BSI Journal - Online Archive


Frank H. Overton, Editor,
1348 Winchester Ave.,
Glendale, California
Morris Henry Hobbs, Art Editor
628 Toulouse St.,
New Orleans 16, Louisiana
Annual Dues: $3.50 a year (foreign $4.00) which includes subscription to the Bulletin. Write for details to Miss Victoria Padilla, Secretary,
647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles 49, California.


Vriesia retroflexa. A habit study approximately one half size of this beautiful species. Bright green leaves, similar to many other vriesias, but the brilliant red and yellowish inflorescence is like no other we know. Flowers, which appear singly between the bracts, are bright yellow. Blooms in early fall. Usually produces many offshoots.

This beautiful pen drawing of Vriesia retroflexa is the work of Morris Henry Hobbs, past president of the Louisiana Branch of the Society, who has generously consented to serve as our art editor. He has won many awards for his exquisite work in the highly specialized fields of etching, drypoint and aquatint, and we are happy to announce that we shall see more of it in future issues.


David Barry, Jr., has been a Californian almost since birth, at least since 1902. Aviculture held his interest as a natural science until about 1930 when he began to collect and to grow palms. He is still a palm grower, and is a director of the Palm Society. About twenty-five years ago he became interested in bromeliads through friendship with the late Richard G. Atkinson, of Leucadia, California, who was the first man to grow bromeliads extensively in California. Our president's real estate business is now relatively inactive, and in recent years much of his time has been spent in traveling to collect plants for his California Jungle Gardens, the commercial outgrowth of his plant hobby. He returned last year from the Orient, Africa, and South and Central America, and we expect him to tell us through the pages of the Bulletin about some of his bromeliad experiences on this trip, and of his visits with members of the Society in South and Central America.

For a good likeness of Mr. Barry, just as good as it was when taken six years ago, turn to page 4 of your Handbook.


At the annual meeting of the Board of Directors held in Los Angeles in October, 1958, it was resolved to express to Mr. and Mrs. Mulford B. Foster the heartfelt appreciation of the Board, speaking for itself, and in behalf of the members of the Society, for all that they have done for the Society, and to say to them that the Board is not unaware of the tremendous amount of time and energy that they have so devotedly spent for the Society in advancing the knowledge of and interest in bromeliads over a period of eight years.

Mr. Foster has served as President since the Society was formed, and as Editor, for seven years. During the past year, Mrs. Foster has lightened his burden by taking over the editor's desk. During these eight years they have worked as a team, publishing eight volumes of six issues each, and the quality of this fine achievement speaks for itself. We hope that they are not indispensable, but we suspect that they may be just that. Thank you both so very much, Mulford and Racine.

Photo by author
Tillandsia paniculata


Luis Ariza-Julia

Tillandsia paniculata has an interesting history as it was lost for nearly 200 years. It was known only from a drawing by Plumier and published away back in 1753. When it was again collected by that indefatigable collector, the Swedish botanist Ekman in the nineteen twenties, it was not recognized but thought to be new and named T. ekmanii. In the Catalogus Florae Domingensis it figures as Vriesia paniculata (L) Mez., but since that work was published, the real identity of the plant has been determined and so the species now carries its original designation.

The plant illustrated in the photograph was collected by Dr. Jose de Js. Jimenez and myself two years or so ago in the foothills of the Central Mountain Chain of the Dominican Republic near the town of Moncion, growing on Pinus occidentalis in the company of T. fasciculata, T. pulchella, the beautiful, T. schiedeana and streamers of T. usneoides, but we collected specimens at the same time on other trees, too. T. paniculata also occurs in the Northern Mountain Chain and a few specimens can be seen from the car along the road from Puerto Plata to Columbus' Santiago de los Caballeros. There is a distinguishing feature, namely, that the plants from the Moncion highlands have a large area next to the tip of the leaves of a beautiful slate gray color nicely set off by the light green of the rest of the leaf. This characteristic, regrettably, is not permanent; the plants brought down to my sea level garden lost it after some time, so that now there is no observable difference between the plants from either locality.

