BSI Journal - Online Archive


M. B. Foster, Editor, 718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida.
Annual Dues: $3.50 a year (foreign $4.00) which includes subscription to the Bulletin.
Write for details to Miss Victoria Padilla, Secretary, 647 Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, California.


We extend to our Trustee of Costa Rica, Mr. Charles Lankester, deepest sympathy in the death of his wife, Dorothea, who passed on March 2. A photo of Mr. and Mrs. Lankester on their Florida visit appeared on page 73 of the Sept.-Oct. 1954 issue of our Bulletin.



Would you like to give your garden club or horticultural group a fascinating program at practically no cost to them? Something that is entirely different from anything they have ever seen?

The Bromeliad Society will lend to any horticultural group a library of 60 bromeliad

kodachrome slides with an accompanying text. The presentation of these slides would last about one hour.

The only cost to the group would be the postage (air mail) and insurance. The slides are now ready for distribution.

For further information, write the secretary, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, California.

Don't Forget that The Bromeliad Society Has Publications For Sale

Bromeliads-A Cultural Handbook–cloth............... $3.50
paper.............. $1.50
Past issues of the Bulletin–Each volume................. $2.50
Terrestrial Bromeliads–a reprint............................ $0.30
Obtain from the Secretary (address above)

Mr. Walter A. Singer of the New York Botanical Garden (Brom. Soc. Member) has a long, well illustrated article in the April 1955 POPULAR GARDENING (90 State St., Albany 7, N. Y., 30c). Although the article is titled "Pineapples You Can Grow" and it lists a number of different bromeliads tinder their specific names, only two are actually pineapples.


Dear Mr. Foster:

Thank you very much for your letter and for the bromeliad seeds. The papers on bromeliads and the Bulletin were also received and I am very grateful to you for these valuable contributions.

I am receiving donations of plants from various bromeliad enthusiasts and our collection is gradually taking shape. I wonder whether there are any plant growers or fanciers in your part of the world who would be willing to exchange seed and plant material of tropical ornamental plants for varieties of the bromeliad family? This method of exchange is easier for us owing to difficulties we experience in transmitting money out of the island.

D. M. A. Jayaweera. Supt. Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Ceylon

We most heartily agree with the last few lines of Dr. Richard E. Schultes' article on Navias: that they should definitely have their place in cultivation and we hope that every future expedition into the "Lost World" areas will make an attempt to bring back living material and/or seeds of some of these rare endemic bromeliad genera.

THE COVER: Navia fontoides, the "Fountain Navia," photo by R. E. Schultes


Lyman B. Smith

New Navias are an old story for Dr. Richard Evans Schultes who has been discovering them in the "Lost World" region of eastern Colombia ever since 1943, when he collected three of them for a good beginning. Until now, his discoveries in the genus have been curious rather than ornamental, and the bromeliad fan would be apt to pass them by as merely "botanicals." However, the species that we describe here is strikingly beautiful with its orange-or scarlet-centered rosette spraying leaves down in graceful arcs, so that we are giving it a scientific name that means "Fountain Navia."

Navia fontoides

A Navia Steyermarkii L. B. Smith, cui affinis, foliis majoribus, gracillimis, bracteis florigeris angustissime triangularibus, integris, atro brunneis, sepalis duplo majoribus differt.

Short-caulescent, erect; the old leaves covering the stem, the living leaves forming a dense decurving rosette at its apex, 55 cm. long, glabrous, sheaths broadly ovate, 1 cm. long, blades linear, filiform-acuminate, 8 mm. wide at base, flat, green except for the white base, very laxly serrate with slender brown spines 1 mm. long; inflorescence terminal, sessile, capitate, 3 cm. in diameter, many-flowered; bracts membranaceous, dark brown with brown spreading scales, the outer ones narrowly triangular from an ovate base and with a short foliaceous apex; floral bracts very narrowly triangular, about equaling the sepals, curved and thickened at the apex; flowers sessile, sepals like the floral bracts but straight at the apex, imbricate, free, auricled, carinate, 28 mm. long; petals unknown; ovary almost wholly inferior; capsule subquadrate, 5 mm. long; seeds subquadrate, corrugated, wing vestigial.

a – base of leaf X 1; b – floral bract X 1; c – capsule and sepals X 1; d – seed X 10.

