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.


A habit drawing, three-fourths full size, of Tillandsia Butzii, a beautiful small bromeliad from Mexico and Central America. The twisted, cylindrical leaves widen out at the base to form a large pseudobulb. Small purple spots decorate the green leaves, becoming confluent at the base, which looks more purple than green. Bracts are rose, with purple petals and yellow stamens, generally appearing in early spring.


We have received a copy of No. 1, Vol. 1, of a new monthly publication. "BROMELIAD PAPERS", published by Alex D. Hawkes and Edward A. Flickinger, P. O. Box 435, Coconut Grove 33, Florida. Subscription price, $3.50 per year in the U. S. A., $3.75 elsewhere. Among many interesting articles we noted in its ten pages were the following. "Aechmea Lueddemanniana in Full Sun", "A Note on Pronunciation of Bromel Names", "The Genus Ronnbergia", and a "Question Column". Its indefatigable editor, Mr. Hawkes, has recently returned from a collecting trip in British Honduras, and a still more recent one in Nicaragua, and we hope to publish in a later issue of the Bulletin a report on what he found there. He and his associate editor, Mr. Flickinger, have found that their fondness for orchids is almost matched by an intense interest in bromeliads, and they are, at present, working on an illustrated series of articles on the native bromeliads of Florida, which we hope to publish in the Bulletin. They have also organized a South Florida Bromeliad Society and would like to have all those interested in joining the group to get in touch with them at the address given above.

Good news comes from Alfred B. Graf who says that his firm, the Julius Roehrs Company, is planning the publication of a bromeliad picture book, with the text written by Dr. Smith. Mr. Walter Richter, of Germany hopes that his volume on bromeliads will go to press this autumn.

The second edition of our Handbook is off the press and ready for distribution at $1.50 per copy, paperback only.

Back issues of the Bulletin are becoming increasingly scarce. Members wishing to complete their files should order them without delay from our secretary, Miss Victoria Padilla. Price per single copy, 50c; six for $2.50.

The Mexican Flower Calendar for 1959 has, among other beautiful pictures, a very striking one of Tillandsia imperialis in vivid color.

There are some copies of "Terrestrial Bromeliads" available at 30c each. Members interested in these should get in touch with Miss Padilla.

Attention American Members: Although bromeliads may seem difficult to obtain in the United States, they are even rarer commodities in Australia. From time to time the Secretary receives inquiries from members Down Under as to where they can purchase plants. If you have any spare plants to sell or exchange, please write to Mr. A. I. James, Handford and Roghan Roads, Zillmere N5, Queensland, Australia, and to Mr. Sydney Wright, 79 Kate Street, Woody Point, Queensland, Australia.

Photo by author
Stands of Puya dasylirioides in a sphagnum bog near
Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica.


Clarence Kl. Horich

Leaving sticky, hot Nicaragua to the north, our San Jose, Costa Rica-bound plane was soon enveloped by dazzling clouds. The hot, dry Pacific coast of Guanacaste is often invisible from the air; we could see only bits of mountainous terrain now and then, the Cordillera Volcanica, which is the northernmost range of the Andes, and the political boundary between Central and South America.

Following the course of the Cordillera Volcanica, we soon passed the deep Atlantic jungles of the San Carlos basin spreading to our left, and, losing altitude, we glimpsed the pattern of Villa Quesada and could almost wave "Hello" to the inhabitants of Zarcero as we seemed about to crash the peaks in front of us. We were crossing the Continental Divide of the Cordillera Central and immediately afterward descended into the huge valley range, known as Meseta Central, in which lies San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

In order to visit the home of the northernmost representative of an ancient bromeliad race, Puya, we have to proceed by bus to Central America's "Switzerland" which lies further southeast. It is a wild and relatively unexplored area, the gigantic belt of the Cordillera de Talamanca, with mountain peaks reaching altitudes of 3832 meters. Icy, howling winds, alternating with drizzling rain and dense fogs, with temperatures near freezing, characterize the climate of the upper Cordillera ridges. These ridges are covered with heavy, tall moss forests, or, in higher exposures, with tundra-like, swampy shrub-rock formations. These forests are a welter of a highly interesting congestion of epiphytes, and, undoubtedly, would yield a much greater number of hitherto unreported species than estimated.

