BSI Journal - Online Archive


The Bromeliad Society Bulletin is the official publication of The Bromeliad Society, a non-profit corporation organized in 1950. The Bulletin is issued six times a year. Subscription to the Bulletin is included in the annual membership dues. There are five classes of membership: Annual, $3.50; Foreign, $4.00; Sustaining, $5.00; Fellowship, $10.00; Life $150.00. All memberships start with January of the current year. For membership information, write to Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliff Drive, Los Angeles 26, California. Please submit all manuscripts for publication to the editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles 49, California.

PresidentDavid Barry, Jr. Editorial SecretaryVictoria Padilla
Vice PresidentFrank Overton Membership SecretaryJeanne Woodbury
TreasurerJack M. Roth Art EditorMorris Henry Hobbs

Honorary Vice-Presidents
E. H. Palmer, President, Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society
Lawrence Hiscock, President, Louisiana Bromeliad Society
Fritz Kubisch, President, Southern California Bromeliad Society
Nat. J. De Leon, President, South Florida Bromeliad Society

Board of Directors
David Barry, Jr.
Dr. Russell Seibert
Ladislaus Cutak
Mulford B. Foster
Wilbur G. Wood
Wyndham Hayward
James N. Giridlian
E. W. Ensign
O. E. Van Hyning
Henry M. Hobbs
Benjamin O. Rees
Nat. J. De Leon
Julian Nally
Frank Overton
Eric Knoblock
Fritz Kubisch
Victoria Padilla
Jack M. Roth

Honorary Trustees
Dr. Alberto Castellanos
Fundacion Miguel Lillo
Aguero 2406
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monsieur Charles Chevalier
(Honorary Dir. Liege Bot. Gard.)
Esneux, Belgium

Mr. Charles Hodgson
Heidelberg 23, Melbourne
Victoria, Australia

Mr. C. H. Lankester
Las Concavas
Cartago, Costa Rica

P. Raulino Reitz, Dir.
Herbario, "Barbosa Rodrigues"
Itajai, St. Catarina, Brasil

Mr. Walter Richter
Postfach 52
East Germany

Dr. Lyman B. Smith
Smithsonian Institution
Washington. D. C.

Mr. Henry Teuscher, Dir.
Montreal Botanical Garden
Montreal, Canada

PICTURE ON COVER — A drawing of Tillandsia leiboldiana guttata, a new variety found in Costa Rica by the artist. The sheaths are light gray, leaf tips are dark wine red, breaking up into red spots, gradually fading into the pale green below. The scape bracts are scarlet, with violet flowers. The plate shows the plant about one-third full size. — see page 43.

No article appearing in this bulletin may be reproduced without the permission of the editor.

J. A. Steyermark
On top of Chimantá Massif, Venezuela, showing clumps of Brocchinia hechtioides in the immediate foreground.


Genus of the Guayana


The Guayana Highlands, largely centered in southern Venezuela, but extending east to Tafelberg in Surinam, west to Colombia, and south to northern Brazil, comprise an area of discontinuous and isolated, small and large mountains of mainly sandstone or quartzite strata. These have been eroded and uplifted into chiefly, flat-topped, table-like mesas or ridges with prominent tiers of high bluffs, but in various sections may be rounded knobs or domes.1 Over a long period of geological time a unique flora has developed on these hills or cerros (often termed tepui in Venezuela).

Although many unusual genera and species of plants are known only from this fabulous "Lost World," two genera of the Bromeliaceae, Navia and Brocchinia, are restricted to the entire area, and their occurrence more or less coincides with the geographical limits of the whole Guayana Highland.2 Of the two genera, Dr. Lyman B. Smith, recognized authority of the family, considers Navia the more primitive because most of its species have a superior ovary, that of Brocchinia having ovaries varying from wholly inferior to at most one-third inferior.3 Among the species of Brocchinia, Dr Smith regards B. serrata L. B. Smith from Cerro de Circasia, Vaupes, Colombia, as the most primitive, because the ovary is only one-third inferior, whereas in the rest of the genus the ovary is wholly or almost wholly inferior. Unlike the other species of Brocchinia, in which the leaves and bracts are always entire, those of B. serrata are serrate.4

A third genus Cottendorfia (formerly Lindmania) with eighteen of its described nineteen species known only from Guayana Highlands, is considered by Dr. Smith as the most primitive of the genera because of its superior ovary and winged seeds, and ancestral to Navia, which has lost the winged seeds.5 Throughout the Venezuelan and British Guianan sectors of the Guayana Highlands, Cottendorfia has developed strikingly sharp and well-defined species endemic to various parts of the region. Each of these three genera of Bromeliaceae (Navia, Brocchinia, and Cottendorfia) has bizarre and beautiful species, which together with the rest of the phanerogamic flora, impresses the visitor to the area as altogether fantastic and awe-inspiring vegetation.

