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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 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
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


This photograph by James N. Giridlian was taken on one of the recent collecting trips made by Dr. T. N. Howard. It dispels an erroneous idea held by many that all Tillandsias grow on trees. This Tillandsia (species unknown) is perfectly happy growing in the crevice of rocks, enjoying the full tropical sun. The article by Dr. Howard, appearing on Page 28, is the first of a series describing his plant-collecting experiences in Mexico.

Articles and photographs are earnestly solicited by the editor. Length is no factor. Please mail all copy to the editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049.

Articles and photographs are earnestly solicited by the editor. Length is no factor. Please mail all copy to the editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049.



J. G. Bacher

Walking through my garden last December to assess the damage that a recent cold wave had afflicted (it had reached 34°, which is an unusual occurrence), I noticed one perky bromeliad with a bloom spike in the process of unfolding. "Good old Schwakeana," I said to myself, "neither frost or damp can get you down."

The plant referred to was Vriesea schwakeana, an old favorite that can be seen in many of the older, well-established collections. Unfortunately, it is rarely listed in catalogues today.

This Vriesea was named after C. A. W. Schwacke, a German who collected in Brazil from 1873 to 1904. It can be found growing in the state of Minas Geraes, and was first listed by Carl Mez in a monograph published in 1896.

This robust bromeliad, which does well for this author growing in the ground in dappled light, is a medium-sized plant reaching a height of 14 inches, the branched inflorescence getting as high as 24 inches. The leathery leaves are dull green with maroon flecks. The inflorescence is a burnished red - not overly bright, but attractive none the less. It lasts in color for many months. The plant is a rapid grower and a dependable bloomer. It suffers none of the idiosyncrasies that distinguish others of its genus; in other words, it a foolproof plant.

—V. P.


T. M. HOWARD, JR., D. V. M.

Part 1 — Northeastern Mexico

Bromeliads mean many things to many people. To many they are synonymous with pineapples. Others think of the popular "Queen's Tears," Billbergia nutans, or perhaps of a favored Aechmea when the word is mentioned. To me it is synonymous with the genus Tillandsia. Indeed, it is as difficult for one to tour Mexico without suddenly becoming aware of these strange air plants festooning the limbs of trees along the roadsides as it is to be completely oblivious of the many species of giant cacti that grow there. The observer inevitably finds that the twain do meet, with the cocky Tillandsias often using some giant columnar cactus for a perch, as freely as they would any tree or shrub.

I had known both T. recurvata and T. usneoides since childhood, but had thought of them only as mosses and parasites. I later learned that they are truly related to pineapples, but this idea always seemed sort of absurd. Certainly they did not LOOK like any pineapple. This seeming absurdity was neatly balanced by the even greater absurdity that they are truly air plants and not parasites and that they do not depend upon their roots for nourishment.

It was not until I was introduced to T. baileyi, a few miles south of Kingsville, Texas, near the Gulf Coast, that I began to regard them as truly ornamental. I recall stopping near a roadside park in a large live oak grove and noticing what seemed to be greatly magnified forms of T. recurvata. My friend informed me that it was T. baileyi and native to this area. Closer examination revealed that they had showy pink bracts and pretty tubular purple flowers. I'll never forget the strange sensation that I experienced as I picked several clumps off the lower growing limbs, like so many fruits in an orchard. I took them home and fastened them to my own live oak trees, where they still grow to this day, some dozen years later. There they have survived our sometimes very cold winters, when temperatures have dropped to nearly ten degrees above zero on a few occasions. At such time, a few of the more exposed plants are killed, but the more protected ones always manage to survive.

It was during my several annual trips into Mexico that I began to become fully aware of the great variety of species within the genus. I soon learned that not all were "dumpy" greyish xerophytes, but that some had thin, wide leaves that held water in their cupped bases in much the same manner as Vrieseas and Guzmanias. I learned too that the altitude in which they grew was often a most important consideration as to their success potential in cultivation, and that this was linked to their temperature and water requirements. Gradually, by trial and error, I began to understand better the individual requirements of these fascinating bromeliads, and my failures became less frequent.

J. N. Giridlian
Dr. Howard cleaning his plants

The first bromeliads that one notices upon entering Mexico via the old Pan American highway are the ubiquitous T. recurvata and the soon-to-be-ubiquitous Hechtias, found everywhere in one species or another where conditions are dry enough for them. About 40 miles north of Monterrey, at the old Mamulique Pass, Hechtias become a very important part of the rocky landscape. Silvery clumps grow in crowded circles on the hillsides, and many of these are brazenly splashed with wine-red. They are really very lovely, but wickedly spiny, and one learns to handle them quite carefully when not wearing gloves. This particular Hechtia (H. texensis) is rather more compact than some and thus is very appealing, but when one is traveling in a car, he should take only smaller plants, since space will eventually become a prime concern when collecting bromeliads in variety. One soon learns to discipline the urge to be a pig and to take all that is available, or the less-loved plants may be thrown out before the journey's end in order to make space for the choicer species.

For years I had thought of the Monterrey area as only a place to pass through as quickly as possible in order to get down into REAL bromeliad country. Luckily I had taken enough weekend trips to this city in order to savor the various tourist attractions found in that general area. This country is really much too cold for bromeliads, thought I, since it is only about as far south as Brownsville (from San Antonio) though more southwesterly in latitude and longitude and really much too dry.

