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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

PresidentCharles A. Wiley Editorial SecretaryVictoria Padilla
First Vice PresidentJack M. Roth Membership SecretaryJeanne Woodbury
Second Vice PresidentFritz Kubisch TreasurerVirginia Berezin

Lottie Cave, California
Nat DeLeon, Florida
William Dunbar, California
Edward McWilliams, Michigan
Julian Nally, Florida
Russell Seibert, Pennsylvania
Mary Wisdom, Louisiana
David H. Benzing, Ohio
Ralph Davis, Florida
George Kalmbacher, New York
Fritz Kubisch, California
W. R. Paylen, California
Ralph Spencer, California
Charles Wiley, California
Wilbur Wood, California
David Barry, Jr., California
Virginia Berezin, California
George Milstein, New York
Victoria Padilla, California
John Riley, California
Jack M. Roth, California
Jeanne Woodbury, California
Ervin Wurthmann, Florida

Adda Abendroth, Brazil
Charles Chevalier, Belgium
Mulford B. Foster, U.S.A.
Harold Martin, New Zealand
Richard Oeser, Germany
Prof. Dr. W. Rauh, Germany
Raulino Reitz, Brasil
Walter Richter, Germany
Dr. L. B. Smith, U.S.A.
Marcel Lecoufle, France

The Society is not responsible for bulletins not received because of failure to report change of address six weeks prior to issuance of Bulletin. Mailing dates are approximately the last week of January, March, May, July, September, November. For individual copies of bulletins, send $1.25 to the editor.

All inquiries addressed to the Society must be accompanied by a, stamped self-addressed envelope.

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

Nidularium billbergioides var. citrinum usually puts out just one flower head, but this generous plant put out four. Photo by Laurel Woodley, Los Angeles.


Prof. Dr. W. Rauh


(Syn: Wallisia hamaleana E. Morren, 1870; Phytarhiza hamaleana E. Morren, 1870; Tillandsia commelyna E. Morr. ex E. Morren, 1870; Tillandsia platyphylla Baker, 1888)

On my expedition to northern Peru in 1967 I found on my way to Ayabaca at an altitude of 2600 m an old tree covered with a number of beautiful Tillandsias and Vrieseas. One of the most exciting Tillandsias among them was T. hamaleana, which has already flowered for the second time in our bromeliad greenhouse. As it has big, dark violet flowers similar to T. lindenii and T. cyanea, has a pleasant scent, and a very long flowering time (about one month), I believe that T. hamaleana may be of commercial value some day. At the moment this plant is very rare in bromeliad collections and nurseries, at least in Europe.

Tillandsia hamaleana is one of the green Tillandsias of medium size. It forms stemless rosettes of a height of 30-40 cm including the inflorescence. The leaves are soft, fresh green, ligulate, 20-30 cm long, 3-4 cm broad and scarcely adpressed lepidote. The upper part of the leaves is curved back and tapering into a short acute tip. The sheaths are pale green and not contrasted with the blade. The inflorescence is erect and only a little bit longer that the leaves (about 30-40 cm). The scape is slender, 10-15 cm long and covered by the sheaths of the scape bracts. The inflorescence consists of mostly three spikes, a terminal one and two lateral spreading ones. Each spike sits on a short (0,5 cm) pedicel, is up to 6 cm long and 2,5 cm broad, and bears 8 to 12 flowers in two ranks. The primary bracts are shorter than the spikes, very thin, drying soon, red brown colored and gray lepidote. The flower bracts are sharply keeled in their upper part, red-brown, gray lepidote and thin.

The big flowers have a diameter of 3-4 cm. They are deep violet when opening, with a white center ("eye"). The blades of the petals are broad and spread when fully developed. The color gradually changes to a pale violet-blue when the petals will become reflexed. Style and stamens are deep included. The blossoms stay open for several days.

If you keep a flowering plant in your room, the whole room will soon be perfumed by the pleasant fragrance of the flowers.

T. hamaleana is closely related to the Ecuadorian T. dyeriana, which has smaller flowers and white in color. It, too, diffuses an intensive and pleasant scent, similar to that of T. hamaleana.

The culture of this plant is easy in a pot with a mixture of peat and sand, but grows equally well as an epiphyte mounted on grape-wood. Like all green Tillandsias, T. hamaleana does not need much light but requires high humidity.

—Heidelberg. Germany.



(Translated from the Portuguese by Adda Abendroth from an article appearing in the Suplemento Agricola of O Estado de S. Paulo.)

A pineapple plant develops six successive kinds of leaves:

A. The leaves are short. Spread out flat, the corners of the base point in different directions. A little above the base the blade is slightly narrowed. Leaves of this kind have attained adulthood before the pup gets planted.

B. These leaves are lanceolate in shape and longer than kind A. Their base tips diverge. The blade is slightly narrowed just above the base and again a little further up. Leaf B is not fully developed as the pup gets planted. The area between the two constrictions will expand after planting.

C. These are the first typical pineapple leaves produced after planting. In a full grown plant this kind is the oldest. The blade is considerably longer than in the first two kinds. Points of base diverge slightly. There is only one constriction right above the base.

D. These are the youngest of the adult leaves and the most active ones in the plant. They may be longer or shorter than their predecessors. The points of the base are level or diverge only a little. Tissue from this kind of blade is used to find out about the plant's health and vigor with a view to giving it additional nutrients if needed.

E. The leaves are younger and shorter than the foregoing, but they are not the youngest in the lot. The ends at the base converge slightly.

F. These are the youngest leaves. The ends of the base almost meet. Kinds A and B are called "old leaves." The lower part of the blades, the sheaths, consist of soft, pale, and brittle tissue. It has no color because it lacks chlorophyll.

