BSI Journal - Online Archive


Vol. 4January – February, 1954No. 1

Photo by M. B. Foster
One of the most unique species in the genus, this broad-leafed Tillandsia, with its many lateral inflorescences hanging down from the axils of the basal leaves, certainly shows little regard for its family traditions. All but three of the more than four hundred known species of Tillandsias have the customary single inflorescence rising from the center. Neither of the other two species, T. multicaulis and T. monstrum, have such a great number of inflorescences as the one pictured above, nor do they continue for several years to produce additional flower stems from the same plant as does T. complanata.
See p. 11.


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We recently received Dr. Lyman Smith's "Notes on Bromeliaceae," his third publication in PHYTOLOGIA Vol. 4, No. 6, Nov. 1953. Herein he describes five new bromeliad species and one new variety. Copies are 75c each from H. N. Moldenke, 15 Glenbrook Ave. Yonkers 5, N. Y. Also, we were pleased to learn of Dr. Smith's report on his 1952 Brazilian expedition for the Rockefeller Foundation in the paper "Bromeliad Malaria" published in the Smithsonian Annual Report for 1952 (Publication 4125).

In the quarterly publication of the California Arboretum Foundation, Inc. of Arcadia, "Lasca Leaves" Winter 1954 Vol. IV, No. 1, Victoria Padilla has an article titled "Bromeliads For The Southern California Garden" with two excellent photos.

NATURE MAGAZINE (1214 16th St. N.W. Washington 6, D.C.) (50c ea.) has given considerable attention to "Cousins of the Pineapple" in an article by Dr. Louis O. Williams of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, (former editor of Orchid Bulletin). Four photos illustrate the bromels in Honduran setting.

Mr. George Hull, Garden Editor of The Chattanooga Times, Chattanooga, Tenn. has a large and impressive spread on bromeliads in the Sunday edition of Jan. 24/54. Five excellent photos across the entire page present a showy heading to his article "House Plant Paragon." The plants were from the collection of Dr. Clarence Shaw. Mr. Hull has written the most accurate of any newspaper account we have yet seen and all bromeliads are named correctly. He exclaims about bromeliads in a most restrained fashion and comes through with a number of clever observations such as "built-in water supply."

On the same page an article by Mary Noble, reprinted from The New York Times, suggests a number of bromeliads, particularly Cryptanthus, as ideal for coffee table decoration. All in all The Chattanooga Times gave a big boost to bromeliads written in a chatty but substantial style.


The next issue of The Bromeliad Society Bulletin is going to be a very special one. As a tribute to our good president, Mulford Foster, and his charming wife, Racine, the members in Southern California will take over this number. It has been about thirty years since Don Mulfordo saw his first bromel, and since that time due to his untiring efforts the bromeliad has risen from the role of an obscure plant in the conservatory to a favorite among plants for the home. Mrs. Foster has been his unselfish companion for the past nineteen years, and without her unceasing efforts there would be no Society! So to Mr. and Mrs. Bromeliad we dedicate our next issue! It will be lacking the touch of the old maestro and the "fine Italian hand" of the first lady, but it will be doubled in size and it will be a sincere effort on the part of Southern Californians to honor the two people to whom we owe so much.

For those persons whose membership expired the first of the year, this is the time to get in their renewal, for the next Bulletin will be sent only to those who are members in good standing.

New members, attention! (and old members who are lacking back numbers) ... why not complete your files and purchase back numbers of your Bulletin at our special offer of $3.00 a volume? (50c ea.) Just send a check and your order to the secretary.

Thanks to the kindness of Mr. Ronald Townsend, Director of the Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California we have for distribution the following seeds: Puyas Berteroniana, densiflora, assurgens, venusta, coerulea; and Dyckias remotiflora, altissima, montevidiensis, rariflora. If you desire any of these seeds, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your request to the secretary.


William C. Drummond

Few plants have less disease or insect infestation than do the bromeliads; yet, occasionally, scale insects or mealybugs, their close relatives, may become a serious problem. The more common scale pests usually belong to one of two families–the armored scales of the family Diaspidae, and the soft scales of the family Coccidae. Mealybugs belong to the family Pseudococcidae.

