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.


Warm greetings for the Yuletide season to all bromeliad fans; let it be a gracious one as well as Bromeliaceous Holiday to plant lovers throughout the world.

We are pleased and startled with the awareness that rarely does a week pass by that we do not see some notice, photo or article concerning our favorite family.

Bromeliads are on the calendar of the November 1957 TROPICAL HOMEMAKER and GARDNER on their "What to Do in November" page by Ray Plumer, Superintendent of Parks, Miami.

The FLOWER and GARDEN Magazine, in its October 1957 number has a full page of color advertising showing two examples of Neoregelia hybrids.

HORTICULTURE (Boston) for November 1957 carries a four page article on "The Ultramodern Bromeliads" by Mary Noble and Jean Merkel; it is well written and well illustrated.

A note from H. R. Engelmann (J. Cramer), publisher of Weinheim/Bergstr., Germany, says that the first reprint of the Mez monograph of Bromeliaceae, made in 1956, "went out of print shortly after publication" ! It is encouraging to know that there are so many people interested in the bromeliads and that they would eagerly buy an expensive book to pursue this botanical interest.

Thomas H. G. Aitken, entomologist, (and Bromeliad Society member) from Trinidad, stopped at the Bromelario in Orlando on his way to the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine in Philadelphia. He is fast becoming devoted to bromeliads and is making special study of the Trinidadian species. (See Brom. Bull. July-Aug. 1957)

Just received, some travel notes from David Barry (Society's Vice Pres.) and Mrs. Barry: "After a month in Honolulu we spent two weeks in Japan. They were very busy weeks. In addition to sight seeing we shopped for hibachis, the Japanese stoves that make such attractive plant containers. Of course, I tried to find some interesting plants. We were unprepared for the language barrier, especially after Honolulu where so many thousands of Japanese speak excellent English. To the hotel clerks a "nursery" had to do with children. I finally found two nurseries inland from Kobe and Osaka. By sign language and by showing my yen, I managed to buy a few plants.

"As for bromeliads, they are called "Ananas" by the Japanese. I ran into a few including Billbergia pyramidalis, Vriesia carinata, Neoregelia spectabilis and Ananas comosus variegatus."

(We have one Bromeliad Society member in Kyoto City, Japan; recently a collection of bromeliads was sent to a new enthusiast in Toyama City.)

Apologies from the editor for the preponderance of his signature on too many pages of the Bulletin, but articles and photos for publication in the Bulletin are very scarce. We know that a lot more people could sit down and write, if they would. The time will come when we won't have inclinations or time to write either.

COVERPhoto Robert Derr, Los Angeles
This stunning window decoration of the Richfield Oil Corporation at Sixth and Flower Streets in Los Angeles was designed by Robert H. Carter & Associates, Landscape Architects. It is one of several in which Mr. Carter (Brom. Society member) has featured, with great effectiveness, the bromeliads.

A variegated Ananas is on the left while a colorful Neoregelia and Aechmea × "Foster's Favorite" and an Aechmea ramosa help carry out the bromeliad display leading to the decorative Dioon spinulosum (Cycad) on the right. We congratulate Mr. Carter on such a masterpiece of restraint – very imposing in its simplicity.

Photo Racine Foster
Aechmea fasciata, the "Urn Plant" is a choice plant with individual characteristics all its own.

No. 4 – Europe

Victoria Padilla

Next to the pineapple and the Spanish moss there is no bromeliad better known than Aechmea fasciata. Found growing natively in the areas around Rio de Janeiro and the Distrito Federal, this Aechmea with its enchanting inflorescence of pink and its florets of periwinkle blue became early the object of search on the part of botanists and plant explorers. It was introduced into Europe in 1828, and by the middle of the century had gained much popularity, particularly in Belgium. For the past one hundred years it has been a favorite house plant all over the Continent. The type generally found is green leaved, barred with silver, and this is the variety most often seen growing in Europe today.

Wherever one goes on the Continent, there is the ubiquitous Billbergia rhodocyanea, as it is still erroneously called; the name "Aechmea" being completely unknown to the majority of florists and nurserymen. I first saw Aechmea fasciata growing in Spain, for Madrid was my original port of entry. Flourishingly they grow in the hot dry air of Spain in summer and in situations under which they would definitely languish in this country. In dark hall ways, in the inner recesses of lobbies, in dark nooks in the hotels, there stood the stalwart fellow – amidst all the aspidistra and ficus.