The face of the leaves is smooth; the underside has grooves or trenches. The stomata, i.e., the openings through which the plant breathes, are located in these trenches. On the edge of the groove grow the so-called scales, or hairs, that make up a sort of fine, felt-like, silvery covering, which to the naked eye looks like a coat. It can be scraped off easily.

The scales on the sheaths consist of live cells and can probably absorb water and nutrient solutions. The scales scattered on the outside of the blade are lifeless. Their function is mechanical. They protect the blade against too much light by reflecting the sun-rays away from the underlying tissue. At the same time the scales inhibit excess evaporation of moisture from the inner tissues engaged in photosynthesis. They play a vital part in the life of the plant.

In addition pineapple plants possess special cells to retain moisture. It is a characteristic trait of the family of the Bromeliaceae to which the pineapple belongs. They are located right under the skin, especially on the face of the leaf-blades. They come in a whitish layer of gelatinaceous tissue. The condition of this layer can be made out by the naked eye in a sectional cutting from a blade and will disclose how well the plant is provided with moisture.

An adult plant of the variety Cayenne has from 70 to 80 leaves. It takes a leaf an average of four months to grow from F to step D, that is, to full vigor. The leaves marked A and B dry up as growth of the pup progresses.



Fig. 1. Young bromeliad seedlings in nature attached to leaves of an adult bromeliad by seedhairs. First roots have not yet appeared.

Fig. 2. A Tillandsia exhibiting seedling establishment and subsequent growth from the underside of a small twig. The photograph was taken in southern Mexico in a semi-desert area during the summer of 1968

(All photos by author)

Epiphytic plants, unlike most terrestrial or soil-rooting species, necessarily possess numerous morphological and physiological adaptations equipping them to meet the unusually severe environmental stresses normally characteristic of epiphytic habitats. Specifically, epiphytic habitats are relatively inhospitable to plant life because available water and mineral nutrients are present at unusually low levels. Although often occurring in areas with high annual rainfall, many epiphytic environments are actually quite dry because of extreme exposure, high aeration and seasonal dry spells. The absence of mineral soil accounts in large part for the paucity of usual plant nutrient supplies. Furthermore, epiphytic habitats are considerably less accessible to successful seedling establishment than are many terrestrial habitats. The negative effect of gravity and the exposed and frequently smooth surfaces available for epiphytic seedling attachment account for this relative inaccessibility.

Briefly, one can classify adaptations common to successful epiphytic plants into four categories:

  1. adaptations related to the ability to obtain and retain water in a periodically dry environment.

  2. adaptations permitting uptake and retention of required minerals from a nutrient-deficient environment. (This often involves exploitation of normally unavailable nutrient sources.)

  3. adaptations designed to facilitate gaining and maintaining attachment to appropriate surfaces.

  4. adaptations insuring effective aerial seed dispersal.

Among these four categories the first two are undoubtedly the most complex and elaborate. Although less involved, the problem of gaining and maintaining attachment in the epiphytic environment is nevertheless crucial to successful epiphytic existence. The importance and even necessity of successful epiphytic attachment is unusually apparent in highly evolved epiphytes such as the so-called atmospheric bromeliads like Tillandsia recurvata. Atmospheric bromeliads can be designated obligate epiphytes because growth to reproductive maturity is impossible in any other than the most highly exposed, and adequately aerated epiphytic situations. Such plants have become so specialized for epiphytic existence that moisture levels normally associated with many soils cannot be tolerated for more than a short time and the atmospheric epiphyte in soil is soon suffocated and, or is, subjected to fatal fungus and bacterial attack.

The primary anchoring organ system in almost all higher plants including bromeliads is the root system. Even extreme epiphytes such as Tillandsia usneoides possess, and may depend on, roots to secure them to their substratum at some point during their life cycle. In the instance of T. usneoides, roots probably perform a holdfast function only during early seedling establishment. Bromeliad seedling attachment and the role played by roots in this process are then important aspects of bromeliad ecology.

Plant physiologists describe typical terrestrial plant roots as exhibiting positive geotropism. This simply means that normal, terrestrial plant roots oriented horizontal to the ground surface and therefore perpendicular to gravity will grow toward the center of gravity or into the ground. Growing stems, in contrast, if similarly oriented will usually exhibit a negative geotropism and grow upward into the air. The actual mechanisms involved in directional stem and root growth in response to gravity are complex, but are known to involve hormonal growth stimulation or inhibition of stem and root cells respectively. In typical roots naturally occurring plant hormone accumulations (indoleacetic acid in this case) in the lower part of a horizontal root supposedly directly or indirectly inhibit cell elongation in the accumulation area. In contrast, normal root cell elongation continues in the root's upper side and a root curvature occurs toward the lower side and into the ground. Conversely, in stems, similar gravity-induced indoleacetic acid concentrations enhance normal cell elongation rates and the stem grows upward. Detailed physiological mechanisms controlling directional root and stem growth are more complex than any short explanation would indicate, and important aspects remain unknown. Suffice it to say that terrestrial plant roots generally do exhibit positive geotropisms—a characteristic in keeping with physical requirements operating in terrestrial environments. In contrast, positive geotropism in roots would be detrimental in certain epiphytic situations.

While on a recent trip through Mexico and Central America the author had considerable opportunity to observe many bromeliads at close range in their natural habitats. Many observations made on this trip concerned the great number of Tillandsia and Vriesea species commonly establishing themselves as seedlings on the undersides of small twigs and limbs or on vertical surfaces of tree trunks. Many adult plants which appear to be growing upright on limbs, upon close examination reveal an upward, curved stem indicating origin and initial establishment on the underside of the twig or limb which supports them. Such growth upward is a normal stem negative, geotropic response. In a few Tillandsia species the adult plants, rather than curving upright from the underside of a twig, continue to grow straight down from their attachment points.

