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Racine Foster, Editor, 718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida.
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NEOREGELIA A Horticulturist's Delight

Ethel Appleton

Neoregelias, for many years listed as Aregelias (a name now obsolete) have been among the hardiest and most adaptable kinds of bromeliads. N. spectabilis is the best known species perhaps due to its nickname, "Painted Fingernail Plant." Give a plant a name of something close at hand and you are assured that everyone will remember its popular "handle". These painted "fingernail" leaf tips are found on a number of the different species and it is certainly an added attraction to their mature beauty. However, the crimson cup formed in the center of some of the species which is composed of three or more brilliant red bracts surrounding the compact head of white or blue flowers which snuggle down into the leaf rosette of many species, is even more eye-filling than the red tips. Some have both the red tips and the crimson cup, but generally, they have only one of these decorations.

They are found growing almost exclusively in Brazil.

Neoregelias are, in general, medium sized plants, ornamental, with leaves green or colored, and are capable of holding quite a quantity of water in their cups. The flowers are not especially attractive, in themselves, but, nevertheless do bring a note of clear contrasting color to the middle of the bracteal leaves which surround them. These bracteal leaves compose the center of the rosette and are often decorated with vivid color, varying with the species. One of the most showy of these is N. carolinae with its beautiful red center, an eye-catcher at shows, receives almost more attraction than any other.

Neoregelia farinosa hybrids may go through several color changes as they reach maturity, or even from a change of light, and are at their peak of color at flowering time. This color flush lasts from three to six months, but in some species, nearly a year. Their leaves are, generally, rather stiff with a compact rosette form, making them an unusual decoration.

They are easy of culture and adaptable to inside or outside.

Inside the house Neoregelias can stand considerable neglect and the driest of atmosphere for days at a time (but not continuously). They are the most successful as near the window as possible since they tend to lose their exotic markings if placed in a dark part of the room. Two definitely fool-proof plants for the house are Neoregelia marmorata and N. spectabilis.

For potting material the Mixture # 1, in the Bromeliad Cultural Handbook, page 22, is recommended, which is equal parts of coarse sand (or sand and crushed granite) German peat, shredded osmunda or sawdust. In patio or garden most Neoregelia species can be grown in soil or on rocks, some low in trees. They will take temperatures from the highest to near freezing. Mr. Nally (of Gotha, Fla.) tells of ice having formed in their cups without damage at 25 temperature.

As a ground cover under trees they are unsurpassed and a source of continuous beauty. A walk through a shaded garden lined with Neoregelias will never be a lonely walk, but one to remember. Unforgettable!

St. Petersburg, Florida


Lyman B. Smith

In order to understand the reason for using the name Neoregelia for a genus of bromeliads with flowers nested in the center of the rosette, we must go back to the first publication of its oldest species. This was Tillandsia concentrica of Vellozo in his "Flora Fluminensis" in 1825. He was right only in calling it a bromeliad, because Tillandsia and Neoregelia are in different subfamilies, the first with dry capsules, the second with berry-like fruits.

In 1857, Beer recognized this fact and in his monograph transferred the species to Bromelia. Now it was in the right subfamily, but Bromelia has the bases of the stamens forming a tube and they do not do so in Neoregelia concentrica.

Mez noted the lack of a stamen tube and in 1891 changed the species to Nidularium, which was almost right but not quite. In true Nidularium the flowers are sessile while in Neoregelia they are on short stalks or pedicels. However, Mez did recognize this difference by following the lead of Lemaire in dividing Nidularium into two subgenera.

In the meantime Lindman had proposed using Regelia as a genus instead of a subgenus, and at this point we pass from questions of flower structure to questions of nomenclature and of its international code of rules which most botanists now follow. Regelia as a subgenus of Nidularium was perfectly good, but as a genus it could not stand because the name already had been used for a genus in the Myrtle Family.