This myth was quickly dispelled one fine Sunday in the autumn of 1963 when I visited Garcia's Cave, about 30 miles or so west of the city. There on the rocky face of the mountain on which is the entrance of the cave (a popular tourist attraction) grew a very pretty little velvety grey Tillandsia in dense little clumps. These were mainly saxicolous, preferring to cling to the cliff, but a few were also to be found on some of the shrubbery on the mountainside. This Tillandsia was somewhat similar to another species found much farther south in southern Tamaulipas and Hidalgo, but the rosette was more informal, the leaves much thicker, and the plant considerably more reduced in size. I was excited by the fact that this was the most northern and western species of Tillandsia that I had yet found. Surely, it would have to be as hardy as T. baileyi. Though the plant was in no great abundance, I managed to get a dozen or less to try growing back home. I was later able to flower it, and it proved to be quite a lovely thing, with a slender carmine-red stem which terminated in chartreuse-yellow wiry bracts from which emerged white tubular flowers. Perhaps it is only a variety of the similarly colored, larger species that grows on rocks farther south, but certainly it is well worth growing, if only for those soft silvery, curved thick leaves. I returned again to this area in the fall of 1965, but could find practically none of these plants. Apparently the face of the cliff had been dynamited, as there were much rubble and large boulders at the base, and the cliff appeared to have a new face. Perhaps the cave promoters had been responsible for this "improvement."

About 30 miles south of Monterrey is the little village of El Cercado, where one turns left on a narrow paved road that leads to Horsetail Falls, a favorite tourist resort. The road follows the swift narrow stream, quickly climbing, by a series of hair-pin turns, into a small plateau where a pleasant restaurant overlooks the valley below. There are fine tourist accommodations, complete with motel and swimming pool, and small boys stand around, each holding an equine, be it burro or scrawny old nag, to entice the tourist on a fifty-cent ride up the trail to the Falls. I always prefer to walk, since it is really not far or very difficult, and it gives me time to search for the many interesting plants that grow there.

In 1965 I found a big Tillandsia growing near the stream in a tree, which I climbed in monkey-like fashion. The plant was light green, with a slight silvery tone, with the individual leaves thin and broad at the base tapering gradually to a very narrow point. Each leaf was cupped at the base, so that the plant might hold a moderate amount of water, and was about 18 inches long. I searched for more, but could find none. This place is so steadily crowded with tourists that I doubt that any ornamental Tillandsia would be allowed to rest very long in any tree without quickly being carried home as a souvenir. I took that plant home and potted it, where it did very well. Still I was curious about this species and wondered perhaps that more of these might be found in that area, in the mountains. I was determined to make another trip and find out more about this plant.

In January of 1966 I learned that this plant did indeed grow in the canyons in these mountains, and I then made two week-end trips into the mountains and found them growing along the streams in the canyons. They were magnificent. The inflorescence rises above the fountain of leaves like a rose-red candelabra and is much branched. The flowers are tubular and a deep purple. Many specimens are three feet in height, and the foliage is three feet across. Whether or not these plants normally die after flowering is still an unsolved riddle, as we found evidence that some did, as in T. utriculata, but many did not, forming offshoots instead. I have yet to identify this Tillandsia, but it too is similar to others that we have found farther south in the mountains areas of central Mexico.

Following the trail, we crossed and recrossed the canyon stream many times and then a few miles farther we found yet another Tillandsia, T. setacea (syn. T. tenuifolia) thickly growing in grass-like grey bunches on many of the trees and rocks. I collected but few of these as I have them in my collection from other parts of Mexico. It is a rather common and widespread species, with thin, stiff, grassy foliage above which rises a greyish-pink inflorescence with purple flowers. T. setacea and the big rose-bracted species were the only two species that we found in this area in the Sierra Madres south of Monterrey, but we felt that we had done quite well, considering the climatic limitations. All of these species should be rated among the hardiest. Indeed, this entire section of Mexico was covered with a history-making snowstorm in January of 1966, and there was no evidence of injury from the cold in any of the plants that we saw, though they no doubt were exposed to quite a few degrees below the freezing point for over twenty-four hours.

—San Antonio, Texas.

(to be continued)



Someone wanted to know how to get the most color in his plants. Did he need to put them in full sun?

My answer would be that you must find out by trial and error. I always think there are two sorts of light as far as broms are concerned. One is a "soft" light—a good light and clear by SOFT. The other is a bright light—one that comes directly on to the plants through your plastic roof or glass. Not all plants color well under the latter—they like the softer light.

I have found that most Vrieseas do very well under soft light, as do Aechmea × 'Foster's Favorite,' A. × 'Royal Wine,' A. fulgens var. discolor, and A. miniata var. discolor, to mention only a few. Those growers who have A. × 'burgundy' will find it does better under a soft light and so does A. × 'Red Vase.' These latter plants will bleach in a strong light. Most plants, however, with red in them like the strong light. So do the variegated ones, EXCEPT Nidularium innocentii var. lineatum and striatum. They do not do well in the strong light.

These are just findings under my conditions. Members may disagree. You will soon find out if the plants are not happy under the conditions you are giving them. Then try another situation until you have found the perfect one. Even outside plants can have too much burning sun. Others will color and become absolutely brilliant under the same conditions, so it is up to us to watch the plants and study them. If we really look, we can soon see if a plant is growing in the wrong place.

—From Bromeliad Society of New Zealand News and Views.



My first knowledge of Padre Raulino Reitz (see Volume XVII, p. 20, for picture) was in the form of a letter of introduction containing a notice of his first mass and an explanation of his interest in botany. This is a combination that includes many famous names from the Middle Ages to the present day and Padre Raulino, as he is called in Brazil, has already made a prominent place for himself in that list.

