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Editorial Office: 718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida.
Annual Dues: $3.50 a year (foreign $4.00) which includes subscription to the Bulletin.
Write to Miss Victoria Padilla, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, Calif.


We regret to announce that one of our beloved Honorary Trustees, Dr. David Fairchild, is no longer with us, although lie lives in the hearts of those who knew him through the plants he introduced and through the fascinating books he wrote. Although Dr. Fairchild had been interested in bromeliads previously (see National Geographic Magazine Dec. 1934, Vol. LXVI, No. 6), it was in the last fifteen years of his life that he became keenly interested and was eager to see bromeliads established in the Moos Memorial Garden, and in other plantings, at the Fairchild Tropical Garden, in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Another ANAIS BOTANICOS from the Herbario "Barbosa Rodrigues" in Itajai, Santa Catarina, Brasil, edited by Director Raulino Reitz, has recently been received. (Anno V, June 22/53, No. 5). It contains Dr. H. P. Veloso's paper on the ecological problem of the habitat of the anopheles mosquito in the bromeliads of Santa Catarina. Thirty-six of some of the important bromeliads of Brasil have been examined as to the incidence of mosquito habitation.

In the same issue Director Reitz describes a new species, Aechmea kleinii, which is one of the nocturnal blooming Aechmeas.

Director Reitz has been granted a Guggenheim Fellowship to come to the United States for further research "with particular reference to the trees of the State of Santa Catarina, Brasil." As Lyman Smith says: "His studies in forestry combined with his knowledge of the Bromeliaceae will doubtless lead to discoveries in the specific relations of bromels to trees, an almost untouched field."

In view of his extensive achievements in the Bromeliaceae, it has been decided by the Directors that he be nominated an Honorary Trustee to fill the vacancy created by the loss of Dr. David Fairchild.

"Notes on Bromeliaceae IV" by Lyman B. Smith has been recently printed in PHYTOLOGIA Aug. 1954 (Vol. 5, No. 2). Three new species and one variety of Pitcairnia, six new species of Puya, six new species and one new variety of Tillandsia, and two new species of Vriesia are described.

LIFE magazine, in its September 20, 1954 issue, has bestowed new glamour and prestige

on the bromeliads by a full color page of Guzmania lingulata as photographed in a rain forest of Dutch Guiana; the article is a fascinating profile of jungle life as part of the series, "The World We Live In."

More and more Public and School Libraries throughout the country have purchased our Cultural Handbook. The interest in bromeliads grows and increases steadily, a fact which points to the certain, healthy growth of our Bromeliad Society.

September 17, 1954 marked the fourth anniversary of the Bromeliad Society. A bit awkward at first, perhaps, it has managed to quickly stand up on its own feet. Now through careful guidance and loving care of its parents, the members of the Society, it navigates quite proudly in the world of active Horto-Botanical Societies with a well-earned feeling of pride in its attempt to spread the word about Bromeliaceae.

From a financial standpoint the Society has done well enough to have never been in debt and to have never spent more than could be afforded . . . while retaining a sufficient balance in the bank.    

For our Cover this issue (in a drawing by M. B. F.), we show the dynamic Tillandsia bulbosa in its silent, slow-motion, aerial, whirling, dervish dance. With perfect poise and balance it does this fantastic rhythm suspended from small tree branches by a few unseen thread-like roots.

Photo H. Stork
Trees covered with Tillandsia tricolor var. melanocrater and Epidendrum ramonense in the Lankester's pasture at Las Concavas.


Victoria Padilla

It was hard to believe we were in the tropics! The weather was cool and balmy, the countryside was reminiscent of New England, and to the casual eye, it did not seem that the foliage around us was other than the usual seen at home. But we peered a little closer. What were those little flowers lining the road? What was that spot of red in the tree? We stopped–the gay little flower that grew so rampant was none other than our pampered pet, Epidendrum radicans, while the glimpse of red proved to our great delight to be a beautifully spotted Guzmania. We continued to gaze, and the longer we did so, the more we saw–bromeliads growing in such profusion that it seemed they would smother the trees on which they grew, orchids growing on the humblest of homes, acalyphas and crotons used as hedges, and palms, philodendrons and cycads gracing the poorest of cottages.

