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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
Warren Cottingham
Ralph Davis
Nat de Leon
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Morris H. Hobbs
Jack O. Holmes
Ed Hummel
Marcel Lecoufle
J. G. Milstein
Julian Nally
W. R. Paylen
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Charles A. Wiley
Wilbur G. Wood

Honorary Trustees
Adda Abendroth, Brazil
W. B. Charley, Australia
Charles Chevalier, Belgium
Mulford B. Foster, U.S.A.
A. B. Graf, U.S.A.
C. H. Lankester, Costa Rica
Harold Martin, New Zealand
Richard Oeser, Germany
Raulino Reitz, Brasil
Walter Richter, Germany
Dr. Lyman B. Smith, U.S.A.
Henry Teuscher, Canada

Active Affiliates
Bromeliad Guild, Los Angeles, Calif., W. R. Paylen, President
Greater New York Chapter of The Bromeliad Society, New York City, J. G. Milstein, President
Bromeliad Society of Broward County, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Thos. Seuss, President
Bromeliad Society of La Ballona Valley, Culver City, Calif., Fritz Kubisch, President
Bromeliad Society of South Florida, Miami, Florida, R. W. Davis, President
Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, Auckland, N. Z., W. Rogers, President
Louisiana Bromeliad Society, New Orleans, La., Mrs. C. L. Brown, President
San Mateo County Bromeliad Society, San Mateo, Calif., Kurt Peters, President
Delaware Valley Bromeliad Society, Philadelphia, Pa., Patrick Nutt, President

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


J. O. Holmes

HIS PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS part of the garden of Jack O. Holmes in Tampa, Florida. Lining the pathway are Aechmea chantinii, A. tillandsioides, and other Aechmeas whose strong, colorful leaves make them excellent landscape subjects. To the left of the picture, behind the urn, can be noted a number of Billbergias growing on an old cypress stump.

For most of us, unfortunately, neither our collections or our climate will permit such a lavish use of rare bromeliads. However, nearly all of us who grow our bromeliads indoors in winter could take them outside for the warm months and use them as a part of the summer garden. The plants need not be taken from the pot, but the whole container could be sunk into the ground or hidden behind rocks or logs. The selection of plants would depend upon the amount of light they would receive. For example, Aechmea distichantha, A. pineliana, A. nudicaulis, Quesnelia arvensis, and most of the Neoregelias will take full sun along the coast in southern California. Nearly all other bromeliads, with the exception of the xerophytic types, need partial shade. But, again, this would all depend upon the light intensity of the area in which one lives.



Fascicularia pitcairniifolia Mez

HIS STRIKING COLOR PHOTO was sent to the Bromeliad Society by our Australian member, Mr. Charles Hodgson of Melbourne. It was used as a full color cover picture on the September 1965 issue of Your Garden magazine in Melbourne, Australia.

While this stunning bromeliad is rare to most Society members, it was growing in almost every botanical garden in Europe nearly a hundred years ago.

Native to Chile it was first published in Revue Horticole in 1868 by Verlot as Hechtia pitcairniifolia. In 1870 Koch published it as Bromelia pitcairniaefolia (with new spelling).

In 1876 it was published in La Belgique Horticole with a large colored print, by M. Ed. Morren who called it Bromelia Joinvillei for the Prince of Joinville although it had been published in 1871 as Pourretia Joinvillei by Chantin, and in the same year Van Houtte called it Billbergia Joinvillei. Later, it was horticulturally listed as Pourretia flexilis.

The naming contest continued and in 1883 the co-authors, Bentham and Hooker, decided that it should be called Rhodostachys Joinvillei. This much maligned bromeliad was also called (by persons who did not investigate botanical literature) various other names such as Hechtia Joinvillei, Pourretia mexicana, Pourretia africana and Hechtia carnea.

Few plants have been honored (?) or confused with so many names. Finally, Mez, in 1896, eliminated this confusion by creating a new genus for it, naming this unfortunate Chilean bromeliad, Fascicularia pitcairniifolia.

Dr. Lyman Smith has accepted this classification which has been retained for the past seventy years with this final (we hope) name even though it may be mislabeled here and there in bromeliad collections or writings such as in this last publication of Your Garden (Sept. 1965) where it is labeled, unfortunately, Ochagavia pitcairniafolia var. kirchdoffiana. (!)

Regardless of the label it will always be a very startlingly colorful, rock-loving (saxicolous) bromeliad. We hope that it will become a much better known plant after a century of name calling.