We started writing back and forth about the flora of southern Brazil in general and bromeliads in particular and some years later in 1948 we met briefly at the second South American Botanical Congress in Tucuman in northwestern Argentina and were both introduced to the bromeliads of that area.

It was not until 1952, however, that I really came to know the man with whom I was to work most closely from then on. By that time he had changed from his early service in the parish of Sombrio on the southern coast of Santa Catarina to teaching science in the church school of Azambuja in Brusque. We were both engaged in the campaign against malaria carried on by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Brazilian government and traveled extensively in the rich coastal slopes of Santa Catarina where bromeliads abound. However, we had to find our own transportation, and thus I came to appreciate his outstanding traits of physical and mental energy and ingenuity, for he always got us to our destination whether by bus or truck or borrowed jeep.

At the same time during the long trips and the field work together, I learned much of his history and belief. He comes of the pioneer stock that has made Santa Catarina a little Germany in Brazil. Over a century ago, his ancestors were among the colony invited over by the emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro the Second, to set up much needed farms and industries. Padre Raulino was born on the ancestral holding in Biguacu (Biguassu) in east central Santa Catarina into a large and highly religious family. Two of his brothers, who were also priests, doubtless influenced his choice of career and are lovingly commemorated in Billbergia alfonsi-joannis. He is a true plant lover and keeps a garden of choice bromeliads at his school. His scientific interest is primarily the flora of Santa Catarina with a strong economic slant because he believes that material service to his people also helps the spiritual. Thus he takes great interest in the conservation of the Araucaria or Parana Pine, the greatest single timber export of Brazil, and in the development of new plant resources.

Back in 1940 he had begun the collection that was to become the Herbario "Barbosa Rodrigues", one of the leading herbaria of Brazil. At the time of my first visit it was housed in an attic room in his school dormitory, but afterward he obtained funds from many sources to make a building especially for it, and with great foresight enlisted Roberto Klein as its curator. Now his favorite joke is that the herbarium staff consists of two half botanists, since he must give most of his time to his teaching job and there are never enough funds to support a curator completely.

When I arrived in 1952, Padre Raulino had just begun his collecting program to build the herbarium basis for an illustrated flora of Santa Catarina. With characteristic thoroughness this most systematic of systematic botanists plotted 180 stations as evenly as possible over the state and then collected at each one at least once every month of the flowering season. This amounts to 12 months in the rain forest of the coastal slope, but considerably less on the planalto where frost is common in winter and even snow at Brazil's coldest city of Sao Joaquim. Together, he and Roberto Klein, have jeeped, horse-backed, tramped, and even canoed all over Santa Catarina, often in arduous night and day forays on weekends. Since 1949 he has been publishing his own herbarium journal, the "Anais", later called "Sellowia", that records research on these collections. Incidentally, it includes a goodly number of new bromeliads that he discovered.

In 1954 the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded him a fellowship to study in the United States. He used this to take graduate courses on wood anatomy at Iowa State College to further his study of the natural resources of Santa Catarina. I had endorsed his application and all seemed settled, when just before he was due to arrive I received a request for the record of all his college courses with grades. The fact was, Padre Raulino had never been to college and had even had to travel several days on horseback to reach the school in Rio Grande do Sul where he received the last of his formal education. In desperation I replied that their catalogue said the requirement was a college degree or "the equivalent" and that I would guarantee that he had the equivalent. Padre Raulino fully justified my confidence by earning top grades at the same time that he was learning English. After his college work he visited a number of universities briefly and then came to Washington for 3 months of study in the United States National Herbarium of the Smithsonian Institution. Before returning home he used his private savings to tour Europe for further study.

On my return to Santa Catarina in 1956 I found that Padre Raulino's program had been completed for the coastal rain forest, and operations moved to the crest of the coast range and westward onto the planalto. The bromeliad flora was poorer here but his interest and authority in the family had been extended to all Brazil and beyond. A story of this time illustrates some of his more unusual ways of finding the means to travel and collect. The highest point in Santa Catarina is the Campo dos Padres or "field of the priests" and it derives its title from a stubbornly believed legend that the Jesuits hid a treasure here when they were forced to leave Brazil in colonial times. A local citizen had persuaded himself that by means of a candle, holy water, and a priest he could find the treasure. He invited Padre Raulino to come as the priest with all expenses paid. Padre Raulino cheerfully accepted and had a highly successful collecting trip, but evidently his host had the wrong formula since no treasure appeared.

In 1964 when I visited Santa Catarina for the third time, we completed the collected program and started to prepare the written account of the Flora Ilustrada Catarinense. This is published in family units as each is ready, with every species illustrated by at least a figure of its most distinctive features. Padre Raulino is preparing the account of his favorite family, the Bromeliaceae, whose completion is delayed by the appearance of new species, but which should be well worth the extra wait.

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



Literature on roots in the Bromeliaceae is still scarce. We find valuable information, however, in "Bromeliaceae" (Genera et Species Plantarum Argentinarum 3:108-110) by Professor A. Castellanos.

The primary root on a new bromeliad plantlet dies immediately, although, in rare cases it will attain 5 cm, as in Puya spathacea. In its place sprouts a second series of roots, growing out sideways on the young plant, which soon acquires the bundled shape typical for roots in the monocotyledonae. In some species of Tillandsias belonging in the group Anoplophytum, the aging stem gradually loses some of its basal leaves, and adventitious roots come out between the remains of the sheaths. In Tillandsia tenuifolia such roots even pierce the existing leaf sheaths.