Dr. Richard Evans Schultes has already presented a fascinating and excellent account of the genus Navia.6 Of the three genera referred to, Navia now consists of the greatest number of species (59 at present writing), as contrasted with 19 for Cottendorfia, and 18 for Brocchinia. Of the three genera Navia includes by far the greatest number of the most beautiful and most ornamental of the species with a baffling array of many kinds of rosette and tufted growth types with usually very narrow leaves surrounding a usually sessile inflorescence in the center bearing mainly white, yellow, rose-purple, or red flowers often surrounded by brightly colored floral bracts. In contrast, the flowers of Brocchinia are small and insignificant, usually white, and with petals and sepals only 4.5-7 mm. long, and they are arranged usually in a few- to many-branched panicle or occasionally in a type of raceme.

Nevertheless, the genus Brocchinia includes some of the more unusual and highly picturesque bromeliad species to be found in the Guayana Highland area. Three of the species (B. paniculata Schult. f., B. micrantha (Bak.) Mez, and B. tatei (L. B. Smith) are true giants among the bromeliads, attaining 5-8 meters in height and are often the dominant features of the vegetation of the locality in which they abound. Indeed, as expressed by Dr. Bassett Maguire of the New York Botanical Gardens, B. micrantha "perhaps more than any other plant, dominates the vegetation of the Kaieteur escarpment, and certainly more vividly than any other impresses itself on the mind of the visitor to this spectacular region."7

Similarly, B. tatei is so characteristic and inherent a feature of the dwarfed Clusia-Bonnetia "moss" forest, which covers the upper slopes and summits of many of the tepuis of Venezuela, that it must be considered one of the dominant component members of the flora of the Venezuelan Guayana. It is now known from Mount Roraima, Ptari-tepui, Cerro Parú, Guaiquinima, and the Chimantá Massif. This bromeliad has a tank-like habit of growth. Its giant stem is encircled by immense, strap-shaped, spreading to ascending, yellow-green leaves lined with purple in the lower half and dark purple and chestnut- or black-brown at the base. These are filled with bucketsful of water. In shade the leaves are rather flat and spreading, but in the sun become more infolded along the margins and somewhat tubular in aspect. Shade forms also have the leaves rich green within, whereas sun forms are more yellow-green with a more glaucous coating within.

J. A. Steyermark   
Brocchinia tatei, shade form in dwarf forest, 6-7 meters tall. Other plants of the same species may be seen at base of photo.

When forcing a trail to the summit of these flat-topped Venezuelan cerros, one must spend considerable time and effort in cutting a way through the tangle of the dense dwarf Clusia-Bonnetia "moss" forest with its recumbent and intertwined branches. In this forest abound terrestrial and epiphytic plants of the giant Brocchinia tatei in great quantity. As one slices his way with a machete through large clumps of these bromeliads, so much water escapes from their leaf-bases that one usually becomes thoroughly drenched as he advances on the trail. Most of the plants of this species encountered are sterile, but occasionally a flowering specimen is found with its many-branched inflorescence bearing small white or cream-colored flowers. In the water at the base of the leaves of this bromeliad is often found a strikingly beautiful bladder-wort, Utricularia humboldtii R. Schomb., with showy yellow crest on the rich lavender to purple corolla about the size of giant sweet peas. The leaf-blades of this bladderwort are large, coriaceous, pale green, and more or less fan shaped, arising from the water and protruding in the air above the leaf-bases. Although this spectacular species of Utricularia is commonly associated with this giant bromeliad, it infrequently inhabits the leaf-bases of Orectanthe sceptrum (Oliver) Maguire of the Xyridaceae.