Factors responsible for successful seedling establishment in certain bromeliad species on twig and limb undersides may be ecologically related to a greater nutrient and water availability in the form of rainwater containing dissolved nutrients running along and off the underside of host plant twigs and limbs. Regardless of reasons for bromeliad seedling establishment on the underside of attachment points, growth to adulthood from such a position requires early seedling securement to this point by roots. Tillandsioideae seedlings, though usually initially attached to a twig underside by seed hairs, (See Figure 1) could not remain securely attached for long if root growth exhibited positive geotropism. With these thoughts in mind, the author carried out observations and experiments on Tillandsia root orientation and development in an attempt to detect any unusual root growth phenomena possibly representing adaptations for epiphytism.

Fig. 3. A fruiting Tillandsia exhibiting stem curvature effected by upward growth from the underside of a tree limb. This plant was collected at an altitude of about 6,000 feet just north of Oaxaca, Mexico, in July 1968.

Fig. 4. Five-month-old Tillandsia ionantha seedlings exhibiting described root growth.

Materials and Methods

Observations and photographs were made of numerous Mexican and Costa Rican bromeliads with special reference to root and stem orientation relative to attachment surface and gravity. In order to observe actual root growth and orientation in life, square, two-ounce, screw cap bottles were sterilized and filled with a sterile, complete growth medium solidified with agar. Each bottle was filled with ten milliliters of medium and the medium was permitted to solidify as a flat surface while the bottles were in an upright position. Tillandsia fasciculata and Tillandsia ionantha seeds collected from greenhouse plants were then surface sterilized in a 10 per cent Clorox solution and several were placed in each bottle on the nutrient medium. All cultures were maintained in a growth room under controlled temperature and photoperiod. Both species exhibited about ninety per cent germination within the first week. After two to three months first roots began to develop. At this point, about thirty culture bottles were placed on their sides so that the seedlings which tended to stick to the nutrient medium were perpendicular to ground level. Plants so positioned could produce roots free to grow in a positive or negative geotropic fashion unimpeded by the nutrient medium.

Seedlings were permitted to grow in this position for several months. Root growth during this period was considerable and often amounted to more than an inch. Geotropic behavior was observed at all stages. When root length had reached one half an inch or more in several T. fasciculata cultures, these cultures were treated with indoleacetic acid in an attempt to determine root responses to localized high levels of this geotropically important hormone. Indoleacetic acid was applied to roots in a lanolin paste containing approximately 1000 parts per million indoleacetic acid. Actual application involved the attachment of a short length of human hair dipped in the lanolin paste to each root about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch from the growing tip. In typical, terrestrial plant roots this treatment would elicit a growth curvature toward the side treated with hormone because of cell growth inhibition on the application side.

One-half of the bottles containing treated plants were turned on a side chosen to orient the treated root in such a way that the hormone-covered hair was on the upper side of the root. Other bottles were oriented so that the hormone application point was on the root's underside. All cultures were examined almost daily for the next four weeks and growth curvatures noted.

Observations and Results

Seedling establishment in nature on the underside of twig and limbs is illustrated by adult plant position and orientation in Figures 2 and 3. All three photographs were taken in southern Mexico during July, 1968. Note the typical negative geotropic stem curvature in Figure 3 developed as the plant grew around and up over the supporting twig. This curvature phenomenon is usually noted only in the original rosette because subsequent offshoots commonly develop from the middle or apical end of the upturned original stem and seedling establishment position is obscured as the original stem decays. The Tillandsia illustrated in Figure 2 exemplifies the situation in which the adult shoot remains directed downward during growth to adulthood. Plants so positioned can probably better utilize rainwater and nutrients dissolved in rainwater running down the supporting twig throughout their life span. It is significant to note that these Tillandsias do not possess the open, inflated leaf bases characteristic of water and debris impounding bromeliads.

Fig. 5. An immature Tillandsia with a root growing up into the expanded leaf base area. The root indicated is also growing in close contact with and clinging to the leaf base surface.

Figure 5 illustrates Tillandsia ionantha seedling root orientation in sterile culture. Roots are growing in an ageotropic to negatively geotropic, but definitely not positive geotropic manner. In all cases T. fasciculata roots treated with indoleacetic acid turned toward the hormone application side, indicating root cell elongation is inhibited by high hormone concentration here as in typical positive geotropic roots. Perhaps other mechanisms operate in T. fasciculata roots to account for the absence of positive geotropism in nature. Unfortunately, cultures containing hormone-treated seedlings were overgrown and killed after 20 to 30 days by a fungus which contaminated bottles at the time of hormone application and photographic recordings could not be made.

Mention should be made at this point that root growth in many plants exhibits curvature in addition to, or in place of, geotropic responses. Additionally, many epiphytes and climbing plants possess thigmotropic roots and other organs. Thigmotropism describes growth curvatures in response to tactile or touch stimulus. A well studied thigmotropic response occurs in grape vine tendrils. Young tendrils, shortly after contacting a foreign object during growth, begin to grow toward and become tightly coiled around that object. Here again indoleacetic acid is involved and contact with the foreign object induces by unknown mechanisms a relatively higher hormone concentration in the tendril area opposite the contact point. Hormone stimulated cell growth occurs in the accumulation area and the tendril curves toward the object. Grape tendrils are like stems in that high hormone concentrations increase cell growth rates.

