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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 four classes of member-ship: Annual, $5.00; Sustaining, $7.50; Fellowship, $15.00; and Life $100.00. 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, California, 90049.

PresidentDavid Barry, Jr. Editorial SecretaryVictoria Padilla
Vice PresidentFritz Kubisch Membership SecretaryJeanne Woodbury
Treasurer           Jack M. Roth

Board of Directors
David Barry, Jr.
Ralph Davis
Nat de Leon
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Morris H. Hobbs
Warren Cottingham
Ed Hummel
Fritz Kubisch
Marcel Lecoufle
J. G. Milstein
Julian Nally
Victoria Padilla
W. R. Paylen
Jack M. Roth
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Charles A. Wiley
Wilbur G. Wood
Jeanne Woodbury

Honorary Trustees
Mrs. Adda Abendroth
Teresopolis, Brazil

W. B. Charley
Bilpin, N.S.W., Australia

Monsieur Charles Chevalier
Esneux, Belgium

Mulford B. Foster
Orlando, Florida

A. B. Graf
E. Rutherford, New Jersey

Charles H. Lankester
Cartago, Costa Rica

Harold Martin
Auckland, New Zealand

Richard Oeser, M. D.
Kirchzarten, Brsg, W. Germany

P. Raulino Reitz
Itajai, Brasil

Walter Richter
Crimmitschau, E. Germany

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

Henry Teuscher
Montreal, Canada

THE PICTURE ON THE COVER—Tillandsia × `Victoria' is a cross of Tillandsia ionantha × T. brachycaulos made by Mulford B. Foster in 1943. It flowered for the first time in 1954. In all its characters it resembles a king-sized T. ionantha, turning a brilliant cerise pink when blooming. In flower this hybrid measures from five to six inches to the top of its flowers. Photo by Charles Wiley.

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

M. B. Foster
Tillandsia caput-medusae


This tuft that thrives on saline nothingness,
Inverted octopus with heavenward arms
Thrust parching from a palm-bole hard by the cove—
A bird almost—of almost bird alarms,

Is pulmonary to the wind that jars
Its tentacles, horrific in their lurch.
The lizard's throat, held bloated for a fly,
Balloons but warily from this throbbing perch.

The needles and the hack-saws of cactus bleed
A milk of earth when stricken off the stalk;
But this,—defenseless, thornless, sheds no blood,
Almost no shadow—but the air's thin talk.

Angelic Dynamo! Ventriloquist of the Blue!
While beachward creeps the shark-swept Spanish Main.

Hart Crane (1871-1900)



RACTICALLY EVERY BRANCH of science or art has had a hoax perpetrated on it by some practical joker trying to confound the critics or by some charlatan avid of unearned reputation or profit. A skillful Dutch artist discovered lost masterpieces for Hitler's benefit, but after the war had to placate his vengeful colleagues by disclosing them as forgeries. In his early years, Fritz Kreisler embarrassed hostile critics by much the same stratagem with supposed manuscripts of famous musicians.

In science, we have tales which are impossible to verify, like the schoolboy's "hum-bug" composed of parts of several different insects, down to clear cut modern cases like the Piltdown Man of the anthropologists. One of the early American ornithologists is said to have confounded a cocky student by mounting the head of one bird on the body of another, and in great grandfather's day the geographers uncovered a fake discovery of the North Pole.

In botany also there have been hoaxes, though the majority of them are geographical where it is difficult to draw the line between an honest error from mixed or lost labels and intentional deceit. I ran into one such case of chicanery in my early curating at the Gray Herbarium, when I was told to remove every specimen of a certain collection from southern Brazil.

A dealer in scientific books had had a side line in plant specimens, and one set had sold out quickly with a demand for still more. Ingeniously if not too ethically, the dealer had taken specimens not so popular and relabeled them as coming from southern Brazil. They sold and were mounted and filed in a number of herbaria, but when botanists came to study them suspicions grew rapidly into conviction. Of two Tillandsias in this lot one grew no nearer than the West Indies and the other was limited to Mexico.

