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 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 Edgecliffe Drive, Los Angeles, California 90026. 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
Jack O. Holmes
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. L. B. Smith, U.S.A.
Henry Teuscher, Canada

Active Affiliates
Bromeliad Guild, Los Angeles, Calif., W. R. Paylen, President
Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay, Florida, Harry Cunningham, Jr., President
Greater New York Chapter of The Bromeliad Society, New York City, J. G. Milstein, President
Bromeliad Society of Broward County, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Irma Gall, 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, N. Z., Mrs. F. B. Hanson, President
Louisiana Bromeliad Society, New Orleans, La., Mrs. William B. Wisdom, President
San Mateo County Bromeliad Society, San Mateo, Calif., Doris Beaumont, President
Delaware Valley Bromeliad Society, Philadelphia, Pa., Patrick Nutt, President
Bromeliad Society of Orange County, Calif., Kelsey Williams, President
San Diego Bromeliad Society; San Diego, Calif., Cleoves Hardin, President

Catopsis compacta Mez

It is highly probable that a large number of the members of the Bromeliad Society have never seen a Catopsis, for this genus is rarely seen in collections nor is it generally listed in catalogues. Indeed, these bromeliads can be called the poor relations of the family because when compared with their flamboyant cousins, the Aechmeas or the Vrieseas, they are certainly plain and unassuming. In fact, many collectors consider the Catopsis nothing more than a weed.

Although lacking in decorative quality, these plants are not without interest and a certain charm. There are about 25 species to be found growing in Florida, Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and northern South America. They are epiphytes in forests at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2,650 meters, but usually are most commonly seen in the lower elevations.

Dr. Lyman B. Smith describes them as follows:

"Stemless herbs; leaves utriculate-rosulate with large sheaths, minutely lepidote, green; scape evident; inflorescence usually compound; flowers polystichous, usually sessile, perfect or functionally dioecious; sepals free, glabrous, usually asymmetric; petals free, naked; stamens included; ovary superior, style very short or none; seeds with an apical folded coma."

The casual collector would not find Catopsis too difficult to identify; their outstanding characteristic being the soft, succulent, almost rubbery quality of their plain green leaves. The plants are usually small. The flowers are small and white, borne on branched or unbranched stalks. Some of the inflorescences are erect, as in the species in the picture, or are pendent as in C. nutans and C. cucullata.

The illustration shows Catopsis compacta to be found in Oaxaca, Mexico. The photograph was taken by Rudolf Wuelfinghof of Stuttgart, Germany, on his recent trip to Mexico, described in the last issue.




This very lovely Tillandsia species is native to the Andes in Venezuela. At first glance the plant resembles a Lycopodium, but a closer examination of its brilliant red flowers reveals that it is truly a bromeliad.

During the flowering season, each branch of the plant carries a single flower at the axis, resembling the single flower of Tillandsia andreana. In fact, these two species have been confused in the past, but Dr. Lyman B. Smith of the Smithsonian. Institution now is of the opinion that they are two different species. T. andreana has no stem, whereas T. funckiana has a long stem.

The specimen pictured on the cover was grown and photographed by Dr. Richard Oeser. From a small collected plant, it took about seven years to grow the mature cluster and to bring it to flowering.



Although the Andes and Guayana Highlands areas of Venezuela harbor a wealth of rare and beautiful species of plants, the same can be stated for the Coastal Mountains running from the state of Falcon on the west to the Peninsula of Paria in the state of Sucre several hundred miles farther east. The National Parks of Pittier (Rancho Grande) and Guatopo are located in the Coastal Mountains and display a remarkably rich and diversified flora.

Although some of the earlier botanical collectors of Venezuela made important pioneer collections from portions of the Coastal Mountains between 1843 and 1859, there remain large segments of the area botanically unexplored. It was in such a region in the state of Carabobo where J. A. Steyermark botanized in 1966 and found an amazing wealth of undescribed botanical species.

The area in particular lies in the state of Carabobo southeast of Puero Cabello and south of Borburata, along the headwaters of the Rio San Gian. An intricate network of steep sided, densely forested slopes provide the region with a perpetual verdure the year round. In this area the mountains attain a height of nearly 2000 meters in the Caobal Peak and in the Burro sin Cabeza, but most of the ridges are between 1200-1500 meters. A rich cloud forest covers this network of mountains down to 700 meters. Most of the year, except for the months of January, February, March, and April, the region is provided with a high precipitation, and there is an abundance of ferns and epiphytic growth. Although the flora of the area is in general like that of Pittier National Park to the southeast in the state of Aragua, there appear to be many local species here which have not been found elsewhere.

Among the interesting bromeliads found in the area, one in particular, the subject of this paper, deserves special mention. Locally called "Pluma de San Juan," this bromeliad, a variety of Vriesea splendens, was found in a dense forest between the quebradas of a tributary of the Rio San Gian, growing as an epiphyte on the lower trunks of trees. Several plants were seen, all with a uniform dull wine-maroon color on the outside of the leaves and a dull green color on the inner side. From the center of the plant rises a flowering spike, whose flattened bracts have a russet bronze coloring. Although the general habit of the spike and the shape and size of the flowering bracts are similar to those of Vriesea splendens var. splendens, the coloring of the leaves is completely different from the striped effect of gray and green or purple and green of var. splendens, known in Venezuela as "tigre" or "jaguar" plant.

It appears appropriate to the authors to furnish this distinct variety with the following description:

Vriesea splendens var. oinochroma J. A. Steyermark, var. nov.

A var. splendens foliorum laminis subtus rubescentibus supra viridibus nullo modo variegatis differt.

—Institute Botanico, Caracas, Venezuela, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington 25, D. C.