All bromeliad roots, the mere hold-fast organs in the epiphytes, as well as roots serving for both anchorage and absorption of water and nutrients, are clad in fine hairs. David Barry, Jr., (The Bromeliad Society Bulletin. 3:45, 1953), based on experiments he carried out, said that if Tillandsia roots have a chance to come in contact with a moist and nutrient substance, they will change from their hard and wiry consistency to finely branched absorbing organs. One plant may have both hold-fast roots and absorption roots, which, he says, is of great advantage for the horticulturist.

In order to hold on to its support, the bromel releases a soft greyish substance that will adhere tightly to the host. Some roots, for instance those of Vriesea jonghii, are thick and strong and tough as wire, making it difficult to pry them loose even with the help of a good knife or other appropriate tool.

Authors all agree that Tillandsia usneoides (the "Old Man's Beard") has no roots in adulthood. Taking it for granted, I passed this information on to a class of botany students. To make my statement more impressive I promised a prize of ten thousand cruzeiros (about U. S. $4.00) to the pupil who would bring me an adult Tillandsia usneoides with roots on it. A little later, after the first outing subsequent to the lesson, one of the students presented to me a 30-cm long specimen that had perfect roots. During the summer holidays another student brought in three specimens with perfect roots. One of the plants was 1m20 long. I divided the prize between the two students, each getting half the money, that is, five thousand cruzeiros each. The boys said they had made a careful search up in tree tops, but had seen very few adult plants with roots. Bromeliad specialist Dr. L. B. Smith reports the same from Itajai. The specimens were exhibited at the Congress and are now in the Herbarium, where they may be examined.

In view of the above findings, we may not assume that all bromeliads, young and old, have roots, but that only rarely does Tillandsia usneoides have roots in its adult stage.

—Itajai. Santa Catarina, Brazil.



A good fertilizing program should be a must for any grower of bromeliads. It is true that bromeliads can get by without additions of fertilizer, but why should we grow inferior looking bromeliads. No group of plants responds so well and so quickly to foliar feeding, and if you are a keen observer, you can see the change taking place.

Why fertilize? First, it helps the plant to grow to its full size. Secondly, the rate of growth reaches it maximum only through the use of fertilizer. And lastly, since most bromels are grown for their brilliant inflorescences, fertilizer enables the spike to reach its full potential. I have seen, for example, plants of Vriesea × Mariae that were so starved, they produced short spikes with few bracts. Well fed plants of this Vriesea will produce bracts that measure nearly a foot in length.

Fertilizing also plays an important role where inflorescences are branched. Since there is a definite relationship between the size of the plant and the number of branches a spike can have, fertilizing brings out the most of its potential. Often spikes that are starved will not branch at all, or there might be only a few stubs that are not well developed. Speed of growth is something you may or may not be looking for, but remember that the sooner a plant reaches maturity, the sooner it will flower. If you grow bromels from seed, fertilizing will lessen the long wait from sprouted seed to flowering.

Until proven otherwise, the best fertilizer is still a good soluble fertilizer. Unless you are very careful with your watering use at half the strength recommended. With all the modern conveniences, distribution is quick and easy. The simplest method is to use one of the bottle proportioners now on the market. Even with a large number of plants, it takes very little time to run through an application.

As for how often to fertilize? This will depend on the individual. Keep in mind that if you grow your plants outdoors, heavy rains deplete fertilizer reserves held in the cups of your plants. Remember also that if you have to leave your plants for a while, such as going on vacation, be sure to flush out the cups of your plants, or evaporating water will leave concentrated salts that could burn your plants.

If you really want the most out of your bromels, in or out of flower, try fertilizing on a regular basis.

—Miami, Florida.

Nature can never be accused of being niggardly. The numbers of dormant vegetative buds on bromeliads, and for that matter, on orchids, begonias, and cabbages, protected from harm and secretly nurtured in each leaf axil, are beyond belief. Each bud patiently awaits the mysterious signal from the parent plant to arouse itself, to swell, to assume a dominant role in case the apex of the parent plant is cut off before fruition. Few dormant buds actually receive the signal to awake; but the reservoir of these buds throughout the plant kingdom is comparable to the numbers of stars in distant galaxies.

—J. A. Stephens.



Julian Marnier Lapostolle was probably the first amateur to bring into bloom in Europe, Lee Moore's "Aechmea spec. 370." It was he who sent to Dr. Lyman B. Smith specimens of the plant for identification. The plant, Streptocalyx williamsii, was described in Bulletin XVII, page 99.

Believing that this bromeliad is bound to arouse the interest of both amateur and commercial growers, I am going to relate my personal experience with this plant from the day it arrived in my greenhouse as an unidentified Aechmea.

It all began in 1964 when my friend Dr. Rutschumann of Bale, Switzerland, brought me a hard-leafed thorny bromeliad of medium size that he had received from Lee Moore. It often happens that we get plants from miscellaneous imports, or that we raise them from seed of uncertain origin, without the slightest idea of what the plants might turn out to be. Their cultivation is a matter of risk and expectation and hope. Alas, the result of six to eight years of patience is often only a sorry disappointment. Nonetheless, the grower tries again and again—the lure of the unknown being too strong to resist.

I planted "Aechmea #370" not in a container but in a bed of peatmoss arranged over a layer of clay. After the plant had properly rooted, it began to grow. It grew and grew and by the end of the second year had smothered most of the neighboring Vrieseas and Neoregelias. It has developed five offshoots, and they also had leaves 1m30 long.