All of this data may seem quite technical to the average plant lover to today. It may seem to be very confusing and unnecessary, but let us look at the situation that occurred a century or more ago.

Many plants, newly discovered in the Americas and elsewhere, were found by collectors or botanists who were rarely horticulturists. Therefore it was somewhat by chance that many of the best bromeliads were preserved by seeds or surviving offshoots in large botanical gardens or in a few outstanding horticultural greenhouses. Enthusiasm and interest in the curious bromeliads ran high, so, with little research and fewer resources, and lacking full authenticity, plants were named somewhat haphazardly in that haste which seeks priority for a special beauty.

Today we have a similar situation with less reason for any haste or haphazard naming. Much more literature is available, more authentic and valid names have been legally established in accordance with the accepted botanical nomenclature standards. Today in Europe and America, the situation, compared to 100 years ago in Europe, is reversed. We have comparatively fewer taxonomic botanists and more individual horticulturists and plant lovers who have private greenhouses, so the confusion in plant names is being perpetuated, unfortunately, by the horticulturists and not the botanists.

Some of the confusion is in the hangover names discarded in past years, but still used. Other names are casually discarded because of the lack of interest in botanical nomenclature. Inexcusable confusion has been compounded when growers, for commercial reasons with a desire to have something "new and different", have used certain fancy names without any effort or conscience to properly inform the public as to the correct name; nor do they make any attempts to follow the findings of the recognized botanical authorities. Let us hope for the sake of the future plant lovers that the present trend of confusion will take another direction.

—Box 491. Rt. 2, Orlando, Florida.

Fascicularias are terrestrial growers and compared with most other bromeliads have quite a large root system. Apart from pot culture, they thrive well in the open ground provided they are not exposed to hot sun during summer. They do well in a position where they get the sun for half a day. If grown under glass, it is necessary to give them a position in plenty of light; otherwise they do not produce the red color in the foliage which in conjunction with the cone of blue flowers makes this variety so colorful.

The commencement of coloration in the foliage of F. pitcairniifolia is an indication that the plant is about to flower. The red commences to show on the tips of the leaves and gradually extends down towards the center of the plant. Usually about half the foliage surrounding the center of the plant colors; the remainder stays green. At the height of the red coloration the central cone of numerous blue flowers appears, giving the plant a more spectacular appearance. Soon after the blue cone fades away, the red coloration gradually goes back to green.

—Charles Hodgson, 7 Dresden Street, Melbourne, Australia.



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

HAVE SUCCESSFULLY USED pine branches, pine bark, and pine needles in the cultivation of my bromeliads. I have also discovered that the pine and fir cones used by florists for decorative purposes make excellent mounts for small bromeliads. For this purpose, if possible, big, hard cones should be obtained and dried completely. In the dried stage, the scales are open. Under the third or fourth scale from the top of the cone fasten a rust-proof wire. When the cone is hung up by this wire, the ends of the scales are all pointing upwards.

Since we know that the space between the scales will close again when damp, we must fill the space when the cone is dry with planting material, being sure to force in as much planting material as possible. As planting material I use a mixture of old pine needles, peat, and a little sand (this is also suitable for use in potting bromeliads). In order that this filling material does not fall off in the beginning, I sometimes use circular nylon string.

The next step is to look for suitable holes in which to insert the bromeliads. Such holes can be made larger with a little piece of wood. I have used small Vrieseas, Neoregelias, Guzmanias, or Tillandsias with success. I have also used small Peperomias and Rhipsalis in between the bromeliads for a good decorative effect. The space around the roots of the plants should be filled up tightly with planting material or small pieces of twigs. In difficult cases, the scales around the seedlings can be tightened with a nylon string until such time that they are sufficiently developed. Under adequate growing conditions and with enough humidity the seedling bromeliads should develop at a fast rate.

The cones holding the bromeliads and other plants should be kept constantly moist at all times and care taken to see that the cone is equally wet all over. This can be done by spraying the water in such a way that the water will run from the higher scales to the lower ones.

After a few months and after removing the nylon threads, which are then not needed any more, this arrangement will not only look beautiful, but will also show through this method of cultivation the plants look happy and well.

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

R. Oeser
Left—Pine cone planted with Neoregelia seedlings and Peperomia one-half year after planting.

Below—unprepared cone

Pine cone planted with Guzmania, Vriesea and Tillandsia seedlings one year after planting. (View from behind)
R. Oeser



HAT CONDITIONS COULD BE SAID to be the worst possible for bromeliads short of downright freezing? The area from the Dividing Range to the Pacific Ocean along the eastern coast of Australia has a mild to sub-tropical climate, the summer temperature averaging approximately 80°F., an ideal situation for the growing of bromeliads.