Armor Scales are small sucking insects, the body of which is protected by a hardened shield or scale. The shield may be somewhat flattened or convex depending on species. They vary in size from about one-twelfth to one-eighth inch in length, and in shape may be nearly circular, oval, or oyster-shell-like. The color range may vary from nearly white or light gray to dark brown. The immature male shields are smaller than those of the female and more elongate. They either resemble the female in color and texture or else they are cottony white with three longitudinal ridges. It is the female scale we commonly see and the ones which do all the damage. The adult males have no mouth parts.

Reproduction usually is from eggs, although in some cases living young are produced. The newly emerged crawlers are active for a short time; after settling down they lose their legs and remain stationary for the rest of their lives. There may be from one to many generations a year, depending on climatic conditions. The female dies after completion of egg laying but remains attached to the plant. In the development of the female, the discarded skin of the settled crawler becomes the nipple of the shield. The covering of the second and third stages form the rings around the nipple, the third stage becoming the adult female. The covering of the male is formed by the nipple and the secretion of the second immature stage. Adult males are small, delicate winged insects.

It is in the crawler stage that scale insects are most easily killed by a spray residue. Some scales on feeding inject a toxic substance into the leaf, producing a round light yellow spot, which is visible on both sides of the leaf.

The following are a few of the hard or armored scales found on bromeliads in California: Diaspis bromeliae. The Pineapple Scale is an armored scale with a nearly circular flat, rather thin, whitish, and with sub-central nipple. It produces young alive.

Hemiberlesia palmae is an armored scale common in Florida and occasionally found in California. The shield of the female is somewhat oval, quite convex, with the nipple subcentered and very dark. It is about the same size as the Pineapple Scale and goes through the same life cycles. It is a severe pest once established. Other hard or armored scales may occasionally infest bromeliads when grown close to other infested plants–watch for them.

Soft scales may be important pests, not only because of the injury they cause, but also because of the sooty mold which grows on the honey-dew they excrete. Immature individuals are usually flattened, elliptical, shining, and rubbery in appearance. Adult females may be oval and somewhat flattened, strongly convex or globular in shape, and rubbery or hardened. In some species a cottony white egg sac is formed. Soft scales are somewhat larger than the armored scales, ranging from about one-twelfth to one-third inch in length.

Reproduction is by eggs or the production of living young. The young move about freely but become more stationary as maturity is reached. There may be from one to several generations a year, depending on climate and conditions.

Infestation will, to a large extent, depend on the growing of plants near other infested plants. The following have been found on bromeliads when grown near infested plants in and out of greenhouses:

Saissetta hemisphaerica, the hemispherical scale, is a soft scale common in California and warm climates or in greenhouses. It is very common on ferns grown in greenhouses. It is a very convex, shiny brown, oblong, hard, and smooth with flared margins. It is larger than the above mentioned hard scales. There is no nipple but much honey-dew. Reproduction is by eggs. Infestation will much depend on growing plants near those which are infested.

Aerial mealybugs, like scales, are small sucking insects. They are from one-eighth to one-quarter inch long, with flattened oval bodies, and are covered with a white or yellowish powdery wax. Waxy filaments often are found around the body. They usually develop in colonies and excrete large amounts of honey-dew. Mealybugs retain their legs and are able to move around throughout their life. There are many species. Reproduction generally is by eggs, although some species produce living young. The eggs, which are yellowish or orange in color, are laid in masses of white, cottony sacs. Mature males are small, delicate winged insects.

Mealybugs will sometimes be found on the more tender growth. They are often found on the flowers of the Cryptanthus. They are not a common pest, however. The Pseudococcus brevipes, the pineapple mealybug, is common in Florida and tropical places, but is not a pest in California. The Mexican mealybug, Phenacoccus gossypii, is sometimes found on Billbergias.

The ground mealybug, Rhizoecus falcifer is very small with the body evenly covered with white wax. Living in the soil exclusively, it sucks out the plant juice of the bromeliad's roots. Often where ground mealybugs are present, ants also will be found. The ground mealybug quickly travels from plant to plant through the soil. When plants are grown in greenhouses, it travels from pot to pot through sand or, other material covering the benches. It can become a real pest.