However, the bromels have had one hoax that was based on fantasy instead of geography. In his first great treatment of the Bromeliaceae in the "Flora Brasiliensis" in 1892, Mez described and illustrated Quesnelia tillandsioides (plate 75). The plate was prepared from the specimen in the Berlin herbarium and I have photographed a second specimen in the Kew herbarium. As you can see from the reproduction of the plate, the scape and inflorescence are indistinguishable from those of Quesnelia liboniana, while the leaves are like those of a Tillandsia or some Brazilian species of Vriesea. Mez cited Quesnelia tillandsioides again in his first complete monograph of the Bromeliaceae in 1896, but in 1906 Tietze came out with the startling news that Quesnelia tillandsioides consisted of a flowering shoot of Quesnelia liboniana pushed into a rosette of a Tillandsia or Vriesea. My guess would be Vriesea poenulata, which is also illustrated in the "Flora Brasiliensis" (plate 106) and collected by Glaziou, the same man who produced Quesnelia tillandsioides.

Quesnelia tillandsioides

Thus the means of this hoax are fairly easy to explain, but the motive is more difficult. At first it might seem to be an accident in assembling broken specimens, but while it might be possible for one specimen, two are hardly likely. Besides Glaziou must have been much too familiar with living bromeliads to make such a mistake. Then why should he have risked a reputation as the greatest discoverer of ornamental bromeliads of his day for the sake of one curious but rather ugly species. Maybe Glaziou started it as a joke and then dared not reveal it after its appearance in the "Flora Brasiliensis". As it is, he left no explanation and the motive of the great bromeliad hoax must remain a mystery.

—Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., U.S.A.



ANY YEARS AGO, traveling through south Florida by car, I often wished to be able to see more closely the air plants growing in the cypress trees. I had been told that they were called "tree pineapples." Little did I know that forty years later, I could go out in my own back yard and find several species of this interesting plant.

The one most common in this area is Tillandsia fasciculata. This Tillandsia grows into large rosettes of stiff-gray-green foliage. The inflorescence appears in February and is slow growing; gradually the spike acquires red bracts and purple flowerettes. These open a few at a time over a period of several weeks. Sometimes the main plant grows alone, but more often it is found growing in clumps. These clumps are always eye catching, especially so when grown on a cypress while this tree is without foliage during the winter months.

R. Oeser
Tillandsia fasciculata

Tillandsia utriculata resembles T. fasciculata at first glance, but its foliage is much longer and more curved and much softer to the touch. The bloom spike is very tall, sometimes reaching as much as four feet. The actual blossom is not very showy, but the dry bloom stalk in a few weeks' time is noticeable. It is not just a single stalk, but branches out, forming a tree shape, and the winged seeds hang on, giving a feathery appearance.

Tillandsia tenuifolia makes grassy tufts with foliage resembling pine needles, green in color but turning red-purple at the tips as they grow out. The clumps of these plants, sometimes as tall as eight inches, can be found attached to trees, shrubs, fences, and even telephone wires. The small flowers on upright stems are purple. When dry their fluffy seeds fly away, and the remaining calyx twists, disclosing a brown underside, which makes the plant useful in miniature dry arrangements. The growing plant can be used in dish garden plantings, as it stays attractive indefinitely.

Tillandsia recurvata also grows in tufts or clumps, but this one resembles Spanish moss (T. usneoides). Each strand of the gray-green foliage is soft velvety in appearance and has tiny blooms with a purple calyx which turns brown when dry. This species some-times is found growing in a pendulous position. It has very graceful lines, and the colorful bloom on tiny stems makes it an intriguing plant.

T. circinnata grows in a rosette form and varies in size from three to six inches. It also can be found growing pendulous and in clusters. The foliage is decidedly curved, velvety gray in appearance, sometimes with brown markings. The bloom spike, not very tall above the rosette, has rose bracts and blue-purple flowers. The flowers fade very quickly. I more often find the faded flowers than the actual bloom. At first glance this Tillandsia sometimes resembles a young T. fasciculata. Single plants seem to grow taller than when several are attached.