In Italy they vied with geraniums in color, but they were treated with elegance is became such a beauty, each long pink spike being tied with a huge bow of matching satin ribbon. In Switzerland, no florist worthy of the name would hive a window display without a Billbergia rhodocyanea or two brightening the floral exhibit.

Probably of all the countries of Europe those that take their horticulture most seriously are Belgium, Germany and Holland, and here is where our Aechmea is most prevalent. During the summer months when the plant is in flower, it is seen everywhere – barber shops, banks, restaurants, hotels, and peaking out from the lace curtains in the windows of private homes. One of the most interesting treatments that I saw was in an automobile dealer's display windows in Munich, where about a dozen or so specimens were planted in flat dishes with ivy – illustrating to perfection the usability of this plant for a low table decoration. In France and in Belgium is seen the variety that is almost completely silver in tone, with the barring only faintly discernible on the inner side of the leaves. In Germany where the plant is grown conservatively speaking by the thousands, this variety is frowned upon; the more barred the plant, the more highly esteemed it is.

What amazed the writer in her all-too-quick jaunt through Europe was the utter perfection of all the plants that she saw growing. Not once did she spy a browned tip or a trice of scale even though more often than not the plants were not growing under the happiest of circumstances. The blooming plants were all large, the leaves long, oftentimes averaging more thin two feet and attaining a fountain-like symmetry that was exceptionally lovely. This cultural perfection is no doubt due to the solicitous care which the plants receive in the establishments that grow them. Imagine, if you will, greenhouses fifty feet wide by one hundred or more feet long with benches and benches filled with Aechmea fasciata, all grown under the most ideal conditions. Such a vision of loveliness is well worth in entire trip to Europe.

There are two other varieties of Aechmea fasciata seen in European collections, but both are difficult to obtain. One is Aechmea fasciata var. variegata (see The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, Vol. III, No. 5), which is in all respects like the green leafed, silver barred variety, except that it is also striped longitudinally with ivory white. The new offshoots are especially attractive in that, when they first emerge, they are pink. The other variety is Aechmea fasciata var. purpurea, the leaves of which instead of being green assume a rich red-purple color. The plant is as lush as it is unobtainable.

But, in this author's mind, the most striking of all the Aechmea fasciata is the one that she first saw in the nursery of Evans & Reeves in West Los Angeles, the beauty of which plant led her to become a bromeliad enthusiast. A large growing plant, its leaves are not only barred but are mottled with silver and are extremely handsome. Outstanding, too, is its flower head, attaining a size of seven inches in diameter. For magnificence, it is unrivaled, and it is truly deserving of being known as the Beauty Queen of the Bromeliad family!

647 S. Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, Calif.

Photo Racine Foster
Aechmea Orlandiana, the "patient" who responded so well to treatment.


Mulford B. Foster

Reprinted from the National Horticulture Magazine
(of Washington), October 1943

Ever since time began, plants have sort of had their own idea of when to flower and fruit. Naturally, that urge to reproduce their kind has generally come after some period of cold, drought, or unusual conditions when there has been possibly some danger of a stoppage of growth or an extended rest period. Of course, if plants just grow year after year with no danger of extinction, then there would be no necessity for the developing of reproductory parts such as flowers which produce the fruit that contain the seeds of the next generation.

Time goes on and man steps into this great moving picture of life. He finds certain fruits and flowers that he consumes as food or places in a corsage for his spring bride. He likes some of them better than others for various reasons. He finds them growing wild in certain sections but wishes the whole world to know their value. He raises them by the thousands, he is a farmer; he raises them by the millions, he is a corporation.

Many years ago in the Azores where they grow pineapples in enclosures under glass, a carpenter accidentally set fire to a pile of* shavings while working in one of the pineapple houses. To the surprise of the owner, the plants instead of being destroyed burst into flower a few weeks later, quite out of season for their regular crop. The fruit, being marketable at an off season, was readily sold and the extra profit nearly paid for the loss from the fire. From then on the natives in the Azores made a frequent practice of smoking pineapples.

About twelve years ago when Rodriguez was working in the U. S. department of Agriculture Experiment Station in Puerto Rico, he observed that one of the big pineapple growers was shipping his fruit to the American market some months in advance of the other growers. Rodriguez found that his culture was the same as that of other growers except that each year he would erect over certain areas a cloth tent, building a smudge fire underneath for the duration of twelve hours. Flower and then fruit followed in a short period. Curiosity soon led Rodriguez to experiment with wood smoke and he found that it was the action of the ethylene gas contained in wood smoke which caused the flower bud to form within a few days after being exposed to the gas. He published these findings in January 1932.