Photo by author
Crest portions of the Cordillera de Talamanca, the cold mountain bog-garden of Puya dasylirioides.

My search was for Puya dasylirioides and I found it at elevations of between 2000 and over 3000 meters, a true bromel alpine. The Cerro de la Muerte is its Garden of Eden – the colder, the better! My Puya search would have been easier had I not started chasing after epiphytic cacti and orchids and another bromel specialty on my list, Greigia sylvicola which also was said to grow in boggy forests near the Laguna de la Chonta, not far from Santa Maria. Information from the townspeople was discouraging when I asked directions, but, after much walking and another bus trip, I came to La Chonta and the Laguna, where I found the two bromels in one strike.

Puya dasylirioides is small if compared with some of its South American relatives, but obtaining even a small specimen was a major job. It is a true bog plant. The silvery grey, stiff, coarse leaf rosettes rest flatly spread on sphagnum, but the trunks under the sphagnum measure at least a foot in length and they are so very thoroughly anchored by long wiry roots that one invariably falls on his back during the final pulling efforts, at the same time hauling out what looks like half the bog! Most of the trunk's length rests in the sterile sphagnum and only a small portion of the roots seem to enter the more mineralized material below the sphagnum.

In its own way, Puya dasylirioides is an epiphyte on sphagnum, rather than a real terrestrial, because, outside of its moss bog, it is seldom found. Acid, wet ground conditions are its best habitat. Admittedly, the term "epiphyte" for such a plant as this Puya, the nearest relatives of which are strictly terrestrial, can be applied in the case of ground-dwelling plants only in the extended sense of trying to describe the requirements of a species no longer dependent on the mineral components which we call earth.

The term "Sphagnum Bog Epiphyte" is not new; it has, at various times, been applied to plants, such as Mycrostylis monophylla and Liparis Loeselii. Puya dasylirioides has gone as far astray from the earth-bound existence of its South American ancestors as it possibly could, geographically and biologically, and one is tempted to ask the question, "Why?"

We may know little about the geological facts responsible for the shaping of the American continent, but it does seem that Puya ancestors settled a greater portion of what is now Central America, and that the dwarf, silvery Puya of Costa Rica is a living, primitive survivor of what were, possibly, lowland bogs, pushed high by a cataclysmic upheaval which left the Puya isolated in a cold bog on the highest, most inhospitable points of the wild Cordillera de Talamanca.

Several of the specimens which I found had fruiting flower stalks, three feet high, with thousands of seeds, and yet, I found not a single one, small, or recently germinated, near or far. In other words, Puya dasylirioides appears to be unusually handicapped regarding the reproduction of its kind; and it might not be asking too much that its few native haunts be protected by law.

Man's progress means the destruction of nature, everywhere and all the time; and the building of the Pan American Highway in southern Costa Rica was just the initial step in destroying the magnificent forests of the Cordillera de Talamanca – a slow but definite procedure. In due time, the bog-gardens of Puya dasylirioides are bound to vanish too, unless protection is given immediately. Knowing Latin America, though, this word unless appears to be a most futile word; to expect nothing means to be realistic, I dare say.

San Jose, Costa Rica

Bibliography: P. C. Standley, "Flora of Costa Rica," Part I, 1937.


The many members who experiment with artificial light to help in the growing of their bromeliads will be interested to learn that a very worth-while book has recently been written on this subject. It is Gardening Indoors Under Lights by Frederick H. and Jacqueline L. Kranz. Every facet of the subject is discussed by the authors in an informative and helpful manner. Temperature, light intensities and photoperiodism, construction of indoor greenhouses, experiments with soil, plant food, watering, transplanting, pests, propagation are among the topics discussed.

Among the interesting facts about light in relation to plants is that known as "balanced lighting." "By combining fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs in the ratio of three to one, plants can be grown to maturity without benefit of day-light." Two colored rays are vital to the growth of plants; these are the red and the blue. The blue light promotes foliage growth, the red light induces flowering. Fluorescent tubes emit the rays of the blue part of the spectrum, and the incandescent bulbs supply those in the red end of the spectrum.