We were indeed in the tropics–Costa Rica, to be exact, where we had come because we had been told we would find a richness of plant life not to be matched anywhere else in North or Central America. We were on our way to see Mr. Charles Lankester, dean of Costa Rican floriculture, and one of the trustees of our Society. An Englishman by birth, he had come to Central America at the turn of the century to oversee a coffee plantation and had become so enamored of the country that he adopted it as his home. Don Carlos, as he is affectionately called by everyone, resides in the rolling uplands not far from the old Spanish town of Cartago. Revered by all who know him, he has made his fine finca, Las Concavas, a mecca for all plant lovers, having gathered the finest collection of plants native to Costa Rica, as well as exotics from all corners of the earth.

The approach to Las Concavas would fill the heart of any bromeliad lover with joy, for one side of the road is lined with a wall on which are growing spectacular native Aechmeas, Mariae-reginae and Mexicana, all rosy from the sun. In the garden grow in happy abundance orchids, bromeliads, philodendrons, anthuriums, ferns–in fact, all the noble tribes that one endeavors to grow in his greenhouse at home. The Aechmea Mariae-reginaes are magnificent specimens, much larger than those seen in California, while the Guzmanias, Vriesias, and Tillandsias grow to such proportions as to be hardly recognizable. Not content with the native bromeliads, Don Carlos has gathered from Europe some of their choicest hybrids. Particularly striking are his variegated Aechmea fasciata and Aechmea coerulea.

Photo M. B. Foster   
Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Lankester on their first visit to Florida in 1953 when they saw the giant Philodendron Eichlerii for the first time.
Mr. and Mrs. Lankester have made their little home a fascinating place–blending the English with the Costa Rican. Rich they are in the things that matter–beauty, contentment, an abiding interest in the world around them, and the deep affection of all who know them.

To see the plant life of Costa Rica at its very best, Mr. Lankester told us that we should seek the higher elevations. And so it was that the next day found us enroute to a point over 10,000 feet high on the Pan American Highway. For a great part of the way, our attention was claimed by the living fences of erythrinas and the bromeliads that grew on them. But as it became colder, the scene changed and the more tropical and lush became the flora. Cecropias, tree ferns, gunneras, bocconias, solanums, monsteras, philodendrons, scheffleras, and aralias of all kinds began to make their appearance. Epidendrums and oncidiums vied with bromeliads for their place on every tree.

At approximately the summit we decided to make our way through the dense forest that bordered the highway. We had gone but a few feet when we realized that we were indeed in a true rain forest. High above us spread canopy after canopy of luxuriant growth, as the various trees sought their way to the light. Vines and creepers seemed to tie the trees together, while huge lianas dropped to the earth to impede our passage. No direct sunlight found its way through the denseness of the foliage. The trees were covered by epiphytes of every description–orchids, bromeliads, ferns, cacti, aroids, mosses were in overwhelming abundance. Tree ferns competed with palms to gain a breathing space under the trees.

Going was hard, as it was decidedly boggy, and several times we sank to our knees. All around us were tangled masses of columneas, episcias, ferns, peperomias, calatheas, tradescantias, anthuriums, and beautiful plants unknown to us. It was incredible that these spoilt darlings of northern greenhouses could attain such size and perfection in this dark, cold forest. Color there was but little–except for the overwhelming greenness. We found a pink gentian, the lovely Bomarea werkleyi, and the magnificent Erica satyrii. Occasionally we spied the lavender bloom of an orchid or the brilliant heart of a tillandsia, but that was all. In this particular rain forest we found Puya dasylirioides; unfortunately it was not in flower. It is a unique species which, unlike most of the other Puyas, grows in a very wet swamp, many of them standing in water. And it is also distinguished by the fact that it is growing at the northernmost point of any in the genus; all the others are in South America. (See p. 74)

  Photo C. Lankester
Puya dasylirioides in flower. It is one of the very few bromeliads that live in a swampy area. Over 600 miles from its nearest known Puya relative in Colombia, this Costa Rican Puya enjoys the distinction of being the only Puya native to North America.

Our first experience in a rain forest left us exhausted from the sheer grandeur of it all. We believed that we had achieved the ultimate in our contact with plants. But we had not counted on the cloud forest we were to pass through the following day on our way to the top of the volcano, Irazu (elevation 11,200 feet). The greater part of the drive was through verdant pasture lands, but as we approached the summit, we became enveloped in clouds to find ourselves in another world. We were truly in a mysterious elfin land, where trees and sky were gray and the only bright colors were the brilliant bromeliads, the brightness of which gave to the whole aspect an unearthly glow.