In the spring of 1967 "Aechmea #370" covered one and a half square meters of the limited planting area in my greenhouse, and I needed the space to accommodate other plants. Something had to be done. Should I just throw the plant away? I decided to give it one more chance. It was the beginning of May and further frost was hardly to be expected. I transferred the plant with its large root system to a cement container and placed it in a sunny spot in the garden among some Pelargoniums. Here it would bloom or else be discarded.

Direct sunlight coaxed a beautiful purple hue from the formerly dark green leaves. But then we had a storm, which ravaged the garden. The long Aechmea leaves, possibly overgrown in the humid air of the greenhouse, were kinked, and later had to be trimmed. The glassy brittleness of the leaf-texture is a serious drawback. The plant needs to be protected from the wind. Its size and fragility are also a disadvantage in transportation.

W. Kullmer   
Luckily my plant recovered without special care in spite of rain and storm. And in the beginning of August it happened—that which I had not dared hope for and what had seemed almost an impossibility—there was a bud in the depth of the imported shoot. It was pink with lighter stripes and felt hard to the touch. Slowly and steadily it grew and was already attractive even at that stage. But I had to wait two and a half months for the flowers to appear. Finally out from behind the large bracts that were turning an ever deeper pink peeped rows to what I took to be the flowers, mindful of the fact that Aechmeas often have very small and rapidly decaying petals. The conical spike had by then attained a length of 35 cm and measured 28cm around. Its color was a bright rose pink. An exciting and eye-catching picture it was, and, needless to say, my plant was no longer doomed after producing such a spectacular flower display. In October, before the first night frost, we put our treasure back in the greenhouse. In there the bracts became even more red, and only then did the actual flowers reveal themselves. They are blue and measure 15mm. Sometimes twenty of them open on the same day, adding still another color to the charming combination. Just then the Bulletin arrived and solved the riddle of the plant's identity—is was Streptocalyx williamsii.

We owe Dr. L. B. Smith thanks for his clear scientific definition but owing to the nature of the description it cannot convey the color of the living spike or suggest the pleasure derived from witnessing the gradual flower development. Nor can it tell of the hardiness of this outstanding plant. When we realize that it is a native of the upper Amazon, we can hardly believe that it will bloom in our latitude out in the open. How much better it would do in Florida or in Southern California, where perhaps it can be kept outdoors the year round.

We here in Europe, forced to work in small greenhouses, grumble about Streptocalyx williamsii's great dimensions. But it is a known fact that pot cultivation and a meager diet will not stop bromeliads from blooming when their time is due, even if they have attained only one-half or one-third of their normal size. Temperature requirements are moderate.

—Stegen, bei Freiburg, Germany.

(Translated from the German by Mrs. Adda Abendroth)


Word has just been received from England that an Affiliate Society is in the process of organization in that country. The major responsibility for the formation of this group will be with Mr. A. J. S. McMillan of 5 Oakfield Road, Bristol 8. Also in charge will be Mr. Clive F. Innes, Holly Gate, Ashington, Sussex. All those who are desirous of becoming a part of this group should contact either of the above.

Dr. George Milstein is to be congratulated for his successful day-long class on bromeliads held in November at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. This is the first time that bromeliads have been given such recognition in the North East. Dr. Milstein covered all aspects of bromeliad culture to a fascinated group of seventy-five. Each participant went home happy with several bromeliad plants which he had learned to pot himself. The meeting was so successful that the Garden is planning to repeat the session this fall.

The San Diego Bromeliad Society is quite proud of the award it captured at the San Diego County Fair last summer. First place ribbon and $100 were awarded to the San Diego group for the display which simulated a garden with a beautiful waterfall. This was the first year bromeliads were given a separate division, and they attracted a great deal of attention and interest.

The Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay is an active participant in the fight to save that section of the Florida Everglades known as Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. This unique park, which boasts of this country's last major stand of virgin bald cypress, faces destruction of its natural water supply by developers who are subdividing many acres in the area. The park harbors many rare flora and fauna—and of interest to the membership—is the home of many rare bromeliads.

It is with the deepest regret that we learned of the deaths of two good members of the Society. Mrs. E. V. Powell died after a lengthy illness. She was the owner of Powell's Beautizone Nursery, in Mylestom, N. S. W., Australia. She was an enthusiastic grower and had one of the finest collections in all of Australia. Mr. Otto Schroller, of Burlingame, California, was also an exceptional grower. He had traveled far in search of rare plants and his collection was a fascinating one. He developed a strain of Aechmea fasciata that was practically pure white and far superior to any varieties sold in that area.

From the South Bay Bromeliad Associates—the newest to join the ranks—comes this enthusiastic letter:

South Bay Bromeliad Associates is the name of the new society that held its first membership meeting on December 3 at the South Coast Botanic Garden, an 87-acre tract located at 26701 Rolling Hills Road, Palos Verdes Peninsula, just south of Los Angeles. Built on a land fill (dumpsite to the less erudite), growing things has presented a real challenge to those in charge of the Garden. The new affiliated group plans to do its share in making the Garden a thing of beauty by creating a number of bromeliad plantings, which will be of a permanent nature.

The group, headed by Charles Wiley, one of the directors of the international society, extends a cordial invitation to all interested in their objectives to join them. A very special invitation is given to all International Society members and the Society's other affiliated groups to attend their meetings—all scheduled for the first Sunday of even-numbered months at one o'clock. Unless otherwise notified, the meetings will be held at the Clubhouse of the South Coast Botanic Garden.

Their secretary, Mrs. G. F. Quiros, will be glad to send a membership application to anyone interested. Her address is 412 South Irena Avenue, Redondo Beach, California 90277. Individual membership is $3; family membership $5.