Of course, there are many other Tillandsias to be found here in south Florida, but these of which I have written are indigenous to our property. One other Tillandsia is growing here, the so-called Spanish moss, T. usneoides. Some years ago we brought home a few strands from central Florida and the birds have helped in its propagation. They use the soft streamer-like pieces for lining their nests. This species, too, has blossoms which appear during the summer months. People are always amazed when I show them where the tiny green blooms are located. It is also hard to convince some people that this plant is an epiphyte and not a parasite.

—Rt. 1, Box 204, West Palm Beach, Florida.



(Translated from the German by C. A. Begemann, Greenbrae, California)

N BULLETIN NO. 1, Volume VI, 1956, I reported a method of raising Tillandsias from seed. This was ten years ago. Since that time many members of the Bromeliad Society have asked me for advice, as interest in Tillandsias is growing fast. This interest is no doubt due to the fact that no other bromeliad requires so little growing space as the small Tillandsias.

I have been able through accumulated experience to achieve complete success in raising Tillandsias from seed. This I would like to report on.

The harvesting of seed from Tillandsias in cultivation is easy by means of simple pollination. Of course, one meets with many differences and difficulties. There are Tillandsias which pollinate themselves, such as T. schiedeana, T. butzii, T. tricholepis. With other Tillandsias, such as T. fasciculata, two plants are necessary for pollination. Again, with other plants, one has two plants that are in bloom at the same time but do not have the same number of chromosomes.

In Tillandsias, such as T. lindenii, the stamens and pistil are so hidden that a successful pollination is a real piece of art and often is achieved only during certain hours or during the night.

Also the time from blooming to seed ripening varies. With a few South American species, such as T. aeranthos, T. ixioides, T. bergeri, it takes only a few months. With the majority of Tillandsias, one can count on the seeds ripening when the offshoots bloom the next year. With T. pruinosa, however, I have had to wait for two years for the ripening of the seed capsules. Regretfully, one cannot be sure that the ripe capsules open by themselves. To effect the opening, one needs a period of dryness, which in a greenhouse cannot always be achieved.

In many cases a dark brown coloration of the seed capsules indicate the desired ripeness. When the capsules can be somewhat compressed by the fingers, this is also an indication of ripeness.

Seeds should be kept in an open uncovered glass container, as apparently germination starts at once. If the germination is disturbed by a lack of air, the seeds will die. This is probably the reason for the rapid loss of germination energy. In fresh air, even in the full sun, the seed will long remain capable of germination. Seeds of T. bergeri will without watering attract the moisture in the air, as can be noted by the fact that the kernels begin to swell.


For the past few years I have used bundles of pine branches on which to sow my Tillandsia seed. In particular I have found that Thuja branches, from which I have removed the needles, to be excellent. First, I bundle together two pencil-thick branches (with all side branches); they should be about 20 inches long. These serve as a means of attachment. It is important that an inch-wide end piece is left at the bottom and at the top to serve as a sort of handle. These two original branches should then be surrounded with more thin twigs until the compressed bundle has a diameter of approximately one inch.

In the middle and near both ends the bundle should be tightly bound together with a wire and the loose ends trimmed with a scissors. Now the dry bundle can be planted with dried Tillandsia seed. To avoid later annoyance, care should be taken to distribute the seeds evenly over the twigs. Care at this point should be taken, as the seed will stick only to the rough parts of the bundle, and any movement of air will blow the seeds off. Winding the bundles with very thin wire every half inch will press the seeds a little tighter and tighten in particular the small branches so that the whole bundle will become more compact. Attachment of the seeds to the twigs only takes place after the whole bundle has been sprayed lightly with water. Through this method the single seeds attach themselves to the wood and do not fall off even when the bundle is soaked in water.

(All photos by author)
Thuja—bundle of branches with Tillandsia seedlings 4 months after sowing.

Finally, a stronger wire should be attached at the top end so that the bundle can be hung in the greenhouse. Half shade is desirable. I have given up the use of fungicides. Placing the seeds in a closed container with high humidity will always lead to disappointment. As I believe I should grow my seeds in a situation similar to that found in nature, I do not sterilize the seeds, as in nature there is no sterilization.

The seedlings are soaked daily in good rain water to which I add a small amount of fertilizer. On warm, sunny days, I soak the seedlings several times, and when the other plants in the greenhouse are being sprayed, then I spray the seedlings also.