Photo by author
Guzmania monostachia, var. alba


Luis Ariza-Julia

Guzmania monostachia (L.) Rusby ex Mez var. alba Ariza-Julia.

A var. monostachia bracteis florigeris sterilibusque albis differt. Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata Province, Hacienda "Las Palmas," Seccion Cabia, on the road from Imbert to Guananico, on Guazuma ulmifolia Lam. Type in herbarium of Dr. Jose de Js.Jimιnez, No. 3712.

Guzmania monostachia is one of the more common Bromeliaceae found in cool, moist, open mountain glades, where it can get a lot of light, but you can also find it in shady hollows where you would least expect it. Its erect inflorescence with purplish-brown striped lower bracts and showy, light red upper ones forming the tip, coming out of a many-leaved rosette of yellow-green, makes it one of the most decorative plants imaginable.

Last spring, while out on horseback at the cattle hacienda "Las Palmas" with the owner, senor M. Loinaz, looking for Tillandsias, we came most unexpectedly on a large clump of G. monostachia growing on a low branch of a guazuma tree in a creek bottom, way below its usual altitude. It was in full flower, and what a surprise to see that the upper bracts were pure white, while the stripes on the light green lower bracts were entirely missing! We promptly pulled off the plant and just as promptly dropped it as it was covered with a mass of large biting ants, which had made their nest among the roots. After shaking the plant well against the trunk of the tree, the ants went off on their way and we on ours to take our exciting find back to the hacienda house.

I had, of course, observed albinism in orchids, including some of our native ones, but this was the first time I had come across it in bromeliads, my new love. Some of the seed of this Guzmania has gone to our Society President, Mr. David Barry, Jr., who will kindly raise the resultant progeny to maturity so as to determine if they will come true albinos. Has any other member seen, or read anything referring to, other albino bromeliads?

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic


No. 2

The environment and habitats of epiphytic bromeliads in Costa Rica

Peter Temple

Costa Rica is eminently suitable for observations on the environment and habitats of epiphytic bromeliads for it is covered for three quarters of its 19,000 odd square miles by forest-jungles which reach their greatest development in the areas of high rainfall where 200 inches or more a year is experienced. In addition to being cut by the 86° Meridian and centrally by the 10° Latitude line, it is orientated north-west to south-east, a situation which places it at direct right-angles to the north-east trade winds which, after having crossed the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea where they are saturated with humidity, arrive at the eastern seaboard with great force augmented by coastal sea breezes.

Since the country is only about 125 miles across at its narrowest, one would expect it to be exposed completely to these winds, but such is not the case. For its entire length the country is spined by a mountain range some 10,000 feet average height with summits reaching 14,000 feet. This range, and to a lesser extent another ridge further west and of less height, constitute a barrier over which the moisture-saturated winds from the Caribbean do not cross, so that the region west of these ranges and bordering on the Pacific Ocean is sheltered and presents climatic conditions very different from the regions between and east of the ranges bordering on the Caribbean.

The Caribbean zone is very humid; the rains there are very nearly continuous and the heat is torrid, whereas, although in the Pacific zone the heat is also torrid, the rains are very rare during six months of the year and the winds are non-existent or nearly so for the Pacific sea-breezes are balanced by the trade winds coming from the north-east.

Between the two zones, there lies the Central Plateau, some 4,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level, limited on either side by the mountains. The climate here is temperate with an average of 68° Fahrenheit. However, a part of the Central Plateau, the valley of Cartago and also the very center of the country, Orosi, are considerably affected by the moisture-laden trade winds penetrating to these areas through a pass between two high summits, volcanos Irazu and Turrialba of the central mountain range. Great humidity is therefore brought to these areas and thus a very marked influence is exerted on the climatic conditions and vegetation in general.

The epiphytic vegetation is the first to show the climatic differences.

Thus in the Caribbean zone, where rain is nearly constant and where the temperature is always very high, there exists an enormous number of epiphytic cacti and yet, while the epiphytic bromeliads are of gigantic proportions, their individual numbers are less than those to be found in the Central Plateau.