Colombia: Comisarias Amazonas-Vaupés: On wet, east-facing cliff, vicinity of Raudal Yayacopi (La Playa), Rio Apaporis, altitude about 800 feet (240 meters), latitude 0°5' S. longitude 70°30' W. February 16, 1952, R. E. Schultes & I. Cabrera 15391 (Type in the U. S. National Herbarium, duplicate types in the Gray Herbarium and in the Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Bogota). On cliffs, in dripping water from ledges above, quartzite base, same general locality, March 14, 1952, R. E. Schultes & I. Cabrera 15926 (US, Gray, Bogota).

Amazonas: On cliff of soft sandstone, near mouth of Rio Popeyaca (tributary of Apaporis between Rio Piraparana and Raudal Yayacopi), altitude about 700 feet (210 meters), latitude 0°20' S. longitude 70°30' W. February 22-26, 1952, R. E. Schultes & I. Cabrera 15557 (specimen and photograph in the U. S. National Herbarium).

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

Photo H. Garcia Barriga
Martius' westernmost collecting locality on the Coquette River: Araracuara, Colombia. This is the precise locality from which the type material of Navia acaulis and N. caulescens var. minor was taken in 1820. Recently, a new species–Navia Garcia-Barrigae–was discovered on these cliffs.


Richard Evans Schultes

The sun has risen and the rains have fallen for countless thousands of years on the isolated sandstone mountains that stretch in a once-continuous arc from the Guianas, across southern Venezuela and into the Vaupés of eastern Colombia. These are either great massifs, as Mount Duida in Venezuela, or small mountains, as in Colombia, where erosion has fashioned a variety of grotesque domes and castles and battlements. Some have been washed away almost completely, leaving flat, sandy or quartzitic savannahs-islands of low open vegetation surrounded by a sea of tall dark jungle.1

These old mountains and their attendant savannahs are repositories of a flora of great interest because of curious adaptations to drought in an area of heavy rainfall. This savannah flora is also of far-reaching significance to botanists on account of its numerous primitive or rare species. Ecological and geological conditions conducive to the creation of endemism are at their best.2 Well might we agree with a Colombian botanist who said: "These mountain witnesses of the Vaupés hold a secret. They cry out for study. They stand like age-conquering monuments."3 The mountains in eastern Colombia are mainly of one of two forms–either long, tilted sandstone ridges or ledges with a sharp cliff on one side; or else eroded, rounded knobs or domes. All of these hills are nearly devoid of soil on the top, except in the frequent crevices or on slopes protected by overhanging crags. The tops of the ridges are usually of pure quartzite, and plants are forced to grow with their roots twisted and gnarled into cracks where rock-decomposition supplies minute quantities of sand. Yet it is surprising to find that there are really few spots devoid of vegetation. Everywhere, except on the somewhat wooded slopes, the vegetation is of a xerophytic nature. Representing elevated islands in the vast, flat Amazonian jungle, these mountains and hills receive about the same rainfall as does the surrounding forest, but little of the water can be retained. Immediately after the frequent cloudbursts, numerous picturesque cascades which drain the summits swell and, taking all sand and soil and decaying plant life with them, thunder down hundreds of feet to the creeks below. Where a gentle dip or swale does allow some water to accumulate, acidic conditions are so strong that the water is unavailable to plants, and a true physiologic drought prevails. The same is true of the low, sandy savannahs which frequently surround the base of these mountains or which represent the last vestiges of what was once a hill. Indeed, it might not be far wrong to describe these savannahs as deserts in the rainforest.1

As can be expected, the vegetation of these mountains and savannahs is sharply distinct from that of the surrounding jungle. It is related to the ancient and, in many respects, primitive flora which is so peculiar to the great Guiana-Venezuela land-mass. The present distribution attests to the very great age of this flora. Many are the species, for example, which are known from two or three far-separated localities: the isolated hills of Amazonian Colombia and Duida, Roraima or other heights of Venezuela and the Guianas. And many are the genera of plants entirely limited to this arc of Cretaceous mountains. The curious bromeliaceous genus Navia is one of these endemics.4