Large plants, 3 ft. or more across V. geniculata — leaves grey to dark red
reginae — leaves green
hydrophora — leaves green
unidentified species — leaves green
Large medium, 2 to 3 ft. across
Inflorescence simple
bituminosa — leaves green with round red spot on top
regnellii (?) — leaves green
Inflorescence compound
gigantea — leaves green
morrenii — leaves green
philippo-coburgii — leaves green, tip section red
itatiaiae (?) — leaves covered with red to black
unidentified species — leaves green
Smaller medium, about 1 ft. diam.
Inflorescence simple
longiscapa — leaves shiny dark green, arched
densiflora — bluish leaves
unilateralis — green leaves
ensiformis — green leaves
petropolitana "gigante" — green leaves
guttata — grey-green with red dots
Inflorescence compound
haematina — leaves green
vagans — leaves green
procera — leaves greyish-green
billbergioides — leaves pale green
Small plants, 1 ft. across or less
Inflorescence simple
erythrodactylon — leaves green
psittacina — leaves pale green
petropolitana — leaves green
petropolitana — leaves dark red
petropolitana — leaves reddish
× morreniana — leaves green
× morreniana — leaves reddish
duvaliana — leaves green
paraibica — leaves pale green
carinata — leaves pale green
scalaris — leaves dark red
scalaris — leaves green
Inflorescence compound
procera — leaves grey-green
lubbersi — Tillandsia stricta-like leaves
Leaves pure wine-colored



Of the many species of bromeliads that grow in our section of the country most are Vrieseas, both in number of species and in individual count. In Brazil, the home of many species, bromeliads get appreciation only from botanists and from a rare artist. The people despise them, for a very good reason. It is well known that the water in the bromeliad ponds is a good breeding ground for mosquitoes, including the one which carries the yellow-fever germ. Now, yellow fever was eradicated in the big cities and ports many years ago, but the danger of re-introduction is always present, so the authorities must really be on guard. Those who love bromels must take special precautions when they insist on having them around. It is understandable, therefore, that bromels get little public attention.

Coming to live in Teresópolis many years ago, I was happy to see a chance of giving the plants more attention. I began collecting, only to find that no literature for identification was available. When Dr. L. B. Smith published his Bromeliaceae of Brazil, my study began in earnest. The book helped a lot, as well as assistance from Dr. Smith himself, and in no small degree information garnered from the articles and pictures in our Bulletin. In time I could identify most of the species that grow around our town. Some escaped because they live in unaccessible places. As an amateur I skip the botanist's deeper knowledge and go by things I can see at a glance. In their own way visible peculiarities do set a species apart from the rest. In this sense, and only for my own convenience, I have grouped our Vrieseas according to size.

Excepting the large species that live only on cliffs, most of the Vrieseas around here, large and small, are at home in the cloud forest area. They live in tree tops and on tree trunks, get plenty of rain in summer, and moisture from clouds and morning fog during the cooler and drier months of the year. The mountain weather chart changes a lot over the years. Prolonged rainy spells, especially in southern spring, improve the looks of all the bromels, Sporadic drought periods, with ensuing forest fires, harm the plants if them don't kill them. Days without at least one ray of sun, or a patch of blue, are very rare.

Most of the large Vrieseas around the Organ Mountains grow on the bare rock slopes common in the vicinity of Guanabara Bay. Some people say the Bay was once a huge volcano; they see remains of the crater's rim in the many nearly upright ledges that circle the site of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The ledges include the Organ group proper, that is, the peaks near Teresópolis, peaks on the way from Teresópolis to Petrópolis, Corcovado and other peaks in Rio, the rocks far out in the ocean across from Copacabana Beach, Sugar Loaf and Santa Cruz flanking the harbor entrance, Morcego, St. Ignacio and others on the Niteroi shore. The assembly of peaks really looks as if lined up in an enormous circle facing the center of the Bay. Some of the slopes are so steep, only bromeliads and their followers could live there. A bromel-minded tourist riding up to Sugar Loaf in the cable car can make out Tillandsia araujei clinging to the perpendicular rock wall of Pedra da Urca, also a few Pitcairnias and Vrieseas, the latter often accompanied by a bindweed, aroids, an orchid, and grasses. In the old days, when I lived in Rio, I saw the ghostlike spikes of Vr. reginae and Vr. geniculata towering on top of the cliffs back of Copacabana.

Sheer rock slopes around Teresópolis hold several species of large green-leaved Vrieseas. Often one species dominates in each of these areas. These bromels are single plants. Their leaves are straight and stiff, spreading in an even rosette pattern. Leaves drying from age bend down but remain attached to the plant. In time the ring of dry leaves gets to look like a stool supporting the plant. Depending on the angle of the decline, other plants settle around the bromel. The bromels are more impressive on the steeper slopes where each holds on by itself, silent, enigmatic, aloof.

The only two species of rock-dwellers I had a chance to handle are Vriesea reginae and Vriesea geniculata. Thanks to their colorful aspect when in spike they are the most spectacular of the lot. Probably for this reason some specimens were replanted in the landscape section of the Reserve, where they may be examined from nearby. They do well in the soil, in perhaps 15 percent shade, and bloom when their time comes. Their flowering coincides with that of the wild specimens.

Vriesea reginae has tapering green leaves coiled at the tips. The impressive bright-red-and-green spike rises above the head of a human standing before the plant. The large deep-yellow flowers are fragrant, though over-sweet. The presence of many buds on each branch extends the flowering period to over one month. The curl of the leaf tip identifies plants not in bloom. The species occurs also on slopes covered with low bushes.