In the Pacific zone where there is not nearly so much rain and the heat is so drying, the epiphytic species are sparsely represented but the terrestrial species are really well developed. Since the two seasons in this zone alternate regularly and the dryness is intense for six months of the year, epiphytic bromeliads are hardly represented at all except for species of small stature and which do not retain water other than by capillarity, such as several types of Tillandsia bulbosa and similar species capable of storing water in their leaf tissues. Occasionally, a few other species with very tough leaves which permit them to live in these very drying conditions are to be found.

It is in the Central Plateau in the valley of Cartago already referred to that bromeliads are best displayed and are most numerous. It will be remembered that this is the zone into which the saturated north-east trade winds penetrate, but by the time they reach this area they have been cooled by their passage across the higher mountain range; the water which they contain is condensed into mist which accounts for this area being the veritable center of epiphytic bromeliads. Here, every night, immediately after the sun has set, dense mists fall over the jungle. At 5 p.m. the mists blanket everything. This precipitation of atmospheric moisture provides the main source of water retained by the tree inhabiting bromeliads.

Even on the slopes of the volcano Irazu, Costa Rica's largest, epiphytic bromeliads are also to be found, notably Vriesias (Thecophyllum) adapted to an environment of excessive humidity and cold, and at the levels of the mountain passes, where the temperature falls very low, the water in the plant cups freezes every night.

In another part of this area where the heat is torrid during the day and where it is sharply cold at night and where the humidity is much less accentuated, terrestrial and epiphytic bromeliads occur together, sometimes vegetating next to each other. It is not unusual to see trees with their lower branches covered with Tillandsias while terrestrial Aechmeas of great size leave their normal ground habitats and develop at the extremities of the branches.

42 Holly Park, Finchley, N. 3, England


Victoria Padilla

   Photo by author
Billbergia porteana
B Stands for Billbergia

For most of us who are amateur growers, the Billbergia was the first member of the bromeliad family that we knew and collected. If we lived in the western portion of the United States, it was Billbergia nutans that first attracted our attention; if we resided in the Southeast it was most likely Billbergia pyramidalis that we first grew. As our knowledge of bromeliads widened, however, our search for other members of this fascinating group of plants led us to discover other genera, and in time we paid less attention to the Billbergias. After all, they were really too easy to grow to offer a challenge and their flowers lasted too short a time in comparison with those of the Aechmea or Vriesia.

In Europe, as well as in the Americas, the Billbergia has experienced a decline in popularity. This is indeed an unhappy circumstance, for this genus produces some of the most spectacular blooms to be found in the entire plant kingdom. Few are the plants that can produce a more exciting and breath-taking inflorescence than that of Billbergia porteana, for example, or more bizarre foliage than that found on Billbergia Χ "Fantasia" or Billbergia zebrina. Few are the plants that will give so much and demand so little in return; few are the plants that can be propagated so easily and seem in every way so eager to please.

Billbergias are among the easiest of bromeliads to grow. In their native habitat, which extends from Mexico to Brazil, they are to be found thriving under all sorts of conditions. They like to reside in the crotches of trees, where has accumulated debris of all kinds, on old stumps, on the ground, or even on rocks where the nutriment received would be negligible. Thus Billbergias demand little attention when in cultivation and will readily adapt themselves to almost any growing condition. But, of course, they do better when given a little tender, loving care. They prefer a porous soil on the acid side; they like filtered light; and they appreciate a feeding now and then – but if given none of these will somehow manage to live and flower. They are usually hardy individuals and will withstand a few degrees of frost.

The foliage of Billbergias will vary depending on how and where the plant is grown. Light, humidity, feeding – all tend to influence the coloring and marking of the leaves, as well as the general contour of the plant. A billbergia grown in a dark part of a room, for example, will look quite different from one grown out of doors in bright sunlight. The writer found that some Billbergias which she received from Florida took on a different aspect after a month or two in California, and in a few instances it was difficult to recognize the plant. It is well to try growing a plant in various locations before deciding on its permanent place in the garden or home.