The government experiments of forcing and hastening pineapples into fruit prematurely in Florida have been based on the findings of Rodriguez's use of ethylene gas. Although similar work has been done with acetylene gas in Hawaii by Collins (published in 1935) and in Australia by Lewcock (made known in 1937), the difference in climate and soil conditions make ethylene more effective in Florida than in Hawaii.

These facts I had been aware of through the friendship of Dr. W. C. Cooper, plant physiologist (member of the Experimental Station of the Dept. of Agriculture in Orlando, Fla.) whose interest in forcing pineapple blooms coincided with mine of getting other bromeliads to bloom prematurely. We made many experiments with bromeliads other than pineapples, such as Aechmea, Vriesia, Billbergia and Quesnelia, using the carbide method and the acetylene method (both used in Hawaii), but found that the results of ethylene were more predictable. Later we collaborated on the idea of a predictable forced bloom for a very special occasion.

In the summer of 1939 on my first plant collecting expedition into Brazil I had had the great pleasure of discovering a new bromeliad (along with many others) belonging to the genus Aechmea, which because it was such a striking plant of light green leaves embossed by black splotches with its flower head of orange bracts topped by white flowers, I made the request of Dr. Lyman Smith of Gray Herbarium at Harvard who was making all identifications of my collected material, to name this particularly beautiful plant for the city of Orlando, Orange County, Florida, which is my home. Although he said this was a bit irregular in the rules of botanical nomenclature, botanists of old have done it for even less appropriate reasons. Orlando, whose city and school colors are orange and white was, as Dr. Smith said, fast becoming the home of the world's largest collection of living bromeliads, my collection containing more than four hundred different species, including many of the "species novo" I have discovered in Brazil in the summer of 1939 and 1940.

I was very anxious to make public to the city of Orlando this unusual plant and chose the propitious time of the 1941 Annual Meeting of the State Horticultural Society to give out the announcement. To make complete the effectiveness of the presentation I wanted to have the plant in full bloom with its orange bracts and white flowers. So, on March 4th, six weeks before the convention with the assistance of Dr. Cooper acting as anaesthetist in this delicate operation, the ethylene gas was administered to two of these beautiful plants by placing them in a special room where a continuous flow of atmosphere of 1 part of ethylene to 1000 parts of air was kept constant for a period of twenty-four hours. Our patients were given every care and consideration and watched carefully. Suddenly during the first week in April we had the great thrill of seeing the flower head pushing up from the center of both plants. And greater was the thrill to discover on the morning of the opening day of the convention, April 15, that the flowers were actually open, which I was proud to announce to the convention that evening.

When we decided to carry out this particular experiment I thought it best to use two plants, one a mature plant that had already developed a new side shoot but which I supposed had not yet bloomed as we had just a few months previous brought it from Brazil, and the other a half-mature plant which would not ordinarily bloom until December. Apparently those plants were as anxious to show off at the convention as I was to have them, even though the mature plant (which I later found on closer observation) had already bloomed before I brought it from Brazil. Not wishing to be outdone by the younger plant, this oldster promptly proceeded to send its flower head out of the new shoot attached to its side and indeed this display was much larger and more complete than the one on the smaller plant. This urge to reproduce its kind is difficult to repress. Mother Nature will have her way.

This is only an example of what are the possibilities in forcing blooms of bromeliads. Mr. T. Ralph Robinson, president of the Florida State Horticultural Society, and formerly senior physiologist in the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, was very much impressed with the timing of our forced bloom. He suggested that when making herbarium specimens of bromeliads which had no flower at the time of collecting, the living plants could be forced and identification made, long before the normal bloom would appear. Mr. Robinson himself has done some definite work in forcing blooms, by ethylene treatment for pineapple breeding work from immature plants to hasten the making of reciprocal crosses, work that led to his suggesting the enlistment of Dr. Cooper's aid in securing bloom in time for the meeting of the Horticultural Society. He was particularly interested in the success of this first attempt with an ornamental bromeliad, as he had invited the author to give the feature lecture at the opening meeting of the society.

Thus man adds his knowledge to the affairs of the plant world and keeps one step ahead of Mother Nature.

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Fla.


* H. C. Adams, Nat. Geographic, Vol. LXVII - No. 1, Jan. 1935.