In early November, 1962, the rains started and continued throughout the summer and autumn and winter of 1963ten months of overcast to very wet conditions with very rare spots of sunlight and generally low temperatures. People who worked on the land could truly say that their boots were wet for that whole ten months, and folk who lived in the city walked on soggy lawns. Sydney was said to be the wettest city on earth, a statement which is hardly fair, as this season was a freak. Rivers flooded three times in this period, and many weather records were broken.

Bromeliads can take an awful bashing and still survive, as demonstrated in this case. The daily "lift" of sunlight and warmth failed, and the temperature being low without this lift in day time caused most colorful bromeliads to "go green." Even in nurseries where these plants are understood and protected, many Guzmanias were completely written off, others grew weak and sick, and some Vrieseas failed. Aechmea angustifolia, Aechmea fulgens var. discolor, and the various crosses of this Aechmea in many cases browned off.

In our opinion, climates with much colder nights but with high temperatures and sunlight during the day time to give the plants their daily "lift" are much better off than with the conditions experienced above. Those bromeliads which grew in open ground could be said to have had wet feet for those ten months and yet grew on, although occasionally the center leaves rotted out, leaving the outer leaves to throw offshoots later.

One outstanding feature in the bromeliad world was the survival of a large Vriesea hieroglyphica, which grows in a large pot with no drainage hole out in the open in Sydney. This pot through this long wet period was at all times full to the brim with water, and the Vriesea grew in this quite happily and still looks as lovely as ever, even though actually growing in water.

Turn from this situation to the far away mining town of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, where the hot dry desert seems the very reverse of the wet and cold conditions experienced here. A grower at Kalgoorlie has thriving bromeliads, which flower and increase. Who but the very keenest enthusiast would ever contemplate growing plants which come from the humid jungles in this stoney, sandy wilderness mostly with alkaline water and intense dry heat.

—Mt. Tomah, Bilpin, N. S. 1V., Australia.



In All the Best in the Mediterranean by Sydney Clark (Dodd Mead), the following appears:

INEAPPLE CULTURE AND MARKETING is big business in the Azores, as in the distant Pacific islands of Hawaii, but I learned certain things about the business here that I never learned in Hawaii. In the Azores pines are grown under glass and there are said to be well over a thousand hot-houses on Sao Miguel alone. A well-known grower with thirty-eight of them on his estate at the edge of the capital city gave me some pine lore that was astonishing to me.

"The pines may be forced, it seems, by smoke. They may be made to blossom or to bear fruit at the grower's wish in any month of the year. The forcing process involves shutting up the plants for four or five consecutive days in an atmosphere of thick smoke, made from burning straw or other material. Responding to this curious "diet" they develop so that you can almost watch them grow. Each chunk of root can be made to develop from two to five plants and the grower allows all but two years 'from, root' to pine This modern smoke method seeming to the uninitiated so bizarre and 'agin nature' was discovered by sheer chance when a poor Azorean growing a few pines once built a fire for his own warmth inside his hot-house. With an excitement we can dimly imagine he saw the miracle that his chance act had wrought."

Possibly I had an experience comparable to that of the pineapple grower. In my small glasshouse, the center benching was eliminated to enable some plants to be grown directly in the ground. During the spring of its initial year a good deal of steer manure was placed on the ground both in the center and under the benches. A large load had been dumped in the driveway, and it was imperative to remove this and spread it over the garden. I was tired when I realized that I had not dug-in the fertilizer in the glasshouse. The next morning the fumes were quite strong and the door was allowed to remain open. This trick was never pulled again, so conclusions may not justly be drawn; but it did seem as though an unusual number of bromeliads flowered sometime thereafter. Some of these, to my annoyance, were small and immature plants, and the inflorescence naturally was small.

—4300 Isabella Street, Riverside, California.



T ALL STARTED when I read an article in the "Home Section" of the Los Angeles Times. The article told of an exotic tropical plant called the bromeliad. The writer said it could be found in many and varied colors and that it bore strange and beautiful flowers and that it must be planted upright because it was watered by filling a little central cup. Like and yet unlike a woman who sees a dress and is obsessed with the idea of owning it, I became obsessed with the desire of knowing more about this plant and perhaps of possessing one.