Of all bromeliads Billbergias are the easiest to propagate and sucker freely. They grow easily from seed, most varieties germinating within a week's time. Thus for the beginner who wishes to experiment with bromeliad seed, it is suggested that he first try his hand with Billbergias, as he will not encounter the heartbreak and discouragement that accompanies the growing of other genera from seed. Billbergias usually flower in two to three years from seed. Billbergias, meyeri, zebrina, and porteana are much slower to grow from seed; hence are less often seen.

There are so many Billbergia hybrids to be found in southern gardens that it is often impossible to identify them with certainty. Although many of these old plants are beautiful, they cannot compare with some of the more recent hybrids. Mead, Cass, and Atkinson were three of the early growers of Billbergias and some of their hybrid Billbergias are still among the finest to be found. More recently, Mr. Mulford B. Foster has produced a number of hybrid Billbergias of striking beauty, definitely superior to the old garden varieties of past years. Where growing space is limited one should choose his Billbergias with care and pick those which are outstanding for the nicety of their form, the beauty of their flowers and foliage, and the tidiness of their growing habits. The following are the author's favorites because they are beautiful whether in flower or not.

Billbergia amoena var. viridis – There are few members of this genus which have foliage which is any lovelier than that of this Billbergia. A tall, slender plant reaching to 18 inches or more, it is a thing of beauty whether in bloom or not. The leaves are a rich rose-red, overlaid with silvery gray cross bars and ivory mottled spots – a combination of marking which gives to the plant a highly decorative effect. The upright green flowers supported on delicate pink bracts bloom in late spring. One or two offshoots in an appropriate container make this Billbergia a stunning plant for the house.

Billbergia leptopoda is rightfully known as the "Permanent Wave Plant" for the ends of its leaves are so curled that they appear to be the result of the handiwork of man. The spotted green leaves reach but 12 inches in height, which factor makes it an ideal plant for a small pot. Although the flowers of red, blue, and yellow are attractive, this Billbergia should be grown for its fascinating silhouette, not more than two or three offshoots being allowed to a pot. This Billbergia does not mind house culture and when well grown makes a conversation piece for the desk or table.

Billbergia Χ "fantasia" is a recent creation of Mr. Mulford Foster, who crossed B. pyramidalis with B. saundersii. The beauty of this cross is in its fine vase-like form and in the foliage which is startlingly white in color. Although its flower is perhaps not so fine as those of its parents, this Billbergia is definitely worth having as a foliage plant.

Although it makes a handsome container planting, B. thyrsoides Χ B. amoena is a fine rock garden subject for the sheltered garden. The plant, with its wide leaves which vary from pale green to rosy bronze, is easily kept within bounds. It blooms in both summer and winter, its large upright rosettes of scarlet bracts and violet flowers lasting for several weeks.

Billbergia lietzei is a tiny gem. Its curly, light green leaves spotted with yellow make a perfect foil for the brilliant little cerise flowers. This Billbergia makes a charming pot plant, and as it blooms around the holiday season is excellent for indoor decoration.

Billbergia venezuelana is undoubtedly one of the handsomest plants belonging to this genus. It is similar to B. porteana as to height and general appearance of the pendant flower head. Both are tall tubular plants, averaging about 2½ feet in height. Whereas the markings on B. porteana are subdued, those of B. venezuelana are very pronounced. Both Billbergias should be in every collection.

A dainty, small growing species is Billbergia iridifolia, var. concolor. Unlike most Billbergias which tend to dazzle with the brilliance of their flowers, this plant has but three shades – all soft pastel: the gracefully curled leaves are a silvery gray, the bracts are a light pink, and the flowers are a pleasant yellow. A highly decorative plant, it is a must for any collection.

Billbergia Theodore L. Mead is one of the most popular Billbergias to be grown in Southern California. It is a luxuriant grower with low spreading shiny green foliage and green and blue flowers on pink bracts. It is practically ever-blooming. It is especially adapted to hanging basket culture.