Another growth phenomenon often cited as important to tank-forming bromeliads is hydrotropism. This is a response involving root growth along moisture gradients or toward a moisture source. Mechanisms operating in hydrotropism and thigmotropism are very poorly understood, but both growth tendencies are quite pronounced in some bromeliads as illustrated in Figure 5. Actually the upward root growth into the tank or leaf base area may be of no great nutritional significance, as foliar absorption from the leaf base area is probably considerable anyway. Thigmotropic growth responses in bromeliads, however, are very significant because epiphytic roots, as opposed to parasite roots, do not penetrate the host but usually effect attachment by simply growing in close contact to the attachment surface. In bromeliads this superficial attachment is enhanced by an orchid-like thick epidermal layer which expands into small irregularities on the host surface as the root grows along that surface.

Although this discussion does not claim any indisputable relationships between unusual root growth phenomena, plant position, and adaptations to epiphytic existence, it is hoped that such discussions will help persuade others to more closely examine often overlooked aspects of bromeliad biology. Ultimately, such observations will lead to a fuller understanding of biological subtleties existent within the Bromeliaceae. Observations must be made, carefully recorded and reported before analytical techniques appropriate for more detailed study of these phenomena can be designed.

—Oberlin College, Ohio.



All the articles I have read about potting broms commence "Take a terra-cotta or plastic pot." Then follow instructions on how to use tree-fern slabs. Having a yen to do something different, I gathered some discarded glass lamp shades and set about potting bromeliads in them. Now the experiment has paid off, and I am the proud owner of several species growing happily in a variety of containers.

One such is Cryptanthus meadii in a Venetian glass vase (with a drainage hole in the bottom, of course) doing as well as any in conventional pots. An aluminum kettle having sprung a leak and a container of the same material looking a bit dilapidated were also pressed into service. Aechmea gamosepala has never looked so elegant as the one growing out of the old kettle. Neoregelia marmorata growing in a china drinking mug makes a nice contrast.

As a result of these experiments, whenever I visit my friends' homes, they promptly close the kitchen door. All their utensils must deteriorate some time, so with a little patience, one day I may have quite a collection of weird and wonderful containers.

—Enfield, N. S. W., Australia.



It is difficult to trace many details in the history of bromeliads previous to the 19th century, but we do know that during the time of the explorations of Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Oviedo and Portuguese explorers, the first bromeliad, Ananas, (from the Brazilian Guarani Indian word "Anana") was taken back to Europe and then carried around the world. It took root and flourished in almost every tropical country such as India, Java, Sumatra, Philippines (wherever the old explorers went) including the little island of the Moluccas, Amboina, where Rumph became acquainted with the pineapple and described it in his great botanical work Herbarium Amboinense some fifty years before it was published in 1741.

Oviedo, however, preceded Rumph by over two hundred years with the illustration of the pineapple in his Historic General de las Indias published in 1535. This is said to be the first illustration of a pineapple, but Rumph remains the first botanist to describe it.

It has been stated that as early as 1549 the pineapple was in horticulture in India. Undoubtedly, the rapidly growing pineapple thrived in all tropical countries where it was taken from the old sailing vessels. In those days of year-long voyages, possibly no other tropical fruit could have been so easily transported; the span of life in a pineapple fruit, plus the months that the leafy top could survive long after the fruit was gone, would give it an advantage over about any fruit or plant.

J. G. Baker records that Lord Portland introduced the pineapple into England in 1690, but there is no record of fruit production until 1712 in the gardens of Sir Mathew Decker in Richmond.

It is possible that Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist and father of modern botanical nomenclature, was the first one to have any wide recognition of his bromeliad botanical publications as written in the Species Plantarum in the year 1753 twelve years after the work of Rumph. The two genera (fourteen species) which Linnaeus recognized, Bromelia and Tillandsia, were both given by him to honor Swedish botanists, but these genera have now been divided into several other genera, including Ananas which he had called Bromelia.

Significantly, Linnaeus' publication of his description of bromeliads was preceded some twenty years by the Mark Catsby colored plate of Viscum cariophylloides augustifolium in his magnificent work The Natural History of the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas (1730). The word Viscum prefixed Catesby's description of all plants which adhered to trees including orchids, bromeliads, ferns, mistletoe, etc. This great book with charming hand colored plates of birds, frogs, snakes and plants of the southeastern United States probably contains the first account of an epiphytic bromeliad, and that from Florida, which is now called Tillandsia fasciculata. In his quaint description of this "Viscum" Catesby mentions the similarity in plant form of this Tillandsia to that of the Ananas, pineapple, a very astute observation: quoting him, "from the root grow many concave leaves, folded in a manner like those of the Ananas."

The name Ananas thus was known and used years before Linnaeus disregarded it, and because man is first more interested in what feeds his stomach rather than his soul, it was many years before the decorative "stove" or house plants caught the fancy of the horticulturist.

We can only partially trace the fluctuating attention which bromeliads have received in horticultural circles during the past hundred years. The rise and decline of this interest makes a zig-zag graph.

Since the first botanists and collectors who became horticulturally interested in this family were Europeans, principally German, French, Swedish, Belgian, and English, bromeliads as living plants were introduced into their countries first. For the most part they became new and amazing additions to the principal botanical gardens such as Liege, Kew, Paris, St. Petersburg and Berlin and only gradually entered private collections.

And although concentrated effort at collecting them started early in the 19th century (Spix and Martius 1817-1820 expedition) they really did not have notable popularity until some fifty years later when André and Morren went wild over them. True, Glaziou, distinguished botanist and landscape artist, in the thirteen years he spent in Brazil from 1858, had a special penchant for Bromeliaceae and has the distinction of having found some sixty-five new species of his favorite family, but bromeliads were not in the ascendancy until the 1870's. During the early years of the 19th century, although bromeliads were around, there was a woeful lack of widespread interest in them.