Workshop meetings, in addition to the regular membership meetings, will be set up for the convenience of those who would like to work on the proposed display at the Garden. Working together with other Bromeliaphiles always enhances our knowledge and enthusiasm.

There is no busier person these days than Dr. Lyman B. Smith, Senior Botanist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. He is furnishing the plant descriptions to accompany the beautiful picture book of bromeliads by Margaret Mee. (See Issue No. 1, 1967, page 11) This will indeed be a collector's item. Dr. Smith is also describing the plants pictured in an album of photos by Julian Marnier-Lapostolle. This book will be published in 1969 by the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Dr. Smith further writes: "At the same time I have bromeliad manuscripts in various stages for southeastern U. S., Jamaica, Venezuela, Chile, and the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. Yesterday's mail produced the Bromeliaceae of the Flora of Trinidad and Tobago that Colin Pittendrigh and I wrote 8 years ago. I have just finished another "Notes on Bromeliaceae" for Phytologia and have started the final writeup of my monograph for Flora Neotropica. All in all, the bromeliad is fairly strong." Notice will be published in the Bulletin when these books become available as to where they may be purchased.



A garden that no visitor to southern California should fail to visit is the Huntington Botanical Garden in San Marino. For the bromeliad enthusiast, the great desert garden, covering over twelve acres, is especially interesting. Here may be found the greatest outdoor collection of desert plants in the United States, including the largest number of xerophytic bromeliads. Puyas, Pitcairnias, Dyckias, Hechtias, Deuterocohnias, and Bromelias are to be found in large variety.

The genus Puya is represented in the Huntington Gardens by several species: P. berteroniana, P. caerulea, P. violacea, P. aequatorialis, P. spathacea, and others. The largest of these is P. chilensis (See Page 48 for illustration). A native of Chile, it was introduced into horticulture in 1820. It is a plant of formidable size, and for this reason is seldom seen in collections growing to its maximum size and beauty. Here in southern California, it has been given room to spread, some plants reaching a width of twenty-five feet. Flowering stalks with their branching inflorescence may reach a height of twelve feet supporting numerous chartreuse-colored flowers. The leaves are generally about four feet in length and about three inches wide at the base tapering toward the acute apex. They are armed with sharp hooked marginal spines of a yellowish-brown in color and of horn-like translucence deepening in color toward the points. The leaf color on both sides is a gray-toned green, upper surfaces are smooth, while the under side is very finely grooved, accentuating the gray tone. Like several other Puyas—P. berteroniana, P. caerulea, and P. violacea, the flowers possess a metallic sheen unequalled in any other member of the plant kingdom. Unfortunately, such coloring seldom photographs to the best advantage.

Although too large for the average garden, Puyas are useful for planting on slopes and embankments. They also serve the purpose of forming impenetrable hedges where such may be required. Their cultural requirements are simple. Most of them prefer a loose open soil, although it has been found they seem to thrive in heavy soil as well. In other words, they are not particular. As they are drought resistant, watering is no problem. At Huntington, no watering is needed during the winter, and irrigation every month or two during the summer seems to be sufficient. Experiments were held in which all summer watering was withheld and the plants survived, but fewer flowers were produced. In San Marino frost occurs occasionally during the middle of winter, but this drop in temperature has no adverse effect on the terrestrial bromeliads growing in the desert garden. Height of the blooming season is spring and summer.




(Translated by Adda Abendroth, Teresopolis, Brazil)


From habitat descriptions in the preceding chapters it can be concluded that regulation of the water economy is a vital necessity for the Bromeliaceae and that it must come first where survival is at stake. Ability to cope with this problem has developed a very efficient form of adaptation which makes it possible for bromeliads to survive under the most difficult conditions.

The Bromeliaceae show certain analogies with succulent plants in the species Dyckia, Hechtia, Orthophytum, and others that generally grow with cacti. Their resistance to drought is remarkable; they are called xerophytes, which means that they were able to withstand the dryness of their surroundings. Xerophytes, however, do not develop water-tissue as the succulents do.

The typical way of water storage of the Bromeliaceae, an attribute of the family unique in the plant kingdom, is the funnel formed by the leaves, common to the majority of the members. All the leaves in the plant are more or less canal-shaped and guide any available moisture to the base, the broad leaf-sheaths sometimes storing quite a large amount of water. Such attribute has earned the plants the designation "cistern-bromels." The leaves of such bromeliads are of tough texture, are green and sometimes mottled or striped.

There are some bromeliads, however, that lack a proper funnel. As a compensation they have on their leaves a more or less thick coat of scale-hairs or suck-scales, which gives the species their grey to silvery appearance. The scale coat may be continuous or sparse, or appear in bands or in stripes. It is the scales that make existence possible for a great many bromels, and, as has been said, their like does not occur in any other plant family.

These scales are most complicated. In the cistern-bromels they are mostly located on the lower leaf faces inside the funnel. Thanks to them the plant can make use of the accumulated water. Certain progressive steps in the construction of the scales can be distinguished in the various genera, denoting evolution. The general pattern shows the base of the scale deeply sunk in the epidermis; the margins lie loosely on the skin of the leaf. Pervious plasma cells permit drainage to the inner tissue of the leaf.

The famous German bromeliad scholar Carl Mez compared the scale-hair with a suction pump. In the presence of water, the thickened outer walls that serve as cover begin to swell and become concave. In consequence, the dry cells of the scale crown form a vacuum that has a certain degree of sucking power. Since scales are often aggregated in great number, the resulting capillary effect is considerable, sufficient to drain the water to the absorbing cells.