So, first I went to a nursery, but the manager could not even find it listed in his catalogues. I ventured a guess that it might be an epiphyte. Then I talked to a florist who said, "Oh, yes, it belongs to the orchid family and is a parasite." I did not say anything about orchids being parasites. But the florist told me of some lovely bromeliads that could be seen in the Administration Office of Rose Hills Memorial Park. So, off I went to Rose Hills to view them.

Then I called on the new manager of an orchid establishment in El Monte. He said that he had bromeliads. I went to his establishment and found that he had a whole lath house full. He is a little "nuts" as I am, so we toured all over the place; orchids, cymbidiums, ferns, and bromeliads are his specialty. He showed me all sorts of bromeliads, from the wide-leafed tropicals to the tiny, almost cactus-like kind that grow in the dry regions of Mexico. Many were very expensive. But as I can wait a while for blooms as long as the foliage is attractive, I chose three which probably will not flower for a long time.

Then, low and behold, I saw some beautiful twisted Arizona iron wood lying on the ground, so I selected an attractive sculptured piece in an odd, grayish color. I bought sphagnum moss with the determination of wrapping my bromeliads and attaching them to the wood as they would grow in their natural habitat.

I brushed the wood, washed it, brought it into the house, and studied it. I considered all the possible mediums for mounting it and finally decided the only thing heavy enough would be plaster of paris. So, acting on my idea, I called a local artificial flower store and told the manager my problem. He said, "Bring it down and I will mount it for you for a dollar." He used a lovely shade of warm brown papier-mache pot and mounted the wood in plaster. He had to use a heavy steel drill in order to put dowels into the wood.

I brought the mounted wood home and started brushing it with a steel brush, carefully so as to leave the grey in the crevices, yet having the warm brown on the surface. Then I grasped my bromeliads firmly and pulled them out of the pots; they had practically no root systems. Then I wrapped the roots in pine bark fiber and sphagnum and wired the mass around the roots and then wired the plants on to the wood. I put Vriesea × Mariae at the bottom, Vriesea splendens at bit higher and Neoregelia carolinae var. marechalii at the top.

Naturally this had whetted my appetite, so off I went in search of more bromeliads, for I was intrigued with their fascinating foliage. I finally ended at the amazing Oakhurst Gardens in Arcadia, where Mr. James Giridlian was most generous with his time and information. I purchased a Vriesea hieroglyphica and a Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor.

My mobile home is refrigerated-air-conditioned, so each morning I give the three bromeliads on the planter a "mist" bath. Sometimes I put a pinch of orchid fertilizer in the water and sometimes a pinch of a fertilizer high in potash and low in nitrogen. I spray the sphagnum so the roots will not dry out. During the day I keep the plants on a table in an east window. I imagine my astonishment when I read the back issues of the Bulletin to find Erwin J. Wurthmann's articles and others and to discover I was apparently doing the right thing.

The Vriesea hieroglyphica I am raising outside in filtered sun and light with my cymbidium plants. All are looking bright in color, sending forth new leaves, and appear to be healthy. When I am expecting company I place the arrangement in an archway on a divider bar. It is one of the first things people notice, and it makes a wonderful conversation piece.

It is the fruition of an idea from which I have learned much and from which I derive a great deal of pleasure.

—53 Samoa Street, Monrovia, Calif.



Certain parts of Florida experienced extremely low temperatures early in 1966. In the Tampa area (central Florida) the thermometer fell to 32 degrees F. on January 28th, and on Sunday night it fell to 23 degrees and stayed below freezing for over 15 hours. The damage done to bromeliads that were planted in my garden varied in proportion to the protection they received from the walls of buildings, the overhang of trees, etc. Below is a list of the bromeliads that were checked and the amount of damage which they sustained:

Bromeliad Amount of Damage
with protection
Amount of Damage
no protection
Aechmea fosteriana
× 'maginali'
× 'Foster's favorite'
Billbergia nutans
Neoregelia morrisoniana
marmorata ×
Quesnelia marmorata
Streptocalyx holmesii
Portea petropolitana var. extensa
Vriesea imperialis
*none — partial
*partial — none
*none — partial

*Amount of damage varied with different plants.



Many members do not know that the International Bromeliad Society is the result of a round robin that was formed in 1948 The Flower Grower magazine at that time had a section devoted to the formation of round robins. Joseph Schneider of San Gabriel, California, wrote to Miss Kemble, who was then in charge of these letter clubs, asking whether there was a bromeliad round robin. A notice was put in the magazine, and Mrs. Susan Hutchinson and Miss Victoria Padilla of California responded, and soon a group was formed, Miss Padilla being elected as director.