Vriesea geniculata is a larger and much more massive plant that V. reginae. The dark-reddish leaves identify it from afar. They are broader and harder than those of V. reginae. The spike rises higher. A specimen bloomed in the Reserve in 1957. Its trunk, from which the dry leaves had been cut away, had a diameter of 40 cm. The rosette of about 50 leaves was 1 meter high by more than 2 meters across. The leaves were a silvery grey on the face and dark green underneath. They were straight and very stiff, their tip curved back in a tight little roll. The pre-dominantly dark red flower spike rose to about 1½ m above the rosette, its short curved branches, about 50, standing out in all directions. Each branch had 12 to 16 buds. The large day flowers are pure white, the soft narrow petals spread haphazardly. The flowering period extends through January and February.

In the wilds Vriesea geniculata is practically confined to the northern face of the mountains. It gets the dry winds coming from the plains inland, accepts cold spells, gushing rain, and rare hailstorms, as well as direct sun the year round and occasional forest fires. It survives it all. Even its tender boarder, a bladderwort, finds in its axils sufficient shelter to resist. It blooms in late winter sending up from the rosette tender stalls bearing pale-violet orchid-like flowers, 4 cm. across. A group of this bromel, transplanted to a garden on the road to Petrópolis, each plant holding several spikes of these dainty yellow-eyed flowers swaying softly in the breeze, is like a fairy tale come to life.

I located three forms of Vriesea geniculata around here, growing together. The difference is in the color of the leaves. One is a deep wine-red, one a silvery grey, and the third intermediate between the two.

I have doubts about the name I. am using for this Vriesea. I learned to call it V. geniculata many years ago in the Botanical Garden in Rio. Its picture appears in the literature under this and other names. But as the various names are sometimes employed to designate other species, I prefer to use my old name for the time being. I have seen the following pictures of it: Exotica III shows my plant on page 458 over the title "Vriesea imperialis, from Serra dos Orgaos". Page 465 shows a flower spike like mine, subscribed "Vriesea geniculata". Walter Richter shows my plant in his book on bromeliads in pictures 3 and 4 on page 282, and calls it "Vriesea itatiaiae". On page 80 he shows a flower of mine also under that name. Figure 5 on page 270, likewise named "Vriesea itatiaiae", looks like a young plant of my geniculata. In Phytologia 13-2, page 159, Dr. Smith has a croquis, No. 5, of a flowering branch of Vriesea imperialis that looks much like what I call V. geniculata.

On an almost vertical cliff facing west, in Petrópolis, Vriesea geniculata grows along with 2 or 3 large green-leaved species that dot the ledge from top to bottom. Last month (Oct. 1966) several plants had buds issuing from the rosettes. Close to many of the bromels nestled a large red Amaryllis, in bloom. Entwined with bromels on the lower part of the cliff bloomed white Vellozias. This lower area was densely sprinkled with baby bromeliads of the large species.

Other large Vrieseas settle in tree crowns in the cloud forests. A very showy one is quite common in the virgin forest of the Organ slopes facing south. Its has narrow green leaves and a large but delicate upright spike, red, and much branched, like Vriesea philippo-coburgii.

Another one in the same area is Vriesea hydrophora. It grows a colony of several close-knit rosettes of broad, stiff green leaves. The spike bears short, stout branches with overlapping inflated bracts, green throughout. The large pale flowers, 3 cm. across, open at night and close early in the morning. Similar in appearance to Vriesea hydrophora but somewhat smaller, more slender and growing single, are Vriesea morrenii and Vriesea gigantea. The latter has pale green flowers. These two Vrieseas sometimes exhibit a pleasing criss-cross pattern of dark green lines on the face of their leaves. Their large primary bracts open like a pitcher and hold much water in the rainy season thereby enticing mosquitoes to lay their eggs on them. Fortunately the dreaded fever-mosquito cannot live above 600 m altitude. The little tree frogs that live in bromels do not favor Vrieseas; they spend their days in the deep dark funnels of tubular species.

Quite common in tree tops in the cloud forest is Vriesea philippo-coburgii. Its red leaf tips show it up. The individual rosette, while nearly 1 m across, is not one of the largest, but it comes in a close colony of 3 to 4 shoots, and that makes it look larger. Sometimes it is settled on several branches of one tree, so that when the spikes are up it looks as if the tree itself were in bloom. In good flowering years tourists comment on it. The spike is red and much branched, the branches are slender, the day-flowers pale yellow. Flowering spreads over 6 months. The first dry winds, forerunners of the cooler season, put a sudden stop to flowering. The spike keeps its color another few months. This Vriesea is very showy and it does well in cultivation in Teresópolis, in the soil, among neighbors that have leaves. It does need some sun. The colony spreads considerably. Periodicity in flowering is a mystery. The colony always contains at least one mature shoot which could be expected to bloom, but years and years go by without a single spike. I did not succeed in making this Vriesea root on a tree.

A smaller variety of the species just described, about ¼ its size, grows in a section of the mountain that does not get the seawind coming up from the south.

Instead it is subject to dry winds from the plateau. Vegetation is scrubby, only small trees and shrubs. The Vrieseas look healthy, but I have never seen them in bloom. In the wilds Vriesea philippo-coburgii seems to prefer altitudes of 600-700 m.

M. Foster   
V. bituminosa
The other large species with red-tipped leaves, Vriesea bituminosa, is abundant in trees in 800-1000 m altitude. It has single plants. An offshoot, rarely two, sprout after blooming. The old shoot dies and soon disintegrates after the seeds are shed in late winter. Adult leaves of this Vriesea are broad and stiff, marked with a dark red circular blotch at the rounded tip. The first broad leaves in a young plant are dark green and drawn out in a long point that is still darker. Later when the red-tipped leaves develop, exposure to drought and direct sun will dwarf the plant, make it into a flat little rosette. It will keep rosette-shape until the rains set in. In the rainy season the new leaves grow long. In larger plants drought and much light put a reddish veil on the underside of the leaves. The flower spike is very peculiar. At the start it looks like a snake lifting its head out of the pond. As the stalk grows the head lengthens to flattened linear. It is dark brown, sometimes with a pale rose area on each bract. The bract section of the spike is shiny and sticky, looks as if it had been dipped in shellac. Small insects get trapped on it. It has a pleasant resinous scent. The flowers are large, pale to brownish, "morenas" (brown skinned girls). The entire spike is about 1 m high. In cultivation the plant does well in the soil, in half shade. Transplant onto a tree did not work. A smaller variety, coming from Valle Quebra Frascos nearby, has wine colored flowers. Its bracts have red areas.