Another name had to be found for it and in 1896 Mez applied Aregelia of Otto Kuntze to the genus, but this also had a flaw. Kuntze had made Aregelia as a substitute for Nidularium on the mistaken assumption that Nidularium was not usable. Consequently, when Nidularium was divided, Aregelia had to remain with the part that was typical and could not be used for the part that was separated. The genus still lacked a valid name, so in 1934* I proposed the name Neoregelia. To the best of my knowledge then and now this has never been used for any other genus of plants.

United States National Herbarium, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C.


* (See Contributions from the Gray Herbarium, (CIV) Studies in the Bromeliaceae,V. p. 71-1934)

Photos by author
Neoregelia melanodonta


A Perennial Question

Mulford B. Foster

Question "We have read and have had explained to us on several occasions how to tell a Neoregelia from a Nidularium, but we must confess that we are still confused and do not yet seem to have a simple explanation, if there is such, by which we could tell the difference between them (without having an extensive knowledge of botanical terms). Can we have a simple but more complete guide for determination?"

Answer This question has come up so many times that we have almost despaired of attaining much success in our efforts. . . . but here goes for one more attempt!

To the writer the difference is so great, even from a casual glance. that we wonder why it is not just as evident to the new bromeliad fan. This difference, of course, applies only to plants that have a fully developed inflorescence in the center of the plant, because without the flower head there would be no sure way to determine which genus a given plant belonged to. The formation of the flower head is the leading visual difference between Neoregelia and Nidularium.

Nidularium regelioides

The flower head of the Neoregelia is low down in the center cup. It is compact and all the flowers emanate from an "unseen" central stalk. Therefore, it is a simple inflorescence and is not branched as is the case in most Nidulariums.

All Neoregelia flowers open with spreading petals and they last only a few hours. The petals twist into a spiral when closed. The fruit is formed down in the water.

Many Neoregelias turn red, crimson or cerise at the time of blooming (N. spectabilis excepted). This color appears both on the center leaves and on the leaf-like bracts (more elongated than in Nidularium) surrounding the central flower head, thus giving the "Crimson Cup" feature of many of the Neoregelias.

The Nidulariums, on the other hand, have a branched inflorescence and, although it forms a rather compact head, it is really made up of a series of close fitting, short branches, each one holding a few flowers in separated groups, enclosed in a colored bract. They spiral around a small center group of flowers in the top. The flowers are tubular and remain closed, the petals do not spread when mature (except in one or two rather rare species). The old flowers fall over but do not twist (as they do in Neoregelias) when they die.

Generally speaking, Nidulariums have thinner leaves and are less rugged than the Neoregelias and most of the species require less light than the Neoregelias.

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida

Photo by author


Roger K. Taylor

Several articles in the Bulletin have mentioned the possibility of growing bromeliads in water, but without comment on the size of the plants so grown. The accompanying photograph shows the quite considerable difference between two plants of Neoregelia spectabilis, started at about the same time; the larger one, in the four-inch pot, has been handled in the orthodox manner, whereas the smaller one has been grown in pebbles and water. Small amounts of very dilute nutrient solution have been added at times to the water, and periodically it has been drained off and replaced with fresh to prevent buildup in concentration of soluble matter.

It is remarkable that the plant can adapt itself to this reversal cup dry, roots immersed of the usual growing conditions, with effect only on size; the leaves are firm, and quite as colorful as those of the larger plant. Such scaling down is welcome when one has a number of plants and limited space.

Doubtless other readers have tried water culture, and it would be of interest to learn if their experience parallels this whether the dwarfing here noted is a general phenomenon, or an isolated case.

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

Photo by author
This is a photomicrograph of a 2-pored pollen grain of Nidularium regelioides showing the fine, reticulated sculpture. These pollen grains are about 50 u (0.05mm) in length.