In the spring of 1950 a call was sent to all the members of the Bromeliad Round Robin and to others interested in growing bromeliads to attend a pot luck dinner at the home of Mrs. Dorothy Behrends in Los Angeles and to discuss forming a society. Great interest was shown, and on September 17, 1950, an organizational meeting was held at the home of Mr. Frank Overton in Glendale. Mr. Mulford Foster, of Orlando, Florida, surprised the group by flying, in a downpour of rain, from Florida to this gathering. At this meeting a name was suggested and voted on, a board of directors and officers for the year were elected, and proposed bylaws were discussed. The close of the meeting found the group with a substantial sum in the treasury, thanks to Mr. Foster who had: brought with him many choice plants which were auctioned to those present. Thus it was that the Bromeliad Society got its start.

The Bromeliad Round Robins today are very similar, and we have our own set of rules. To date there are no dues, but the members pay the entire amount of postage on the one envelope that all the letters travel in to the Robin closest to them. No one gives his letters to others to read; too many letters would be lost in this way. A member of the Robin keeps the packet of letters no longer than five days, removes his old letter, and writes a new one, and then takes the envelope to the post office to be weighed, to be sure that there is sufficient postage on the packet. The members exchange experiences with bromeliads and how they grow their plants—whether indoors, greenhouses, outdoors, windowsills, etc. Sometimes, the whole family will become interested in the Round Robin, and we have husband and wife teams. I have asked that no one join the Bromeliad Round Robin where there are groups in his vicinity which he can attend.

I have groups in all parts of the world. I have contacts in New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Japan, Holland, and Mexico, so the Round Robin letters can become very interesting as well as highly informative and helpful. The Bromeliad Round Robin first began its flight in 1958—just eight years after the international organization was formed. The Robin has continued to grow ever since.

—6814 Tenth St., Tampa, Florida. 33604.


Vladimir Vasak, whose article appears on the opposite page is the only member of the Bromeliad Society residing in Czechoslovakia. He has been an active member since 1963, his first article "Bromeliads in Czechoslovakia" appearing in the July—August issue for that year. Interested in art, it was but natural that he would be attracted to bromeliads, whose structure and coloration are among the most striking in the entire plant world. At present Mr. Vasak is employed in the Botanical Garden of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science, where he specializes in the study of leguminous plants. As the Botanical Garden has just been organized recently, greenhouses are yet to be erected; and when they are, Mr. Vasak is hopeful that they will house many bromeliads so that he can devote his entire time to them, especially Billbergias.

The Castle of Pruhonice, near Prague, which is a part of the botanical garden and contains the laboratories where Mr. Vasak works.



HERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT hobbies: people collect stamps, shells, pictures, buttons, coins; also plant fanciers are numerous—their ideals are cacti, orchids, roses, and also bromeliads. That hobby of ours, bromeliads, has one advantage; we cannot only collect but also create novelties. Creating is something that elevates a man to the gods of Olympus; it is the forming of a new "Adam" in the world of plants. We are not the only plantsmen who can do this, of course; the growers of orchids, lilies, and other beauties have the same opportunities.

For us, creating new hybrids is both easier and more difficult than it is for other hybridizers. But I do not want to enlarge on these pleasures or difficulties; rather I shall concentrate on the work I am now doing with bromeliads and more specifically Billbergias.

One of the European hybrids, Billbergia × 'windii' (Billbergia decora × B. nutans), originated by Makoy in Belgium, attracted my attention because of its vitality as a house plant even when grown under unfavorable conditions. (In Czechoslovakia, on the 50th parallel of the north latitude, it is impossible to grow even the hardiest of bromeliads outdoors.) I never saw fruits on this hardy plant, not even after artificial pollination with pollen of another plant of this species, nor with mixed pollen. I tried to set seed in various periods of the year, but I never succeeded. Billbergia × 'windii' has namely one rare quality: it flowers through the entire year, although the main flowering time in our country is early spring, that is March and April. The pollen seems to be sterile. In any case when I used it as a pollen plant on B. leopoldii, B. nutans, Quesnelia humilis, and Q. liboniana, none of the crossings were successful.