Where a rain forest is characterized by the almost infinite variety of plants that compose it, the cloud forest, as in this instance, is distinguished by the predominance of just one type of tree. High on the side of this wind-swept volcano, the trees assumed tortuous shapes, their misshapen limbs becoming perfect homes for the brightly hued Vriesias and Guzmanias. Epiphytes are more abundant in cloud forests than in rain forests, and here the bromeliads were so thick that they hid the leaves of the trees, and it was a wonder that the branches could bear such heavy loads. Needless to say, collecting was a simple matter in a forest such as this, but, alas, none of these exquisite plants were able to survive the rigors of fumigation.

In an article as short as this it is impossible to record all the cherished memories we brought home from this excursion into Costa Rica. Many more were the adventures we had–down to the Reventazon River, to Mt. Turrialba, to the Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Science. But some scenes will be indelibly stamped in our memories–the tree ferns against a lowering sky, Tillandsia multicaulis in bloom on a dead tree near the top of Mt. Turrialba, the Heliconias along side the railroad track, the Guzmanias and Cattleyas growing on the rooftops, the kindliness of Don Carlos, and the first thrill of seeing a Vriesia in bloom in the wild, are but to recount just a few.

Bromeliads and Orchids In South Florida

Brita L. Horner

In the Editor's notes of the July-August issue of the Bromeliad Society Bulletin are the following statements: "Every orchid fancier should have bromeliads in his collection and, of course, every bromeliad fancier should have some orchids. They grow side by side in the trees, why not side by side in your greenhouse or garden?" That this advice, or wishful thinking, is fast becoming a reality in South Florida is evident from the following experiences:

The writer, a member of the Cape Jessamine Garden Club in Daytona Beach, Florida, and a bromeliad enthusiast for nearly ten years, had received an invitation to speak on bromeliads before the Highland Park Garden Club in Miami, Florida, as this club had chosen bromeliads as their project for the year.

With a collection of 20 colorful and blooming specimens, the trip (265 miles) was made from Daytona Beach to Miami, where more choice specimens were added from the collection of Mrs. H. H. Cutten, who is both an orchid grower and a blue-ribbon bromeliad fancier.

When the Miami Orchid Circle learned of this unusual collection and the speaker, an invitation for both was immediately extended: thus the writer had the privilege of giving a talk on bromels to a wide-awake and enthusiastic group of orchid growers. They asked many intelligent questions and kept the speaker busy spelling out the botanical names of interesting specimens. It developed that many of them already had several bromeliads but did not know the correct names. Their interest was very keen and it was found out that nearly half of the group already were acquainted with the work of Mulford Foster and his Bromelario in Orlando, Florida.

The writer has found that many of the large commercial growers of orchids in South Florida were already including bromeliads in their greenhouses. One grower was having remarkable success growing many species in sawdust out under the trees. And another, one of the newer orchidists, had found that Vriesias, Guzmanias, Nidulariums, Neoregelias, and some of the Aechmeas grow unusually well with the same culture she gave the orchids; so now she plans to specialize in this type of bromeliad which enjoys being planted in osmunda fiber for good drainage when plenty of moisture is given. Every now and then they are given a sip of diluted Ortho-grow fertilizer.

So orchids and bromeliads, growing side by side in the trees in the tropics, are already making a good start at growing side by side in the greenhouses and gardens of South Florida.

Box 972, Daytona Beach, Florida

Photo M. B. Foster   
Araeococcus pectinatus L. B. Smith


One of the odd bromeliads you should know is this pencil-size tubular plant called Araeococcus, a genus (formerly) of only four species. (Lyman Smith has now a new species [the 5th] in press from the little known Territory of Amapa [formerly northern Para], Brasil.) A. pectinatus was a new species described by Lyman Smith in Contribution of the Gray Herbarium Study II, XCV, 1931 it was collected by Carlos H. Lankester, our honorary trustee, in Costa Rica where it is endemic. Stanley says in "Flora of Costa Rica" Part I, it is "the only North American representative of this otherwise South American genus."

A slim tube of the plant as seen in the photo, was given to M. B. Foster when he visited Mr. Lankester in 1948; it flourished abundantly in Florida's moist climate and when there was enough for a separation and a sharing of this oddity, Foster sent it on to Mrs. Muriel Waterman in New Zealand, whose fascination with it produced the following notes.