Gunnar Erdtman

Pollenmorphological data were frequently resorted to by Prof. C. Mez in his monograph on the Bromeliaceae. During about fifty years which have elapsed since the major part of Mez's work was done methods in pollen morphology have been considerably improved. It is therefore to be expected that new data derived from the pollen grains will aid taxonomists in their work on the family and its subdivisions into subfamilies, genera and species.

The two-pored pollen grains of Nidularium regelioides (as shown in photo) are about 50 u (0.05mm) in length. Two-pored grains are also found in Aechmea, Ananas, Canistrum, Hohenbergia, Neoregelia, Nidularium, Portea, and Quesnelia.

Pollen grains of another type, provided with a central groove, more or less evident, and coinciding with the longest axis of the grains, occur throughout the Pitcairnioideae, the Tillandsioideae and in the Bromelioideae, (e.g. in Billbergia, Guzmania, Ochagavia, Thecophyllum, Tillandsia and Vriesia).

During the past few years Mr. Foster, and other botanists interested in the Bromeliaceae, have supplied the Palynological Laboratory of the Swedish Natural Science Research Council with polliniferous material of bromeliads. It would be greatly appreciated if it could be arranged to send to the laboratory, further material, particularly of rare species and new hybrids, so that a planned monograph on the Bromeliaceae might be made as comprehensive as possible.

The polliniferous material (unopened, nearly ripe stamens or entire buds) should be dried and pressed between papers two or three days before dispatching. Also pollen material can be sent in small vials filled with glacial acetic acid or with alcohol.

Nybodagatan 5, Stockholm-Solna, Sweden

Photos M. B. Foster
Neoregelia carolinae


Racine Foster

The Neoregelias and Nidulariums could be given honors in a blushing contest; these two genera certainly can claim the majority of red centered plants, such as:

Neoregelia carolinae var. carolinae
Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor
Neoregelia farinosa
Neoregelia Johannis
Neoregelia pineliana
Nidularium fulgens
Nidularium regelioides
Nidularium rutilans
and many Neoregelia hybrids.

Neoregelia carolinae, long and well-known in European horticulture, can be classed as about the all-time favorite. It has a delicately colored light green leaf of a rather large plant made up of narrow but long leaves. Of all the bromeliads shown to people it is the one plant that everybody wants (even when not in bloom). There is something quite captivating about this plant. Then when it blushes, no one has enough adjectives for it! It fulfills a plantsman's dream with showy, long-lasting color. The color is hard to describe. At first it is a brilliant red, then it turns (when the flowers are fully formed) into a dazzling cerise that turns to a fetching blue-red that can't quite be described. Later, in time, the blues in this cerise turn violet which results in a celestial shade of cerise.

Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor has all this plus the dividend of white, pink and green striped leaves. It is no wonder at all that it is a plant in great demand.

Nidularium fulgens

Neoregelia farinosa is not the graceful plant of N. carolinae. It has stubbier leaves but it has the long-lasting color blush though its hue is a much darker red from the first flush than that of N. carolinae.

Neoregelia Johannis can have a constant display of the lavender-violet center, darker than other Neoregelias eventually attain. N. Johannis has the rounded tip leaf which gives a sturdy appearance to a fine whorl of leaves.

Nidularium amazonicum produces the lovely brick-red central bracts which compliment the unusually colored violet-mauve leaves.

Nidularium fulgens contains, at blooming time, a delightful basket of cerise colored bracts which holds the charming blue flowers; the light green leaves are mottled with dark splotches and are edged with conspicuous teeth.

The charming blushing habit of the Nidulariums and Neoregelias is not, fortunately, confined to these two genera. Orthophytum navioides (once called Cryptanthopsis) puts forth a most intense display of vivid red at flower time, for, in the proper light, the entire plant turns red.

Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor, the variegated Cryptanthus with the pink blush, has captivated the eye of many a plant collector.

Not to be forgotten are the variegated varieties of both Ananas comosus and A. bracteatus whose green and white striped leaves have the pink flush distributed and overlaid on the green and white stripes throughout the blooming period.