Among the other grant species of Brocchinia, B. paniculata originally found in Amazonia, Colombia, by Karl F. P. von Martius at Araracuara and described by J. A. Schultes and son in 1830's, is now known also in Venezuela, where it occurs in the Territorio Federal Amazonas at altitudes of 100-140 meters on top of the Piedra Tururumeri along the Rios Pacimoni and Yatua, at 1500 meters on Cerro Sipapo (Paráque), and at 1700-2000 meters on the summit of Cerro de la Neblina. It was the first species of the genus to be described. B. micrantha was the second of the giant species described, and was based on plants originally collected from the Kaieteur Savanna of British Guiana. At first described by Baker in 1880 as a species of the liliaceous genus Cordyline (as Cordyline micrantha), Mez correctly assigned it in 1894 to the Bromeliaceae. Only recently has it been found in Venezuela, where Dr. Leandro Aristeguieta of the Instituto Botanico of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Cria collected it in a sector of the Gran Savana adjacent to British Guiana.

J. A. Steyermark
Brocchinia hechtioides a common associate in a peaty swamp savanna on the summit of Chimanta-tepui. Other dominants here are Everardia (grass-like leaves) and Orectanthe sceptrum (large rosette clump to right of center.)

Unlike most of the described species of Navia and Lindmania, each of which is mainly restricted to a different cerro, only 6 of the 18 species of Brocchinia, B. delicatula L. B. Smith of Cerro de la Neglina, B. cowanii L. B. Smith of Cerro Moriche, B. hitchockii L. B. Smith of Cerro Parú, B. cryptantha L. B. Smith of Cerro Yapacana, and B. bernardii L. B. Smith of the Pió chirca, Urimán—from Venezuela, and B. serrata L. B. Smith of Cerro de Circasia, Vaupes, from Colombia) are at present known to be restricted to only one cerro. All the other species of Brocchinia are found on two or more cerros. Three of the most widely ranging species of this genus (in addition to B. tatei already indicated) are B. reducta Bak., described in 1882 and originally collected by Jenman from the Kaieteur Savanna, British Guiana, but now found commonly in Venezuela from Mount Roraima west to Cerro Duida; B. hechtioides Mez, described in 1913 and originally collected by Ule from Mount Roraima, but now known west to Cerro Sipapo (Paráque); and B. acuminata L. B. Smith, originally collected by on Auyan-tepui, and described in 1939, but now known from Ptari-tepui, Cerro Uaipán, Cerro Duida, and Chimantá Massif. Aside from the first four described species of the genus (B. paniculata, B reducta, B. micrantha, and B. hechtioides), the remaining species have been described by Dr. Smith from the various expeditions made by Tate, Cardona, Phelps and Hitchcock, Bernardi, Steyermark, and the New York Botanical Garden's Maguire, Wurdack, Cowan, and Politi. Of the 18 presently known species, 3 occur in Colombia (B. serrata, B. hechtioides, and B. paniculata), 2 are known from British Guiana (B. micrantha and B. reducta), while 15 are found in various parts of the Venezuelan Guayana.

In habit of growth Navia and Brocchinia are usually strikingly different. The species of Navia are generally distinguished by their tufts or rosettes with numerous narrowly linear to lanceolate leaf-blades radiating in all directions from the center. In contrast, the species of Brocchinia usually exhibit types of leaves having tubular, trumpet, pitcher, jug, vase, or urn shapes or likenesses. Some of the species, such as B. reducta, have upright bronze olive-green leaves tightly rolled around one another to produce a narrow tubular shape. The inner leaf-surface has a glaucous to silvery coating. Other species, such as B. hechtioides, have a similar pitcher-like habit of growth, but the base of the plant is much more broadened or swollen, and the paler green leaves are more loosely overlapping than in B. reducta. Still others, such as B acuminata, have a stem which may be elongated to 4 meters, becoming suddenly swollen and enlarged at the summit into a dark brown-purple leafy base, which is constructed above the middle and then tapers into an elongate, narrow tip, the whole resembling a slender rose-hip in appearance.

The well-developed pitchers and vase-like habit of growth of these more common species of the genus permit a quantity of rain water to accumulate within the hollows of the closely enrolled leaves and often afford the best source of immediate drinking water when none other is available. The writer remembers vividly his first night spent on a dry ridge on the summit of Cerro Duida, when the only water available for cooking and drinking was taken from species of Brocchinia (B. hechtioides and B. reducta) encountered there. Regardless of the presence in such water of various micro-organisms, one does not contract amoebic or bacillar dysentery from drinking this water, as attested by the writer's personal freedom over a number of years up to the present time from these infirmities. In the tank type of habit developed by the three giant species of Brocchinia, the well-developed leaf-blades attain over a meter in length. However, one species, B. delicatula L. B. Smith, of Cerro de la Neblina, is greatly reduced in size as compared with the other species of the genus, being a small plant with short, narrow leaf-blades only 15 cm. long and 5-6 mm. broad.