The scales of Tillandsias are remarkably uniform. The portion sunk in the leaf skin consists of 1-3 extremely thin-walled cells; they are topped by the so-called disk cells and the closing dome- or middle-cell. The middle-cell is covered by the central cells of the disk which tops the whole like a shield. The shield's center consists of four cells adjusted at right angles. A ring of eight subsequent cells borders the four, and another ring of sixteen, the eight. The 28 cells make up the disk or central shield. Most species have an additional ring of 64 cells, which like all disk cells, are devoid of living content. The scale adheres to the leaf as far as and including the 8-cell ring; the rest of the scale is free. The very evident cell division formula-4-8-16-32-64-rarely varies, but the shape of the cells in the outer ring often does. The outer cells may be longer or shorter, drawn out to a thread, blunt, or feather-shaped. They have in common, while dry, the pale grey to silvery coloring brought about by light refraction in the air-filled cells. If the plants get wet they turn green. A droplet of water put on the scales is immediately absorbed. For instance, if Tillandsia usneoides is put in water, the scales soon suck up so much of it that the strands will submerge.

Many species of Tillandsia live aggregated in large masses. They are the small species with thin, grass-like leaves. Living in company makes survival easier because a large colony can preserve moisture more profitably than one single plant can. Careful scrutiny will enable the observer to conclude which species live mostly on rain and which can survive on dew. One can tell by the shape of the scales and how they adhere to the leaf. The rain forms have sturdy, stiff-leafed rosettes and a dense coat of small scales. If the scales are loosely attached and fuzzy or chaffy, and very dense, one may deduce that the plant lives mostly on dew. Such plants are generally small and lacy. The type of this group is Tillandsia usneoides. The cells in their outer ring of scales are considerably drawn out to one side forming dew-tongues. They make the plant look hairy, as in T. tectorum and T. plumosa. Of course, transitions exist between the two types, depending on site and climate. Cliff dwellers have rain-leaves, whereas species with dew-leaves dive generally surrounded by air. In view of their ability to take from the air all the moisture they need, they are called extreme-atmospheric. Along with water, solvent nutrients are also absorbed.

Thus the scales guarantee nourishment to a high degree. The ability to obtain food from the soil is here absent, root formation being of no consequence in this regard. In their lofty sites, these plants depend simply and solely on what rain and wind have to offer.

Rain rinses out mineral particles floating in the air. Rain drops fall first on leaves in the tree tops, carrying away what dust may have settled there. Heavy rains leach out the moss and epiphytes on the upper branches, which often contain along with decaying vegetable debris excrements of small animals or their corpses. The whole combines to form a steady if weak stream of food stuff that bromeliad scales absorb and pass on directly to the plant body. The plants, too, absorb dust from the atmosphere.

In the homeland of bromeliads the funnels shelter a fauna of their own, principally frogs and insects. The frogs live in the funnels, leaving them only to go hunting for food. The animals' droppings help to feed the plants. When the funnels become too full of decayed matter, they themselves rot away. Long before this happens, the animals have moved to a new home. The French scientist C. Picado, who did research work in Costa Rica, reports that in the watercups of bromeliads live animals of many classes and orders. He counted 250 different species of bromeliad fauna. According to him, all groups of animals usually living in ponds or in swamps have representatives living in bromeliads. They depend on the plants, finding in them what they need. Picado calls the outer leaves of the funnel that are full of humus a terrarium; he calls the inner leaves which hold water an aquarium.

Epiphytic bromels constitute an immense swamp in which animal and vegetable waste products are dissolved by the enzymes in the leaves. The process involves the jelly-like substance exuded by the inner faces of the sheaths. As a rule, putrefaction occurs only when there is too much pollution. Normally the leaves absorb the end products of the organic waste by way of their scales. The water in the funnels remains fairly clean and, in dire need, potable.

Aside from absorption and nutrition the outer scales also counteract the risk of too strong evaporation when light is too bright and threatens to overheat inner tissues. In this connection the outer ring of free elongated terminals is a valuable isolation device. We may therefore assume that bromels with much scale formation need plenty of light if they are to thrive; shadowy spots and an excess of humidity are bad for them. On the other hand, species with few or no scales, but having a well-developed leaf funnel, cannot withstand drought or too much sun.


It goes without saying that when it comes to giving time and labor to raising plants, the flowers are the most important consideration. Foliage plants, of course, are an exception to this rule.

A good look at bromeliads, however, makes it clear that the flowers in themselves are not very conspicuous. Some are small, drab in color, scentless with only a few exceptions, hardly differing in shape, and mostly very perishable. Bromeliads would never have attained ornamental prominence on such meager assets if these were not compensated for by often very colorful and long-lasting bracts that give the plants an exotic air.

The main flower stalk may hold individual flowers in terminal clusters, cars, cymes, heads, or racemes, presenting inflorescences of various dimensions and different proportions. The flowers may appear singly or in a group in the axils of the bracts. The arrangement can be seen without difficulty in the various genera and species.

The number of flowers per plant varies a great deal within the family. A single plant of a certain species may also vary, depending on its size and general surrounding conditions. A spike bearing one flower is rare, but it can be found in the Diaphorantheme group in the genus Tillandsia, to which belong T. tricholepis, T. crocata, and other small species. The number of single flowers increases in other species, such as in other Tillandsias, Vrieseas, and Guzmanias. They are very numerous in some Aechmea species, such as Aechmea sphaerocephala, Ae. miniata, and others. The inflorescence of Streptocalyx poeppigii contains a great number of single flowers. Neoregelia, and to a still great extent, Canistrum hold in their flower basket many blossoms, which open a few at a time over a lengthy period. The Puya has an enormous wealth of flowers, hundreds of them in Puya chilensis and others, perhaps thousands of single flowers ornamenting the tall columns. The level of the inflorescence differs. Some rise high above the rosette; others nest in the heart. Single flowers may sit laxly on the main stalk or be densely gathered. Shape and composition of the flower spike often count as specific characters and help to segregate the family members into groups and series.