Another good plant for hanging baskets or wall brackets is Billbergia euphemia. Its leaves are wide and blue green, attaining a height of about 12 inches. Its flowers are exceptionally lovely in hue, being of a lovely violet shade. The bracts are powdery rose.

Billbergia zebrina is a plant which is striking whether in flower or not. The leaves are a deep purplish-green, relieved by bars of silvery white. The inflorescence is gracefully pendant, the bracts of bright rose, touched with salmon, the segments of the corolla green and rolled up like the spring of a watch. This plant is definitely one of the most spectacular of the genus.

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


A. D. Hawkes and E. A. Flickinger

Writing in the BULLETIN in 1954 (Vol. 4, No. 6, p. 88), Dr. L. O. Williams notes that "Tillandsias seem to be very difficult to root when mature plants are brought in from the forest. I have discovered no way to make them take hold of trees in my yard."

Since we have had, during the past few years, some considerable successes with attaching both Tillandsias and other bromeliads to trees in our collections here in South Florida, perhaps some notes regarding our methods will be of interest to our readers at this time.

Many types of trees are, of course, completely unsuited as "hosts" for bromels; these include the majority of conifers (pines, and the like), and, most particularly, smooth-barked arborescent species, whose bark does not allow a sufficiently rough surface for the small roots of the bromel to attach themselves. Most other trees are suitable, though, and we have found such kinds as mango, avocado, oak, many palms, erythrina, etc. particularly fine for this purpose.

No matter what the kind of bromeliad, the most important thing is that it must be very firmly affixed against the bark-surface. Most collectors, when placing their epiphytic bromels in trees, rather casually hang them, so that the all-important root-systems are not held firmly in place. We have found that unless the roots are so tightly placed against the tree-bark that there is little movement when the plant itself is wiggled, that its establishment in its new home has but little chance of success.

With newly-imported specimens, we prefer to start them in pots, or on slabs of tree-fern fiber, to insure the development of freely-growing roots. When these roots are active, we find that they may with impunity then be removed to the tree, normally with very gratifying results. The period of this root-production naturally varies considerably from species to species (and, of course, from genus to genus) but it often requires upwards of several months.

In attaching the bromel to the tree, we drive four, (rarely more), small galvanized nails into the tree-trunk, or branch, vaguely outlining the available root-system of the bromel, and then tightly stretch thin strands of flexible, non-copper wire from point to point, so that the entire root-system is enclosed in an impromptu taut web which presses it against the bark. We have also, on occasion, made use of galvanized staples of varying dimensions, driven either directly over the basal portions of the bromeliad, or over thick parts of its root-system.

Many persons have advocated the addition of small pads of osmunda or tree-fern fiber under the root-systems to be attached, but we have found that they merely delay the actual attachment of the bromel's roots to the bark, hence do not use them now.

Liberal watering and rather frequent applications of fertilizer seem to increase the attachment of the plant's roots to the bark. In case the wires holding them become loose, they should be at once refastened and tightened.

P. O. Box 435, Coconut Grove 33, Florida


Walter Richter

(From Anzucht und Kultur des Bromeliaceen published in Germany, 1950)

Too early transplanting of seedlings is detrimental and they should be kept in their original pan until too crowded. In about four to six months after sowing, they will want more room and then can be transplanted into pans filled with heath-soil. Seedlings are delicate and must be handled gently. Add some rubbed or chopped sphagnum moss or rubbed peat moss into the soil if the plants are large enough. They should be kept in the warm house and temperature should not be below 68 to 70°. They grow much better in a high temperature. If moss and algae get into the seed pan, transplant them into fresh material. As plants gain strength, the soil mixture should be made coarser to keep the soil well drained.

When the seedling plants look as if they might do better with more room, there are two things you can do. If you have only a few plants, put them into pots, always using the smallest pot that will accommodate them – later, too, use small pots. The small root system of the various species cannot make use of large pots. As a general guide, repotting once a year is sufficient. A tight ball is an advantage. Why? you might ask. The roots of Bromels are primarily hold-fast organs and their use as water and nutrient absorbing organs is secondary. A well-felted ball is not detrimental as it can be with other plants; on the contrary, these plants seem to thrive especially well. Always pot tight. Your potting material is continually breaking down and decomposing and plants tend to get loose.