Photo C. KI. Horich
Aechmea bracteata

Bromel Giant of Olancho, Honduras

Clarence Kl. Horich

Olancho, the remote and little known Department (county), northeast in Honduras, C. A., is not only the gateway to the as yet unexplored barbarous Mosquitia, but is, at the same time, the gateway to the "Wild West" where a man without sixshooters, is either beyond imagination, or is a foreigner from the 20th century.

Uninhabited in the deep south and east, the Department of Olancho can be reached by following the one and only existent, and by the way, bad road poking into its wastes which leads from Tegucigalpa over Talanga and Guaimaca to Juticalpa, the small capital of the ill-famed Department. Further northeast, a road team is at present working day and night to convert the stretch along the rivers Telica, Jutiquil, Catacŕmas, from a mule trail into a passable one for motorized traffic.

The western boundary of the Department of Francisco Morazŕn, Km. 112 on the road Tegucigalpa-Juticalpa, is mountainous and covered by vast pine forests, practically bare of epiphytes save for the odd Tillandsia Butzii and some Jacquiniella globosa, orchids. Greater savannas and then jungles commence at the entrance to the Valle de Lempaguare exactly at the point where the road crosses the Rio Guayape; and from here on, epiphytes become frequent, although small in number of species. Schomburgkia Wendlandii, Brassavola nodossa and Diacriums are the more abundant orchids of this formation, and four or five species of rather common Tillandsias, particularly, T. Butzii, are their bromel companions.

It is no wonder then, that the huge plants of Aechmea bracteata, with their three foot, red-bracted peduncles, draw one's attention immediately wherever they grow. Ae. bracteata is the rarest bromeliad of the entire area and is scattered in singular groups throughout locations which often lie miles apart. Here they perch on gigantic Ceiba trees and the majority of these Aechmeas appear to be concentrated to those trunks which directly frame the river shores; in other words, where there prevails a maximum of aerial humidity.

Although the bulk of Aechmea bracteata is native to Olancho's hot jungles and great river systems, it is also to be found at great intervals in the Department of Francisco Morazan, such as along the Rio Jalan, with its southwestern limits of distribution at Km. 60, a few miles northeast of Talanga where a single isolated plant has found refuge. The altitude of its home around Olancho lies, generally between 600 and 800 meters above sea level. I found it during the month of September 1956 in the river shore jungles of the rivers Guayape, Juticalpa, Telica and along nearly all of the innumerous small rivers, creeks and brooks, including those of the lower pine belt, between the towns of Guaimaca (Dept. of Fr. Morazan) and Jutiquile, Olancho's bandit hangout, through (and not over) which the mentioned disguise of a "road" leads.

If this bromel is rare it surely makes up for this minor handicap in the struggle of the fittest by sheer size! The oldest specimens are often a full four feet tall and reach diameters of up to and exceeding six feet by developing dozens of giant suckers. (The picture may give you some idea.) These carry gallons of water, indeed, and not only defend themselves by means of very hard and painfully long thorns, but additionally include regular zoological gardens, meaning hideouts of arboreal frogs which deposit their eggs in these huge water-tubes of the Aechmea as well as all sorts of lizards, geckos and snakes which favor the frogs and their tadpoles as a menu.

The plants are gorgeous and exceedingly showy, even if not in flower. They are subject to temperatures that lie between 75° F. and 90° F. and also to a rainy season which brings heavy showers daily from May to November, after which the dry period sets in, lasting for six months straight.

Its natural environments suggest that Aechmea bracteata should be cultivated in rather warm and bright conditions. It is a tough, leathery fellow which should create no difficulties in respect to its successful cultivation, if you can spare much space for just one bromeliad!

Lista de Correos, San Jose, Costa Rica

Photo Racine Foster
The two forms of Aechmea Weilbachii. Left: with upright inflorescence is Ae. Weilbachii var. leodiensis. Right: with pendent flower head is Ae. Weilbachii var. Weilbachii.

Aechmea Weilbachii Didr.

Mulford B. Foster

For quite sometime the plant known in horticulture as Aechmea Weilbachii, in America at least, has actually been A. Weilbachii var. leodiensis. This, a most decorative plant, has leaves tinged with a "wash of violet brown," to use the original description by André in Rev. Hort. Vol. 59:31, 1887.

Because of its more vigorous growth, colored foliage, and larger size, I surmise that it is practically the only variety that is at all common in horticulture anywhere.