Photo by author
Vriesia türckheimii

Though epiphytic, the specimen in the photograph is growing in a large cement pot filled with pieces of old broken brick. Dead foliage from the surrounding trees finds its way into the axils of the leaves and decomposes in the water stored there, so that there has been no lack of nourishment in spite of the sterile planting medium. The largest leaves are now some 3' long by 3 5/8" wide and the spread of the plant reaches close to an imposing 7'. Other smaller plants from the Moncion region and our northern mountains were wired to palm trunks where they are developing satisfactorily. It is a question whether they will eventually reach the dimensions of the specimen growing in the pot. A plant from the nearby northern mountain zone has flowered for me previously, though being less in size than the foregoing. The inflorescence consisted of a 6' tall stalk, bracts and all plain green, branched more or less horizontally, the lower 3' and more long, the individual flowers opening in succession with petals 3" or more long, whitish with purple markings on the outside and with extremely long exserted yellow stamens. It never produced any off-shoots, being like T. utriculata in this respect.

Vriesia türckheimii appears in the Catalogus as Tillandsia türckheimii Mez., named after its discoverer, the well-known collector Baron von Türckheim. The plant illustrated was collected by me perhaps three years ago at the type locality, some 3900' up in our Central Mountains, growing on a rocky hillside next to a stream "Rio del Medio," the trees by the water being in some cases loaded with the remarkable T. fasciculata var. uncispica, the only recently described T. moscosoii, T. polystachia and an occasional T. pruinosa. It is strictly saxicolous but on occasion it will wander away from streams and grow together with agaves on rocks, but always at higher altitudes. This particular specimen is interesting because the leaves are thinner than usual, bending from their own weight, which gives the plant a soft and unusual appearance. Typically, the leaves are thicker and quite straight, so that the plant looks very much like an agave with grayish green leaves, in the wild subtended by many dry leaves hanging straight down and growing in colonies of several hundreds sometimes, which can cover a whole cliff.

The plants flower when quite large and on many one can observe also an old dried flower stem 3' to 4' tall, off to one side, so that apparently after flowering the plant does not die but keeps right on growing. It would be most interesting to know how often a plant will flower and how long it will live. The flower stems have 5 to 7 horizontal branches on which the flowers hang downwards like charms on a bracelet, opening one by one, and as their color is a dull greenish yellow with rust red markings on the outside while the bracts are plain brownish green, the inflorescence is not particularly attractive.

It, too, is growing in a cement pot with broken brick in the same spot as the T. paniculata, another V. türckheimii of typical habit and a fast developing off-shoot of Hohenbergia antillana from neighboring Puerto Rico, having adapted itself perfectly well to sea level conditions. I hope that some day it will flower and permit me to study just what happens afterwards.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic


Richard Oeser, M.D.

If you want to get long, strong roots, put the bromels in pure German peat. That material is acid, but contains no fertilizing substances. After the bromels have developed roots they must be fertilized regularly.

I have noted that old dead wood that has been used for years in the humidity of a greenhouse becomes useless for epiphytic plants. I think that the old wood must lose its natural acidity and therefore the plants refuse to make roots. If you take plants that have been growing on an old piece of wood and attach them to a fresh limb, they will almost at once make a lot of new roots.

Kirchzarten, bei Freiburg I, Brsg., Hebelstrasse 5, Germany


Joao Angely

Translated by Lyman B. Smith

In 1951 when we laid the foundations of our first institution specializing in the study of systematic botany, we planned the publication of a review which would give information on the plants which exist in the State of Parana in the south of Brazil. Accordingly, in 1953 we edited a list of 289 types of species which would form the fundamental base of the "Flora of Parana." There, on page 13, we published three species, namely, Dyckia dusenii L. B. Smith, Vriesia altodaserra L. B. Smith and V. dusenii L. B. Smith, all having appeared as new species in 1932. Later, we published the second number of the Flora of Parana Series comprising 191 Gramineae, and in 1955 we published the third number which was the Family Bromeliaceae. This study noted the presence in Parana of 100 specific and subspecific entities comprising 16 genera. Here was published the history of the family, the description of the morphology of the family, a list of the genera occurring in Brazil, studies made in Parana on these specimens, a list of the collectors in Parana, a list of the herbaria where the species are deposited, a list of the types with the name of the author and localities, a list of the new varieties, new forms and rare Bromeliaceae, and, finally, a total list of the scientific binomials which exist in Parana. Just as it was agreeable then for me to perform this work, it is now equally so for me to send this note to the most important institution in the world for collecting these plants, the Bromeliad Society.