The windows are opened if the temperature allows. The humidity should vary between 90-100% (when sprayed) and 20-30% (with open window, wind, and sunshine). In other words, no special care need be given to the seedlings. They grow under the same conditions as the full grown plants but should be protected from direct sunshine.

Tillandsia argentea in the 3rd year. Left branch shows seedlings replanted and attached with pine needles.

Mixed seedlings of T. brachycaulos and
T. streptophylla after 2¼ years.

Their only special care is more intensive soaking. Without such care they would also grow but would need a longer time. Of course, growing bromeliads from seed successfully requires knowledge not just obtained from books, but from actual experience.

My starting point for growing bromeliads as I do is from nature itself. Under natural conditions Tillandsia seed fastens itself to tree bark and also to thin branches. Rain will get to the seeds on the underside of the branch where they are protected from the hot sun and remain moist for a longer period of time than they would in the full sun. This cooling effect can be achieved in the greenhouse by running cool tap water over the seedlings which are attached to branches that are still alive. The branches act like a, wick, for after soaking, a certain humidity is maintained as well as lower temperatures. Tillandsias, however, are used to withstand longer period of dryness than most bromeliads.

Algae and mushrooms cannot stand drying out. This is why the free and airy hanging bundle with its germinating Tillandsias remains free of algae, which cover seedlings when sown on peat, moss, or fern bark. Algae slime will not let humidity penetrate into the deeper layers of the sowing medium. If you want to rescue bromeliad seedlings from the encroachment of algae slime, then you must break the slime where it appears. Since I have used Thuja branches as bundles, I have suffered fewer losses through mold than when I used other media on which to sow my seed.

Thuja and other conifers contain poisonous substances, which I assume have a fungicide and anti-parasitic effect, but bromeliads are not harmed. The Thuja leaves (in particular in young spring growths) also contain growth-encouraging hormone substances which could have a meritorious effect on the seedlings, as these substances are broken down slowly. Also, the acidity of the conifer material is of importance.

Now let us return from these theoretical assumptions to the actual practice of growing seedlings. In the first year, the growth seldom exceeds the formation of 3 to 10 leaves. The growth, too, is often interrupted by rest periods, but these are followed in spring by a sometimes amazing rapid growth on the part of the seedlings. If the plantlets on the bundle have grown to the point that the outer leaves are touching, then success is in sight.

Care should be taken that no seedlings get burned by direct and vertical sun rays. Through changing the position of the bundle (in winter under 45° angle and directed towards the sun, in March—August turned away from the sun), one can take measures to prevent such damage.

When the young Tillandsias have covered the bundle completely, they have really begun to grow. For this reason I use faster and slower growing species together and have had good results. The fast growing T. brachycaulos protects the slower growing T. streptophylla or the even slower growing T. bulbosa and helps to create a micro-climate beneficial to all.

However, in the third or fourth year the bundle will be so tightly overgrown that as everywhere in nature, the survival of the fittest begins and the stronger plants will subdue and kill off the weaker ones. Then it is high time to remove and replant. This often poses technical difficulties because strong root development within the solid branch bundle has taken place which keeps the young plants so firmly attached to the substrata that the removal is more- like a surgical operation. The roots have almost become wooden, although at the time of spring growth they are fresh and full of sap. It would be incorrect to assume that Tillandsias do not need these fresh roots in the same way as other plants, namely, to get nourishment from the inside of the branch bundle.

The young Tillandsias removed from the original bundle generally have so many firm roots that one can easily insert them with a thin nylon string into a new and stronger bundle of branches. Thuja branches, which are as thick as a pencil or the little finger of your hand, with their small side branches, should for the time being be enough to support the young Tillandsias. Such branches are pliable and can be bent into any desirable interesting shape.

T. caput-medusae on primary bundle of branches at the beginning of the 5th year. Please observe the better development at the moist bottom end of the bundle, where one plant is already in bloom.

For very young and small Tillandsias which can hardly be attached with a nylon string the trick is to use pine needles. The root ends of the seedlings are fastened with a pine needle, which can be attached to the bundle of twigs by sticking the pine needle into any available opening in the branch bundle.