Muriel Waterman

It is a wonder I am alive to tell you the following tale! You all know what wonderful flowers the Billbergias, Aechmeas, Bromelias, etc., produce, of course. Well, one day I noticed a dirty looking piece of straw lying over and tangled up with the leaves of a Tillandsia. I was very busy at that time and though I sprinkled the leaves of all the bromels in the cool, airy glasshouse once in two days (in the winter season) I did not stop to pull the "straw" away.

At last I had a breathing space in other work, so put on my stronger glasses and inspected each plant to see whether there were buds or "pups" showing. Then I came to the "eye-sore" straw piece. Luckily I pulled it carefully from the Tillandsia's leaves, wondering how on earth it had got there. I nearly fell down dead when I found one end was attached to an Araeococcus pectinatus! I was terribly thrilled. I had not known it was growing a flower stem. The tiny, wee flowers, when they opened, were not-much larger than a pin's head. Talk about a botanical oddity, it's that all right. From now on I shall catch the very first appearance of an inflorescence and follow it daily or even more often and not be lead to believing that it might be a stray straw!

M. W.

Photo by author   
The "Fairy Glade" in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica


Mulford B. Foster

My first sight of Jamaica was in 1938 when Racine and I saw, in the far distance, the faint, mysterious outline of the largest island in the British West Indies. We were in Oriente, Cuba, high on the "Cat's Back" Loma del Gato where we stayed in the monastery of the Hermanos Christianos. Later we flew over and landed in Jamaica on several different occasions on our trips to and from South America. So for several years the lush covered mountains of "Ginger-Land" have beckoned, but only this last August did I succumb to the spell of that much talked-of-island and saw it in detail.

Naturally, I went to collect bromeliads but upon arrival I learned that they were called "Wild Pines." All bromeliads in the West Indies were originally called Wild Pines by the first botanical explorers, such as Sir Hans Sloane, visiting those islands over 250 years ago.

Jamaica is far more interesting and beautiful than any description of it enthusiastically told to me or that I have ever read. When I look back, with eyes closed, I see a fabulous picture of bromeliads, orchids, tree ferns, moss forests, gray limestone rocks, dark red bauxite soils, endless winding, all-weather roads with everybody driving on the "wrong" side of the road; bananas, coconuts, breadfruits, sugar cane, Jamaica Rum, and Jamaica Ginger; a land of Jamaicans for Jamaica; a country where the only foreign tongue spoken is English, English that neither an Englishman nor an American can understand except where it is spoken in Kingston and in some of the other large towns.

I would like to go back to Jamaica again.

Most of the "Pines" there are Tillandsias besides several Guzmanias, three or four Catopsis species, one in the genus Bromelia (B. pinguin), one Aechmea (A. panniculigera) and ten or eleven Hohenbergias. In every section of the island one finds some species of the genus Hohenbergia. They are not very showy, the flowers being, generally, very small and white while the inflorescences pale with faint greenish or yellow coloring. Jamaica is the home of more different species of Hohenbergias than any other country except Brasil where the showiest ones are to be found.

If one is familiar with the sixteen native bromeliads in Florida, then one feels quite at home in finding all of these species, except two, native to Jamaica. The most common species in Florida, T. usneoides, is, actually, rather rare in that country, but the "Ball Moss," T. recurvata, seems to grow in every part of the island. However, there are at least forty-four more species of bromels native to Jamaica which would not be found in the U. S. A.

Adaptability, among various species of bromels, is an interesting characteristic. For example, in Florida T. pruinosa and T. valenzuelana will be found at approximately sea level in the Big Cypress Swamp edging the Everglades, while in Jamaica they are never found at sea level, but generally at about 3,000 feet elevation.

T. utriculata, so common in Florida at near sea level, is also very common in Jamaica, but, of course, at elevations of 1,500 to 3,000 feet. At first glance one would think the Jamaican plant was a different species from that of Florida's light gray-green foliage plant, because the leaves are of a bluer green and the scape bracts are streaked with blackish edges, but their flowers and other structural parts are the same.

T. fasciculata with its varietal form of latispica in Jamaica could hardly be distinguished by the layman from our Florida variety densispica which grows to a larger and more vigorous form in our Cypress Swamps.

Photo by author   
Tillandsia compressa

One of the most striking Tillandsias is T. compressa, a really outstanding bromeliad with its several inflated, compact spikes of rich, pink flower bracts, The plant when not in flower could hardly be distinguished from T. fasciculata, to which it is closely related.