I can now add the important information that bromeliads were first discovered in Parana in 1820 by the learned French botanist, Augustin Saint-Hilaire, who published the Flora Brasiliae Meridionalis (3 volumes-1825). In this work he did not note a single bromeliad, but, among the 491 numbers collected in his 464 kilometers of travels in Parana, there was one bromeliad that bore the number 1451 among the enormous collection of 7600 specimens made in Brazil between 1816 and 1820. All this material is deposited in the Laboratoire de Phanerogamie of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. So far, I have not succeeded in discovering the species, but, beyond any doubt, it is the first record of the bromeliad flora in southern Brazil, where now more than 300 species are to be found. Saint-Hilaire traveled in a region that is fabulous for bromeliads but why should he collect only a single specimen while he collected 24 different orchids? It is difficult to reply to this enigma or to find a solution to it.

Instituto Paranaense de Botanica, Curitiba-Parana-Brazil

Translator's note: On page 860 of DC. Mon. Phan., under Tillandsia mallemontii, Mez lists: Sao Paulo, loco ignoto, St.-Hilaire Cat. C 2, no. 1451.


Richard Oeser, M.D.

Upon the European continent there exist bromeliads that are very old. There one can see for instance, specimens of Tillandsia stricta whose trunks have reached a length of two feet over the course of decades. This trunk is dry and leafless, but the growing top is fresh and green, and only by the length of the trunk can an age of perhaps fifty or sixty years be deduced. With other bromeliads no long trunk reveals their great age. They reproduce vegetatively and many of the rarer plants exhibited in various collections are offsets of a single mother-plant, imported long years, or decades, ago.

These being descendants of one mother-plant, makes it impossible for those that are self-sterile to produce viable seed even if one hand-pollinizes two flowering plants that are, by blood relationship, one plant. The great age of certain plants shows still another resultant effect: they flower increasingly less often and finally stop blooming altogether, while the ease and readiness with which they produce offsets increases.

Personal observations established that fact with Tillandsia stricta and T. dianthoidea. With an Aechmea Weilbachii with brownish-red colored leaves, frequently met with in our collections, one hardly ever experiences a flowering. These examples could be multiplied many times and this cessation of flowering ability is attested to by other experienced growers. I, myself, only became aware of this sign of senility after importing young specimens of the above-mentioned species which, under identical growing conditions, flowered regularly every year.

In their natural habitat plants probably never reach the age they attain in the glass houses of old Europe despite the wars that have swept over her. Possibly the natural conditions of their native home preserve their flowering ability by the timely change of the seasons and dry and rain periods which are longer than with us.

Kirchzarten, bei Freiburg I, Brsg., Hebelstrasse 5, Germany


Stanton E. Nadig

I find that the addition of a small amount of white vinegar to the water used on my plants not only has a good cleansing action on the leaves but also seems to have a beneficial effect on the growth.

Needing to do some potting recently, and having no osmunda on hand, I improvised a mixture consisting of 2 parts German peat, one part granite grit, and one part sphagnum, and found that it gave better results than straight osmunda. The watering had to be watched a little more closely but the results were worth it. When fir bark became available, I used it as a base with different ingredients added, depending upon the plant to be potted. Granite grit is a must in every mixture for bromels, orchids and other plants requiring a pH of 6 or less. For the limestone-clinging type of bromeliads I use a mixture of four parts peat, two parts calcite chicken grit, one part humus, and one part charcoal.

Quakertown, Pennsylvania


William Smythe Sargent

Thirty-one slides were arranged according to the number of species represented in one genus and then selected according to their respective merits for further study. Of these thirty-one slides, fifteen were taken from the three genera: Billbergia, Tillandsia, and Cryptanthus, because these genera were most widely represented.

The leaves used in this work were taken from greenhouse specimens, some growing in earth and others in fibre. The majority of the Cryptanthus were growing in earth filled pots, while those of Tillandsia and Billbergia were in hanging and terrestrial pots of fibre. The leaves used were taken from the basal portion of each plant and cut about an inch from their point of origin on the plant.

The majority of the slides were made from sections of about 10 microns in thickness with the exception of Tillandsia usneoides and a few of the thicker Cryptanthus. The slides of the three genera were compared according to the following criteria: (1) stomata. (2) hairs. (3) thickness of cuticle. (4) water storage tissue. (5) bundle sheath. (6) aerenchyma. (7) sclerenchyma, and (8) mesophyll.