A plant similar to V. bituminosa - the Fosters have its picture in their book and call it Vriesea regnellii, - has plain green leaves and a dry mottled, flowerspike. The nocturnal, 3-5 cm wide flowers are pale, sprinkled with wine-red, and malodorous. In early youth this one looks like a Tillandsia stricta with opposite leaves twisted like in Pandanus. This Vriesea is abundant at about 1,600 m, at the base of Friar's Nose (one of the peaks). It lives on a grassy decline, in the soil, and in an open dry scrub forest. As it spreads down into more luscious forest, specimens double in size attaining that of the bituminosa.

What appears to be a natural hybrid between V. bituminosa and V. regnellii has the shape of bituminosa, the red spot on the leaf tip reduced to a whiff, a pure green spike covered with shellac.

What I call Vriesea itatiaiae is a plant at home near the summit of the Organ group, growing on rocks, tree stumps, on the ground, in about 2000 m altitude. It comes in a colony, an adult rosette measuring about 2 feet across. Its leaves are stiff, red on the underside, coated with black on the face. The few-branched stout inflorescence is about 70 cm high. This species spans a belt across the countryside, succeeding another, lower down, of Vriesea billbergioides. The region is an alpine area, Brazilian style, with low trees and shrubbery, and a great many various-coloured flowers on vines, bushes and herbs, including orchids and Amaryllis. Tree skeletons wear a thick coat of lichen. In the cool months the temperature sinks intermittently below zero.

The belt of Vriesea billbergioides is also pretty well limited as to altitude. The species crowds in low trees along the road to the top between Cabins II and III. It blooms profusely in early winter and is very pretty with its compound overhanging spikes of red and yellow issuing from a cluster of pale green leaves. Unfortunately it will not thrive in lower altitudes, let alone flower. Quesnelia lateralis is its companion in the belt.

To the same area strays an occasional Vriesea guttata, emigrant from the focus on the other side of the bulge at the base of Friar's Nose where it grows on low trees in the Vriesea regnellii territory. It does quite well in cultivation in Teresópolis, provided it is lifted off the ground. It soon holds fast to a tree trunk, a piece of wood or fern. Placed on a support about 1 m above ground during flowering time, the graceful spike shows to a full advantage. Bending over in the stalk section, the bract part of the inflorescence, tapering into a thin point, aims down in a perfectly straight line. It does not "hang" or divert in any way. The tip reaches below the base of the colony of rosettes. The red dots on grey-green leaves, the powder-pink bracts, and the pure yellow flowers are a color orgy in themselves.

On tree trunks around Cabin II Vriesea longiscapa leads in number of individuals. Its outstanding feature are shiny dark green leaves curved back in a graceful half circle like an umbrella. The attitude continues for several years before flowering. The spike is nondescript, single, erect, with dry bracts from the beginning and never a flower. The flowers open after visitors have left, in the evening, or on sombre, rainy days. They have a rich yellow hue and are almost an inch across, involved in a peculiar, unpleasant odor, a mixture of yeast and grease. Some flowers have a faint touch of brown on the petal tips. The plant does well in the soil in the garden.

Another medium-sized plant is Vriesea unilateralis. It occurs sporadically in most of our cloud forest in dense shade on tree trunks, singly. Its leaves are plain green, soft. A modest graceful flower spike presents large pale tubes held in green bracts, during the night. The flowers all point down; they don't line up on both sides of the midrib.

Vriesea petropolitana has a wide range, living on trees, in shade, in all our forests, humid or fairly dry. Its bright red spike issuing from a rosette of bright green leaves makes it very conspicuous and attractive. It is a versatile species, or else there are many varieties going under one name. I distinguish at least three forms, plus transitions from one to the other. Vriesea petropolitana "gigante" is the largest of them, about 1 foot across, with 8 to 9 inflated bracts on each side of the midrib. Sometimes the bracts have a yellow rim, but this feature is not constant. "Gigante" is distinctly a cloud forest form, living near the ground, among leafy branches of other plants nearby. Its flowering period varies. More common is a form about ¾ the size of "gigante", with 6 and 7 bracts in the "fish". It is so common in trees in gardens and on the streets - where it settles spontaneously - that it has earned itself a popular name, "peixinho", meaning little fish.

Whereas the leaves of the two forms just mentioned are pure green with never a suggestion of red, a third form, "peixinho"-size, has beautiful wine-colored leaves. Its spike is like that of the small green one, but the contrast with the dark red leaves makes it look lighter, It is not nearly so common as the "peixinho". Cultivated in an appropriate location it keeps true for many years. The best place is in an open shrub, 1-2 m above ground. Other members of the species mingle dark green and whiffs of red. The spike is not affected. Dr. Oeser in Germany, who planted seeds from my plants, writes that a given variety produces both red and green offspring, distinct from the beginning and remaining so throughout their life.

Vriesea densiflora lives in forest trees in about 900 m altitude. It is quite common, climbing up on tree trunks in dense shade, but has no outstanding qualities other than the faintly bluish tones of its leaves. The rosette is higher than broad. The spike is single or may have one or two short branches. The flowers come close together in two parallel rows in a more less right angle. They are pale and bloom during the night. The leaves of young plants are a glossy dark purple on the underside. It does well in the garden in identical conditions. It is a single plant.