J. A. Steyermark
Brocchinia tatei. Sterile clumps in Bonnetia roraimae forest.

Navia and Brocchinia exhibit generally marked differences in habitat requirements. For the most part, species of Navia occupy sheer cliff walls, vertical bluff escarpments, rock crevices, overhanging ledges and crags, and similar places. In contrast, many species of Brocchinia inhabit moist sandy, rocky savanna, or mucky, peaty swamps with sphagnum and dwarf Clusia-Bonnetia "moss" forest. Some species, such as B. reducta and B. acuminata grow on open sandstone boulders and outcrops with little or no soil. Brocchinia tatei, and B. paniculata are usually terrestrial, but may also be epiphytic in the Clusia-Bonnetia type of forest formation. Beds of sphagnum are commonly present where B. tatei abounds, or at least a moist mucky soil is present. In many of the acid mucky savannas developed on the upper slopes or summits of the Guayana cerros or in the swampy depressions of the mesa, various species of Brocchinia are frequently found as a dominant feature of the vegetation, along with colonies of Stegolepis, Everardia, Xyris, Heliamphora, Orectanthe, Drosera, Utricularia, and various eriocaulaceae. So abundant are the Brocchinia plants in many sectors of the Venezuelan Guayana that they form definite plant communities. In fact, the name "Brocchinia Hills" was given by Tate to characterize portions of the summit of Cerro Duida dominated by B. reducta, one of the common species of the genus found on that mountain.9

J. A. Steyermark
Brocchinia reducta, showing trumpet or tubular shape of inrolled leaves.

While the tubular-leaved, pitcher, and vase types of leaf habit characterize such species of Brocchinia as B. reducta, B, hechtioides, and B. acuminata, making their recognition fairly easy even in the vegetative state, nevertheless one is often misled when collecting by similar forms of habit assumed by other genera. Thus, Tillandsia stenoglossa L. B. Smith, originally described from Ptari-tepui10, closely resembles the habit of Brocchinia hechtioides and other species of the genus. In this respect, it is interesting to note the parallel evolution and adaptive radiation of leaf and habit analogies developed among the three typical Guayanan bromeliad genera, Brocchinia, Navia, and Cottendorfia. There is a Navia brocchinioides L. B. Smith11 which in leaf habit simulates certain species of Brocchinias with a stem up to one meter in height. Likewise, is encountered a Navia lindmanioides L. B. Smith12 which bears striking resemblance to certain species of Cottendorfia. Moreover, there is Cottendorfia navioides L. B. Smith13, whose strikingly beautiful, silvery-glaucous, crowded leaves and sessile inflorescence resemble many species of Navia in habit. Like the majority of species of Navia, Cottendorfia navioides inhabits the rock crevices and ledges of bluff escarpments. This remarkable similarity between the various species of these genera illustrates how closely the evolution of these bromeliads has paralleled their respective lines of development toward their adaptations to a similar environment in the highly localized and specialized existence on the sandstone table mountains of the Guayana.

  1. Schultes, R. E., Bromeliad Society Bulletin, V, No. 2:20, 1955
  2. Smith, L. B. Mem. New York Botanical Garden, IX, No. 3: 283, 1957
  3. Smith, L. B., ibid. 283
  4. Smith, L. B., ibid. 291
  5. Smith, L., B. ibid. 283
  6. Schultes, R. E., Bromeliad Society Bulletin, V, No. 2: 20-28, 1955
  7. Maguire, B., Bull. Torr. Bat. Club 75;206, 1948
  8. Schultes, J. A. et J. H. Schultes, Roemer et Schultes Syst. 7: 1250, 1830
  9. Smith, L. B. ex Gleason, Bull. Torr. Bot. Club 58: 338, 1931
  10. Smith, L. B. ex Steyermark, Fieldiana 28, No. 1: 151, 1951
  11. Smith, L. B., Mem. New York Botanical Gardens, IX, No. 3: 299, 1957
  12. Smith, L. B., ibid, 298
  13. Smith, L. B., ibid, 419

Instituto Botanico de Ministerio de Agricultura Y Cria, Apartado 2156, Caracas, Venezuela

(The author and the editor thank Dr. Lyman B. Smith of the United States National
Museum for verifying miscellaneous data in this paper and proof reading the copy.)