I was successful, however, when I crossed it with pollen of Billbergia × 'fascinator' (B. × 'windii' × B. saundersii), and from the seed crop I obtained fifty healthy plants. They are now (in November 1965) more than two years old and look very fine. Five of them have already flowered, two of the plants being quite promising. The first resembles the mother plant B. × 'windii'; only the color of the leaves is lighter green and therefore the rose-colored bracts are more conspicuous. The second plant has increased vegetatively very abundantly. Its leaves are large and yellowish, with spots covering more than two thirds of the leaf surface. The bracts are red like that of B. × 'fascinator'. Theoretically the F1 generation should be uniform, but nature does not behave according to the laws thought out by man. The majority of the seedlings have not yet flowered, but their leaves resemble those of B. × 'fascinator', B. nutans, B. iridifolia, and B. × 'windii', some of them being quite individual.

The crossing described here was my first one with bromeliads, and Billbergias respectively, and I did wish to continue with my attempts. In 1964 I tried hybridizing B. × 'windii' and B. leopoldii. While I did get some fruits from this crossing, most of my attempts were not successful. The ripening process of the berries was not good in the warm, humid greenhouse, but though the berries remained green, some of the seeds developed and germinated easily.

The seedlings have already been transplanted, and I am looking forward to the surprises coming now from a new crossing in the genus Billbergia. It is quite possible that none of these seedlings will be better than the parents and that the results will not be any break in the world of bromeliads. The moments seem like years while the grower awaits the first flowers from his seedlings and then until the vegetatively propagated plants confirm that they are as good as the original seedling. This waiting is no less attractive than the waiting of an angler or a huntsman for his trophy. It is a quiet work, the final aim of which sometimes cannot be reached. But then again, this work could result in a new variety which could with its beauty make people happy.

It is indeed worth while to have such hopes, to wait, and finally to be satisfied with one's work. Such satisfaction is the best compensation that a fellow in this highly civilized age could have, for in his busy life he almost forgets what nature is really like.

—Botanical Garden, Pruhonice near Prague, Czechoslovakia.



N A PREVIOUS ARTICLE (Vol. XI, No. 5, p. 109), I made no mention of fungal or bacterial attack as a possible cause of destruction of the apical growing point and surrounding tissues composing the cupped center of the water-retaining bromeliads. However, through the inexorable processes of natural selection over eons of time, the inherited biological defenses of tank-type bromeliads against such central attack are undoubtedly formidable.

The anatomy of the bromeliad is such that its apical growing point is especially vulnerable to excessive concentrations of any substance whatever in the trapped water surrounding this most actively growing region of the plant. Since harmful concentrations of any sort are a rarity in nature, what could have been a serious flaw in the structure of bromeliads in fact turned out to be a singularly effective device for increasing the bromeliad's nutritional intake.

Leaves, berries, and twigs from sheltering trees settling in the centers of bromels are not harmful except as they reduce light and photosynthesis. Upon decomposition these provide needed nutrients. Excreta from arboreal animals and birds are probably a boon to those epiphytic plants fortunate to receive them.

As for cultivated bromeliads, I have found that pulverized sheep and cow manure, as commercially prepared, may be lightly or even heavily scattered over these plants with little or no risk of burning the leaves or centers. These products release nutrients gradually over a long period and appear to heighten leaf and inflorescence coloration in some instances. Some bacterial or fungal spotting of the thin green leaves of Vrieseas and Guzmanias may result from their use, however. For these and similar types the completely soluble fertilizers, which leave no organic residue on the leaves to foster the growth of leaf-spotting organisms, are probably best. In addition, they are odorless.

Broadcasting a chemical or partly organic garden and lawn fertilizer over bromeliads will inevitably result in varying degrees of burning of the centers and leaf axils and attendant disfigurement of the plants.

The completely soluble balanced fertilizers as packaged for orchids, African violets, and other house plants are satisfactory for bromeliads. (It remains for some enterprising entrepreneur to formulate and package a fertilizer especially for bromeliads, although such is probably not at all necessary.) To be on the safe side, it is advisable to prepare a solution that is about one-half the strength recommended on the package. The solution may be sprinkled over the plants at monthly intervals, with regular sprayings of plain water intervening. In this way foliar and root nutrition are both accomplished, as the nutrient solution finds its way down the leaf axils to the roots.

Rain, dew, and atmospheric water vapor are the sources of water for these plants under natural conditions. In cultivation under glass, water from rivers, lakes, and cisterns is the usual source. The water treated by household water-softeners, which exchange sodium for the hard components in amounts depending on the hardness of the water, is generally considered harmful to plants. Untreated water should be used. A worth-while research project would be one to investigate the effects of chlorinated and fluoridated water on bromeliads.