If the number of entries in current magazines of that day is any barometer as to their popularity, we find the temperature very low. Gardners' Chronicle of England which started in 1841 contained a few brief notices of bromeliads in the first twenty-five to thirty years; we are thinking mainly of the decorative, epiphytic, easily cultivated bromeliads. Ananas or pineapple was frequently given attention, throughout many early years, proving that a satisfied palate has priority over decorative beauty. Then a rise in the decorative bromeliad barometer took place as indicated by the notices in the Gardners' Chronicle of the years, roughly between 1870 and 1900. Much enthusiasm gained momentum in England during these years, indicated also in The Garden and Paxton's Botanical Magazine, culminated perhaps by Baker's Handbook of the Bromeliaceae published in 1889. To this day this small volume remains the only text of its kind in English.

Even in the later part of the 19th century when there was a decided rise in attention to bromeliads, especially on the Continent, these laments are recorded in The Garden of December 17, 1892, when speaking of Tillandsia lindenii. "It is difficult to understand the unpopularity of bromeliaceous plants in this country (England) when one sees this Tillandsia…” etc.

On February 18, 1888 this appeared as an editorial:

It has long been a source of regret to me that the taste for these plants has so much declined of late years amongst lovers of plants in England. And this is all the more impressed upon my mind whenever I visit any Continental garden, especially those in Belgium where large collections of these plants are to be found and where they are much prized. I am glad to record, however, that here in this country I find places where their cultivation is being taken up. W. H. G."

Evidently editor W. H. G. was quite taken with the unique beauty of bromeliads and couldn't tolerate the indifference of the majority of plant fanciers. Yet Tillandsia lindenii in the year 1870 had been given a first class certificate by the Royal Horticultural Society.

From The Garden again, for March 24, 1888, when speaking of Vriesea brachystachys one of the editors said, "Pretty though many of its class are by no means popular, and it is quite the exception to find them represented in gardens. In the case of some, the leaves alone entitle them to a high place among ornamental foliage plants. Though so neglected in this country, many of the bromeliads are very popular on the Continent."

Here and there bromeliad seed or plant importation notices in the various horticultural journals give the historical touch that make plant lovers across the years reach out and shake hands.

A Mr. Rogers says, "I received this plant from Mr. Parkinson of Mexico in 1838 . . . Tillandsia rubida imported from Brazil by Messrs. Loddiges . . . introduced to the Gardens of Plants at Paris by M. Eugene Melinon who got it in Cayenne (French Guiana) . . . indebted to C. B. Warner, native of Rio, for Vriesea psittacina . . . imported from Rio in 1841 by Lt. C. Smith, presented to Sir Charles Lemon, the Pitcairnia micrantha."

In Edinburgh someone acquired seeds from Trinidad of Billbergia nudicaulis (now in the genus Aechmea) but promptly mistreated it by suspending it on wires where in spite of its mistreatment it did thrive for sometime. This is one of the few aechmeas that could have stood an unsuitable substitute for a tree trunk.

The Botanical Cabinet and the Botanical Register (Lindley, editor), the Gardens and Forest and the Journal of Horticulture and the Botanical Magazine (Sir W. Hooker, editor) all gave the bromeliad space now and then, but the bromeliad "temperature" in England was not high.

The warmest enthusiasm which predominated in the later 19th century was in France and Belgium where bromeliads were championed long and loudly by André and Morren. For twenty years each of these men concentrated every effort and enthusiasm toward the bromeliads. Morren published descriptions constantly in La Belgique Horticole and he contributed 250 of his own water-color drawings in this family mainly between 1865 and 1885. These magnificent plants now repose at Kew Gardens in London. In the preface to Baker's Handbook he says that at that time "Prof. Edouard Morren of Liege was universally and deservedly regarded for the twenty years previous to his death, in 1885, as the highest authority on the plants of this order."

Edouard André, like Glaziou, was a landscape architect, and he became so infatuated with the family that he made the difficult and tedious exploration of Colombia (then known as New Granada), South America, where he collected mainly bromeliads. When we consider the long ocean journey, the poor equipment and the hazards of much wilder country than now exists, we bow with respect to what André accomplished in gathering his more than eighty new species of bromeliads. And his monumental work in his Bromeliaceae Andreanae along with the description of the trip in his Le Tour de Monde cannot be underestimated in the advancing enlightenment of bromeliads.

During the late years of the 19th century other notable collectors such as Kalbrayer, Zahn, Wallis, Bruchmueller, Roezl, Werkelé, Blanchet, Ule, Wawra, St. Hilaire, Broadway and Weberbaur, all contributed their share to this amazing Pineapple Family; the collectors were automatically mentioned in the current horticultural publications and thereby linked with the editors who championed bromeliads such as Gressen (Le Jardin) Duval and André of France, Linden and Morren of Belgium, Sir W. Hooker of England, Regel of St. Petersburg and Wittmack of Germany.

The nurseryman such as Bull and Veitch in England, Jacob-Makoy in Belgium, Binot, Chantrier and Duval in France, Booth and Verschaffelt in Germany, play an equally important role in putting bromeliads "on the map." Libon and Saunders are not to be forgotten among those who by their tender care brought many a sad looking collected plant into recovery and fruition, or nursed frail seeds through babyhood to maturity.

Many collectors sent home live bromeliads, always some few of which survived. Epiphytic bromeliads did not hold up too well on the long journeys out of the jungle tightly packed, either too wet or too dry during the long journey by mule and then by boat. Terrestrial, hardier, dry land types came through with greater percentage.