Cultivated in the Parque del Este, Caracas, Venezuela

Leandro Aristeguieta

The Parque del Este, which is now under construction in the city of Caracas, is using a large proportion of native elements of the Venezuelan flora for the beautification of the grounds. Plants up to now known only in the wild state in different parts of Venezuela, but of potential ornamental value for gardening, were collected in botanical explorations sponsored by the Parque del Este. Doubtless, this endeavor which the Venezuelan government is now carrying out to increase the utilization of the native flora, will have a great influence, not only locally for Venezuela, but also for gardening elsewhere.

In November, 1958, the Parque del Este organized a trip in Southern Venezuela to the Gran Sabana, state of Bolivar. This region with a characteristic and endemic flora possesses plants of great beauty, many of which are difficult to cultivate, because they are adapted to a type of soil which is essentially acid. Nevertheless, many of the plants collected on this trip are doing quite well in the gardens of the Parque del Este. From this region comes a species of Brocchinia. According to the botanist, Julian Steyermark, this is the first time it has been brought under cultivation.

J. A. Steyermark
The author, Leandro Aristeguieta, standing by Brocchinia micrantha
in Parque del Este, Caracas, Venezuela

Botanical specimens of this bromeliad were sent to Dr. Lyman B. Smith, who identified it as B. micrantha (Baker) Mez. This is of especial scientific interest, as it is the first time that this species has been found in Venezuela; until now, B. micrantha has been known only from British Guiana.

The habitat of B. micrantha in Venezuela is characterized by a rocky, but at the same time, a very humid region. The entire root system of this bromeliad is formed between small undulating surfaces of the rocks. The plants apparently need a great amount of humidity and much air around their root system to survive. When these plants were transplanted to Caracas, it was necessary to duplicate as much as possible the environmental conditions under which they were growing. To accomplish this, completely humus-bearing soil, originally brought from the top layer of earth from mountains near Caracas, was utilized. Such a medium provides great porosity which permits the rapid necessary change of gasses. This top soil was placed over a rocky substratum which permitted sufficient drainage. Finally, the plants are watered well twice daily, morning and afternoon.

Instituto Bótanico, M. A. C., Caracas, Venezuela


Ave, Atque, Vale

It is with a feeling of great loss and sincere sorrow that we announce to the membership the death of Mrs. Muriel Waterman, honorary trustee from Auckland, New Zealand. Few members ever worked so hard for an organization as did Muriel Waterman for The Bromeliad Society, and all of us shall miss her greatly.

Her enthusiasm for bromeliads was boundless; in fact, it would seem from the letters that she wrote that, aside from her family, her plants were her entire life. She wanted to obtain all the bromeliads that were offered for sale anywhere in the world—she wanted to learn all there was to know about bromeliads—and she wanted others to enjoy these plants and share in her pleasure. She was a tireless worker on behalf of the Society. She distributed handbooks, bulletins, and plants to all who would accept them. She took complete charge of the membership in New Zealand and spent much of her time attempting to get others to join the Society. On the same day that notice came of her death, which was totally unexpected, a letter was received from her, asking for a list of those members who had not yet paid their dues for 1961. This letter was written while she was in bed, supposedly recovering from a serious operation.

Mrs. Waterman was born in Iowa, but after her marriage moved first to England and then in 1921 to New Zealand. She first became interested in cacti and other succulents, but eventually relinquished these plants for bromeliads, which she found would grow very well outside in her garden. At one time she had the largest collection of bromeliads to be found in the southern hemisphere. Her collection was the largest in New Zealand. Considering the difficulties that she must have encountered with regard to the distance from a source of supply and the strict regulations in making purchases outside of her country, amassing such a large collection of plants was certainly no mean feat. At the time of her death she had about 2,000 bromeliads, which covered approximately one-fifth acre. These plants were all cared for by herself—a lady who lived well past her allotted three score and ten.

Hail and farewell, Muriel Waterman. Those of us who knew you will remember you as long as we grow your favorite plant, for there are few of us who love them so well as you did.


Morris Henry Hobbs

Tillandsia leiboldiana var. guttata M. H. Hobbs var. nov. A var. leiboldiana folius basi pulchre rubro-maculatis differt.