Perhaps the most spectacular of all these highly colored bromeliads is the Bromelia balansae, B. serra and B. pinguin group. There is nothing to compare. The plant produces its blush gradually over a period of many days, culminating in a great burst of intense scarlet. All words fail at this point. Only seeing is believing!

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida

Photo by author
Center: Neophytum Lymanii   Lower center: Orthophytum navioides


Mulford B. Foster

NEOPHYTUM, genus hybr. nov.
[Neoregelia Orthophytum]
Typus et species unica: Neophytum Lymanii

NEOPHYTUM LYMANII spec. hybr. nov.
[Neoregelia bahiana (Ule) L. B. Smith var. viridis L. B. Smith

Orthophytum navioides (L. B. Smith) L. B. Smith]

Inflorescentia capitata pauciflora in foliorum rosulam immersa, bracteis florigeris angustis, serrulatis dentibus; flores hermaphroditi sessiles, sepalis liberis rectis symmetricis anguste triangularibus acuminatis, petalis liberis sine squamis nectariferis, staminum filamentis tenuissimis seriei 1 liberis seriei 2 ad basim petalorum adnatis, ovario glabro inferiore. Folia plurima subcrebra 3 dm. longa minutissime denseque serrulata vaginis parvis non insignitis.


TYPE: Cultivated at Orlando, Florida, M. B. Foster 3022 (U.S. Nat'l Herb.)

In this new bigeneric cross between species of Orthophytum and Neoregelia, the predominating features appear to come from the seed parent, Orthophytum navioides. In fact, in many ways it has the appearance of being a giant form of that species when it reaches the flowering period. The narrow flat leaves of the seed parent are more numerous, more delicate and arching in a graceful manner and when in flower practically all of the leaves turn red while the Neophytum leaves are glossy, stiff, formal and nearly upright until shortly before the flowering period when they spread almost longitudinally. Then the inner leaves surrounding the inflorescence turn a beautiful crimson red as many of the Neoregelia species do at this period. The flower petals are white as they are in Orthophytum and not blue as they are in the pollen parent, Neoregelia bahiana var. viridis, which is a tubular plant of very few leaves quite in contrast to most of the Neoregelia species. The leaves are thick and glossy and do not change color at the flowering period. The beautiful blue flowers, three inches in length, low in the tubular plant, are pleasantly discovered only when one peers down into the tube. The flower pedicels are nearly an inch long but the flowers of both the Neophytum and the Orthophytum are without pedicels. There are nectar scales on the petals of the Orthophytum but the petals of both the Neoregelia parent and the new Neophytum Lymanii are without nectar scales.

The entire inflorescence of the Orthophytum parent continues for many weeks to give off a clean "ivory soap" perfume both before flowers are open and long afterwards, but this perfume is not carried by the new Neophytum nor the Neoregelia parent.

Both of these parent plants were discovered by the author and his wife, in Brazil in 1939.

So far as we know there was comparatively little hybridization done in the Bromeliad Family in the United States until 1922 when Theodore L. Mead at Oviedo, Florida, started his experiments with the first few bromeliads that were given to him by Mr. Henry Nehrling. His work, principally with Billbergia species, continued through to 1931 and nearly all of his successful hybrids were in the genus Billbergia.

In the past twenty-five years of the more than two hundred successful crosses made by the writer, most have been between species of the same genus. Fifteen years ago the first attempts to develop bigeneric crosses began, not with the thought in mind to confuse present or future botanists but to learn as much as possible as to just what genera were or were not very close to each other morphologically, and thus give us a clearer idea of their relationship as well as the development of the family.

So far, the only successful bigeneric hybrids made in the Bromeliaceae have been made within the subfamily Bromelioideae the species that produces berry-like fruits.