The greatest Tillandsia surprise, I believe, for me, was the species T. bulbosa. After having collected this species in Brasil, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela where in most instances it is a rather small plant, from four to six inches high, I was therefore, astounded to find this fantastic species attaining a height up to eighteen inches and with a bulbous body of nine inches in circumference. This gymnastic trapeze artist hangs upside down or at any possible angle on the native Allspice trees with the greatest of ease. (See cover)

Tillandsias are found in every section of the island and at every elevation from sea level to 7,400 feet above, the different species usually following their own particular zones. The zones, generally, are quite different from those found in the higher Andes in South America. At an elevation of 4,700 feet in the Blue Mountains, of Jamaica, you may find a typical moist moss forest quite comparable in appearance to one in the Andes at 10,000 feet. Tree ferns and all the lush, thick tropical growth that generally go with them will give any plant enthusiast a great thrill.

Bromeliads start at sea level in almost any Central or South American country. There you will find, principally, the genus Bromelia in the ground and xerophytic Tillandsias in the trees. The picture changes quickly in Jamaica for the flora zones are closer together; and with each different exposure, level or geological formation one finds the bromels in their various zones. Incidentally, it makes collecting them much easier. This zoning habit applies, also, to the ferns, orchids and all other plant forms.

Before I left this enchanted isle, our Bromeliad Society secretary, Miss Victoria Padilla, and companion, Miss Peggy Sullivan, landed in Jamaica on their way back to California from a six weeks tour of the Caribbean area. They had the opportunity to visit some of Jamaica's most interesting spots; the most outstanding one, I believe, was "The Fairy Glade" in the Blue Mountains at an elevation of 4,500 feet. Here was a tropical moss forest at the lowest level which I had ever explored. Giant tree ferns, Clusia and Podocarpus trees, tropical lianas mingled in glorious confusion among grotesque and sinuous tree trunks all covered from rock to limb with mosses, ferns, orchids, aroids and bromeliads. A truly enchanted mountain ridge where all the tangible things seemed spiritual realities. A place where descriptions fall far short of one's attempt at describing one of the many beauty spots of Jamaica.

Among all the many Jamaicans who helped in every way to make this trip a successful one, two are outstanding. Mr. George R. Proctor, in charge of the Department of Botany at the Institute of Jamaica, and Mr. E. Tomlinson, in the Service of the Administrator General, both were tireless and most helpful in all their efforts that I might collect Wild Pines in Jamaica.

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida

Photo M. B. Foster   
A living plant of Deinacanthon urbanianum as it flowered in the Bromelario at Orlando, Florida.

and the Uses Given to it by the Mataco Indians

Alberto Castellanos

In this species of terrestrial Bromeliaceae, the plants emit rhizomes with much ramified roots and emerge from the ground as a rosette of 10-18 ensiform phyllodes**, 10-40 cm long and 1-1,5 cm broad; grooved, succulent, grayish and lepidote; the edges are provided with terrible black spines of about 4 mm in length, distant 5 mm from each other at the base and twice as much in the upper portion; the phyllode's point ends in a straight black spine. As often occurs in the phyllodes of many spiny Bromeliaceae, the upper half of the marginal spines are pointed in one direction and the lower half in the opposite one, a fact which prevents the hand from reaching the bottom of the foliar rosette.

Drawing by Josefina E. Lacour   
A. Sterile plant of Deinacanthon urbanianum.
B. Transversal section of a phyllode of the same plant. a. aquiferous parenchyma. b. the fiber layers.
The flowers send forth a nauseous smell; they are externally tomentose, 3-3,5 cm long, sessile and in groups of 3 to 5 in the center of the foliar rosette; they are placed in the axilla of a deltoid bract, as long or longer than the flowers. The external tepals are deltoid (about 18 mm long and 7 mm wide) free, with their back side acute but not ridged; the inner ones are whitish instead, they carry two appendicular submarginal ligulae in the lower portion and are joined at their base. The androecium is somewhat longer than the perianth, the staminal filaments are thick and the anthers pink, sub-basifixed, curved outwardly and about 7 mm long. The filaments are joined in their lower portion forming a tepal-staminal tube. The pollen grains are globular and, as seen directly under the microscope, they show a single pore. The pistil has an inferior and felted ovary, in the shape of an inverted pyramid, about 18 mm long and 5-6 mm in diameter, with a central multiovulate placenta and a thick, columnar style, shorter than the perianth, and three spiral, papillate stigmatic branches 4 mm long.