This beautiful spotted variety of Tillandsia leiboldiana was collected on February 16, 1961, near the village of Orosi, Costa Rica. None of this type were found at any other location in Costa Rica, and it may prove to be endemic to a small area. Plants survived fumigation, and it is hoped they will retain the rich red coloration that they show in their habitat. The cover shows a drawing of this plant.


Charles Marden Fitch

During the several years I spent living in Coral Gables, Florida, I had many chances to explore the Everglades region in south Florida. Usually my trips were made to collect snakes which were used for scientific purposes after they had been "milked" on a local television show with which I was working. However, since I am not only a herpetologist but also an avid appreciator of all natural history subjects, the flora of the 'glades attracted my attention too.

The beautiful Tillandsia fasciculata, of which the variant densispica is most commonly seen, is one of the most noticeable plants in the region. It grows on almost every suitable tree and often forms huge bunches the size of bushel baskets. These dense dense clumps often shelter ferns or the lovely Epidendrum tampense, sometimes called the "Florida Butterfly Orchid." A plant of Tillandsia fasciculata in full bloom presents an especially exotic picture when an airy spray of Epidendrum tampense flowers gently sways close by.

About 50 miles out of the city of Miami on the Tamiami Trail (Route 44 which goes from Miami to Tampa through the 'glades) is an ideal spot to view Florida's bromeliads with the greatest of ease. On one side of this excellent road is the Tamiami Canal and on the other are the vast Everglades. Throughout the area will be seen hammocks made of shrubs, small trees, and sometimes majestic cypress.

C. M. Fitch   
Clump of Tillandsia fasciculata var. densispica on a native strangler fig in South Florida's everglades.
It is on the cypress trees that the bromeliads are usually found growing in the lushest abundance. As I mentioned, the spot on the "Trail" about 50 miles from Miami, just past the Everglades Ranger Station at the junction of the old dirt road, No. 94, is where the cypress hammocks shelter the largest concentration of bromeliads.

All one needs to do in order to view these unusual plants closely is to pull over the car, get out and walk about 50 yards into the sawgrass. Care must be taken when walking in the two- to four-foot grass, since it is in this growth that the venomous cotton-mouth (Ancistrodon piscivorus) and the tiny but dangerous pigmy rattler (Sistrurus miliarius) dwell. In fact, one night a friend and I collected over 60 cotton-mouth moccasins during a period not exceeding three hours within one mile of the heavily traveled Tamiami Trail! However, with a bit of caution the 'glades will present little problem to the observer or collector of bromeliads.

At times bromeliads will be found growing high in the native strangler fig trees which often get their start by germinating in the rosette of a Tillandsia to begin with! I remember a large clump of Tillandsia fasciculata var. densispica that I collected near Immokalee, Florida, last year, which turned into a mass of strangler fig seedlings after a few months in my home greenhouse. I had cut back the old Tillandsias which had already flowered, but I kept the whole mass of old roots intact and moist because some lovely Epidendrum tampense plants were growing on the same log. This moisture along with the heat and light of the greenhouse caused many of the strangler fig seeds hidden among the old Tillandsia rosettes, to germinate wonderfully! The orchids, bromeliads, and figs all grew into a matted mass of plants over the summer, and I finally had to separate the individuals for their own welfare!

Along with Tillandsia fasciculata grow many other native bromeliads and orchids. A branch of Cypress (Taxodium distichum) with several orchids, bromeliads, and ferns growing on it makes a fascinating item for one's greenhouse. Often seeds which have lodged in the plant mass while the branch was in its native Florida, will germinate in the greenhouse and provide unusual surprises.

1120 Cove Road Mamaroneck, New York


Writes one enthusiastic member: "Our experience with the Bromeliad Robin is a very gratifying one and currently we have a wide-spread and enthusiastic membership. It appears that we may have to organize an international Robin to take in some of our correspondents in Africa and Down Under. The swapping of seeds and information overseas has been very gratifying, and we keep the mails busy in the States every now and then with packets of plants. Our own collection has climbed over the three hundred mark, and we have literally thousands of seedlings coming along. There are a number of us, and as we are not in competition with the commercial houses, we swap rather than buy and sell. However, there are occasional smaller hobbiests who have too little to swap and wish to purchase. These people we would like to be able to steer to those hobby growers who have something to spare for a "moderate price." Interested members are invited to correspond with Mrs. Beryl Allen, 7006 Nebraska Avenue, Tampa 4, Florida.