Only a few of the crosses made between species of different genera have been successful but this new generic hybrid, Neophytum Lymanii (the result of a cross between Neoregelia bahiana var. viridis as the pollen parent and Orthophytum navioides as the seed parent) was a most welcome and successful surprise.

It is my great pleasure to name this new bigeneric hybrid in honor of Dr. Lyman B. Smith whose major work in the Bromeliaceae has included descriptions of more than 150 new species and varieties of Bromeliaceae from the writer's collections in North, Central and South America.

Photos by author


Mulford B. Foster

NEOMEA genus hybr. nov.
[Aechmea Neoregelia]
Typus et species unica: Neomea Marnieri

NEOMEA MARNIERI spec. hybr. nov.
[Neoregelia Carolinae (Beer) L. B. Smith Aechmea Chantinii (Carr.) Baker]

Inflorescentia paniculata 3-5 ellipsoideo-strobiliformis multiflora densissima in foliorum rosulam subimmersa. Flores hermaphroditi sessiles. sepalis liberis, petalis violaceis liberis sine squamis nectariferis, staminum filamentis tenuissimis seriei 1 liberis seriei 2 ad petala altiuscule adnatis.

Folia subpatentia late linearia apice late rotundata impotenter mucronata, margine horride spinosa vagina integra.

Type: Cultivated at Orlando, Florida; M. B. Foster, 3023 (U.S. Nat'l Herb.)

Neomea Marnieri is an unusually handsome plant. The inflorescence with a very short scape, is branched and may have two to four compact, cone-shaped heads low in the center rosette; the lower portions of the center leaves turn a bright crimson red when inflorescence appears. The small flowers with violet petals surrounded with light orange sepals add to the beauty of this vigorous growing hybrid even though it does not carry the spectacularly barred leaves of its maternal parent, Ae. Chantinii.

Left: Aechmea Chantinii.
Right: Neoregelia Carolinae.
Lower: Neomea Marnieri

This bigeneric hybrid, Neomea Marnieri, is the progeny of two very striking parents so different in their "formal dress" that one would hardly expect them to be compatible. But when the pollen parent Neoregelia carolinae was used to cooperate with Aechmea Chantinii as the seed parent, the result was a very beautiful issue. Unfortunately, the loss of those singularly attractive dark green and silver horizontal bands across the leaves, along with the bright orange scape bracts on a laxly branched inflorescence holding spikes of close-fitting flowers (of Ae. Chantinii), was a great sacrifice. This proud strutting beauty gave in to the more retiring and blushing beauty of Neoregelia carolinae.

Neomea Marnieri

Ever since Ae. Chantinii was discovered by Baraquin, "two paces from a negro's cabin in the Amazon valley", eighty-two years ago, bromeliad growers have made many unsuccessful attempts to self-pollinate it, hoping to be able to raise it from seed, but it was of no avail. Its increase has been slow and the only propagation has been asexual, by offshoots. Even in this new bigeneric cross I had only two fertile seeds and that was just two more than I had really expected to get, since I had made many attempts to self-pollinate the proud parent, Aechmea Chantinii, which is quite sterile to itself or almost anything else that I have tried to cross pollinate it with. As would be expected, this new cross Neomea, is also quite sterile.

This new bigeneric species was an interesting surprise in its final results. In our first attempt to make a cross between species of two different genera we wonder what characteristics of which genus are going to predominate if the cross is successful. Especially in this instance where we use a Neoregelia species, which has a strobilate inflorescence low in the center of the plant, and an Aechmea with a tall branching inflorescence. This low, compact, flower-head habit is constant in the genus Neoregelia with every known species, whereas in the genus Aechmea inconsistencies are found. The inflorescence may be as low and strobilate as a Neoregelia, such as in the species Ae. recurvata, or the inflorescence may be a six foot open-branched one, such as in Ae. Blanchettiana.