Vriesea ensiformis has narrow green leaves and is a single tuft from which rises a gay straight spike exhibiting yellow day flowers held in red bracts and spaced apart on the stalk which is almost 1 m tall. It was used in the landscaped section of the Reserve. I never found it wild.

Vriesea haematina is a sturdy plant of modest proportions forming a colony. It loves the heights. Mrs. Foster found it in about 1,500 m at the base of Friar's Nose. It is very rare lower down but quite common on a high range far out on the opposite side of the town, along Pedra do Engano. Individual rosettes are perhaps 50 cm across, or more in happy plants. The leaves are green with some black on the sheaths. The erect stout spike, few branched, is red, about 50 cm high. The flowers are yellow tipped with green. To judge by the paucity of dry spikes around, it seems to be a lazy bloomer. The plant in cultivation is not happy and seldom blooms.

Vriesea procera raises a question mark. Two forms live here side by side, a very small one only a few inches across, and a large one about 1 foot in diameter.

They have compound spikes and are pale greyish-green all over. The small one's spike comes to perhaps 30 cm height and has only a few thin branches. Inconspicuous, it is none the less quite common in the forest; it also settles in trees in gardens and in the squares. The large one compensates for its plain coloring by a fine shape. In some specimens the rosette is very flat, its leaves recalling a gigantic aster. The much branched lacy spike rises to over 1 m. It prefers the drier and more open areas toward the interior, where it lives on trees. There is a focus on the road to Petrópolis, off km. 6, where the flat rosette is conspicuous. In cultivation it does well on trees, or on a piece of fern or soft wood. The support can be placed on the ground in full sun. They need light and air.

Vriesea vagans is very common on trees both in cloud forest and drier areas towards the interior. Individual rosettes are small, 25 cm across, but until a colony of about six has been established a spike is out of question. The leaves are green and have conspicuous black blotches on their sheaths. They are short and not many. The shoots are connected by stout stolons. The spike is red, delicately branched, about 50 cm high, and produces orange flowers. It is a most hardy species, will grow high up in trees in total sun, or on the ground, in the soil with never a ray to bless it.

As to the smaller Vrieseas, it is a problem to say which is which when they are not in flower. Size and color do not mean so much; some specimens are larger than others of the same species, color and shade of the leaves are not always true. The shape of the leaves varies according to the age of the plant. Some single characters provide a key, but they are not always outstanding.

Of the three species with red or reddish leaves, Vriesea petropolitana has already been considered. Vriesea × morreniana has slightly narrower leaves, the red is fainter than in petropolitana, nor is it constant, sometimes giving way to almost pure green. One form, though, never has any suggestion of red. The size is that of the common petropolitana. The spike is a flattened fish, balanced sideways on a 2-curve stalk. Bracts are narrower, bright red, the flower tubular, yellow with green tips. The plant shows a tendency to form a colony.

Vriesea scalaris makes a small colony but does not depend on company to produce its long hanging spike. The individual rosette is slightly smaller than in Vriesea petropolitana. The leaves are a dark greenish red. The long fine stalk bends over in its base and hangs limply from the horizontal cluster of rosettes. The flowers are set well apart from each other, one right, one left. It is very picturesque sitting on a branch. Around Teresópolis lives the one with dark leaves and a spike of the same coloring. Not far off in the drier forests of the Interior a green-leaved species with red on its bracts takes over. The plants like 80 percent shade, filtered light. They do well in the garden, on branches.

Vriesea erythrodactylon is easy to identify by the black patches on its sheaths. Although its home is high up in tree tops in the cloud forest, it does equally well in the garden fastened to a limb of bush or tree, or to a piece of wood or fern, located near the ground and in the vicinity of other living plants. To put on good red it does need a certain amount of light. The spike, with its characteristic curved bract tips is rose-red in its upper three-fourths. It is a soft single plant.

This Vriesea when in bloom, looks as if it had been especially designed to serve hummingbirds in rainy weather. The spike has then a horizontal position; the corollas open sideways in a downward slant close to the midrib, while the overlapping bracts provide a roof to protect the visitor from the rain.

Vriesea psittacina is one of the larger small Vrieseas. Its leaves are pale green and narrow and have a pale violet shade towards he sheaths. Around Teresópolis it is the only one of the smaller Vrieseas that sends its spike up straight and keeps it that way. The section with the bracts is diamond- or trapeze-shaped, flat and very showy in red and yellow. The flowers are yellow with green tips. Its home are the inland forests.

Our Vriesea carinata looks different from most of its foreign pictures, at least the kind that grows around Teresópolis. It is the smallest, the most elegant, the most appealing, the most common, and the hardiest of the small species. But it never holds its spike up. The spike protrudes sideways in two graceful curves, a thin stalk waving the square of colors like a flag. Perhaps that is why, aside from being red and yellow, it enjoys the popular name "bandeirinha espanhola" (little Spanish flag) in Brazil. The rosette is soft, pale green, often running into almost lavender pink, or light grey. It lives in trees and bushes in the forest among leafy neighbors.

All the small Vrieseas mentioned so far have yellow flowers with green petal tips. The remaining two, Vriesea duvaliana and Vriesea paraibica, have pale yellow flowers.

Vriesea duvaliana is much like Vriesea × morreniana, on a somewhat smaller scale, and prone to forming a colony. Its "fish" is sleek and svelt, brownish-red instead of bright red. It lives on trees in secondary forest in some of the valleys on the northern side of the mountains. It does fine in the garden, in trees and shrubs, on the ground surrounded by Japanese grass (Mondo), and, its stalks being fairly straight and short enough to stand up, in fern pots. 50% filtered light and neighbors is what it appreciates. The leaves are always pure green.