The success of our Membership Drive this last December was due to the kindness of our president, Mr. David Barry, Jr., who donated the plants of Aechmea fasciata var. purpurea.

To All Members: Again we must earnestly solicit articles, notes, growing tips, etc., etc., if this Bulletin is to continue. This is a mutual organization—all should do their bit if the group is to be successful.

Cryptanthus lacerdae


A Gem Everyone Should Have

Mulford B. Foster

Not too much seems to be known of the actual collection locality of this little "Earth Star" Cryptanthus species, except that it was found in eastern Brazil. All of the species in the genus have been found in that area, principally in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, Baia, Pernambuco, and Paraiba.

Cryptanthus lacerdae was the first described by Antoine in Venna, Gartenz, in 1882, page 254. It was cultivated in Austria, Germany, and Belgium for many years before it reached the United States.

Although it is one of the smallest of the species, it is surely one of the most attractive with its longitudinal stripes of silver on green.

A few years ago the writer wished for a larger edition of this "silver star," and fortunately, through a secondary cross, finally attained that wish. Now we have an exact duplicate of the small original species, but the new one is at least four times the normal size of C. lacerdae.

Quite often the stripes or bands, that are made up of peltate scales which are found on many species of bromeliads, do not carry through this character when they are hybridized with other species which do not have this surface decoration, but in this instance it was a perfect job.

Rt. 3, Box 658 Orlando, Florida


Mabel E. Goerth

The primary function of the Seed Fund is to provide a source of supply of seeds for our Society members.

Each of you may have one or several plants, common to you but scarce to others. Possibly you have an excess of seed. If so, the Fund will swap you species for species; that is, you will be sent a package of seed of your choice of what is available. Your excess seed will be sold and the proceeds turned over to the treasurer of the Society.

Mention here is also in order as to the quantity of seeds contained in each package sold. Since most of us are amateurs, we are interested in only a few plants. The seeds, therefore, are packaged in lots of from 10 to 15 seeds. A secondary reason for this amount is to provide more enthusiasts with more species. The price of each package is fifty cents, plus postage.

In the past, the Fund has encountered complaints of "dead" seeds. I cannot guarantee any seeds sent to you. However, with each new selection of seeds received, I plant from 3 to 5 seeds under sterile conditions to see if they germinate. If my seeds fail to germinate, you will be given credit toward other seeds which are available.

I realize that the faster the seeds get into your hands the better chance you have in successfully growing them. To facilitate this, every 4 to 6 weeks a list of new seeds available will be sent to you if you will send me a self-addressed stamped envelope.

As my own seeds come into the ripening state, they will be added to the list and you can make reservations for them. It would be appreciated if, when you have seeds near the gathering stage, you will drop me a postal, and your species can be added to the list.

3207 Debbie Drive, Orlando, Florida


Nancy M. McLaughlin

Bromeliad collectors, amateur and professional—we need your help if bromeliads are to be further popularized among average gardeners and home owners. At present, for us beginners, the terminology is too technical and the methods of culture are not standardized enough to be easily understandable and acceptable.

We need the results of your experience, facts that can be coordinated into a logical whole, then edited and made public as a method of procedure usable by anyone, however limited his technical knowledge. In no other way can we increase public enthusiasm for bromeliads, which currently, I gather, are considered rare, exotic, and temperamental.

Our Bromeliad Handbook and the bulletins, I am sure, have been of invaluable help to all amateurs, but many of us urgently desire further information to help us get satisfactory results with any bromeliad species under and given set of conditions. Much of bromeliad culture seems doubtful and variable even among experts; and, as a rank amateur, I am often discouraged by the lack of a solution, or, at best, the contradictory answers, to various problems. This situation could be improved by a concerted effort from all of us. The following are some subjects on which information would be most welcome.

What bromeliads are grown in your area? How are they grown—in greenhouses, outdoors, or as house plants? Which varieties succeed best, and why?

How do your plants react to the amount of light (artificial, sunlight, or both) as to general growth, leaf colors, and flower color? Do they flower as often in reduced light? Which varieties successfully tolerate more or less exposure to sunlight than is commonly believed?

How much water is desirable under various climatic conditions? What about the quality of the water in your area? Is it highly alkaline, for example? If so, does this have an adverse effect on plants? Can this effect be corrected by the proper use of fertilizer or by some other method? What experience have you had with plants rotting when water was allowed to stand in cups during a long damp winter?