The position of the individual flower varies. In Vriesea and Tillandsia two rows are common. Vriesea racinae and others have only one row, while Vriesea corcovadensis is polystichous; it has flowers in many rows, blossoms pointing in all directions.

As has been said, the primary bracts are the outstanding ornamentation of the bromeliad. Their shape, size, and make-up vary greatly. Bromels have two kinds of bracts; the primary bracts that grow on the stalk and the flower bracts, one under each flower. Both may contribute color in their own way. In some species the scape bracts resemble the leaves of the rosette, of which they are a sequence, but they are always smaller than the leaves and often have an intense color. Their spines are like those of the leaves. Other bromels have scape bracts that are different from the leaves. They have a different shape, are thinner, soft, spineless, sometimes wholly and brightly colored. But there are also species (Catopsis, Lindmania, Pitcairnia, and others) that have minute or colorless bracts—inconspicuous as a whole. The heart or inner leaves of the rosette of the genera Neoregelia, Nidularium, Canistrum, and Fascicularia have during flowering a different color from the green, outer leaves. They put on red, blue, yellow or white shades, which they keep for months. Colored bracts and pale flowers enhance the exotic message of these plants.

In some bromeliads it is the flower bracts that contribute glamor to the spike. Their size and shape, their coloring, and their texture vary greatly. We find cones, rolls, or head-like inflorescences, in which the flowers are partly covered by their bracts, or even enclosed by them, as in certain Vrieseas. In Vrieseas and in Guzmanias the coloring of the flower bracts is very conspicuous and long lasting.

Certainly the coloring of the bromeliads earns them a place by themselves. Hardly any other plant has such a marked tendency to be colorful and such an intriguing ability to combine tints that according to tradition do not harmonize. Neoregelia meyendorffii presents a crown of intensely red heart-leaves surrounding comparatively large, pure-blue flowers. Billbergia saundersii has carmine bracts; the petals are a yellowish green and have dark blue tips while the anthers are pure yellow. Vriesea psittacina assembles red, yellow, and green in its spike; other Vrieseas have intense red or orange around pure yellow single flowers. The flowers and bracts of the Bromeliaceae seem to have access to every color imaginable. This is very rare in other plants; generally one or more colors are absent. In bromels we find pure red, blue, yellow, and white. In addition, we see a great many graduations from one color to other shades hardily ever present in other plants.

The color of the flowers of Puya alpestris has become deeply impressed on my memory. I can think of nothing like it. It is a very deep metallic greenish blue; in the center of each blossom sparkle pure yellow anthers. One of the most imposing bromels, Neoregelia concentrica, has a hefty leafed rosette producing prior to flowering an uncommon bluish-purple hue on its inner leaves which mingles with brownish-violet spots and circles in the upper area of the blades. I crossed this species with Neoregelia johannis. The resulting hybrid, Neoregelia × 'Vulcan', has still wider leaves and a wonderful red-purple nest which later changes to blue. The yellow-orange of Dyckia leptostachya flowers and the red-orange of my Vriesea hybrid 'Flammendes Schwert' are incomparable. It may perhaps sound ridiculous to use such exaggerated language, but how else could I possibly convey an idea of their extraordinary beauty?

In contrast to the coloration of the bracts, the colors of the individual flowers are limited. White, yellow, and blue dominate; also greenish shades are common. Pure red is seldom seen in the petals, but it dominates in the bracts. Color transitions occur in the flowers; the petals in Neoregelia are often diffused with violet or blue.

Single blossoms are very short lived. Their life span lasts from a few hours to two days at the most. Flowering periods vary within species and genera. Neoregelia opens its flowers in the morning and shuts them about three o'clock in the afternoon, twisting the petals tightly around stamens and pistil. Guzmania follows a similar schedule. Its white or yellowish-white blossoms do not open at all. The afternoon sees them soften and wilt to a drab brownish yellow, the stamens turning spongy and the pollen becoming pasty and worthless. In most of the Aechmea species the flowers ripen late in the afternoon, opening their corollas about 1 mm, only to close them again around six o'clock or earlier. The flowers of Aechmea fasciata are ready about midday; after one or two o'clock they change their color from blue to red, which means their purpose is finished.

In Nidularium the possibility of fertilization extends over a longer period. Its blossoms keep fully developed for about two days with the corolla closed, the petals folded shut like a dome. Vrieseas vary widely. Those coming from Guyana, that is Vriesea splendens, open their flowers in the morning and close them in the afternoon. Species coming from a more temperate climate generally keep their flowers open until the second day and are fully receptive to pollination. An exception is the night-flowering group—V. fenestralis, V. tesselata, V. racinae, and others. They open in early evening and wither early next morning. They have a peculiar odor.

The closely related genus Tillandsia obeys a similar flowering schedule of one to two days. The large, showy blossoms of T. lindenii, T. morreniana, T. cyanea, and others stay open for two full days, whereas T. brachycaulos keeps its flowers viable for only a few hours. The pineapple also has short-lived blooms, a couple of hours only. The pattern outlined above applying to the better known species more or less covers the other species.

(to be continued)

Puya chilensis in the Desert Garden at the Huntington Botanical Garden, San Marino, California.
J. Padilla

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