With the advent of the 20th century and rumblings of war on the horizon in Europe, during the first twenty years of the century it is difficult to trace the progress of bromeliads and their boosters. Indications in the Revue Horticole show that interest in France early in the century took on a low "temperature," possibly due to the passing of André. In England, the Kew Gardens 1915 Handlist had approximately 260 species and hybrids in thirty-one genera, a very notable collection. We have been anxious to obtain data on the extent of the collections in Berlin, Liege, St. Petersburg and Paris during these years, but have not been able to track down just what they had. Attention to bromeliads in the early 20th century in Europe was most scientific as indicated by the outstanding treatment of bromeliads as a whole by Harms and by the stupendous work of Mez's monograph. (Plant Life, Vol. I, Nos. 2 and 3, July and October 1945)



The genus Bromelia gave its name to the whole plant family called Bromeliaceae. Although it is not commonly cultivated outside of its homeland, it is one of the plants that the pedestrian in the drier parts of the American tropics will almost surely meet and remember, because balansae and its close relatives are commonly used as impenetrable hedge plants, and in many areas they form large patches and thickets that can be crossed only painfully and with the help of a machete because of their long heavily armed leaves.

Lyman Smith lists seven species of Bromelia in North America ranging from Central Mexico to Panama and over twenty-five in South America, of which nineteen are in Brazil. The four closely related species most important in Brazil are B. balansae ranging from the vicinity of Brazilia to Paraguay and Argentina, B. antiacantha along the coast of southwest Brazil, B. lacinosa in northern Brazil, and B. interior from south central Brazil. In Mexico, Central America, and the northern part of South America, B. pinguin is a similar species having the widest range.

All of the species listed above have the following characteristics:

1. They are terrestrials with dense rosettes of shiny stiff leaves armed with heavy curved spines. These spines have the miserable habit of curving in both directions, so there is no "right" way to brush past a leaf. The rosettes are from three to ten feet across and the plants are two to six feet tall. They spread and form dense masses by means of stout underground stolons. In nature, they are not particular as to the type of soil.

2. The inflorescence is more or less cylindrical and from one to three feet tall rising from the center of the rosette which turns a brilliant scarlet for several months during the blooming season. The color fades as the fruits are formed. In most species the bracts at the base of the flowers are covered with a dense white lepidote (woolly) coating contrasting in the startling manner with the scarlet rosette.

3. The fruit consists of succulent berries from three quarters to one-and-one-half inches in diameter, on short branching stems which form a decorative orange-yellow cylindrical mass, one to two feet long and weighing perhaps five pounds. The fruit is edible and has a strong but pleasant aromatic odor. There is a large percentage of hard seeds.

Bromelia balansae brings to mind a hot day in the winter dry season at a damsite about 400 miles northwest of Sao Paulo. The black basalt walls of the valley threw out heat like a furnace, and the thin cut-over forest furnished little shade at that time of the year. The river water was highly polluted and was not attractive after being sterilized with halazone tablets. Walking over the site was made miserable by thorny vines and masses of B. balansae a hundred feet or more across, which grew wherever there were patches of brick-red soil. Most of the fruit was gone, taken by birds or armadillos which made their burrows in such places, but occasionally I found a late developing spike which furnished me with a pocketful of fruit. They had sticky mucilaginous pulp with a sweet-acid flavor that was pleasant and thirst quenching. I noted, however, that my local Brazilian companions were more interested in getting one of the armadillos for food than in getting the fruit. We saw several of these little armored tanks ducking into their burrows.

The fruit was at one time much used by the Indians either raw or, more preferably, cooked but has now gone quite out of style except for a few country people who make a kind of conserve out of it. A syrup made from it has been used for cough medicine.

The Guarani Indians called the plant "caraguata" which gave rise to the name of a town northeast of Sao Paulo, called Caraguatatuba, or "town where the caraguata grows."

The spikes of fruit are frequently offered for sale in street markets and are sometimes used for decorations forming at least food for the soul if not for the body.

B. balansae and its companions are highly decorative when in flower but are too large to grow in the ordinary glass house. In the more frost-free areas of southern California they can be grown outdoors in full sun, but don't make the mistake of planting them too close to a path or you will surely have trouble with the thorns ripping clothes and flesh. Except for B. antiacantha the group likes a definite dry rest period. The soil should not be unusually high in organic matter.

—Palos Verdes Estates, California.



(Translated by Adda Abendroth, Teresopolis, Brazil.)


Bromeliads have not been much afflicted by disease so far, and only few pests affect them as compared with other ornamentals. It is on purpose that I say "so far," because experience has shown that cultivated plants become subject to pests and disease only after they have multiplied considerably and are being raised in great quantities. With bromeliads this is a recent situation, only a few years old.

In a measure, therefore, they are still free from cultivation ailments that are a real menace to other plants. By cultivation ailments I mean diseases that appear in plants which are raised in very large numbers and have a comparatively short development period. In the process, the biologic balance—the interaction of plants and surroundings—gets undermined to such an extent that an attack of pests or disease can hardly be avoided. The consequences of disturbing the biologic balance often takes a new and harmful shape of spontaneous alteration in the plants. It should he every gardener's prime purpose to establish the best biologic balance and keep it functioning all the time. The entire content of my book is based on this principle. It presupposes knowledge and understanding of the plants' intrinsic qualities as well as correct evaluation of the conditions under which they live in their homeland, and cultivation must be gauged to correspond. If the rules are followed, it should not be too difficult to build up the required biologic balance in the new location.