Vriesea paraibica has the same size as Vriesea duvaliana, but it remains single. The "fish" is fatter and looks more plump than duvaliana's. It is pale red and has fewer and broader bracts. The flower stalk is a little longer and stands out sideways. The leaves are light green. It lives on shrubbery in the cloud forest, a focus here and there. In the garden it survives only on live material among other plants.

Of the three small Vrieseas with a compound inflorescence Vriesea procera has been dealt with. The greyish-green leaves set the small variety aside from the other small Vrieseas.

Vriesea lubbersi suggests an overgrown narrow-leaved Tillandsia. From a many-leaved rounded tuft about 25 cm in diameter rises a branched red stalk bearing white flowers. It forms large clusters high up on exposed tree limbs. The tufts are connected by strong stolons. Only after a sizable colony is established will there be flowers. It is a lazy bloomer anyway. In the garden it thrives, on low trees, even on a fence, flowering once in a great many years.

A little beauty I have not been able to identify is a single plant the size of a carinata with wine-red leaves. The sideways spike is branched, completely covered by deep-red bracts from which issues pure white flowers. Origin unknown.

Most of our Vrieseas flower in southern spring, the dates being pretty regular for each species. Exceptions are Vriesea petropolitana gigante, Vriesea duvaliana, Vriesea paraibica, which often have a spike out of schedule.

The flowering period lasts from one to many months, depending on the total number of flowers and daily eclosion. The single-spike Vrieseas open one or two flowers every few days; the big ones with compound inflorescence a medium of 5 per day. The first to open are the innermost of the longest branches, one per branch. Eclosion climbs the branches. When it is half-way up it shifts to the lower branches and the terminal.

New shoots sprout soon after flowering. New thick roots grow from March on.

Rosettes become unsightly in late winter, at the end of the dry season. Copious spring rains help the young shoots grow fast.

The seeds of most species ripen within 6 months, flying off when dry weather springs the pods. The Vriesea petropolitana group takes over a year to ripen its seeds.

Dry weather makes the ripe pods split. Weightless seeds, those that have silky floss, get carried off by the breeze immediately. Heavier seeds, like those of Vriesea geniculata and Vriesea reginae, and of other large Vrieseas, glide to the ground. To collect seeds it is necessary to make hourly rounds of inspection to see if the tips of the pods begin to disjoint and take the pods before they split. The crucial moment often takes place late in the afternoon. Pods usually open one at a time in the beginning of the season. On rainy days they stay closed. Prolonged rainy spells during the ripening period spoil many pods. The parachutes don't open properly. Chances to collect seeds in the wilds are slim.

Development in spring proceeds well and rapidly with sufficient rain. September rains are seldom strong. They seem to moisten the air more than the ground. One day of sunshine followed by several of rain is best. But this does not happen regularly every year.

The Vrieseas in our area develop their final shape in the horizontal position: If a seed germinates on the underside of a branch, the young plant will grow in a curve until it finds proper balance for its rosette. Big Vrieseas grown on rocky declines often have the first section of their trunk like a hook. The smaller single-spike Vrieseas have it also, on a much smaller scale. The final position is always horizontal. The spike starts in the center but soon bends and grows out sideways, generally in two curves, like a long-drawn "S". It is always a little shocking to see pictures of our Vrieseas cultivated in foreign lands, planted in classic containers and holding their spikes up as if they were Zinnias. That may be all right for hybrids. Especially our smaller wild Vrieseas are pretty in their natural way. Why put them in a pot when no earth is required? An artist-member could surely think up something more appropriate to bring out the plants' natural beauty. Mr. Barry's miniature bromeliad trees published in Bulletin IX-2 ("New Styles in Bromeliad trees") are a fine example. But he too for some inconceivable reason uses a container to hold the support. If the container were large enough to hold other plants that might provide air humidity for the bromels, it would make sense.

— Teresópolis, RJ, Brazil.



Colored plates of Vriesea splendens (V. speciosa, V. picta, V. zebrina) have appeared in many editions of old horticultural periodicals. I believe the following are the most interesting.

  1. L'Horticulteur Universal, 1845, Vol. V, page 199, shows a picture by C. Lemaire T. under the name of Tillandsia splendens. There are two pages of description by Ad. Brongniart and this annotation: "This fine bromeliad, so different from most of the cultivated species with its long simple spike, distichous, flat, bright red colored, was sent to the Museum of Paris by Mr. Melinon, and then later by Mr. Leprieur. This species grows on the trunks of old trees in French Guiana. The smooth green leaves are interestingly marked with brown zones which are very distinct beneath and also visible above. The plant is remarkable even when it has not developed the brilliant flower spike. The drawing was made in the greenhouses of the Museum of Paris. This species was also cultivated in 1845 at the following nurseries: Mr. Cels in Paris and Mr. Van Houtte in Gand (Belgium)."

  2. A colored plate similar to the above one was published in the Flore des Serves et des Jardins d'Europe by Van Houtte in May 1846, Plate IV. The description and details are the same as in the Horticulteur Universel and are signed by Ad. Brongniart, professor of botany in the Museum.

  3. In the Revue Horticole, Paris, April 1846, page 41, is a colored plate entitled Tillandsia splendens. The text of Ad. Brongniart is given as well as some lines from Mr. Neumann which read: "This species has been known only a short while; it grows very slowly, but the seeds which we planted two years ago have produced small plants which we send to our correspondents, etc."

  4. Botanical Magazine, 1848, Plate 4382 under the name of Vriesea speciosa...

  5. L'Horticulteur Francais de F. Herincq, 1858, page 217, has an illustration entitled Vriesea speciosa. The article gives a description and cultural commendation and tells of the multiplication of this species in the horticultural trade and the availability of this Vriesea in many nurseries in France.

