to keep my plants warm, and instead we had a sharp drop to 25 degrees. Another winter danger for some bromels is the chill dampness of our wet winters. Tillandsias from Southern Florida and the West Indies, for example, resent our excessive winter moisture more than the severity of our cold weather and a special effort must be made to keep them on the dry side at this season. I myself have a small greenhouse into which the plants can be rushed on short notice and in which some heat can be provided. Some of us just bring the plants into a slightly heated room, the cold spells being usually brief.

The mater of sun and shade in the courtyard is also given serious thought by the Patio Planter. The high walls exclude the bland early morning and late evening sun but furnish no protection to the plants when the noon-day sun beats down. Damage is most apt to occur in summer when the sun suddenly emerges from a thunder cloud after a steamy shower. Its rays easily scald the leaves of susceptible bromeliads like Aechmea fulgens. Shading is accomplished by placing the plants under overhanging galleries, which are common in New Orleans' patios, or under shrubs and trees where they can receive a filtered light such as that furnished by a lath house. In winter, on the other hand, when the sun traverses the southern sky, our high walls are apt to exclude too much sunlight at a season when it is most needed. In the winter, therefore, we endeavor to shift the plants to the side of the courtyard receiving the maximum light.

The photograph shows plants like weilbachii, pineliana, recurvata and miniata discolor in the Aechmea group; saundersii and pyramidalis in the Billbergia group, in flat pots on a low wall shaded somewhat by a Trachycarpus excelsa palm.

In the fibre of the palm itself, a clump of Billbergia Nutans has flourished for several years, having weathered a temperature of almost 20 degrees one winter. Grown on chunks of osmunda which in turn are fastened to pieces of driftwood and suspended from the walls are plants like simulata, fasciculata and others in the Tillandsia group; Aechmeas orlandiana and calculata, Billbergias sanderiana etc. Other kinds like Neoregelias marmorata and carolinae are planted in hollowed out pieces of driftwood set on the ground.

Osmunda alone is an excellent planting medium for many bromeliads especially if they are watered frequently in hot dry weather. An occasional light sprinkling of dried sheep manure on the material, placed so that it will soak in to the roots, seems to have a beneficial effect, though care should be taken not to let any appreciable concentration of manure fall into the cups of the plants since it is apt to burn the tender new leaves. We have no special soil formula: We use varying mixtures of coarse sand and leaf mould mixed with chopped osmunda with a sparse quantity of dried sheep manure for most bromels. Trouble results in our wet climate when the mixture is too compact and air is excluded from the roots, or when there is a soggy condition resulting from insufficient drainage.

The Bromeliad Society group here among the Patio gardeners of the old section of New Orleans are small in numbers but large in enthusiasm. They exchange specimens of plants with each other, and some, like Morris Henry Hobbs, the artist, even go in for raising them from seed. We send greetings to the members elsewhere and look forward to seeing some of them when they are passing this way.

718 St. Philip St., New Orleans, La.


Our early promise upon the organization of The Bromeliad Society that there would be given to each member of the Society a bromeliad cultural handbook, will become a realization in the very near future.

This handbook, as explained, by our secretary, will come to life the first part of 1953. It will be the first book of its kind to be written in English to assist both the layman and the professional. It will contain a key to the genera of the Bromeliaceae by Dr. Lyman B. Smith; your editor and a few other members will contribute cultural information.

There will be a description of the sub-divisions of the family that can be easily understood by the layman; the different types of natural growth habitats along with cultural suggestions for both indoor and outdoor culture. Types of leaves and fruits will be explained and described to assist in identification and a better general knowledge of the requirements of the bromeliads. There will be chapters on potting material, propagation, food and water; notes on insects and pests, light and temperature, and hybridizing.

A glossary of botanical terms which should aid the beginner and familiarize him with the general knowledge and culture of this great family will be included.

The publishing of a handbook of this nature and completeness will entail a great expense for such a young society which has as yet no great backlog of funds. Therefore, it will be absolutely necessary that we will be assured that the greater part of the needed portion of the price of the handbook be subscribed before it goes to press.

Every member whom we have approached on this subject has offered to purchase at least one or more copies of the handbook at the regular price of $1.50. (Special Edition $3.00). This copy is in addition to the copy which will be presented to each member of the Bromeliad Society free of charge. If each member of the Society will purchase at least one additional copy, the funds thus accumulated, added to funds from members who have already pledged to purchase larger quantities, will assure us sufficient funds to be able to print this 52 page, much desired and very much needed, paper covered handbook.

Kindly send your pledges immediately to the secretary and we ask that your remittances for the copies pledged will be sent before the last of the year so that all available funds will be on hand. We feel that this is asking very little of the individual members but it is very important to the Society. You may give or sell your extra copy or copies to other interested friends or prospective members.

Please let us hear from any member of the Society about unusual or important experiments, observations and experiences that have to do with our favorite subject. These would be helpful additions to the store of knowledge we are trying to build up about bromeliads. If your article is not used in the handbook it will be used in the Bulletin. You do not have to be a journalist to write up your experiences. Just write so that he who plants may read.

Now its up to you!!!!!


P.S. Send all pledges and remittances to our Secretary,
Miss Victoria Padilla, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, California.

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