The gardener can, of course, intervene and give the course a different direction if that suits his commercial ambitions. If he wants to, he can accelerate development. The means is usually to give higher temperature and additional fertilizer. Both help the plants to grow faster. As long as the application is kept within limits no harm will ensue, but if it is overdone the plants are apt to get too soft. Pampered plants are easy prey to disease because their resistance is not up to standard. At this stage I take for granted that I do not have to recount all the particulars that make for better and stronger plants. All the practical measures discussed in earlier chapters point to this aim.


A common enemy of vegetable origin is the so-called "multiplication-fungus" (Vermehrungspilz) often found on germinating seed and on young plants in their first steps of development. The culprits are various fungi that lead a saprophytic life in the soil and spread rapidly if conditions are favorable. A preventive measure is disinfection of seeds, or the substrate, and of the dishes before planting. Seeds should not be spread too densely, spraying and watering done carefully, and plants should be allowed to dry before night falls. Good light and correct temperature are necessary. Direct action on the pest is precarious. A disinfectant (Chinosol or others) may be used in watering; spraying should be stopped, and moisture reduced to the minimum required.

Of late, some time around 1955, a very serious disease invaded Aechmea fasciata. It was named "Aechmea-wilt." In Belgium it became so bad many nurseries were unable to keep up their stock. The malady was carried into Germany, where it is still spreading. The culprit is a fungus of the Fusarium group. Related species cause similar wilt-damage in cyclamen, carnations, gladioli, and other ornamentals.

The disturbance starts with a hardened grayish-brown spot on the base of one of the fully developed outer leaves. It grows into a brown fungus, which spreads rapidly all over the leaf. The leaf soon droops. Gradually it dries and falls off the rosette. Subsequently the inner leaves are also attacked, and in the end the whole plant collapses and breaks off close to the ground. High air humidity and temperatures above 25 C accelerate the process considerably. They are ideal conditions for the fungus to prosper. In winter the wilt progresses more slowly. For months the first symptoms stay limited to the base of the leaves and are easily overlooked. The fungus grows towards the center of the plant and destroys all the leaves until the plant suddenly tips over without any apparent reason.

The fungus lives in the soil as a saprophyte. Thanks to its very resistant long-term spores it can lie dormant for years if conditions are adverse. It bursts into life abruptly as soon as conditions improve. It was proved beyond doubt that attack comes from the soil. Prevention is therefore limited to sterilization of seed and plant containers and especially of the soil. Direct treatment of attacked plants is as yet not possible on account of the bromeliad's peculiar build. Unattacked plants should be strengthened to improve their resistance. Temperature and air humidity should be kept down to normal. Proper aeration must be provided especially on hot summer days. If Aechmea cultivation is continued after an attack has set in, thorough disinfection of the houses is necessary, an important item along the line of scrupulous attention to plant hygiene. It is the only way to eradicate the disease.


The most frequent animal pest is scale. Scale can be spotted by the flat or rounded shield which covers the animal's small body. A relative, the "wool-louse, " has very fine waxy hairs in place of a shield. Scale-lice are site bound, whereas wool-lice move about.

The damage inflicted on the plants is through sucking. The first signs are ugly spots on both faces of the leaf caused by the sucking act. A severe attack will weaken the plant so much that it will pine away and eventually die. Certain species of scale exude a noticeable amount of honey-dew. It attracts the kind of fungus that causes the so-called "black mildew." It spoils the appearance of the plant and reduces its value.

Certain species of lice specialize on bromeliads. One of these is Gymnaspis aechmeae, with a very flat pale shield, and the pineapple scale, Diaspis bromeliae, an addict of pineapple plants. So Aechmeas, like A. tillandsioides and others that have a shiny leaf surface, are often infected by Coccus hesperidum, the "soft brown scale." A heavy attack of it spoils the appearance of the plants. A further species of scale, Diaspis boisduvali, seeks out bromeliads with smooth leaves, Vriesea, Guzmania, Tillandsia, but is also known to threaten Quesnelia marmorata and certain Billbergias. On Aechmea fulgens especially I found a coma-scale of the genus Lepidosaphes that has an asymmetric, longish shield. It is apt to settle in such quantities on the leaves that they stop functioning and die. Most resistant and hard to extinguish is the very small "dot scale," which has an extra hard shield. Lice of the species Pseudococcus settle exclusively on smooth-leafed bromeliads, such as Vriesea, Guzmania, Tillandsia. Ants sometimes take young lice up into Vriesea spikes; they develop well in the sugary juice that often fills the bracts. If they multiply fast, too many of them will detract from the plant's good looks and also interfere with seed setting. They kill the spikes.

To combat any of the pests listed is quite a problem when it comes to bromeliads. Many of the available preparations cannot be used on these plants, especially if they contain mineral oil. A thin film of oil will keep the scale from breathing and kill it, but it will also injure the plant. In spraying it cannot be avoided that some of the liquid gathers in the funnel and stays there long enough to inflict damage.

Some of the newest sprays are said to be safe for plants but deadly for beasts. I have not tried them as yet. But I recommend caution, in any case a preliminary trial. The result of the trial can be evaluated only 4 to 10 weeks after application. If leaves that were sprouting at the time of spraying are by then in good condition, free from blemish, it may be assumed that the drug is safe, and total spraying may then be resorted to. I have not tried systemic pesticides, nor do I know of any published report about their application. It would be worth while to try them out.