Five other colored plates and many black and white illustrations were published during the past century.

The Manuel des Plantes f Ducharte, 1857, Vol. IV, page 606, gives the following description of V. splendens: "V. brillante, V. speciosa Hook, Tillandsia splendens Hort. This plant is as remarkable for the beauty of its foliage as for the magnificence of its blossoms. Radical, ribboned-oblong leaves, obtuse at the top with a short sharp prolongation, fully entire, glabrous, canaliculate, and nearly half-cylindrical, length about 35 cm (14 inches), width 5 to 7 cm (2 to nearly 3 inches), dark green above, paler beneath, with wide black transversal bands visible on both sides. Scape rising up from the center of the leaves to a total height of 50 cm. (20 inches), adorned with sheathed, acute squama-leaves spotted with black. Ear about 25 an. long (10 inches), compressed, lanceolate, composed of numerous elongated, lanceolate, acuminate bracts. The long yellow flowers come out between these bracts with their narrow sharp petals on a bent tubular base. This species was introduced from French Guiana at the Jardin des Plantes (museum) of Paris in 1842."

V. Splendens as illustrated in L'Horticulteur Universal, 1845.

Importations from French Guiana to the Museum were made several times. It is the same for Vriesea splendens as for orchid species; imported plants differ among themselves, growers selecting the best for their hybridizations.

If we have a look at the old catalogues, we find in one from my grandfather, Henri Vacherot, dated 1894, an illustration of V. splendens; the variety is not given. Chantrier in 1896 listed two forms of V. splendens with their prices: Vriesea splendens, 1 franc to 3.50 francs; Vriesea major, 1.50 francs to 4 francs.

Drawings of the variety of V. splendens known as major may be found in the following: Les Bromeliacees, by L. Duval, 1896, page 114; Les Planter de Serres from Bellair et Saint Leger edition, 1900, page 1602, figure 610; Dictionnaire d'horticulture of Nicholson, Vol. 5, page 278, under the name of Tillandsia splendens.

6. In Revue Horticole, 1935, page 536, there is a painting by J. Eudes of Vriesea splendens major. The name "major" is not written on the plate, but it is specified in the description by Mr. Jules Chantrier, who wrote of the troubles he had with his Vriesea. He found that when the plants flower after six years of cultivation, the leaves are marked with brown spots. V. splendens major is approximately one-third larger than .the usual clones. Also mentioned is V. Chantrieri (V. splendens major × V. splendens var. splendens.) This hybrid is described in the Revue Horticole for 1938.

The special clones seen this century in France are V. splendens var. Chantrieri, selection from seeds of well-striped plants, illustrated in the Bromeliad Society Bulletin, 1954, Vol. IV, page 44, and V. splendens var. Cayenne, imported from French Guiana by Mr. Hoock for the Museum of Paris. I have grown this plant from seed for the trade. This variety is to be found in many European listings.

The plants have wide leaves; they flower very much younger and much smaller than the other known clones (see the Bulletin, Vol. XII, page 104). This clone gives plants which are exactly the same, while the seeds we get on the old hybrids give different varieties, in which sometimes we have the concolor V. splendens var. longibracteata, with all-green leaves and without any spike. We sell many thousands of young plantlets in very small pots (4 cm or 1½" wide). Two of the seedlings came out with variegated foliage, but they lost their white marking before they turned adult.

—Boissy-S'Leger, France.

Although root mealy bug does not seem to affect bromeliads, this nasty pest can be eradicated by watering the plants with Malathion - 1 teaspoon to a gallon of water as recommended for spraying. No damage is done to the roots and the bug is soon cleared up. Care should be taken, however, not to let any of the liquid remain in the cups of the bromels.

Do you have difficulty in cutting off some of those really tough offsets? An ordinary knife seems to make little headway on them. Try the small grapefruit knives with serrated edges. The slight curve on the blade fits snugly into the joining and you can saw away at the offset without fear of damaging the parent. For larger bromels, sometimes it is necessary to use a small saw. The Japanese make several such saws for gardening purposes, and they are most useful.



The following are some notes on spring attention to plants taken from "News and Views" of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand.

OFFSETS. This is the best time of the year to take offsets. The plant likes having a full season of warmth and sunshine to get established before next winter. We are often asked what is the best stage to take offsets. If rootlets are showing, you are perfectly safe. If they are not showing, the offset should at least be past the pencil stage. Two or three leaves should be showing adult shape and beginning to fan out at the top.

SEEDLINGS. If you are acquiring small seedlings it is probably better to get them now when they are coming into growth rather than buy them in autumn with six months of cold weather ahead.

Last spring I bought an Aechmea fasciata offset and not having a suitable pot just stuck it in the garden in a shady spot in some light soil. It was hosed about once a week and there it stayed until the first frosts threatened when I lifted it and put it in a pot on the verandah. It is doing quite well. This year I am hoping to do the same with some Nidulariums, Neoregelias, and other Aechmeas. I have two large citrus trees close together, handy to a tap and will put my offsets under them. A glasshouse would give me more growth in a shorter period, but this is the next best thing, the lazy man's way.

TEMPERATURE AND LIGHT. For those with glasshouses, management of increasing temperatures and increasing light is important. Most of us have seen sunburn at some stage or other, usually on soft new growth too close to the glass. Even without burning excessive light yellows the foliage and hardens it which is undesirable with broms, where the formal appearance is important and where the foliage lasts a long time.

If the whitewash on your greenhouse has worn thin, this is the time to replace it. Two types I have used are white undercoating diluted with 5-8 parts of kerosene and applied with a brush or paint roller. Paint rollers are much faster on larger houses. Put the roller on a long pole and it will reach to the ridge. For removing this shading in the autumn, we used dilute caustic soda, taking care that it didn't go on any permanent paint work. The other mixture I have used is a slaked lime mixed to a thick paste in sea water. This can be applied with a kitchen broom as long as it is washed out afterwards. This kind of shading washes off quickly and may need replacing in a few months.