Control Measures
The control of scale insects on bromeliads should be undertaken seriously, and frequent and careful inspection is necessary. The control of ants and the segregation of all infested plants should be the first measures undertaken. There are several agents and methods that can be used to control scales.

The first we might mention are the oil sprays. The oil used should be light, highly refined summer oil, not a heavy oil. Use at the rate of 1½ gallons to 100 gallons of water, or 3½ to 4 tablespoonfuls to one gallon of water, as a spray or for dipping the plants. For safety of plants syringe one hour later with clear water, and with potted plants invert and empty all oil spray. The addition of nicotine sulphate (40%), ¾ pint to 100 gallons of water or ¾ of one tablespoonful to one gallon of water, as a spray is beneficial. The addition of rotenone, following the manufacturer's directions, may also be used with benefit. Dipping means filling a large enough vessel with the proper spray of oil or other agent and then submerging the aerial part of the plant in the solution, being sure that the funnels of the plant are emptied one hour later. When applying a spray solution, use a high pressure, 200 to 300 pounds pressure being the best.

Other than spraying, an effective method used by many amateurs to rid their plants of scale is to saturate a cloth with the oil solution and to wipe off the scale from all the leaves. Where the leaves overlap the solution can be applied with a one-half inch paint brush. This method is effective, but laborious. In the use of oil the object is to cover the scale with oil so that the insect will be suffocated.

A new spray, which controls some scales though it is not effective against Hemispherical scale, is called Malathon. A 25 percent wettable powder, it has been found to be very effective against mealybugs and many other pests. This is a new organic phosphate and is less poisonous than Parathion and it is thought to be no more poisonous to man than DDT or Chlorodane. When using it, follow the manufacturer's directions and make at least two applications. Keep out of the eves–do not inhale and keep off the skin. The usual strength is 2¾ to 3 pounds of powder to 100 gallons of water. Care should be taken to spray all sides of the plants. Although Malathon has a wide killing range, it may not control all scale.

Sprays leaving a residual effect are also recommended by some growers. DDT is sometimes added. These sprays are used to kill the crawlers. In spraying with oil, one should watch that the temperature be between 50° and 80° F.

Besides the use of Plantfume for aerial mealybugs, Malathon (according to manufacturer's directions) and oil sprays (as for scale insects) may be used with good results.

One should not forget that the best and first control measure should be prevention. Plant clean plants in clean soil–never plant infested plants in clean soil. If the soil should be infested, it should be thoroughly sterilized with DDT or other soil fumigant before it is used. However, if one does not wish to remove the plants from the soil, there are several agents which can be tried. Dichloroethyl ether, using 3 tablespoonfuls to one gallon of water and giving each plant a thorough wetting, is effective, though there are some plants that will not stand this strength. Chlorodane may be tried, using the 5 or 10 percent strength dust, one ounce to 100 square feet and watering in well. It is less damaging. Probably the quickest and best remedy would be to dig all infested plants, thoroughly clean off all mealybugs, and then replant in sterilized soil, for potted plants adding a teaspoonful of 5 percent chlorodane dust to a four-inch pot. No bad effects have been noticed with this treatment.

1246 N. Kings Rd., L. A., Calif.

Ebeling, Walter, Subtropical Entomology, 1950
Essig. E. O.,Insects of Western North America, 1926
Jefferson, R. N. and Mack, G. E., Journal of Economic Entomology, "Control of Certain Greenhouse Insects and Mites with Tetraethyl dithiopyrophosphate Smoke," 1952 Metcalf, Flint and Metcalf, Destructive and Useful Insects, 1951
Michelbacher, A. E. and Essig, E. O., Ridding the Garden of Common Pests. University of California Extension Circular, No. 146, 1950
Quale, Henry J., Insects of Citrus and other Subtropical Fruits, 1941
Pitchard, A. Earl, Greenhouse Pests and Their Control, University of California Experiment Station Bulletin No. 713, 1949

Photo by Ladislaus Cutak
Billbergia pyramidalis var. concolor L. B. Smith formerly called B. thyrsoidea