I had the good fortune to collect the type species, now called A. Weilbachii var. Weilbachii, when I was in Brazil in 1940; when I sent herbarium material to Dr. Smith for identification he called it Ae. Weilbachii. It so differed from the plant which we had known by that name that I was rather skeptical – feeling that it should, at least, have a varietal name. Later I learned that the var. leodiensis had the colored leaves and that the var. Weilbachii had light green leaves. The drawing on page 122, Fig. 33 in Mez's Bromeliaceae is actually, I believe, a drawing of the var. Weilbachii and not var. leodiensis as it is titled.

I have grown both varieties side by side for over fifteen years; they are both good subjects for any collection. They differ in color of leaf, inflorescence and size of plant and almost anyone will choose the var. leodiensis with its upright inflorescence in preference to the original type var. Weilbachii (with its lighter foliage and darker purple flowers, on more compact branches, borne on a semi-pendent scape).


Mulford B. Foster

Aechmea coelestis var. albo-marginatus M. B. Foster var. nov.

   Photo M. B. Foster
A var. coelestis foliis albo marginatus longitudinaliter striatis differt. M. B. Foster No. 3016 (Type in the U. S. Nat'l Herb.)

This lovely variegated form of Aechmea coelestis has a charm and reserve that few variegated plants have. The rather wide white stripe that edges the margins of the grey-green leaves of this plant make it a really conservative but elegant plant.

We have had this plant in cultivation for at least five years. It was received from Europe where it apparently originated, but we have never learned who first saw this variegated form. It has been grown by the Julius Roehrs Co. of Rutherford, N. J. In the Bromeliad Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 5, 1953, page 39, there was a photo of this plant shown in connection with an article by Mr. Alfred B. Graf who stated at that time that they had not seen the plant in flower so did not know its true identity.

This new variety has flowered on several occasions in the Bromelario at Orlando; therefore, it can now be ascertained that it is a variety of Aechmea coelestis.

While the inflorescence is not showy the plant is at all times a modestly showy one. The flowers are of a very light cerulean blue; the fruit when ripe becomes rather grey-magenta in color. The marginal bands are quite regular and consistent and are not variable as in so many other variegated plants. The average height of this plant when in flower is eighteen to twenty-four inches.

Photo M. B. Foster
Aechmea Schultesiana


Racine Foster

Generally speaking, there are quite a number of bromeliads that do not have large or showy flowers, although the plants themselves are invariably decorative whether in flower or not. This is an outstanding feature of most of the bromeliads and many of them have inflorescences that last for months even though each individual flower may last for only a day.

It has been most interesting to note that there is a group of bromeliads that produce blue-berried fruits which endure for weeks, even months, a feature that is most desirable.

The first Aechmea on which we noted striking blue fruits, was Aechmea Schultesiana. We found it in the northern section of Colombia, South America, in 1946, down in the low country where the untamed Motilone Indians live. The Aechmea was not in fruit at that time but the lovely, elusive rose-violet foliage was sufficient attraction to make it a notable addition to our collection. A year later it flowered; out came a panicle of many small yellowish flowers from a greenish ovary. Soon the fruit (ovary) turned pure white lasting for many weeks, then gradually all these berries turned an amazing cobalt blue. This attractive exhibition of change in color cycle lasts from six to eight months.

Photo M. B. Foster
Aechmea angustifolia

Aechmea angustifolia displays a similar colorama performance – yellow to white to cerulean fruit on distichous, closely fused spikes. This fruiting spike creates one of the most stunning exhibitions among the blue-berried bromeliads; the intense blue is contrasted by a few white berries not yet turned blue and by the red bracts hanging at the base of the lower fruiting branches. The sturdy leaves are a pale yellow-green with an attractive rose flush from the base half way up the leaf.

Aechmea pubescens from Colombia should not be forgotten although it is not as intense in coloring as the above. The inflorescence contains two-ranked branches of blue fruit which is sprinkled with grey tomentose scales, thus cutting down the vividness of color. In one variety the leaves are plain light green while in another one, from Costa Rica, the leaves are reddish and the floral bracts are green; this color scheme is set off by small red scape bracts dispersed among the berries that are a perfect contrast for the gray-blue fruit when it turns.

Aechmea filicaulis (Brom. Bull. 1954, Vol. IV, No. 6) and Ae. Lasseri (ibid 1953, Vol. 3, No. 5) also have their grand finale of blue fruit with brilliant red bracts dangling down the long pendent inflorescence.

Aechmea tillandsioides and its varietal forms will all make the yellow to white, and of course, to the grand finale of blue fruit cycle enhanced by brilliant red bracts giving it our national colors. No eye can resist this red, white and blue combination.