The fruits are dry berries, globular or elipsoidal, trigonous, crowned by the withered perianth, about 3,5 cm long and 2,5 cm broad, orange colored, lepidote at the base, white and fibrous within, with many cuneiform or semi-lunar seeds of a brownish or pearly color, piled like coins.

A monotypical South American genus, its only species was described as Rhodostachys urbanianum Mez in Flora Brasiliensis (1891), 182, tab. 51, proceeding from the Argentine Republic, Province of Cordoba, Chacra de la Merced, a place near Cordoba city, capital of the province. Later this species was separated as the genus Deinacanthon in the Monograph of Bromeliaceae published by Mez in 1896.

There exist accurate illustrations of the species in Martius, Fl. Bras. III (1891) tab. 51. sub Rhodostachys urbaniana Mez; Pflanzenreich (1934) fig. 10. Castellanos, Generos Bromeliaceas (1938) fig. 1 and tab. 2; in Descole. Genera Plantarum III (1945) tab. 28, and Ragonese, Salinas Grandes (1951) fig. 7.

In Argentina the plant is popularly called chaguar or chahuar, and the fruit chalude.

Its geographical area, quite extensive and unique, covers the following South American territories: Paraguay (Puerto Casado) and Argentina (Formosa, Chaco, Salta, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero, La Rioja, Cordoba, San Luis, Mendoza). It is thus a characteristic species of the Chaquenian and central botanical provinces, which extend over Argentina, Paraguay and the south of Bolivia.

This peculiar plant forms tufts on the clay-soil plains by means of its rhizomes; it is only rarely found in the stony ground of the lower "curras de nivel" corresponding to the hills which exist within its geographical area. It often happens that they grow under small and open-branched bushes, whose leaves impart little shade; this favors the growth of Deinacanthon which is an heliophilous and xerophilous plant. When these patches appear in the open country they are impassable because of their terrible spines.

As do all other Argentine Bromeliaceae, it flowers early in the spring. Its whitish flower opens in the center of the foliar rosette and sends forth a cadaverous smell. It secretes abundant nectar, which often overflows over the perianthic leaves, and can only be sucked by the flies who are attracted by the flower's unpleasant odor.

Photo A. Castellanos   
Balsa, a market bag made by the Mataco Indians in Argentina from Deinacanthon fibers.
The plant stores water in the aquiferous parenchyma of its phyllodes which occupies the upper portion of the limb and when abundant makes them rigid and reaches half a centimeter in thickness, being easily seen with the naked eye in a transverse section. On the contrary, when it is exhausted the phyllodes are reduced to their fibers and they curl somewhat, looking like wires.

The fruit takes a long time to ripen, from spring to the end of summer, consuming the greater part of the water stored in the aquiferous parenchyma. Then the recurving phyllodes open the rosette, an opportunity of which the wild hogs take advantage. Foxes, in spite of their carnivorous diet, eat them occasionally, using their front paws to detach them from the plant, if they are still upon it when they have reached maturity.

In the Chaquenian territories I have seen the Mataco Indians employ the fibers of Deinacanthon's phyllodes in the making of nets which they use for carrying the results of hunting or fishing. (See photo of Balsa)

They achieve the manufacture of these nets in the following manner. Very carefully, in order to avoid the terrible spines, they take the peripheral phyllodes of the rosette between the forefinger and thumb and separate them with a sharp pull; afterwards, by means of their iron-like nails and great ability, they rid them of the marginal spines. Once disarmed, they twist them quickly and strongly, submitting them to a sudden mechanical retting until only a greenish bundle of fibers remains in their hands. They allow these to dry and then start weaving their nets which they sometimes dye with dark colors. For a long time the nets retain a characteristic nauseous smell which makes one think of the indolent Mataco Indians themselves.

These nets are very tough; they can resist weights of many kilograms as I have had the opportunity to test in the Santiaguenian Chaco. The only condition required is that they must always be dry, for, once wet, they easily break. This quality denotes a perfect adaptation to the long periods of drought which are characteristic of the plant's geographical area.