Lyman B. Smith

For just one hundred years the variety of Billbergia pyramidalis with wholly red petals has been known as Billbergia thyrsoidea Martius, but the original description in Roemer & Schultes (Systema Vegetabilium, volume 7, part 2, p. 1260. 1830) reads: "petala coccinea . . . apice . . . violaceo-caerulea." Thus Billbergia thyrsoidea is the same as typical Billbergia pyramidalis. A canvas of other names, including Billbergia rhodocyanea, shows that there are none which apply to this variety, so that it becomes necessary to give it a name as follows Billbergia pyramidalis (Sims) Lindl. var concolor L. B. Smith, var nov. Billbergia thyrsoidea sensu Lindl. Paxton, Fl. Gard. 3: pl. 74. 1852-53. Not Mart. 1830.

A var. pyramidalis petalis omnino rubris differt.

Differs from the typical variety in having the petals wholly red instead of red with blue apices. Type in the Gray Herbarium, collected from cultivation, November 1939, by David Barry, Jr. U. S. National Herbarium negative number 4062.

Associate Curator, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

Photo by Raulino Reitz, Brasil

Mulford B. Foster

Lyman B. (Bromel) Smith, the botanical father of bromeliads in the Americas, needs no introduction to a bromeliad audience, but an appraisal of his twenty-seven years work in the Bromeliaceae is long over-due.

He has been a tireless and indefatigable worker on the taxonomy of the bromeliad family which presents many discouraging and conflicting confusions in nomenclature. His sincere efforts in clearing up these confusions has been an inestimable work of merit. His enormous production of the descriptions of new species has enriched bromeliad literature extensively.

Out of Dr. Smith's 135 publications, 80 have been on the subject of Bromeliaceae, seven of these have been in The Bromeliad Bulletin, plus that major contribution, "The Subfamilies and Genera of the Bromeliaceae" in our Cultural Handbook.

Space limits a description of these works but a major portion of his work has been in a series of "Studies in The Bromeliaceae" started in the Contributions of The Gray Herbarium when he was a member of that staff and continued since 1947 in the U. S. National Herbarium publications when he became associate curator at the Smithsonian Institution.

A long list of significant contributions to the Floras of Latin American countries gives his work extensive scope. The "Geographical Evidence on the Lines of Evolution" in the German Botanische Jahrbucher was a significant answer to the theories of Carl Mez in his monograph. Dr. Smith's section on Bromeliaceae in The North American Flora is a valuable record for those who strive to know the family better.

Lyman Smith in the Fakahatchee finding Tillandsia fasciculata var. densispica

He reads and writes in five foreign languages, German, French, Spanish,

Portuguese and Latin, and not a few of his publications have been written in these languages.

He has visited and gathered data in most of the large Herbaria of Europe and in North and South America. As pictured above he is working in the Herbario "Barbosa Rodrigues", Itajai, Santa Catarina, Brasil as a guest of Director, Raulino Reitz.

The horticultural world often neglects the work of the taxonomic botanist but it is the purpose of this Bromeliad Bulletin to bring the two worlds together in a mutual appreciation of the significance of each others work.

While it may be known that Dr. Smith has spent a large portion of his time "wrestling" with herbarium material, particularly in the Bromeliaceae, which has made him famous in the botanical world, it is much less known that he has won many medals and cups for his unusual ability as a wrestler in the sports world during his younger days.

And now, it might be said, he has won his letters in the "aquatic world" during a bromel hunt in Florida's Fakahatchee Swamp, often called Big Cypress, where we had to wade in waist or chest high water for miles through muck, water, brambles, grasses and roots. This trek into the heart of Florida made quite a strenuous Christmas holiday for Dr. Smith and his son, Christopher, as well as a party of young college students including John Bechner, Bromeliad Society member.

Few white men have ever penetrated the depths of this fast disappearing jungle land now being destroyed by the lumberman's axe and saw. Nostalgic memories, back to 1926, made the present devastation a heart-tearing sight to the writer. It is the last great tropical jungle in the United States. Twenty-eight years ago this had been virgin Florida with its vast area of the centuries old cypress trees, (Taxodium distichum ) and its several miles of stately giant Royal Palms, some reaching 135 ft. in height. Dr. Smith and our party could scarcely visualize this magnificent former grandeur since we had such a devilish time cutting our way through a new second growth, saw grass, cane break, poison ivy, and brambles; floating logs, twisted fern roots, fallen trees and oozing muck did everything to impede our progress while trying to hold cameras and food high out of the uncertain depths of water.