If a large quantity of plants is to be handled, it is best to transplant them into raised beds in benches. The benches can be of concrete but must provide adequate drainage. Wood does not last long under the necessary wet conditions. Ground beds are not well suited; they are hard to heat and bottom heat is of great advantage. Beds must not be deeper than five or six inches. Have a one-inch layer of coarse peat or potsherds for good drainage. The soil mixture can be fairly coarse – heath-soil, peat, half-rotted leaves, sphagnum and sand. The whole should be spongy and porous. The same mixture can be used for potting. Coarse leaf mold is good for the more terrestrial species like Aechmeas. Avoid using too much for Nidulariums, however, as this species does not like the impermeable, sticky mess that broken-down leaf-mold soon forms. Pound some old pots into small pieces and mix with leaf-mold. Bromels like to get their roots around them and hold onto. Try to keep the soil acid – 4-4.5 pH.

When planting out into benches, set the plants far enough apart to allow at least a season's growth and do not plant too deep; if planted too shallow, however, they may lean or topple over. They like to sit solid in loose material, so compact the soil well around them when setting out. Plants do definitely better when planted out in benches and it is easier to water them. Soak dry spots once a week with a sprinkling can; for general watering go over them with a hose. Proper humidity has to be maintained at all times.

By the third year most of the plants will have reached considerable size, depending upon the species. Aechmeas, Neoregelias, Billbergias, and Nidulariums grow much faster than Guzmanias and Vriesias. From here on they need different treatment; the last-mentioned slow growers should stay in the warm house with high temperatures, plenty of shade, and correspondingly high humidity. For best results, if space permits, they could be transplanted again to good advantage, replant them so that the outer leaf-tips barely touch. For species that need less heat – Aechmeas, Neoregelias, Billbergias, Nidulariums, and such – frames can be utilized from May to September; if they can be heated, so much the better. Use frames in good condition, running north and south.

Some Vriesias and Vriesia hybrids can be set out in frames also when they are about three years old. But Vriesia hieroglyphica and the various forms of Vriesia splendens and its hybrids must be kept in a warm house. Vriesia splendens comes from Guiana, near the equator, and wants warmth and humidity to do well. The majority of the green-leaved Vriesias come from the mountainous part of Brazil, and the conditions a frame provides suits them well. As can be seen, it is of practical advantage to learn about the natural habitat of these plants.

When setting plants out into frames, they should not be placed in beds but rather kept in their pots. Spread a layer of some water-absorbing material into the frame, set the pots on this, and spray as needed to keep up the humidity. For shade use cloth rather than boards. Keep frames closed. When the weather starts to get hot, however, open the frames during the hottest part of the day, but close in time to give the sun a chance to warm up the frame for the night and see that the plants are dry for the night hours. Towards September get the plants used to more light by taking off some of the shading, being careful not to burn them – this might easily happen on a hot sunny day. To get approximately the same light duration (12 hours) they enjoy in their natural home, it is best to shade the houses in summer; the plants do better and the difference between day and night temperatures is less sharp. Towards the end of September it will be necessary to take the plants out of the frames and to bring them into a light, sunny and fairly warm greenhouse. To make full use of available space, the plants can be tiered.

Facilities for provision of bottom heat are a great advantage, though not absolutely necessary. To prevent too much loss of heat by draughts from below, the benches can be covered by coke screenings; during summer a cover of peat is better as it helps to provide humidity.

At the beginning of, or during the third or fourth year, most of the seedlings will begin to flower. Until the plants show bud they can well be left in their small propagating pots without harm, and later, when they are ready to flower, planted into display pots.

All that has been said about seedlings applies as well to the vegetatively raised plants.

Crimmitschau-Sachsen, D. D. R.


Thomas MacDougall

   Photo by author
Tillandsia xerographica, growing in the Rio Hondo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Perhaps few bromelites would consider the water storage capacity of bromels as of direct importance to man. The writer frequently depends on this water. On our last field trip to Cerro Tres Picos in Chiapas, Mexico, we drank a lot of coffee and hot lemonade made with bromel water. This is what prompted me to send in these notes.