(1) Stomata were found on the underside of the leaves of Billbergia and Cryptanthus, and on the upper side of Tillandsia, in which there were very few. (2) Basket hairs were found, in general, only on the thin-walled varieties; on the under surface of the leaves of Billbergia; covering the entire under surface and half the upper surface of Tillandsia; no basket hairs present in Cryptanthus, but there were scale-like hairs lying flat on the surface of both sides of all the Cryptanthus. (3) The thickness of the cuticle was similar in all genera, being thin in Tillandsia and running a little thicker in Cryptanthus. (4) In general, it was found that the water storage tissue made up from one half to two thirds the thickness of the leaf on the upper side. This tissue was palisade-like in structure and ran perpendicular to the leaf surface plane. In Billbergia the water storage tissue was thin-walled and made up about one half the thickness of the upper side. Tillandsia was very much the same as Billbergia. Cryptanthus, however, displayed quite a different appearance: in C. billbergioides there was water storage tissue to the extent of two-thirds the upper side, while in C. atropurpureus it made up nearly seven-tenths of the same area. The water storage was much greater in Cryptanthus than in either of the other two genera. (5) In Billbergia the bundle sheath completely surrounded the bundle, while in Tillandsia and Cryptanthus the sheath was split in the middle forming two distinct sheaths. The exception to this was found in Tillandsia filifolia which had no sheath. (6) Aerenchyma:– Billbergia: large regular air spaces in the center of the leaf, from one-tenth to one half the total width; Tillandsia: running parallel and between the bundles, from one-sixth to one half the leaf width. Cryptanthus is represented by air spaces similar to Tillandsia except in the case of C. zonatus, in which the air spaces are scattered.

The following genera were represented: Tillandsia, Billbergia, Guzmania, Aechmea, Quesnelia, Cryptanthus, Pitcairnia, Nidularium, Neoregelia, and Ananas sativus.

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Penn.


Free Translation by Peter Temple

From Picado's "Les Broméliacées Epiphytes," 1913

It should be known as a general fact that there are no lasting ponds or water pools in the great jungles. It has been calculated that a temperate oak forest loses in one year an amount of water sufficient to form a lake one and one half feet deep, covering the entire area of the forest, no matter its size. It stands to reason that if this loss is experienced by a forest where, because of climatic conditions, the surface of evaporation is relatively small, then in a tropical jungle where the trees are of gigantic proportions and subject to a very drying heat, the evaporation is very intense. Other causes increase the amount of evaporation and form an obstacle to the permanent deposit of rainwater on to the ground in these forests; one of the principal obstacles being the drainage of the earth by tree roots. These, even if dead, constitute pipes and hose lines plunging into the ground to depths of eighty feet, or more, thereby conducting water to great depths. Thus, tropical forests and permanent, lasting water pools do not occur together. And yet, when one enters the jungle, one meets with insects which could not live with-out these pools, nor develop without water. Where did these insects come from, and where were the water pools necessary for their development?

The naturalists who put this question to themselves thought immediately of plants capable of retaining water. Such plants are not numerous, but each region possesses them: in Europe, some of the Dipsaceae and Gramineae; in North Africa, the Sarracenia; in the East Indies (Malaya. Borneo, New Guinea, Celebes, Sumatra, the Philippines) the Nepenthes; in Africa the palms; in Asia the bamboos; in tropical America the bananas and bromeliads, not counting mosses and hepaticas, capable of retaining water, but in such small quantities as to be too small to serve as a habitat for these insects.

Although botanists were earlier in the bromeliad collecting field, it is to the early naturalists and biologists that we owe the first studies on the behavior of epiphytic bromeliads.

In 1879, a renowned naturalist named Muller carried out the first work on the fauna of epiphytic bromeliads – he worked in Brazil. He also was the first to assume that the detritus retained by epiphytic bromeliads served as their nourishment.

Another of the earliest studies of the epiphytic bromeliads was carried out by a biologist named Schimper who, in 1884, showed great interest in these plants and first estimated the amount of water retained and the amount of detritus deposited in them. He demonstrated that these bromeliads need never draw their nourishment from the plant which supported them and that they were sustained by the deposit of detritus between the leaves, the absorption of water and the absorption of dissolved salts by the scales of the leaves.

An interesting observation was made by a biologist named Lutz who, in 1903, recorded that the detritus did not rot so much when certain insect larvae lived in the bromeliads, but putrefaction set in when they were withdrawn from the plant.

That famous botanist of bromeliad fame, Mez, published, in 1904, a long memoir on the mechanism of absorption by the scales of epiphytic bromeliad leaves and he established that these scales function in a manner similar to a suction pump, practically amounting to the human breathing apparatus.

In 1906, another biologist, Tietze, made a comparative study of the scales of the different groups of bromeliads and showed the progressive specialization of the scales to the functions of nutrition. At the same time he made an anatomical comparison of the vegetative machinery of different bromeliads.