One of the most primitive genera of the Bromeliaceae, Navia was discovered in Amazonian Colombia. In 1820, the famous German botanist-explorer, Karl F. P. von Martius, penetrated the unknown regions of the Caqueta or Japura River as far as the great Falls of Araracuara.5 On the quartzitic mountains at Araracuara and at Cupati (now known as La Pedrera), he collected two species and one variety of Navia. Von Martius' manuscript description of the genus was published in 1830 by J. A. Schultes and his son J. H. Schultes, with that of Navia acaulis, N. caulescens and N. caulescens var. minor.6 The two species were illustrated in 1894.7 [Locality photo p. 201]

Since national boundaries in this wildest of jungle areas were not settled in 1820, Navia acaulis and N. caulescens have almost consistently been cited as from Brazil.5 Nevertheless, they are Colombian. They have a rather wide distribution on these vestigial hills in eastern Colombia and have not yet turned up in Brazilian territory.

Photo R. E. Schultes
NAVIA CAULESCENS. Habit photograph at the type locality, LaPedrera, Caqueta River, Colombia.

Navia acaulis, "lost" for 119 years, but rediscovered by the botanist Dr. José Cuatrecasas at San Jose del Guaviare in the Colombian Vaupés in 19398 and later by the writer in several localities9, is a sessile rosulate plant without a stem and with a densely capitate inflorescence. Navia caulescens, collected for the second time at the type locality in 1912 by Ducke10 and recently by the writer," has an elongated rhizome and an elongated, interrupted inflorescence. The former species grows in small groups of from three or four to fifteen plants, close on bare sandstone under the most drastic conditions of heat and radiation; the latter clings precariously to overhanging ledges and crags which are often shaded and dripping. Navia caulescens almost invariably grows in close association with a very primitive sedge, Cephalocarpus Dracaenula,12 which in habit and in morphology is so similar to the bromeliad as occasionally to cause confusion on superficial glance. Navia caulescens var. minor, quite in contrast to N. caulescens, forms very dense and compact cushions, often of as many as a hundred plants, and shows a distinct liking for exposed, sun-baked rocks.

It was more than a century later that new collections from other parts of northern South America began to bring such an incredible number of species of Navia that the genus grew to its present size. Indeed, in one hundred years, only one addition to the genus was made. In his monograph of the Bromeliaceae of 1935, Mez35 recognized only 6 species. Thus it is that, with 18 species and 3 varieties known today, the genus has tripled in size in a space of 20 years.

Baker described Cryptanthus angustifolius in 1889,3 and Mez, seven years later, showed that the plant was, in reality, a Navia.4 Navia angustifolia, a stemless species, was discovered by the explorer Carl F. Appun, in 1864, on Mount Marima, very near the famous Mount Roraima, in British Guiana. It has subsequently been found in the region of Kaieteur Falls by the botanists Sandwith, Maguire and Fanshawe "on the face of cliffs and under boulders at the summit of the precipices." A stiff, narrow-leaved, rosulate plant, Navia angustifolia is admirably adapted to withstand the drought which prevails in its chosen habitats.

In 1930, exactly one hundred years after the original description of Navia, the real and rapid extension of our understanding of the genus began with the work of Dr. Lyman B, Smith, now of the Smithsonian Institution. He recognized as an undescribed species of Navia a collection made by the British botanist, Dr. A. H. G. Alston, at Maceba Falls on the Karatung River in British Guiana. He named it Navia Gleasonii, in honour of Dr. H. A. Gleason of the New York Botanical Garden who, at that time, was working on the flora of the Colony.15 Navia Gleasonii grows on moss-covered rocks in shade and is epiphytic on trees as well.