What degree of cold do your plants withstand? What method of fertilizing do you prefer, and why?

What helpful information can you give about starting offshoots, also about growing from seed?

What was the quality and success of each variety when used as a house plant? Were varieties grown primarily for their foliage more successful than blooming varieties? This is an important question, for, in my opinion, bromeliads as house plants could have a tremendous future.

There must be others besides myself who seek advice on these very elementary questions. So please write in; however small you may think your contribution may be, it surely be of great help to someone else.

756 Fairfield Circle Pasadena, California


Victoria Padilla

This article will be an attempt to answer a few of the many queries which reach my desk. In response to the questions "How can I grow bromeliads?", "What bromeliads are the best for me to grow?", "How can I get my bromeliads to bloom?", and so on—all I can say is to follow the instructions given in the handbook and in the bulletins. The series "The Beginner's ABC," which appeared during 1959 and 1960, was an attempt to answer the second question. Joining the Round Robin may be of tremendous assistance in gaining information, plants, and pen friends. Organizing a local group is even a better way, for one can see how other members grow their plants. If you wish to know the names of those members residing in your area, write to Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, the membership secretary.

There is really no one answer to all the questions asked. What holds true for one locality certainly would not be true for another. The beginner must be an experimenter if he would succeed with his plants—he must strike out for himself to find out just what they need under the conditions under which he must grow them. But always he must be governed by the conditions under which the plant grow in its native habitat.

The beginner must realize certain things, however. One is that he cannot possibly grow all the bromeliads he reads about. After raising bromeliads for almost twenty years, I have finally decided that because of the hard alkaline water and our hot dry weather, almost the year round, certain species are not for me. But the bromeliad family is a large one, and there are certainly enough kinds of bromeliads that I can grow to keep me happy.

The reason so many amateurs have difficulty is that they plunge immediately into growing the more temperamental varieties with which experienced growers have difficulty. The beginner should confine his efforts at first to the true and tried varieties, for they will bring him the greatest amount of pleasure in the shortest period of time.

If a person must grow all his plants within a small greenhouse, he certainly should avoid the larger growing bromeliads, such as the Bromelias, Hohenbergias, and certain Aechmeas, such as A. disticantha, A. caudata, A. marie-reginae. Also, so that he will not get discouraged, he should forego those kinds which are notoriously slow bloomers. Such a one is Quesnelia arvensis, which took some ten years to flower in my garden.

To increase his knowledge of plant names, the beginner should send for all the catalogues and plants lists which he can obtain and study the descriptions. Some of the better gardening dictionaries also have good listings. He should also learn the meaning of botanical terms, for most times they are a clue to the appearance of the plant. (To be continued.)


Roger K. Taylor

One of the pamphlets issued by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, "Farmer's Bulletin No. 2085," is by Dr. John L. Creech, and describes a number of possible horticultural uses of sphagnum moss. Outstanding characteristics of this material are its lightness, water-holding capacity, and sterility. It contains the essential plant nutrients, but at a very low level. It has been widely used in starting plants from seed, primarily because damping-off is thus practically avoided; fungi do not commonly develop upon it. Dr. Creech in personal conversation has pointed out that the moss is not merely sterile, but it is also actively antiseptic, apparently containing an antibiotic of some kind.

I have had gratifying results from the use of this medium for starting bromeliad offshoots when removed prior to the formation of roots. Even quite small ones, on which root development is long delayed, remain alive and ultimately grow. Loss by rotting, which under these conditions would probably be severe with other media, is minimal. When roots have developed, the plant may be transferred to a more customary potting material, but it is apparently not essential to do so. A Vriesea X Marie now coming into bloom has been grown entirely in sphagnum, with only the periodic feeding with highly dilute nutrient solution routinely used for most of my plants. One of the Billbergias, B. saundersii I believe, was also grown for several years in moss, developing into a husky clump. It did not bloom, but inadequate light was a sufficient reason for its failure to do so.

Seeds of Vriesea splendens planted on a layer of damp sphagnum in a shallow bowl and kept covered with a pane of glass gave good germination; the seedlings are still tiny, but as they grow I am admitting more air, and so far growth seems satisfactory.

In one or two cases I have repotted small unhealthy plants in sphagnum and arrested their decline.

Though there is no intention to recommend the wholesale use of this material for all purposes, it appears to offer interesting possibilities for experimentation.

31 N. Calvert Street .Baltimore 18, Maryland

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