I have named this beautiful new bigeneric in honor of M. Julien Marnier-Lapostolle of Paris, France, who so kindly presented me with a plant of the rare Aechmea Chantinii several years ago. His extensive botanical collection of tropical plants includes a very fine lot of bromeliads as well as cacti and other succulents at "Les Cedres" at Cap-Ferrat on the Mediterranean, (see Brom. Bull. p. 55, Vol. IV-1954, No. 4).

M. Marnier-Lapostolle's work with plants has been a great contribution to horticulture and his botanical collection is, no doubt, one of the finest private collections on the European continent.

718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida


Q. I have two forms of Neoregelia marmorata one that tends to be green and one that tends to be red. Is one a variety? which is the true N. marmorata?

A. It is quite likely that neither of your plants are the true N. marmorata. Most plants called N. marmorata are hybrids between N. marmorata and N. spectabilis. Some are crosses between N. marmorata and concentrica. The true N. marmorata is rarely seen in horticulture and is a much smaller plant than most of the hybrids which are known under that name.

M. B. F.


Lyman B. Smith

Neoregelias are among my most vivid recollections of collecting in Brazil what you might call dreams in technicolor. The first I ever found was at the beginning of my collecting in Rio in November 1928 when I was hacking my way up the forested slopes of Pedra Dois Irmaos looking for a trail that never appeared. It was just as well, for while I was lost I came upon a great boulder covered with slender vase-like rosettes. The boulder was 12 or 15 feet high and as smooth as any of the glacial erratics I was familiar with back home in New England. There was not even a finger hold on the boulder, and a tree that grew by it was too slick to shin up but close enough so that I was able to wedge myself up between like a sweep in a chimney. Once on top of the boulder I found that many of the plants had small whitish flowers deep in the centers of the rosettes. It was not until I returned to the States that I was able to identify them as the graceful Neoregelia sarmentosa or Aregelia as it was then called.

My next encounter was with the best known of all the Neoregelias, N. concentrica. I took the train from Rio up the Organ Mountains to Petropolis and then walked back down following first the old highway and then the track of the cog railway. There I found a number of interesting bromeliads as well as the concentrica, but I must confess my strongest recollection is of my fears while walking the high narrow railway trestles. Later on I was better able to appreciate the purple shading of the leaves and the bright green and blue of the flowers of this Neoregelia whose history goes back to old Padre Velloso and his Flora Fluminensis.

Years later in 1952 I went to Petropolis again, but this time by car with Dr. Segadas-Vianna and his crew of eager student assistants from the Museu National in Rio. We found but one Neoregelia and that old and shattered but it was carolinae and it still showed its glossy red bracts like some piece of rich Oriental lacquer.

Another time we drove down the coast past the dripping sea cliffs of Pedra Dois Irmaos where the originals of our hothouse Gloxinias still cling precariously and past Gavea with its great flat cap rock to the long crescent beach of Sernambetiba. At the far end of the beach on a rocky headland we found squat compact plants of cruenta in full flower. Ornamentally the flowers did not greatly matter, however, since the principal display was the white-banded red-tipt leaves. Going inland into the scrub growth and low forest that is called restinga, we found the same Neoregelia with the leaves gradually lengthening in deeper and deeper shade and losing the white bands until it became what was once considered a distinct species, rubrospinosa.

My latest experience with Neoregelia was in my collecting in Parana and Santa Catarina in 1952 and 1956 where I found laevis the southernmost representative of the genus. Neoregelia is a plant of the rainforest and ends with it in Santa Catarina. I first found it on the coast of southern Parana at Guaratuba when I was inspecting malaria control measures. It was part of a great bromeliad mass that covered acres of ground and harbored astronomical amounts of mosquitos. Its plain green leaves and inconspicuous flowers make it rather unimportant horticulturally, but it is of interest as being the only Neoregelia to survive in a region of occasional frost. The growth that I saw at Guaratuba has been destroyed in the interest of public health, but this last trip I found laevis in Santa Catarina far enough from any settlement to be in any danger.

United States National Herbarium, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C.

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