The following year, Smith described the first of a series of extraordinary endemic species of Navia from the world-renowned "Lost World" mountain, Duida, in southern Venezuela. Navia brachyphylla,16 first collected in 1929 by the explorer Tate, and later, in 1944, by Steyermark on the summit of Duida, grows in dense tufts and has strange short, stiff, sometimes sickle-shaped leaves with all appearances of a highly adapted xerophyte. Five other species have subsequently been described by Dr. Smith from this rich repository of endemics, Duida. Navia duidae,17 like N. brachyphylla, has leaves which are very dark green above and silvery or whitish beneath, and it inhabits the crests and slopes from 4000 to 6300 feet; its variety glabrior18 occurs at lower elevations. Another species, restricted to moist bluffs at about 5000 feet, is Navia Steyermarkii,19 named in honour of its collector, Dr. Julian A. Steyermark of the Chicago Natural History Museum. Still another odd species is Navia xyridiflora,20 which Steyermark collected on dry slopes as a sessile terrestrial plant with strong, coriaceous leaves. Navia glauca, from the very summit, has curious leaves which are bluish green or greyish green on the upper surface, a truly unusual condition. Certainly one of the most distinct species is Navia aurea,18 which Smith described from a collection made by Steyermark in dry crevices of bluffs at about 4000 feet; it is a small plant with extremely fine, many-ranked leaves adorned with white cobweb-like hair and, excepting for one Colombian species, seems to be unique in the genus in having yellow flowers.

Interesting novelties have turned up recently in Dutch Guiana, the easternmost end of the arc of "Lost World" mountains. Navia Maguirei,21 named by Smith for its collector, Dr. Bassett Maguire of the New York Botanical Garden, is set apart at once by its large, subpetiolate leaves and its connate sepals. Navia Maguirei var. minor22 is a smaller form of this same concept. Both are native on dry cliffs and escarpments of Tafelberg (Table Mountain) in Dutch Guiana23 and have not been found elsewhere.

Photo R. E. Schultes
(Courtesy, Bot. Museum of Harvard Univ.)
NAVIA SCHULTESIANA. A photo of the colony from which the type collection was taken at Mount Castillo, Colombia.

In 1948, the writer and his Colombian assistant, Sr. Francisco Lopez, penetrated the unknown Dimiti River, an affluent of the upper Negro River in Brazil, as far as Mount Dimiti. Dimiti is apparently a western outlier of the great chain known as Sierra Tapicapeco, belonging to the Guiana-Venezuela land-mass and running along part of the boundary between Brazil and Venezuela. From the peak of Dimiti, perhaps 2500 feet in height, a most bewildering and tantalizing maze of much higher and massive peaks can be seen to the northeast. These are botanically completely unknown, and they promise to yield untold treasures of plant life to those lucky enough to tread their trackless heights. There are most certainly new and strange species of Navia hidden away in these mountain fastnesses. Dimiti rewarded Schultes and Lopez with two magnificent species which Smith described as Navia Lopezii24 and N. myriantha.25 Navia Lopezii grows individually on humus-soil amongst littered rock fragments and under a light scrubby vegetation that affords, some shade throughout the day. Its leaves are more membranaceous than is usual, and the flowers are twice the size of those of any other known for the genus. Navia myriantha, so named because of the great number of tiny flowers in its dense inflorescence, is obviously more xerophytic in its structure than N. Lopezii and, to be sure, grows on bare rock-ledges which are exposed to the sun. Alone with Navia Lopezii, it has leaves the margins of which are not toothed. In almost all other respects, the two are very different as a glance at the plate on p. 28 will show. It is significant that Navia Lopezii and N. myriantha are the first and only species to have been collected in Brazil.

Mount Duida, with its 6 endemic species and 1 variety of Navia, must be considered, so far as our present publication permits us to judge, as one of the most important single localities for speciation in the group. Nevertheless, Amazonian Colombia is rich in species and varieties and in bizarre adaptations. Up to the present time, the vestigial hills of this area have yielded 9 species and 2 varieties, all of them endemic to Colombia. Thus, more than fifty percent of the genus, as it is known today, is strictly Colombian.