Bromeliads are prime subjects for plant research projects because of the infinite number of experiments that may be performed involving substances either found naturally in the cupped centers or those introduced experimentally.

The watery cup of each bromeliad is a micro-ocean with unique flora and fauna. Algae and mosquito larvae are among the most obvious representatives of the two kingdoms.

—P. O. Box 969, Sebring, Florida 33870.



J. O. Holmes

N 1889 BAKER DESCRIBED THIS STIFF, heavily-spined leaf bromeliad which Glaziou first discovered in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fifty years later the writer found this same species high up in a tall jungle tree in the state of Espirito Santo. It was a rough customer to handle. Not until we found it growing on rocks in the full sun did we realize that it could be such a fine, formally shaped plant—one that almost any botanist would prefer not to find in flower so that he would not have to make a herbarium specimen of it. The plant quarantine inspectors did not succeed in killing this plant, thus for the first time we were privileged to introduce this Aechmea into horticulture.

It is a thrilling experience to watch the emergence of the inflorescence holding a cylindrical head with its myriad blue flowers delicately set in bracts of deep rose. This pushes up from a cylinder of stiff, saw-tooth edged leaves, with deeply cut spines, so spring-like that they seem to be clamped together if one should try to pry them apart with the hands, an almost impossible feat.

Aechmea phanerophlebia is not a house plant, but it is a fine subject for the tropical or subtropical garden, as it will take just about everything except a hard freeze. It flowers in mid-winter.

—Box 491, Rt. 2, Orlando, Florida.



(From Anzucht und Kultur des Bromeliaceen, 1950.)

HE BROMELIADS CULTIVATED in our warm houses give an imperfect picture of the possible growth potentiality which these plants experience in their native home. Sufficient room for their best development cannot generally be spared in a propagating frame.

The giants of the family are the Puyas of the Chilean Andes which attain tree-like proportions. Some Aechmeas also attain a height of from seven to sixteen feet and have leaves from three to five feet in length which form enormous rosettes. The smallest bromeliads are those which form a moss-like carpet, such as Tillandsia polytrichioides. The majority of bromeliads, however, are of medium size.

It is a characteristic of bromeliads for the original plant to flower only once after having taken several years to develop. Having flowered and fruited, the main rosette stops further growth, but generally it remains in good health for some time to serve as nourishment for the developing offshoots. Offshoots may be produced before or after flowering, generally auxiliary, in limited numbers, and serve to assure the perpetuation of the plant. Tillandsias and Pitcairnias often form mat-like colonies this way, often of considerable extent.

For vegetative propagation in horticultural practice, this formation of offshoots is particularly significant. Depending upon the species, the number of offshoots varies widely, but they are not nearly numerous enough to make propagation in this manner commercially profitable. Offshoots serve to preserve the species, especially where germinative propagation proves difficult or for the species that refuse to set seed under cultivation.

The offshoots may take the form of a rosette (Vriesea), a leaf-bundle (Tillandsia), or an elongated branch (Billbergia). The formation of runners from the soil-covered portion of a stem is also frequent, as in certain Nidulariums and Neoregelias. Cryptanthus for the most part from their offshoots in the leaf-axils, which drop off with progressing development and root themselves more or less distant from the mother plant. At times, the offshoots form very long pendant runners: Ananas macrodontes, for example, may form new leaf-rosettes at the tips of runners which may be three feet long.

Another characteristic, peculiar to bromeliads, is the generally minor role that roots play in comparison with other plants. In purely epiphytic species the roots are very little developed and serve almost exclusively as "hold-fast" organs and are hard, wire-like, and brittle. Some varieties exude a peculiar resin-like cementing substance which enables the plant to attach itself to smooth-barked trees. It is not possible to loosen these plants without tearing the roots. Some Tillandsia species lack roots entirely, as, for example, the remarkable T. usneoides, that is even able to settle on telegraph wires. Only as seedlings do they have roots. These extreme air plants are able to absorb moisture through scale-hairs and are entirely independent of the usual moisture assimilation through root system.

Experience has proved that after removal of all roots, the so-called "tank-type" bromeliad can be kept alive if the funnel is continuously supplied with water. The leaves of this type usually form wide sheaths which are close fitting and can store an enormous amount of water, often being hosts to a ciro-fauna, limited to this habitat.