Aechmea Chantinii could hardly be asked to present more than its vividly silver barred leaves, orange-red scape bracts and yellow flowers, but if the flowers are fertilized the fruits will finally turn light blue, but if not fertilized they would remain pure white.

Again it is proven that bromeliads are attractive for other reasons than their flowers. If we were to view only the flowers of the splashing Poinsettia, it is certain that this would not be our Christmas floral emblem, for the actual flowers are small, inconspicuous green and yellow globes, but because they are surrounded by bright red bracts this plant is known for its brilliant display of color.

Likewise with many bromeliads the floral offering is not made by the flowers themselves but by the bracts under the flower or by those on the scape. It is the case of the many species with different colored fruits of which possibly the most attractive are the blue-berried bromeliads.

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida


Roger K. Taylor

A simple method, which has proved successful in the one instance tried (Aechmea coelestis), is as follows:

In a shallow clay pot, a layer of sphagnum moss is placed and covered with about an inch of fir bark (no coarse material in the surface layer); the whole is wetted down with Fermate suspension and permitted to drain. Seeds are prepared by an hour's soaking in Natriphene solution, then dispersed over the surface. The pot is set in a larger dish, covered with a pane of glass, and placed in a warm light location. After germination the glass cover is lifted a little, then more and more as the seedlings grow, and finally removed altogether. Watering is done from below by adding enough to the dish from time to time to keep the planting medium evenly damp; a little dilute nutrient solution is occasionally substituted for the water after growth starts.

If mold should develop (as it did in one spot, in my sowing), sifting a little dry Fermate on the area promptly eliminates it.


Roger K. Taylor

The exposure of bromeliads to an atmosphere containing a low concentration of ethylene or acetylene gas is known, in many cases, to initiate the formation of bloom spikes. One suggested procedure is to dissolve a little calcium carbide in water and pour the resulting acetylene solution into the leaf cups; another, to add carbide directly to the water in the cups, generating the acetylene in situ. A disadvantage of both of these schemes is the distinct possibility of damage to the plant by the alkaline residue from the carbide.

An alternate method, avoiding this risk, is to place the plants for treatment in a Wardian case or other enclosure along with a lump of carbide; water vapor slowly reacts with the carbide to release acetylene. A twenty-four hour exposure has proven effective with some Aechmeas and most of the Billbergias tried. If the plants fail to respond, a repetition with perhaps a larger quantity of carbide or a longer time may be tried.

Anyone having access to either ethylene or acetylene in compressed-gas cylinders might prepare a solution by bubbling a slow flow of the gas into water, and pour the solution into the plant; this procedure should be as innocuous as the preceding.

A word of caution may be in order: acetylene with air forms a particularly wide range of explosive mixtures, so, though the concentrations should be safely low, it would be as well to keep open flames away.

3122 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 18, Md.


Q. I notice that the offshoots of two plants of Guzmania magnifica are variegated, though the parent plant in each instance has plain green leaves. Is this a natural occurrence or is it a mutation?

A. It is doubtless a mutation and could be caused by a virus or an injury. If the variegation continues from generation to generation you have a variety; however, this variegation may appear in one plant caused by injury to the cells and would not repeat itself in the next generation.

I believe that most variegated bromeliads have first appeared as seedlings. If this variegation is carried through to the mature plant you may have a good chance of producing this plant in quantity through offshoots. In some cases the variegated seedling may have but one or more variegated leaves; if so, you still have a chance of procuring a well variegated plant if you carefully watch the new offshoots as they appear after maturity of the plant. If you are fortunate in selecting an offshoot that appears directly under the variegated leaf, you will quite likely have a plant with all of the leaves showing variegation. In this case you may have a continuation from generation to generation of this consistent variegation.

The seeds of variegated plants such as Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor have consistently produced the original type plants without variegated leaves. The seeds of Bromelia serra var. variegata and Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor, have produced albino plants which have lived but a short period; I have never had any of them to exceed an inch in height before they died.

There is still much to be learned as to the causes of variegation in bromeliads.

Q. I have difficulty in keeping my offshoots in the soil or bark in which I plant them. The least little touch, and out they come. How can I prevent this?

A. Perhaps you cut them off too early. It would be best if you could wait until a root had formed before removing offshoots. If not, then make a hairpin shaped piece of stiff wire, about six inches long which has been covered with plastic, and arch it over the stubby base down into the soil. Many articles in The Bulletin and Handbook mention this problem.

M. B. F.

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