In addition to the original concepts of Navia (N. acaulis, N. caulescens and N. caulescens var. minor), the ancient hills of the Vaupés and Amazonas of Colombia harbor the following species and varieties: N. bicolor, N. fontoides, N. Garcia-Barrigae, N. graminifolia, N. heliophila, N. Lopezii var colombiana, N. reflexa and N. Schultesiana. So far as we know, each of these recently described species is endemic to one mountain, but this is not true of the three original concepts, each of which has turned up on several of the massifs.

Photo R. E. Schultes
(Courtesy, Bot. Museum of Harvard Univ.)
NAVIA BICOLOR. Habit photograph, at Mount Chiribiquete, Colombia.

Navia bicolor26 a stemless plant with stout, stubby leaves, has the habit of N. acaulis, with which it grows. It strikes the eye immediately, however, as something distinct because of the sharp contrast between the dark green and glabrous upper surface of the leaves and the minute, soft, whitish felt on the under side, a character to which Smith refers in the specific epithet. An extreme xerophyte, it is known only from Mount Chiribiquete in the headwaters of the Apaporis, where it was collected by Schultes and the Colombian botanist, Sr. Gabriel Gutiérrez, in 1943 and 1944, respectively. In 1943, a neighbouring mountain–El Castillo–yielded the grotesque Navia Schultesiana,27 which grows in dense and sometimes rather extensive clumps or cushions. The leaves are awl-shaped and finely toothed, and, from a distance, the plants give the impression of closely packed clumps of large mosses. According to Smith, this species is most closely allied to Navia acaulis. One would hardly suspect such a relationship, because, with its cushion habit, its more numerous and much narrower leaves and its smaller flowers, it has a very different aspect. At home at an altitude of 1000 feet, it grows under overhanging crags in partially damp areas, where only the late afternoon sun reaches it. Like Navia aurea, it has yellow flowers.

Photo from Kodachrome by R. E. Schultes   
The same expedition to the upper Apaporis basin which yielded Navia acaulis, N. bicolor and N. Schultesiana resulted23 in the discovery of another striking species: N. graminifolia.28 This extraordinary xerophyte, growing in large mats which carpet the flat sandstone top of Chiribiquete, has dense, stiff, needle-like, rosulate leaves. It is allied to Navia Steyermarkii of Duida. More recently, the mountains of the middle course of the Apaporis River have added to the wealth of Navia. So many species have come out of the Apaporis and its affluents that this area must be considered, along with Duida, as a primary centre of diversification of the genus. Navia heliophila,29 a brave little species that clings to sun-baked cliff-walls of the chasm below the awe-inspiring Falls of Jirijirimo, resembles most closely its far-isolated cousins, N. angustifolia and N. xyridifolia of British Guiana and Venezuela, respectively. Navia fontoides,30 on the contrary, is at home on shaded and wet cliffs along the Apaporis and its affluents. It is most abundant in the dark chasms at the great horseshoe-shaped Falls of Yayacopi, below Jirijirimo, but it has also been seen or collected at Jirijirimo and on the Kananari and Popeyaca Rivers. Of the most striking grace and beauty, Navia fontoides, alone in the genus, has either bright orange or scarlet floral bracts which, peering out through the dense, drooping rosette of dark green leaves, dot the dark, moss-covered cliffs with delightfully conspicuous points of colour. Mount Isibukuri, a great sandstone massif near the confluence of the Apaporis and Kananari Rivers and not far from Jirijirimo, has given us, in addition to Navia caulescens and N. caulescens var. minor,9 a little plant of rare beauty. This is Navia Lopezii var. colombiana,31 a delicate white-flowering variant of the rose-purple N. Lopezii of Brazil. The variety from Isibukuri has floral bracts which are purple outside and pinkish or yellowish inside, a colour scheme which lends rare charm to this small epiphyte that hugs the shadiest corners of damp, moss- and Selaginella-clad sandstone cliffs half way up the side of this 2100-ft. mountain. Not only are the new and virgin localities of eastern Colombia yielding up their botanical treasures in Navia; some of the classic localities are still rewarding the inquisitive botanist. When the aeroplane in which the Colombian botanist, Dr. Hernando Garcia-Barriga, and the writer were flying was forced down at Araracuara in December, 1951, an opportunity was unexpectedly offered of visiting the exact spot where Martius had made his rich collection of savannah plants in 1820. One of the surprises awaiting these botanists at this, the type locality of Navia acaulis and N. caulescens var. minor,9 was a new species which Smith called N. Garcia-Barrigae:32 a stemless, rosulate plant which, upon flowering, attains a height of more than thirty inches. This was, indeed, something strange and new in Navia! But Navia Garcia-Barrigae does not represent the largest in the genus, for, along with this species, Smith described N. reflexa,33 a much more robust plant with an even taller inflorescence up to about a yard in length. Navia reflexa was found by the writer and Lopez in 1947, in a white-sand savannah at San Felipe on the Colombian bank of the Negro River, just below the confluence of the Guainia and the Casiquiare Rivers. This is the very spot which the great English botanist-explorer, Richard Spruce, worked assiduously in 1851 and which has been the scene of more transient collecting often in the intervening century. Navia reflexa is abundant in the one savannah from which it is known, but the very fact that it evaded botanical eyes for so long would indicate that it is, like most of the other species, a highly restricted endemic.