Still another biologist, Werckle, published, in 1909, a treatise on plant distribution in Costa Rica in which he considered the climatic conditions to which bromeliads and other plants were subjected. He considered that Costa Rica was the country where bromeliads were best represented, as much by the number of species and individuals, as by their shapes.

1910 saw another biologist named Aso experimenting with the absorption of different salts by bromeliad leaf scales. He established that absorption by scales is indisputable in Tillandsias, but not so in Ananas.

A French biologist, named Picado, attempted, in 1912, to explain the cause of the non-putrefaction of the detritus retained by bromeliads. He submitted that the absorption of organic substances composed of nitrogenous compounds, etc., by the leaves of these plants after the digestion of the detritus, vegetable and animal, retained between the leaves, was the reason. He considered that epiphytic bromeliads were aerial water pools eliminating the substances of decomposition in a similar way to the non-putrefaction of terrestrial ponds.

42 Holly Park, Finchley, N. 3, England


Charles Webb

Some time ago I planted some V. splendens seed and, in due course, was rewarded with a small batch of seedlings. When they were about one inch high the center of one of them, from some unknown cause, rotted out, but, to my surprise, the little plant then developed three offshoots. The idea occurred to me, "Why not destroy the centers deliberately and thereby increase one's stock at least twofold?" It would set the growth back twelve months but should pay good dividends. I am awaiting results, but would, in the meantime, like to know if anyone else has attempted a similar experiment.

I have found a use for dried bullock skulls. I stuff them full of fibre and grow Aechmeas in them. Mine has Aechmea distichantha growing out of each of the eyes and ears, and a Billbergia pyramidalis out of the nose. Grotesque, but so different! These plants have been growing in the skull for about eighteen months and are thriving; the Billbergia has four sideshoots and the Aechmeas are nearly twelve inches high. I also use the shin bones of cattle for the same purpose but the plants become dwarfs because of the lack of food.

13 Elizabeth Ave., Dulwich Hill, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia


Victoria Padilla

   Photo by author
Aechmea miniata × calyculata
A Stands for Aechmea

Among the most satisfying of bromeliads which a beginner can grow are the Aechmeas. In almost every respect they are the perfect house-plant, possessing all the good qualities which one looks for in a potted specimen.

Aechmeas rank next to Billbergias in their ease of culture, but unlike them have inflorescences that will last in color for many months. Many are exceptionally hardy, especially those the leaves of which are stiff and thick, and these are easily adaptable to outdoor culture where freezing weather is not a frequent occurrence. Aechmeas, too, are among the most beautiful of all the genera and offer an amazing variety of form and coloring. Some have plain green leaves; others are fantastically mottled. Some have leaves that are colored maroon, grey, copper, or rose; others are vividly striped either horizontally or vertically. Some have flower spikes of pale pink and powder-blue; some resemble a small pine cone; and others have brilliant berries of red or purple. Some have inflorescences that are tall, branched and spreading; whereas some have pendant flower heads which resemble brightly colored Christmas ornaments.

Aechmeas range in size from the exquisite miniature Aechmea pineliana having a leaf spread of but a few inches to others like the giant Aechmea conifera measuring nine feet from tip to tip. Some species may weigh only several ounces while others will tip the scales at over one hundred pounds. The species, however, that are offered in the trade usually average from one to two feet in diameter and seldom exceed two feet in height. Aechmeas are at all times, neat, compact, and thrifty, and seldom do they ever harbor a scale or a mite. They do not require much care – a light, porous soil on the acid side, a temperature that does not fall much below forty or fifty, water at all times in their cups, a light feeding once a month with a liquid fertilizer, a light, airy atmosphere will keep them happy at all times. It has been the writer's personal experience that those plants which have stiff grey leaves require less water than those with softer, more succulent type of foliage. She has found that Aechmea chantini and Aechmea fasciata do better, for example, when kept on the dry side; when watered too frequently the leaves tend to brown at the tips.

The writer believes that the beginner would do well to start his bromeliad collection with a good selection of Aechmeas; in fact, he could have a thrilling experience by growing just this one genus. There are about one hundred species in the American trade today, all of which are desirable plants. They range in price from $1 to $25 for the superb Aechmea chantini, which is, indeed, not only one of the rarest of the species but also one of the most beautiful. It is hoped that some day enough of this stunning plant will be raised to meet all demands. What Aechmeas should the beginner strive to obtain? The following plants have been favorites for many years, are colorful and beautiful, and are available in the United States:

Aechmea fasciata, with its grey leaves barred with silver and with its pink and blue flowerhead, should be found in every collection, no matter how small. It is a summer bloomer, but its inflorescence will retain its lovely pink shade for a good six months.