Of late years I have come to favor the high rain, or cloud forest, especially that on isolated peaks, for botanical and zoological collecting. For this type of work one needs to travel light – dry, concentrated foods, supplemented perhaps by game, but no water. At the base, and on the lower slopes of these peaks there are always clear streams, and no better source of water need be asked. Higher up however, rainfall may be absorbed by the forest floor, and although the fogs may produce 100% humidity, and rains may wet the skin, water is still needed by the inner man. This is where we put our grateful reliance on the bromels.

Usually, these will be the large-growing species – Tillandsia grandis and Vriesia sp. (V. Werckleana and V. platynema (?)) but often there will be colonies of Catopsis. The latter produces the best grade of water. The slightly swollen body holds a goodly amount of water, and the narrow neck does not catch debris; the plant also has a slim basal attachment which allows it to be bent over, as though it were on a swivel, and the water emptied directly into a container. The large Tillandsias often bathe the water-boy, and, when poured, only a fraction of the water enters the pot. By lining the pot with a cotton bag, much of the sediment may be removed from the water. Then, if this water is allowed to settle, and is re-strained, it will be quite liquid, if not colorless. We use a plastic bag to hold this second straining.

On a recent trip, my native companion evolved a new technique of water collecting. By piercing the base of the bromel, with his machete, he obtained a stream that was easily caught. The only disadvantage was that much sediment came too. His opinion was that we could use more strainers. As they would say here, "Vamos a ver!", or, "that remains to be seen."

Hotel Istmo, Tehuantepec, Oax. Mexico

Editor's Note: The author hopes this will clarify his position and that of the native Mexicans who use bromel water. In his article "Afoot in Mexico" in the Journal of the N. Y. Bot. Garden, July 1948 – the statement, – (which Racine Foster quoted in her article "Benevolent Bromeliads", p. 68 of the Bromeliad Bulletin, Nov.-Dec. 1952, Vol. 2, No. 6) – about the natives not liking "dead water", was largely editorial embellishment.


Mr. L. E. W. King, member residing in London, tells us that interest in bromeliads is gaining fast in his fair isle. Maurice Mason recently gave a talk on television on indoor plants with special emphasis on the bromeliad family. Also one of the largest English nurseries that specializes in foliage plants has instituted a three-year program of bromeliad growing and has made the announcement that the firm expects to have at the end of this period (already in its second year) more of these plants in flower for general distribution than this market has ever seen.

The collecting bug seems to have bitten a number of our members this year. Peter Temple, also of London, recently collected native bromeliads of Florida with Mulford Foster as his guide. Mr. Temple then departed for Mexico where he had fun gathering his favorite plant in the wilds. O. C. Van Hyning, of Maitland, Florida, also went to Mexico for the purposes of collecting. He then went to Guatemala and Costa Rica in his quest for new species. One of the most exciting of expeditions was that undertaken by Ralph Davis of North Miami Beach, Florida, who went to Colombia. He and his son traveled with two pick-up trucks and a crew of five men in their search for rare beauties. In order to reach the more difficult plants, Mr. Davis found it necessary to charter a DC-3. According to this enthusiastic member, he found some "real gems." We hope that these gentlemen who have been fortunate to do what many of us dream of doing will write of their experiences so that we may share with them some of the thrills of collecting.

The Affiliated Groups have been keeping busy these days. There does not seem to be a flower show on the West Coast of Florida at which that active branch does not exhibit and carry off a number of blue ribbons. On May 1 the Louisiana Bromeliad Society sponsored a public lecture on bromeliads by Dr. Lyman B. Smith and we hope our New Orleans friends will not forget to send us an illustrated report on this event.

Our president, Mr. David Barry, Jr., recently returned from Hawaii, states that the bromeliads which he sent over there a year ago will be out of quarantine shortly and will soon be on public view in one of the parks. Up to this time no bromeliads were allowed entry in the Islands. Mr. Barry, who is building a home near Honolulu, also sent over a number of bromeliads which he hopes to use in his landscaping. These plants have also been in quarantine.

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