Perhaps the time is not yet ripe for a monograph of this strange and fascinating genus. New explorations which are penetrating ever deeper into the massifs of northern South America are certain to bring back novelties which may be even more bizarre than some of those already known, and morphological investigations of the curious internal roots of the "stem" of Navia have just been initiated.34 The most recent synoptic treatment, that of Mez,35 who suggested that Navia might be a link between the Bromeliaceae and the Rapateaceae, dates from 1934, yet, with its 6 species, it is already obsolete. A modern summary of Navia is one of the absorbing contributions which we can expect from the pen of Dr. Lyman B. Smith, when he feels that explorations have reached a stage where such an undertaking is worthwhile–possibly within the next decade. Another exciting contribution will be the introduction into cultivation of some of the members of this quaintest and most singular of bromel genera.


  1. Schultes, R. E.: in Caldasia 3 (1944) 124 ff.;
  2. Schultes, R. E.: in Chron. Bot. 9 (1945) 123 ff;
  3. Perez-Arbelaez, E.: Vaupés (1950) 5;
  4. Smith, L. B.: in Contrib. Gray Herb. no. 161 (1946) 31 ff., t. 1;
  5. Dugand, A.: in Rev. Acad. Col. Ciénc. Exact. Fis.-Quim. Nat. 5 (1942) 212 ff;
  6. Schultes, J. A. et J. H. Schultes: in Roemer et Schultes Syst. 7 (1830 ) lxv, 1195;
  7. Mez, C.: in Martius Fl. Bras. 3, pt. 3 (1894) 508 ff., t. 96;
  8. Smith, L. B.: in Caldasia 3 (1944) 131, t. 1, 2, 3,; Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 12 (1946) 118;
  9. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 15 (1954) 193;
  10. Ducke, A.: in La Geogr. 30 (1914-15) 365 ff.;
  11. Smith L. H. ex Schultes: in Bet. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 13 (1949) 295;
  12. Gill y, C. L.: in Bull. Torr. Bot. Club 69 (1942) 290; Schultes, R. E.: in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 13 (1949) 293;
  13. Baker, J. G.: Bromel. (1889) 15;
  14. Mez, C.: in De Candolle Monogr. Phaner, 9 (1896) 553;
  15. Smith, L. B.: Contrib. Gray Herb. 89 (1930) 7, t. 1;
  16. Smith, L. B.: Bull. Torr. Bot. Club 58 (1931) 339, t. 3, fig. 11, 12, 13;
  17. Smith, L. B.: Bull. Torr. Bot. Club 58 (1931) 338, t. 3, fig. 9, 10, 13;
  18. Smith, L. B.: Fieldiana 28, no. 1 (1946) 145, t. 21, fig. a, b, c, d, e;
  19. Smith, L. B.: Fieldiana 28, no. 1 (1946) 146, t. 21, fig. h;
  20. Smith, L. B.: Fieldiana 28, no. 1 (1946) 147, t. 21, fig. i, j;
  21. Smith, L. B.: Bull. Torr. Bot. Club 75 (1948), 205, t. 14. fig. 1, 2;
  22. Smith, L. B.: Bull. Torr. Bot. Club 75 (1948) 206;
  23. Maguire, B.: in Geogr. Rev. 35 (1945) 574, fig. 11;
  24. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 15 (1951) 40; ibid. 15 (1954) 195, t. 28, upper fig. 1, 2, 3;
  25. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 15 (1951) 41; 41) ibid. 16 (1954) 196, t. 28, upper fig. 1, 2, 3;
  26. Smith. L. B. ex Schultes: ibid. 12 (1946) 119, t. 14;
  27. Smith, L. B.: in Caldasia 12 (1944) 131; ex Schultes in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 12 (1946) 121, t. 15;
  28. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes; ibid. 120;
  29. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: ibid. 16 (1954) 194, fig. 5, 6, 7, 8, t. 27;
  30. Smith, L.B.: in Brom. Soc. Bull. 5, ('55) 2;
  31. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: in Bet. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 16 (1954) 195;
  32. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: ibid. 194, t. 25, fig. 6, 7, 8, 9;
  33. Smith, L. B. ex Schultes: ibid. 196, t. 26, fig. 1, 2, 3, 4;
  34. Weber H.: in Mutisia no. 13 (1953);
  35. Mez, C.: in Engler et Diels Pflanzenr. IV, 32 (1934) 360, t. 81.