The experience gained from raising thousands of young Tillandsias has given me the opportunity of improving the maintenance of imported plants. I attach newly imported Tillandsias to branch forks of not too thick Thuja branches and take a few thin branch pieces for covering the site of attachment so that they stay moist longer. I avoid, particularly fern roots and moss. Should the site of attachment need enlargement so that the roots can spread out better, I attach pine cones, after removal of some of the scales, to the Thuja branch in such a way that the upward point scales can take up and store water. Conifer cones are just right for the root requirements of Tillandsias and other bromeliads. If the cones are too fresh, one has the disadvantage that the cones will open and dose with changes of humidity, just like a hydrometer.

Tillandsias are gregarious and do best when grown together, helping to protect one another. The possibilities for combinations are endless; many very beautiful and very natural looking showpieces can be created.

—7801 Stegen b. Freiburg/Brsg., Schulweg 2a Germany.



N AMERICAN CAME TO SEE my bromeliads. I have a cluster of Spanish moss, about two feet long, hanging from a piece of wire from a rafter. When he saw it, he exclaimed "Oh, boy, that doggone cuss grows all over the tops of trees away back in the States." "Yes," I replied, so I believe, but you are in Australia now, and here we have much different conditions, and I don't want it to grow all over the place; it suits me as it is."

I have often thought that it is a good idea to go and see what the other fellow is doing as regards the cultivation of his plants, comparing methods and, making notes. So with that idea in mind, I decided to visit some of my friends and see what they were doing. My first call was to see a number of bromeliads grown outside in the shade of a large Lillypilly (Eugenia) hedge facing south. In my locality (Melbourne) north is warm and sunny; south, cool and shady. East gets the morning sun until mid-day, and west gets the later afternoon sun. My friend asked me what I thought of his plants. I replied that they had grown well but that I did not like the fact that their cups were full of dust and dead leaves and rubbish from the hedge. My friend remarked that, that was the way the bromeliads grew in nature, but I replied that I preferred to grow my plants clean.

My next visit was to a grower who planted his broms along the north side of a glass-house in a bed of compost. As this position was rather hot in summer, it was necessary to build a frame work, over which lath shutters were placed during the hot weather. Under this condition, the hard-leaved varieties, such as Billbergias, Neoregelias, Dyckias, Ochagavias, and the hard-leaved Aechmeas, were doing particularly well. Billbergias had made sturdy growth, with plenty of color in their bands. The soft-foliaged plants, such as Vrieseas, Guzmanias, and Nidulariums, were stunted and some had burnt tips. They evidently missed the humid atmosphere of a glasshouse.

I then visited a large conservatory, where numerous tropical foliage plants are grown. I was astonished to see the size of some of the bromeliads. Billbergia vittata had foliage up to four feet long, but the leaves were long and sprawling. Aechmea miniata had leaves up to two feet in length, and the plant had lost its tubular habit, the foliage also being open and sprawling. Probably the sprawling habit of the bromeliads was due to the fact that they were completely surrounded by foliage of other plants and lacked the necessary light. Another thing that surprised me was to see several varieties of Cryptanthus growing under the benches at the edge of the concrete paths. These plants were flourishing with plenty of color in the foliage. I had previously thought that bromeliads needed exposure to light to produce color in the foliage.

—7 Dresden St., Melbourne, Australia.



EVEN YEARS AGO I was introduced to my first of these exotic plants via some discarded pots of mud a friend had no use for. I set the pots under a tree until I would have time to empty and clean them. A month later I happened to see a small green plant starting in one of the pots. This later proved to be Neoregelia spectabilis.

Not knowing a thing about this plant, I managed somehow to keep it alive and growing, which I now know was no pat on the back for me, as no plants will put forth greater effort to live than bromeliads.

After getting a copy of Exotica II from the library, I became interested in these plants, and I copied the entire listing shown, marking the names of those most appealing to me. This list has been my guide in collecting.

My collection today consists of 20 Aechmeas, 24 Billbergias, 1 Catopsis, 7 Cryptanthus, 2 Cryptbergias, 8 Neoregelias, 5 Vrieseas, 12 Tillandsias, 1 Nidularium, 1 Orthophytum.