Bromeliads, orchids and other epiphytes are putting up a battle for survival there. Every species of Tillandsia (except one, T. incurva ,) Catopsis and Guzmania native to Florida are still there but some of them are difficult to find. They have had to be satisfied with whatever kind of tree–dead or alive–they could find for survival. Even the smooth trunks of the few remaining Royal palms had a share of epiphytes which, in spite of an unfavorably smooth trunk for clinging, sought out the scarce shade afforded by the north and east sides of these palms. It was a rare but pathetic sight of bromeliads in a last stand for survival which greeted Dr. Smith's eyes, but it was a memorable one as well.


Hamilton Mason

Bromeliads may he native to the New World, but it is the Old World that has done more about them, especially in their use as houseplants. The Dutch, in particular, have been aware of their beauty and decorative value for generations. The casual tourist in Holland cannot help but he impressed by this fact. Everywhere he turns he sees small window gardens containing, for the most part, bromeliads. There are Vriesias, Billbergias, Aechmeas and Nidulariums, all of them in great variety of color and form, the most popular one being a large gray-green one of the vase type. This: never was specifically identified although at Sanders et fils, Bruges, it was referred to as Vriesia St. Joseph.

This love for reasonably enduring beauty is understandable enough. The monotonous landscape and gloomy weather with which the Dutch must cope need enlivening. Consciously or subconsciously, they realize it and the counteractant they have hit upon is floral beauty and warmth. It could well be part of the same psychology that explains the enthusiasm of this highly practical people for something so fragile as a tulip.

The Dutch may be the ones to use bromeliads extensively in their homes, but it is the Belgians who are the great growers of them. Numerous greenhouses in the flower-growing region around Ghent are devoted to their cultivation. Some of these same growers were responsible for the magnificent exhibits in the Hall of Honor: at the Flora Exhibition this past spring. Both on entering and leaving the Hall, the visitor was treated to an eye-filling show of Nidularium (Karatas) tricolor,1 a hybrid made shortly before the war but only now being produced in large enough quantities to market. One plant alone was a thing of unbelievable artistry; a display of dozens of them was almost an embarrassment of riches. A rosette of shocking pink is surrounded by long, pointed leaves which are apple-green and striated white with a pale pink flush as the base. This display combined magnificent hybrid Anthurium scherizianum with the bromeliads. Incidentally, these Anthuriums would seem to rank second in popularity among the Dutch as houseplants.

Despite the emphasis on Nidularium tricolor,2 it was not the only bromeliad in the Hall of Honor. One large display was given over to them in variety, arranged by Spae of Melle near Ghent. These included Aechmea fulgens, Vriesia psittacina, Aechmea comata,3 Nidularium Meyendorfii, Canistrum (Aechmea) eburneum, Vriesia viminalis rex, Ananas sativus variegatus,4 Encholirium (Tillandsia) Sandersii 5 Vriesia tessallata and Billbergia rhodo-cyanae.6

It was heartening to see manifested everywhere this appreciation of bromeliads and to realize what adaptable plants they are for the house. The Dutch do not give them what we call ideal conditions; their houses are cold by our standards, yet the plants thrive. They are just as busy as we are, but they want beauty around them so they use something that combines the needed beauty with ease of culture. They have created a demand that has resulted in a price tag that is within the reach of all. This must be so; bromeliads were seen in homes of even the low income bracket. This could happen here, too, if we would only realize what we have been missing.

1350 Jean Court, Jacksonville, Fla.

  1. Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor
  2. See Brom. Bull. July-Aug. 1953
  3. Neoregelia carolinae
  4. Ananas comosus variegatus
  5. Vriesia botofogensis
  6. Aechmea fasciata
Note: The above footnotes give the correct names of the bromeliads bearing old names now discarded, but unfortunately still used in Europe. (M.B.F.)

Photo by Foster of St. Petersburg Fla.