Leaf forms vary greatly, some being tongue-like or strap-like, and some, as among Tillandsias, grass-like. T. filifolia has leaves almost hair thin. Leaf texture also shows a great diversity. Most leaves are firm, stiff, and leathery, but others are thin, though firm, (Vriesea) and often shiny green. All graduations exist. Sometimes the width of the leaf-rosettes surpasses their height. The horticulturally valuable medium-sized Vrieseas and Guzmanias form rosettes of 20-30 or more leaves, indicating their epiphytic nature. Puyas, the giants of the tribe, may have hundreds of leaves.

All representatives of the sub-family Tillandsioideae and the horticulturally interesting Guzmania, Vriesea, and Tillandsia have entire, unarmed leaves. The armament of the enormously diversified forms show great differences. Some show a weakly-spined margin; others are armed merely near the base; others have very strong, often dark-colored hooks and a spiny leaf-type. Sometimes these spines have a decorative value, for instance, in Aechmea bracteata. The defensive protection afforded by these spines is very effective and unique. Near the base, the hooks point downward, they are straight in the middle, and point forward toward the top, forbidding approach from all sides. Brazil's terrestrial Catinga-formation species are an example.

Leaf color is greatly influenced by the grayish scale covering, contributing, sometimes considerably, to the commercial value of the plant. Selective breeding has created varieties of Aechmea fasciata with no green visible on the under side of the leaves.

Many bromeliads are ornamentally valuable because of the remarkable designs on their leaves. The scales on Cryptanthus zonatus form attractive ribbons upon a green or brown background. Outstanding are the designs on the leaves of Vriesea splendens and its forms. The sharp-edged contrasting dark bands upon a green background make it a much sought-after plant. Vriesea hieroglyphica and Guzmania musaica have similar beautifully marked leaves, less sharp, dissolving into hieroglyph-like strokes. Vriesea fenestralis and Vriesea tesselata are remarkable for their window-like or barred designs. Other Vrieseas have wavy cross-lines inside the green leaves. Other species (Billbergias, Neoregelias, Canistrums, etc.) are oddly interesting and attractive with their colored splotchings, marblings, bands, or stippled markings.

Many, perhaps all, bromeliads have a juvenile form that only gradually takes on the adult characters and are often hard to identify in the seedling stage. Vriesea splendens requires from 12 to 15 months to show signs of leaf markings. Billbergia and Neoregelia seedlings first look like grass, but later their spininess gradually becomes more pronounced.


The editor needs your help!! Living as she does in a very temperate climate, she has no occasion to grow bromeliads in the home and so does not know what plants can be grown successfully in the city apartment. She has many requests for such information.

Will you be so kind as to send her a list of those plants with which you have been most successful and have flowered and those which you cannot grow well. When enough replies are received, she will publish a list of those bromeliads which seem to be the easiest to grow and those which are the most temperamental. Such a listing will be of help to all of you. Thanks

Address replies to —

The Editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif., 90049

J. Padilla

One of the earliest of the bromeliad hybridizers to try his hand at crossing the different genera was the late Louis Dutrie. From the first he was considered to be one of the cleverest hybridizers of Bromeliaceae.

He was particularly successful with Guzmania, a genus that seems to have been overlooked by many hybridizers, and he obtained some remarkable hybrids. One of his most interesting was his cross of G. lingulata var. splendens with G. zahnii, which he called G. × lingulzhanii. From this hybridization came several forms of exceptional merit which won awards at the 1939 "Meetings de la Chambre Syndicale des Horticulteurs Beiges" held in Ghent. All these Guzmanias were distinguished by their large size, the richness of the foliage, and the abundance of the inner leaves, these being almost as colorful as the bright red bracts. M. Dutrie gave the name "Insignis, Chevalieri" to the most distinct varieties (80 centimeters in diameter) and the name "Victrix" to the handsomest.

The handsome Guzmania shown in the illustration was imported from Belgium by Mr. Ed Hummel under the name of Guzmania × 'Insignis,' and is undoubtedly one of the fine crosses of M. Dutrie. It is in no way to be confused with G. insignis, a native of Costa Rica, first introduced into cultivation in 1889. This is an inconsequential plant and seldom, if ever, seen in collections. Probably to avoid any confusion and because insignis should not be used to designate a hybrid Guzmania, this Guzmania should be called G. × 'Victrix.' It is this writer's opinion that this particular Guzmania is one of the handsomest of all bromeliads.


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