Aechmea fulgens discolor has a brilliant gorgeous flowerhead of berry-like flowers with purple petals. The leaves, which form an artistic open rosette, are a powdery green on their upper side and a rich purple on their under side. This plant usually blooms in June.

Aechmea miniata discolor is also a late spring bloomer. It is beautiful even when not in bloom for its glossy, soft green leaves, the under side of which are a beautiful maroon or rose shade. It has a red berry-like flower head with bright blue petals and has a spread up to 12 inches. Some outstanding crosses have been made using this plant as a parent. All of them are larger and are, perhaps, more stunning plants. They are hardy outdoors in Southern California and are dependable bloomers.

A handsome triumvirate are Aechmea fosteriana, Aechmea orlandiana, and their child, Aechmea Bert ×. These three plants are all characterized by spectacularly mottled leaves, which zebraic markings make them among the most out-standing plants of the genus. The writer has found Aechmea Bert × to be the hardiest, and it makes a colorful subject for an outdoor rockery.

Another threesome of uncommon appeal are Aechmea victoriana, Aechmea racinae, and their offspring, Aechmea "Foster's Favorite." All three are distinguished for their graceful, brilliant, drooping, berry-like flower stalks. Aechmea racinae, the "Christmas Jewel," is a pet with its flower stem of yellow and black flowers. Aechmea "Foster's Favorite" quickly becomes a favorite of all those who possess this plant. Possessing unbelievably shiny leaves of deep-wine red, it is always a graceful ornament. Its flowers are midnight blue. It is a winter bloomer.

Aechmea nudicaulis is as sturdy a plant as they come. It likes neglect. Its red bracts and yellow flowers make it irresistibly gay. This is the bromeliad that can be seen growing on the trees that border the Pan-American Highway in Mexico.

A shy bloomer is Aechmea pectinata, but its large rosette of pale green leaves spotted with darker green and rose make it a beautiful specimen and well worth having.

Aechmea weilbachii is one of the handsomest plants of this genus. It has slender upright leaves which gleam with subtle shadings of bronze-salmon and green. Its flower spike is one of the longest lasting, its bright red berries staying in color for many months.

A large, handsome Aechmea is Aechmea caudata variegated. It makes a handsome container subject for southern patios, its long leaves striped with cream making it a colorful subject. The yellow flowers last in color for many months. This plant soon becomes a large clump.

Aechmea pineliana is characterized by its soft quiet tones of grey, rose and copper, giving to the plant a pastel, almost ethereal quality. The small flower head resembles a yellow pine cone. Both the dwarf form and the larger size are highly desirable plants.

Aechmea tillandsioides, so named for its flowerhead which resembles that of many Tillandsias, is a little gem. Red, white, and blue are its colors – for it has red bracts and white fruit which turn a brilliant blue. It always attracts attention.

Aechmea ramosa is highly prized by all those who own this plant. A hardy plant, it has two forms – one which has plain green leaves and one which has leaves of a brilliant pink. Its large flowerhead of yellow stays in color for a long time.

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


Roger K. Taylor

It has been maintained that the chemistry student who knows most about the subject is the one who has just finished his first course therein. The basic laws and sweeping generalities have been given, and the ramifications, complications, and exceptions revealed in later years have not yet been encountered.

Something of the sort seems to apply to the gaining of some familiarity with the bromeliaceae. One ultimately comes to know that there are some Cryptanthus varieties that aren't flat; that there are Neoregelias without red tips, and plants with red tips that aren't Neoregelias; that fine lengthwise parallel lines on the leaves don't necessarily signify a Guzmania, and some Guzmanias are without such markings; that size and color don't inevitably distinguish between Aechmeas miniata discolor and fulgens discolor; etc., etc.

My thesis is, you don't have to know all the minutiae, to get a great deal of enjoyment from your plants. Certainly it's nice to know as much as possible about them; but they're just as pretty, whether or not you have the precise classification. I have a leopard-spotted Vriesia and a vividly-marked small plant that seems to be a Guzmania, both from Panama, and nameless. Another plant, that came marked "Nidularium fulgens," clearly wasn't: with its glossy leaves and bronze-red tints it may be a form or hybrid of Neoregelia carolinae. To me they're attractive as is, and wouldn't be much more so if I had complete identification. Besides, if you stress classification you may have to re-learn names from time to time: what used to be Nidularium amazonicum is now officially a Wittrockia, though according to someone with authoritative knowledge it's most likely a variety of Nidularium innocentii, instead.