Fundacion Miguel Lillo, Aguero 2406, Buenos Aires, Argentina


* Its generic name alludes to its dreadful spines from deinos meaning terrible, and akanthos meaning spine.
** Phyllode: a petiole taking on the form and functions of a leaf.


a translation by Lyman B. Smith of
Utilidades de las Bromeliaceas by A. Castellanos
from Genera et Species Plantarum Argentinarum 3:137

The genus Ananas includes several species valued for their edible fruit and its cultivation has extended beyond the American continent. In Argentina it is found in the cultivated form only. The ihvira (Pseudananas macrodontes) is similar to the pineapple but has smaller syncarps. Once they are cleaned of bracts etc. for eating very little remains, however, they are aromatic and tasty in spite of being fibrous and having a very woody axis. Also the fruits of some Bromelias such as B. balansae are eaten, but in quantity they irritate the mucous membranes of the mouth. I have heard that in Santiago del Estero, they make a drink with those of B. hieronymi by fermenting them.

In spite of the ferocity of its spines, its leaves (phyllodes) are relished by goats, donkeys, and other herbivores who eat them at maturity clear down to the base at times (tab. CXXIV -a). Worse happens to the inflorescenses which, being less protected, are rarely found in perfect condition in the fields where these animals pasture (tab. CXXVI -e).

Textile fibers are extracted from the leaves of many Bromeliaceae; in other cases the stolons are used. I have seen ropes and other articles woven from the fibers of B. serra or Pseudananas macrodontes; the common name of the latter noted above means the same as "fiber" according to Bertoni (1919) 252.

Tillandsia usneoides is used as stuffing for pillows, etc. A small (flycatcher) Tyranid (Phylloscartes ventralis angustirostris) uses it to construct its nest - see R. D., El Hornero I (1919) 292 – and in that of the boyero (Archiplanus solitarius) it is easy to find more than one stem fiber of the same species.

With the roots of Aechmea bromeliifolia (= Ae. tinctoria) the Indians dye their fabrics yellow.

In Los Llanos de La Rioja I have seen drinking water cleared by crushing the fleshy leaves of Tillandsia xiphioides and then stirring the water with them to catch the suspended organic particles and lime with their mucilaginous substance.

In Molinos, Seclantas and other towns of Valles Calchaquies the giant inflorescences of Puya fiebrigii are used for ornament in their celebrations. Tombs in cemeteries are adorned with some species of Tillandsia (T. aeranthos, T. xiphioides) or funeral wreaths are woven from them. The two latter inspired poems by Lamberti and Obligado respectively.

In the interior of the country I have seen some species used for bristles: Bromelia hieronymi, Aechmea distichantha and others.

Mr. T. Meyer told me that in the Salta town of Yakespala they use the stems of the plant of the same name (Puya yakespala) for lumber in the ranch houses.

I have seen great ornamental use of this family in the botanic gardens of Europe, where they are accustomed to giving whole greenhouses to cultivating them as ornamentals, because of the beauty of their flowers, the rich coloring of their leaves and the bizarre habit of the plants. The tropical species rival the orchids in beauty, a thing which seems impossible to us because our Bromeliaceae generally lack the exuberance of those attractive plants. Only a few of our native species are found in cultivation, for example, Billbergia nutans, Aechmea distichantha, Ae. ampullacea, Tillandsia aeranthos, T. xiphioides, etc.

Sometimes the common names of the bromeliads figure in geography, for example, Yakespala, the common name of Puya yakespala, is the name of a Salta town in the Department of Santa Victoria; Campo de Flora or de La Flora (P. weberiana) on the high plateau of Lara at 4000 meters in the sierras of Calchaquies (Tucuman).


Q. What caused my nice Neoregelia farinosa hybrid to change from a lovely rose to a dark maroon?

A. Neoregelia hybrids may pass through several color changes as they reach maturity, or any individual plant may change in color from a change of light. Neoregelias are in their peak of color at flowering time. This color flush lasts from three to six months, in some species nearly one year.

Q. How do you handle Vriesia carinata new plants that come between leaves and do not have roots?

A. When offshoots appear on V. carinata they are, generally, inside the basal leaves. Do not remove them until the offshoot has four or five leaves and are about four inches high. These can easily be removed by firmly pressing the offshoot down from where it is joined and then with a slight motion from side to side and then tear it off gently, always keeping a firm hold on the base. It may also be severed with a knife but much care should be used not to sever the base where the new roots are to be formed. Shoot can be potted directly in osmunda fibre although it is safest to allow them to dry for two or three days before potting. Fermate is one of the safest fungicides for bromeliads.

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