It is interesting to note that collectors who gather bromeliads in the wilds unanimously state that they seldom find any scale infestation. The presence of the pests on plants in cultivation indicates a typical cultivation ailment. Corners and nooks sheltering warm air escaping the spray are the places where scale first appears. The wool-louse follows a little later. The latter will also settle between close-set leaves where the spray does not reach. Neglected lots can become so infested that rescue is hopeless. Mechanical clearance by scraping or scrubbing is dubious. It is impractical on bromeliads covered with breathing scales. The wool-louse can be washed off easily.

It is entirely possible to preserve developing plants and keep them free of scale of any kind until bloom. As long as the pests are not brought in from outside, contamination is guarded against. Ability to resist infestation can be achieved by correct cultivation. Correct cultivation consists foremost of maintaining normal temperature. sufficiently high air humidity, but no permanent super-humidity, for the species that can take it, and more or less aeration suitable to the season.

Other animal pests are snails, mostly small slugs. They are a real menace to young plants. Soft-leaved Aechmea, Billbergia, Neoregelia, and Nidularium seedlings are choice victims. To get rid of snails it is best to lay out poisoned bait or to pick the animals off by hand. Larger slugs may threaten Vrieseas planted for seed. The slugs go after the blossoms and show special preference for stigmas and anthers, which they consume over night. Although they eat only species and hybrids whose flowers become viable the day after eclosion, repeated attacks may cause loss. Generally this kind of slug spends the day in the water held in a leaf axil where it can be readily spotted and eliminated.

Assemblies of bromeliad seedlings sometimes attract "mourning mosquitoes" which mean danger to plantlets in the first stages of life. Generations of the insect come forth in rapid succession. Only repeating spraying—3 times within 10 days—with a poison that upsets their breathing mechanism will be effective. One single spraying will kill only the recently hatched adults but not the larvae that live in the soil. For this reason spraying must be repeated. Like the "mourning mosquito" the glass house locust Tachycines asynamorus, sometimes called simply "hopper" or "jumper," may harm or even destroy germinating seed or very young plantlets. Also this pest is active at night only. During the day they often gather beneath tables in the house or in corners and nooks. Spraying or dusting the hiding places with a stronger Ester-or Hexa-preparation is an effective means of getting rid of them. They like ripe fruit. Pealings put in a pail and left in the house overnight is a sure bait for them.

Compared with other ornamentals bromeliads have as yet few enemies and sicknesses. Let us hope that this condition will continue as cultivation increases.—(P. 178-P. 181)



Our climate in the town is a hard one—growers of garden shrubs such as Ixora, frangipani and hibiscus get away with it quite well even through the dry season, but we few, who choose to grow pot plants and bromeliads, have a harder row to hoe. Because one must lavish special care and time on the plants and there are so few of us, a little communion with southern growers is what I particularly need.

There are so many bromeliads I am longing to get my hands on. Bromeliads are grown in Lae Botanical Gardens and I have given away a number in Rabaul. The local people with one exception are growing them as I advise. The exception is a very good gardener who does not hesitate to experiment with pumice mixtures, and of the two of us, he was the first to get good colour in his bromeliads. I was too afraid of our strong tropical sun and am amazed at what the bromeliads will accept without burning.

We find that in our humid conditions plants of all kinds need less water than one would give them elsewhere; we take advantage of the "dry" to let bromeliads dry out, leaving always a little water in the cups and leaving watering to passing showers. Vrieseas especially seem to appreciate this drying out and certainly keep up their flowering programs. Nevertheless, this year leaves in Neoregelias, some Vrieseas and even hardy Aechmea lueddemanniana have died back in the center. In some cases the plant has ceased growing and thrown out pups, but the Aechmeas and Neoregelias have recovered and put out new center growth. The same damage can be done in the "wet" by too much water, and I've always associated dying back with rotting from too wet conditions.

My biggest advance came when I learned that my plants would accept more sun than I was giving them. Until I started giving away pups I was the only grower here and because my plants grew and did not necessarily die I assumed I was doing well with them. Imagine then my astonishment to see some of Ae. lueddemanniana pups grown by a friend a magnificent rose colour just as the textbooks describe. Ae. orlandiana in almost full sun becomes almost entirely purple. Now I experiment a great deal and have most of the hardy varieties under 70% sarlon with Cryptanthus growing under benches and showing a lovely colour.

I am no longer as sanguine as I once was about bromeliads. Although I have lost plants, I now know more or less why I lost them but I still have a lot to learn. I think this is the aspect of bromeliad growing that will prove the most satisfying, being a continual challenge.

—Rabaul, New Guinea.


in barred Cryptanthus the scales are on the gray-band area whereas none is found on the bare and that if a drop of moisture is placed on the dividing line between the two, it will be absorbed by the gray area like a blotter,

there are over 250 species of Pitcairnia, but only a handful are cultivated,

the leaves of some Tillandsias are arranged in rosettes, other in spirals, and still others in a double vertical row up the stem.



E. W. Ensign

Aechmea orlandiana var. Ensign is one of the more strikingly beautiful bromeliads to enter horticulture in recent times. The variegated longitudinal banding on the margin of the leaves is a clean white with pink mottling when grown in good light.

This Aechmea had its origin in the greenhouse of E. W. Ensign of Orlando, Florida. A single variegated plant and three albino plants were first observed in a flat of Aechmea orlandiana seedlings in May, 1960. The albino plants subsequently perished. Growth of the variegated plant was slow and the first flowering was in 1966.

This new addition to horticulture will remain rare for some time, as propagations are not possible from seed—only from offsets. It is not as generous in offsetting as its nonvariegated counterpart. Culture is essentially the same as for Aechmea orlandiana, requiring very good light but protection from intense midday sun.

To the writer's knowledge, this is the only known variegated sport of Aechmea orlandiana.

—Tampa, Florida.

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