So, if the growing of your plants takes precedence over your cataloguing them, take the matter of nomenclature in your stride; you can have a lot of fun without pretending to be a taxonomist.

3122 North Calvert St., Baltimore, Md.

Illumination on the Generic Names in the Bromeliaceae

Lyman B. Smith

ACANTHOSTACHYS – from the Greek "acanthos" spiny plant and "stachys" a spike.

AECHMEA – from the Greek "aichme," spear, referring to points on the perianth.

ANANAS – Genus name from the Guarani Indians of Brazil.

ANDREA – Genus name for Edouard Francois Andre, 1840-1911, discoverer of many new species of bromeliads in Colombia and Ecuador.

ANDROLEPIS – from the Greek "andros" man or male and "lepis" scale, referring to the scale-like appendages on the stamens.

ARAEOCOCCUS – from the Greek "araeo" few and "kokkos" the genus having the smallest fruits with the fewest seeds in the family.

BILLBERGIA – in honor of Gustave Johannes Billberg, Swedish botanist, 1772-1844.

BROCCHINIA – for G. B. Brocchi, 1772-1826, Italian student of biology and geology.

BROMELIA – surname of the Swedish botanist, Olaf Bromel, 1639-1705.

CANISTRUM – from "kanos," Greek for basket, the inflorescence being in a basket of bracts.

CATOPSIS – means a view in Greek, not explained, but may refer to its growing in trees.

CONNELLIA – for Frederick Vavasour McConnell, English ornithologist and biologist and explorer of Mt. Roraima, 1868-1914.

COTTENDORFIA – for a German botanist, Baron Cotta von Cotendorf, 1763-1844.

CRYPTANTHUS – Crypt means hidden; anthos means flower.

DEINACANTHON – derivation not explained but apparently from the Greek "deios" enemy and "acanthos" spiny plant.

DEUTEROCOHNIA – a second genus named for Ferdinand Julius Cohn, 1828-1898, there being already a Cohnia in the Liliaceae (like Deuteronomy for "numbers again" in the Bible).

(DISTEGANTHUS – I consider this a synonym of Aechmea).

DYCKIA – for Prince Joseph von Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck, German patron of botany, 1773-1861.

ENCHOLIRIUM – Greek words meaning sword lily.

FASCICULARIA – derivation not indicated but undoubtedly from the diminutive of the latin "fascis" bundle and "aria" pertaining to, in reference to the flowers growing in bundles. The old Roman officials called lictors carried fasces or bundles of rods to show their police authority and the same root has given rise to the modern word "Fascist."

FERNSEEA – for Heinrich Wawra, Ritter (knight) von Fernsee, 1831-1887, a German botanist who collected widely in Latin America especially in Brazil. He discovered a number of highly ornamental bromeliads when collecting for the Emperor Maximilian in eastern Brazil, and described and illustrated them with colored plates.

GRAVISIA – derivation not explained but could be from the Latin "gravis" heavy referring to the heavy load of exudate of wax and honey on the flowers.

GREIGIA – for Major General von Greig, president of the Russian Horticultural Society in 1865.

GUZMANIA – named for A. Guzman, a Spanish naturalist, by Ruiz and Pavon, pioneer botanical explorers of Peru, in 1802.

HECHTIA – for councilor (geheimrat) Julius Hecht of Potsdam in 1885.

HOHENBERGIA – for the Prince of Wuertemberg, a German patron of botany, known botanically as Hohenberg.

LINDMANIA – for Carl Axel Magnus Lindman, Swedish botanist and specialist in bromels, 1856-1928.

MEZOBROMELIA – a bromeliad genus named in honor of Carl Mez who published monographs of the family in 1896 and 1935.

NAVIA – for Bernard S. von Nau, student of natural history and physics.

NEOGLAZIOVIA – for A. Glaziou, French landscape architect, 1833-1906, great collector of Brazilian bromels, who was in charge of public gardens in Rio in the late 19th century.

NIDULARIUM – from nidus referring to the nest form of the leaves about the flowers.

OCHAGAVIA – for Sylvestris Ochagavia, minister of education in Chile in 1853-54.

ORTHOPHYTUM – from the Greek "ortho" straight and "phytum" plant in reference to the erect scape.