Julian Nally

The Sixth Annual Orchid Show, sponsored by the West Coast Orchid Society of Florida, was held Jan. 16, 17, 18 at the Municipal Pier in St. Petersburg Florida.

The Bromeliad Society was invited to make a special feature of bromeliads. Our president, Mulford Foster, combined his artistic skill with rare specimens from his collection and the results were spectacular.

Space of over thirty feet by ten feet in depth housed this display; the background was banked with native material and palms; trees made of driftwood, Melaleuca logs and old fern trunks provided a blend of tones in greys, greens and browns which set off the beautiful plants of Vriesia, Aechmea, Neoregelia, Cryptanthus, Nidularium and Tillandsia.

Startling new Neoregelia hybrids as well as rare species such as Aechmea chantinii, Ae. lamarchei. Ae. lasseri and Neoregelia Johannis were displayed for the first time in this country, and spectacular Ae. angustifolia, showing its large cluster of cobalt blue berries attracted as much attention possibly, as any other plant in the entire show!

Crowds of people stopped to admire and ask questions of the two or three members who were on duty. Many of the questioners were unfamiliar with bromeliads and many who were, scarcely realized before how effective they were in form and color when artistically displayed.

Most of the members of the Society who live in the neighborhood of St. Petersburg and Tampa were on hand to help at sometime or other. Much credit is due the local members who assisted with additions of plants from their own collections and gave, throughout the show, generously of their time and energy.

Many copies of the Handbook were sold and a number of new members added. As a result of this enthusiasm it has been decided to form a Branch Society in the St. Petersburg-Tampa area.

Perhaps this will bring into reality a chance remark overheard to the effect that although bromeliads were exhibited in the Orchid Show, the day may come when orchid growers will be invited to exhibit in a Bromeliad Show.


Mulford B. Foster

Some bromeliads evidently are highly selective and do not have a great resistance and adaptability when taken from their specialized conditions or native habitat. This same inability of adaptation is often found in the case of a number of plants in other families. Tillandsia complanata, one of the most fantastic species in this great genus, is a multiple, broad-leafed rosette that does not have the usual central inflorescence, but instead has very delicate inflorescences on many almost thread-like drooping scapes, one appearing from each of the leaf axils at the base of the plant. Year after year they appear, and unlike most Tillandsias they do not send off any new plant offshoots at the base. This species continues for many years to produce flowers from one plant but propagates entirely from seeds. This is an attractive and most interesting species and while the small flower spikes with their delicate blue flowers are not at all conspicuous they give the plant a most unique and pleasing formation.

This Tillandsia complanata is native to Cuba, Jamaica, throughout the West Indies, Costa Rica on to Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. I have collected it in several of these countries, brought them back alive and they have lived for only a few months. However, I shall continue to bring specimens of this from different countries in the hopes that sometime one may be found that will make a special effort to live in our Florida Bromelario. Certainly it can hardly be attributed in this case to certain gases, but it might be altitude as the species is rarely found below certain elevations. This species is always a few thousand feet above sea-level.

Another plant that does not seem to enjoy living with me is Guzmania musaica which has been tried, unsuccessfully for many years, although now one specimen from Panama is actually thriving and growing. In the case of this species, it does not seem to be altitude that causes the difficulty.

The greatest number of plants that do not take the low altitudes of Florida are more inclined to be the high altitudes ones, especially, the high altitude ones that are growing in the moist or cool jungles. However, with plants of G. musaica brought from both sea level and 4,000 feet elevations in Colombia neither one has thrived. Some plants will pine away the first summer in Florida. Some of the high altitude plants which are xerophytic and/or saxicolous are much more adaptable to abrupt changes in altitude and apparently can be quite happy at low altitudes such as in Florida.

Similar plant idiosyncrasies may be found in other species by different growers in the other countries. Attention has been called to these particular ones because they, out of a collection of over 400 species and hybrids have been the outstanding enigmas. Other growers in other sections may have similar problems with other species and in turn may be successful with the ones mentioned above. This opens a field for experimentation and a better understanding of bromeliads in general for your problem may not be a problem to someone else and vice versa.

Don't give up, but make every effort to find out what plants do like to live with you.

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