Curator, Orchid Herbarium of Oakes Ames,
Botanical Museum of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Drawn by E. W. Smith
(Plate, Courtesy of Botanical Museum of Harvard University)
NAVIA LOPEZII. 1) Habit, ½ natural size; 2) flower, natural size; 3) schematic cross section of flower, about 1½  times natural size.

NAVIA MYRIANTHA. 1) Habit, ½ natural size; 2) flower, 5 times natural size; 3) schematic cross section of flower, about 10 times natural size.


Mulford B. Foster
Aechmea Victoriana var. discolor M. B. Foster var. nov.

A var. victoriana foliis subtus aeneo-rubris differt. Growing on rocks, altitude 10 meters, near Victoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil. Aug. 9, 1940; M. B. & R. Foster, No. 2850; Type in U. S. National Herbarium.

This new variety of Aechmea victoriana is in outstanding contrast to the typical A. victoriana which I found near Rio Jucu on the road from Victoria to Campinhos in Espirito Santo, Brazil. The leaves of the typical variety are light apple-green on both sides when growing in shade or full sun, while the leaves of A. victoriana var. discolor are green above and bronze-red below. This bronze-red color on the underside gives the upper side of the leaf a bronzy-green appearance.

This new variety has been cultivated in Orlando, Florida since 1940 and has been used in hybridizing with other Aechmea species; in every resulting cross this definite bronze-red color of the underside of the leaf has made a very marked color effect on the hybrids.

A New Hybrid Aechmea

Aechmea X "Foster's Favorite" M. B. Foster hybr. nov. (Aechmea Racinae X A. victoriana var. discolor) Type No. 2849 (U. S. Nat'l Herbarium)

This new hybrid was made in February, 1946 and is a great improvement on either of the parent plants. The rich bronze-red color of the underside of the leaves of the A. victoriana var. discolor parent has penetrated the leaves of this new hybrid and has produced a very rich and more brilliant color which is evident from both surfaces of the leaves. The inflorescence is more pendent than Ae. victoriana but not as pendent as Ae. Racinae. Many crosses using the above parents have been made and the resulting offspring has been quite uniform regardless of which parent plant was used as the male or female, and very slight variations of form and color is shown.

Photo M. B. Foster
Left: Aechmea Racinae, Right: Aechmea victoriana var. discolor, Center: The Patented Hybrid, Aechmea X "Foster's Favorite."


Elmer J. Lorenz

One of the most beautiful and unique bromeliads found growing in our collections originated not in the distant tropics of the Americas, but in Orlando, Florida.