PITCAIRNIA – for Dr. William Pitcairn, London physician, 1711-1791.

PORTEA – for Dr. Marius Porte (undoubtedly, although the author did not so indicate). Porte collected in Brazil in 1834 and 1859.

PUYA – means point from the Mapuche Indians of Chile.

QUESNELIA – probably for E. Quesnel, French horticulturist of Le Havre, but not indicated by the author.

RONNBERGIA – for Monsieur Ronnberg, director of Agriculture and Horticulture in the ministry of the interior in Belgium in 1874.

STREPTOCALYX – twisted calyx –

TILLANDSIA – for Elias Tillands, professor at Abo in Finland (see Brom. Bull. Vol. I, No. 4, July-August 1951).

VRIESIA – for Dr. DeVriese, Dutch Botanist and Professor of Botany in Amsterdam, 1807-1862.

(WITTMACKIA – I consider this to be a synonym of Aechmea). – for Louis Wittmack, author of the Bromeliaceae in ed. I of the Pflanzenfamilien, 1839-1929.

WITTROCKIA – for Veit Bracher Wittrock, Swedish botanist, 1839-1914.

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


Richard Oeser, M.D.

When Vriesias or other bromeliads show black or unsightly leaves in the center of the rosette, caused in winter by water that is too cold or dirty, or if the rosette leaves stick together because of insufficient humidity, refusing to unfold, the beauty of the plant is ruined. Despite this condition they may flower and produce offshoots and so serve for propagation. But, these offshoots are obtained much quicker and in greater number if the unsightly plant is prevented from flowering by cutting it in two, vertically, with a sharp knife, through the center. After letting the cut surfaces dry, they are placed in a warm bed of peat so that the cut surfaces face the bottom. In this way one gets from one to three offsets from each half. Suppressing the flower at the peak of the plant's available strength seems to favor the vegetative multiplication.

Kirchzarten, bei Freiburg I, Brsg., Hebelstrasse 5, Germany


Q. Two Vriesia plants, V. hieroglyphica and V. fenestralis, far from mature size, simultaneously developed upright conical growths in the centers that were first taken to be developing scapes but were ultimately found to be bundles of central leaves sheathed in leaves that failed to open in the normal way. The encasement was very tight; it was difficult to find the edges of the outermost leaves, and they behaved almost as if cemented down; they could not be pried open, but had to be torn off piecemeal to release the inner leaves, which were crumpled and wrinkled.

Is there any explanation for this behavior? A number of other plants, of these and other kinds, exposed to the same conditions of temperature, light and moisture, grew normally.

A. This condition may appear in plants of any species of bromeliad, but experience has shown that Vriesias seem to be more susceptible than plants of other genera. What causes this malformation we have never learned, but if the tightening of the center leaves is discovered in its early stages we have found that a simple twisting of the tight center and a separation of the leaves will allow the plant to resume its natural growth.

M. B. F.

A. Occasionally a plant, usually, if not always, a thin-leaved variety, fails to unfold in the usual manner and a leaf may form a tight conical sheath, within which the central growth becomes folded, crumpled, and entangled, or a leaf may grow at an angle, to form a tubular, helical wrapping around the ones within; in either case the loss of the plant may well result. As far as I know, no explanation for such behavior has been offered.

Not long ago, in peeling the outermost leaves from a plant, I noted that the water held in the leaves contained something rendering it somewhat viscous and tacky, and I wonder if this may offer a clue to such abnormal growth as above described. By evaporation at the leaf edges, the water could leave enough of the sticky substance to cement them down, forming a cap; or by restraint on one edge, a leaf could be pulled to grow at an angle.

R. K. T.

Q. I have been given some seeds of Billbergia rosea and was told it is also called B. nobilis or B. Porteana. In "The Bromeliaceae of Brazil," B. Porteana is listed but not B. rosea or B. nobilis, and its description of B. Porteana includes, "Floral bracts much reduced or even lacking. Petals wholly green, etc." I understood that the floral bracts of B. rosea were one of its most outstanding characteristics. Please explain.

A. B. nobilis is not a legal name; B. rosea is from Trinidad; B. Porteana is from Brazil. The floral bracts of B. rosea and B. Porteana are very small but the scape bracts of both are long and outstanding as are the scape bracts of all the species of the subgenus Helicodea to which they belong. Someone has evidently mistaken the large showy scape bracts for floral bracts. Floral bracts are attached to the base of each individual flower.

M. B. F.

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