I have collected only young offshoots, for I have wanted the success or failure of growing them to be my own. I have had no trouble in flowering most of them, and they flower mostly during the periods set forth as their natural flowering time. I had one (unnamed) which was given to me four years ago. The original plant died after putting out two offsets. I have grown this plant mounted and in pots, but it refuses to flower, although it grows profusely.

My success I contribute to the fact that I grow my bromeliads as near their natural growing conditions as possible. I live in the country, seven miles from town. The air is clean; our water is pumped out of the ground; therefore it is free from purifying chemicals, although it contains a lot of iron. Our rainfall is more than ample and humidity is always high. We have a long warm growing season, usually extending from March to October. There are plenty of trees to give the bromeliads just the right amount of sun and shade. In winter, unless some freakish blizzards blow in, and on prolonged rainy days, only a minimum amount of heat is needed. I put all my plants under shelter in October to keep them from being exposed to a sudden drop in temperature from north winds. In spring, the plants are placed outside under trees, where they are protected only from the hot noonday sun.

Most of the plants are potted; only a few are mounted. I prefer pots as it is more convenient for me in winter. I do not fertilize for the following reasons: My planting medium consists of rotted oak leaves and oak mulch, plus a bit of coarse builder's sand. Each plant is the home of no fewer than 4 to 6 rain frogs. Then there are the birds which sleep in trees at night. Then, too, bugs drown in the vases. My plants are healthy, clean, and have good coloring.

I have three old plants at present which have bloomed and given me many offsets. The tanks became rotten and could not hold water, so I have taken the old stems and planted them against a tree on the ground in oak mulch. In a few months I expect to be able to get still another offset from each of them.

Aechmea chantinii, to me, has the most regal looking flower, and the miniature Neoregelia tristis, the most fascinating. I have some seedlings which a friend gave me started on a slab of fern root. I have potted some of the little plantlets and am eager to see them reach maturity. With good light some are turning red, some green on top and purple and silver stripes on the underside. There is only one odd one, which in the same amount of light as the others, has decided to be purple with no stripes. Its growth and shape are entirely different from that of other seedlings, but I'll have to be patient for a long time before it blooms.

The Bromeliad Society Bulletin has been a great help to me and there is much enjoyment reading of other people's treks into the tropics in search of these most fascinating plants. I for one am truly grateful to the experts for sharing their knowledge with us.

Besides my bromeliads, I also have cacti, begonias, crotons, gesneriads and a few orchids. My oldest plant is a 16-year old croton; the tallest, a 7-foot cactus, and the smallest, a tiny Sinningia pusilla

—P.O. Box 906. Covington, Louisiana.


There are many factors which enter into the successful growing of bromeliads (e. g., temperature, smog, humidity, light, etc.,) any of which would take many pages to cover adequately. However, the newcomer to the field need not concern himself too deeply at first with each and every aspect of each and every factor if he will pay heed only to a few simple rules.

  1. It matters not what compost is used (hapuu, fir bark, pumice, leaf mold, etc), so long as it permits good drainage and can be easily leached. It should be material that will not readily break down or be a host to insects, fungi, etc. It should be a compost that can be controlled by feeding nutrients.

  2. Watering is very important—be sure the water drains quickly through the pot, and do this 2 or 3 times each watering, so as to eliminate soluble salts from the compost. Bromeliads cannot accept soggy compost.

  3. Ventilation, or a nice breeze, at all times is desirable; in fact, many growers insist this is essential to successful bromeliad culture. Remember that bromeliads are air plants.

  4. Fertilizers should be applied weak strength at regular intervals. As to the brand, most of them seem to do very well.

  5. With the exception of the soft green-leaved Vrieseas and Tillandsias, give your plants all the light you can without burning the leaves. Most plants need light to flower.

  6. Bromeliads seem to do rather well in a considerable range of temperature. The higher the day temperatures the greater the humidity and water requirements. A minimum of 40°F and a maximum of 90°F should produce good results.