When whitewashing it is well to see that none leaks through the roof. The plants can be covered with newspaper or plastic sheeting or can be removed from the bench if any of the whitewash tends to seep through. The same applied when shading is being removed. To check the density of shading do 3 or 4 bars of glazing then have a look at it from the inside and adjust mix if necessary.

VENTILATION. This is important. Vents under the bench can be left open all the time except in extremely windy weather. Those in the roof can be opened as soon as the sun gets up or temperatures get about 70 deg. F. If there are no vents, opening doors and windows in hot weather will help.

WATERING. See that plants do not dry out. Check each pot individually every two or three days. If any pots are dry give them a really good soaking-fill pot to rim with water. If the soil is really hard or the plant is suffering, place it in a tub of water up to its neck for 20 minutes.

FEEDING. This is the time of the year to start feeding if you wish to. I. prefer foliar feeds at half strength. Pour a bit into the cup of each plant which should already have some water in it. After a week give the plant a good hosing out so any excess fertilizer is removed and another in three weeks before feeding again. If the center is very dirty pour all the water out completely and start again.

If you are using dry fertilizer a mixed general purpose garden fertilizer would be best. This should be put on the surface of the pot, not in the cup of the plants, as such mixtures occasionally contain substances which could cause burning of soft growth. I usually use as much as I can hold with my thumb pressed against the gap between my first and second fingers. This is enough for a four or five-inch pot. If your fingers are big, use a bit less. If the soil surface is hard or mossy, scarify it lightly with a sharp stick and then water the fertilizer in.

—Auckland, New Zealand.

IN MEMORIAM—It is with regret that we announce the death of Morris Henry Hobbs, nationally known artist and active member of the Bromeliad Society. He had helped found the Louisiana Bromeliad Society and was a member of the Board of Directors of The Bromeliad Society. His beautiful drawings of bromeliads graced the covers of this bulletin from January 1959 through March 1964. See Bromeliad Society Bulletin Vol. XIII, No. 4, P. 94, for article on Mr. Hobb's achievements.



About eleven years ago when I was visiting Los Angeles, a friend of mine who knew that I loved plants took me to see the bromeliad collection of Mrs. Thelma D. Hodge. When I saw Mrs. Hodge's beautiful bromeliads, I fell in love with them immediately and decided then and there that I must grow some of my own. To my dismay, however, I learned that to protect the pineapple industry there is a law in Hawaii forbidding the importation of these exotic and beautiful plants. Well, I said to myself, I'll grow them from seed.

So seeds I began to acquire from the Americas and Europe. I tried planting the seeds in all the mediums I could think of, a system which resulted in complete failure, until I learned that most bromeliads grow on trees like many orchid plants. When I hit on the idea of using hapuu (Hawaiian fern) fibre and began having complete success in germinating the seeds, my problem was solved.

Throughout the years my collection has grown and grown. In the beginning, though, I made the foolish mistake of growing too many of each kind when I did not know what they would look like when full grown. Not realizing that bromeliads come in all sizes from midgets to giants, I soon ran out of space for my ever-increasing collection. I finally decided to make room by building a new lath house approximately 3,500 square feet in size. After a while that, too, became filled with plants. Having become completely "pupule" (Hawaiian for crazy) over bromeliads, I decided to dispose of 90 percent of my tropical foliage plants including anthuriums. I am again faced with shortage of space for my bromeliads, but by moving my remaining collection of anthuriums into an area where colored "ti" plants used to grow and growing many bromeliads in the yard in full sun, I believe I can keep going for a while as I have learned not to raise too many of one kind.

With an ideal location for growing bromeliads (I live in upper Manoa Valley in Honolulu, Hawaii, where we have lush tropical vegetation and almost daily showers) I find that my plants grow very fast and beautifully. I have bloomed many varieties from seed in 3½ to 4 years, which is good, as I seldom follow a strict feeding schedule but only feed when I have the time or urge. However, I try to feed my plants at least once in six months although I must admit that my favorites are fed more frequently, especially the seedlings as they need the extra "push" to grow large enough cups to hold leaves, etc., for food.

At the present time I must have about 450 varieties including my own hybrids. When hybridizing two plants I try to imagine the end result. Color of foliage or spike and other good points are considered. Whenever possible, I try to match plants that might result in small or medium sized ones, as I, as well as most people here in Hawaii, do not have the space to grow too many large plants. Another objective in my hybridizing is to produce plants with fewer thorns, since people can be injured by them. I would appreciate hearing from other members of the Society about hybridizing as I am still at the learning stage.

Aloha from Hawaii.

Wm. Dunbar
Vriesea splendens var. longibracteata

NOMENCLATURE CLARIFICATION — Dr. Lyman B. Smith in "Notes on Bromeliaceae," Phytologia, Vol. 13, No. 2, page 116, lists Vriesea splendens as follows:

  1. V. splendens var. splendens (Tillandsia splendens, Vriesea speciosa, Tillandsia vittata, Tillandsia picta.)

  2. V. splendens var. longibracteata (Tillandsia longibracteata, Vriesea splendens var. formosa, Tillandsia splendens var. formosa, Tillandsia appuniana, Vriesea longibracteata, V. splendens major, V. longibracteata wartelii.)

Mulford B. Foster gives three recognized varietal names of Vriesea splendens on page 69 of Bromeliads in Color and, Their Culture.

Send comments, corrections and suggestions to:
© 1951-2012 Bromeliad Society International, All Rights Reserved.
All images copyrighted BSI.