Aechmea X Foster's Favorite is attractive in foliage, flower, fruit, and unique in that it is the first bromeliad ever to receive a patent. Mr. Mulford Foster originated this new Aechmea hybrid by crossing two new species of Aechmeas which he discovered in the jungles of Brazil. One parent is known botanically as Aechmea racinae and the other as Aechmea victoriana.

[At the time of the granting of the patent, the variety of A. victoriana which was used as a parent for the hybrid, was fully described as to color, but the actual varietal name, A. victoriana var. discolor had not yet been published botanically. It now has received this name as described on page 28. Ed.]

The parents used in producing Aechmea X Foster's Favorite are both beautiful plants and it is fortunate that the outstanding characteristics of each parent were combined to form the beautiful new hybrid.

Aechmea X Foster's Favorite was first offered in Mr. Foster's 1949-1950 catalogue on Bromeliads (now out of print) and described as follows: "Aechmea Hybrid 'Foster's Favorite'. My finest Aechmea hybrid; the first bromeliad to be patented; lovely, smooth, 'lacquered' wine-red leaves; green at base; drooping, berry-like flower stalk; midnight blue flowers; blooms in winter."

Before the application for the patent could be made it was necessary for considerable quantities of Aechmea X Foster's Favorite to be reproduced asexually in Mr. Foster's greenhouse. This was required to demonstrate that the outstanding characteristics of the new hybrid were persistent. Application for the patent was filed on September 17, 1948 and on November 15, 1949, under Plant Patent No. 898, Aechmea X Foster's Favorite became the first bromeliad ever to be patented.

In his claim for the Patent Mr. Foster says, "My present invention relates to a new and distinct variety of hybrid Aechmea plant.

"My new variety is distinctly and outstandingly different from any Aechmea known or described, especially with respect to its leaf coloring and the formation of its inflorescence. It differs from both its parents in color and leaf shape as well as in its inflorescence. Aechmea racinae has light green leaves both on upper and under surface; the flowers consist of yellow and black petals with orange-red ovary and sepals. The inflorescence is pendent. Aechmea victoriana, the other parent, has bicolor leaves with fern green above and bronze red on the under side of leaf. The inflorescence is semi-pendent; the flower petals are dark purple with a white edge while the ovary and sepals are of a dark red color.

"This new hybrid Aechmea more nearly resembles in form and color one of its parents, the Aechmea victoriana. However, it is much more vigorous in growth and larger in size, and the most outstandingly distinguishing character is the rich coloring of the leaves.

"The new and distinct hybrid Aechmea plant as herein shown and described, is characterized as to novelty by the distinctive glossy sheen and unusual red color­ing of the leaves with this color equally brilliant on both sides of the leaves; its strong resistance to scale or other insect infestations; and its ability to thrive with a minimum of watering as it retains water in its leaf cups from only occasional waterings."

The Plant Patent Act was passed on May 23, 1930, giving the grower com­plete control over his patented plant for 17 years. The patented plant cannot be sold or propagated asexually except by the patentee or those licensed by him.

The plant to be patented must be new and available to the public for not more than one year preceding the application for the patent. Plants which may be classified as a new "invention" and patented are limited to hybrids, sports, and mutations. Species or variations found growing spontaneously in their native habitat cannot be patented. Plants propagated from tubers are excluded from the patent privileges as are seeds or plants grown only from seeds.

Fortunately the culture of Aechmea X Foster's Favorite offers no difficulties. Any good porous mixture seems to make a satisfactory medium in which to grow this hybrid. The mixture I use consists of leaf mould and sponge rock in equal proportions. To this I add a small amount of well-rotted steer manure, charcoal, and some roughly pulverized tree fern fiber. The fiber I obtain from discarded containers milled from the giant Hawaiian tree ferns. The fernwood fiber keeps the soil porous and insures good drainage, yet retains ample moisture to allow healthy plant growth.

Aechmea X Foster's Favorite is a fairly prolific producer and it takes only a short while to fill a six inch container with beautiful plants.

5110 Monte Bonito Dr., Los Angeles 41, Calif.

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