  7. Keep your growing areas clean, and use any of the standard insecticides for control. This is the time of year to give your house a good thorough cleaning and fumigating.

  8. Learn to understand the needs of your plants, it will be fun and give you wonderful returns.



W. Rauh
The desolate deserts of Peru where the only living things are Tillandsias.

ET US GIVE OUR IMAGINATIONS free rein and try to imagine a few situations that could happen only in science fiction stories and then read the true-to-life comparisons. Science has finally landed a manned rocket on the planet Mars. After the men have made a trip outside the ship, they excitedly radio back to Earth. There is life on Mars. Of course, as had been suspected, it is plant, not animal life. To one of the space travelers, there seems to be a certain familiar appearance, and on a hunch he gathers an extra specimen of the plant, which is forwarded to the Smithsonian Institution when he arrived back in the United States. There is almost an immediate announcement that the collected specimen is similar to Earth's own Tillandsia purpurea.

Next, try to imagine a form of life that decides to have its children while it is still young and immature. When it is finally full grown-and mature, it decides to quit having children.

Lastly, we have all heard of flying fish, but who has ever heard of a plant which tries to emulate Tarzan and travels through trees by passing from tree limb to limb.

Now for the explanations.

The facts behind the first item are as follows: Astronomers have noted that there is a spreading green coloration which regularly appears and radiates out from the poles at certain seasons of Mars' phases. They also believe that Mars might have some water in the form of a vapor in these same polar regions. In a certain area on the coast of Peru, there is a section so stony and arid that no form of plant or animal life can exist except one—Tillandsia purpurea. There is no soil here, only stones and pebbles. Apparently, one has to search in history to discover if it has ever rained in this section of Peru, and it is here under these impossible circumstances that T. purpurea not only exists as the only form of life, but it also thrives. Does one have to stretch the imagination too far to suppose that if T. purpurea could adapt itself to bitter cold, it might strongly resemble the fictional form of plant life from Mars? Actually the mists and vapors which come to the area at night is what feeds these plants through its scales.

There are some Tillandsias, T. grandis for one, that produce all their offshoots while they are still small and immature. When this Tillandsia reaches full size and attains maturity, it stops producing offshoots. Of course these bromeliads then reproduce sexually by means of seed production from their flowers.

The last example is Tillandsia decomposita, whose flowers are among the most sweetly perfumed of all the bromeliads. The leaves of this epiphytic plant coil very tightly in a corkscrew fashion. These curl about and grasp twigs, branches and leaves as the plant grows. The hind end of the plant dies, and the dead leaves petrify into a hard leathery material which can hold very tightly. Of course, the front end keeps growing and reaching out to new areas in the tree; hence the apparent swinging through the branches.

These three instances are only a few of the reasons why our beloved plant family is one of the most fascinating of them all.

—8502 Ft. Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, 11106.

Jack Holmes


APPY IS THE GROWER of bromeliads who can use these plants as a part of the landscape design. True, there is always the worry of inclement weather in the most salubrious of climates; but if one chooses his plants with care, he will find that there are many hardy souls in the family that can brave the most wintry of blasts.

The above planting shows Portea petropolitana var. extensa, Aechmea nallyi, Aechmea orlandiana, Vriesea imperialis (the large bromeliad in the back), and an unknown Billbergia species apparently leading a blissful existence (if one can judge from the blooms) among cycads in a Tampa, Florida, garden.

Jack Holmes

Certain bromeliads are especially well adapted to the rigors of a commercial planting, as this photograph of the entrance to a convention center in central Florida well shows. Such plants, again, should be chosen with care so that they will remain in an attractive condition for a considerable period of time. Dyckias, Aechmeas, and Billbergias are here intermingled with palms, cycads, and other materials to present a most harmonious whole.

The crushed white rock serves a two-fold purpose: it not only gives a clean, pleasing appearance at all times, but also acts as a mulch, keeping the soil moist and clean.

If a person desires to use his bromeliads in the garden for only a temporary effect, he need not take his bromeliads out of their containers for planting, but can, without injury to the plant, sink the entire pot in the soil. When the bromeliad has ceased blooming, the pot can then be easily lifted from the ground and a new specimen substituted.



F ONE HAS A COOL damp place where he wishes moss or lichens to grow, the following will prove helpful. Acquire some moss where it grows naturally, generally on the north side of rocks on hillsides. Break the moss up thoroughly by rubbing on hardware cloth, grinding or otherwise reducing to fine particles. To this add enough condensed milk or buttermilk to make a thick mixture; then plaster it on the chosen rock which should be somewhat rough and moisture holding. Keep constantly damp.

"Walk-on bark" is sufficiently coarse to give an attractive dressing to a planting of bromeliads, or it may be used in the path to be watered so that it can act as a humidifier when moistened. This bark does not particularly stick to shoes and is preferable to sand. The color is a rich cedar and gives excellent texture contrast.

To suspend pots on a wire line results in a marked dip. To prevent all the pots from slipping to the center, loops may be twisted in the wire at intervals. But to better eliminate the congestion, one may procure a section of small ½-inch pipe and run through it a heavy galvanized wire which is at both ends attached to the proper support. This enables one to obtain an even hang.

In areas having water on the alkaline side, one is generally troubled with a deposit of white salts in "bath tub rings" in the cup of bromels. These may be removed by taking a soft cotton cloth and painting the area with water from a solution of vinegar and water, half and half. For heavy accumulation, several applications and some careful scraping may be required. Adding a tablespoon of vinegar to each quart of water added to the water or fertilizer from time to time will help keep the potting mix acid and reduce the deposit of the alkaline salts.

Even the cost of flower pots reflects the upward spiraling cost of living; and it is worth redeeming old, salt-encrusted specimens. To neutralize the accumulated salts in old clay pots, place them in a tub, pour a gallon of vinegar over them, fill the tub with water, and let stand over night

—4300 Isabella Street, Riverside, California.


THE BROMELIAD GUILD, Los Angeles, California.
Meetings: Third Sunday afternoon on alternate months starting January.
President: W. R. Paylen, 1008 Gretna Green Way, Los Angeles 49

Meetings: Fourth Wednesday January, March, May, June, September, November.
President: Warren Cottingham, 10717 Oregon Way, Culver City, California.

Meetings: First Tuesday every month at 7:30 P.M.
President: Ervin J. Wurthmann, 5602 Theresa Rd., Tampa, Florida.

Meetings: First Tuesday of each month at eight o'clock.
President: Dr. J. G. Milstein, Telephone: Shore Rd. 5-4228.

Meetings: Third Tuesday of each month at eight o'clock.
President: Thomas Seuss, 1631 S. W. 22nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Meetings: Fourth Wednesday January, March, May, June, September, November
President: Mrs. Charles L. Brown, 27 Neron Pl., New Orleans.

President: Ralph W. Davis, 15500 NE 9th Ave., North Miami Beach.

President: William Rogers, 14 Royston Ave., Mangere East, Auckland, N. Z.

Please send anything you want to "Sound Off" on, including items of interest, reports of meetings, or accounts of Bromeliad shows to: Charles Wiley, 4036 Via Solano, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. 90275.

Jack Holmes


This bromeliad made its appearance in cultivation in 1830 as Billbergia tillandsioides, and it was not until almost fifty years later that it was rightfully placed in the genus Aechmea. It is to be found growing naturally as an epiphyte from Mexico to the Amazonas regions of Brazil and Peru.

There are several forms of Aechmea tillandsioides to be found in cultivation. Aechmea tillandsioides var. tillandsioides has shiny green leaves with red bracts, white flowers, and blue berries. It is a stocky bromel, known sometimes as the "red, white and blue bromeliad" because its fruits ripen one at a time. Another variety, Aechmea tillandsioides var. kienastii, is similar, but smaller and the inflorescence is appreciably shorter and with fewer branches.

Undoubtedly, the most striking is that found several years ago by Lee Moore in the Amazon region of Peru and pictured above. Catalogued as Ae. tillandsioides var. amazonas, it is a bold, handsome, medium-sized plant with a large inflorescence that resembles that of Ae. chantinii. This variety is probably not so hardy as it appears, coming as it does from the hot, humid jungle. It would thus do best as a greenhouse specimen in most collections.


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