BSI Journal - Online Archive


Victoria Padilla, Editor
Editorial Office—647 South Saltair Avenue
Los Angeles, Calif. 90049

The Journal is the official publication of the Bromeliad Society, a non-profit corporation organized in 1950. Subscription is included in the membership dues. There are six classes of membership: Annual, $7.50; Sustaining, $12.50; Fellowship, $20.00; Commercial, $25.00 and Life, $150.00. For membership information, write to Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliffe Drive, Los Angeles, California 90026.



President—Charles A. Wiley, 4036 Via Solano, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. 90274
First Vice-President—Jack M. Roth, 6987 Los Tilos Rd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90028
Second Vice-President—Fritz Kubisch, P. O. Box 389, Culver City, Calif. 90230
Secretary—Lottie Cave, 7453 Denny Ave., Sun Valley, Calif. 91352
Membership Secretary—Jeanne Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliffe Dr., Los Angeles, Calif. 90026
Treasurer—Laurel Woodley, 1250 N. Bundy Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90049


David Barry, Jr. 11977 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90049Awards
David H. Benzing, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio 44074Research
Edward McWilliams, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48105Research
Eric R. Knoblock, Box 121, Braithwaite, La. 70040Program Aids
John Riley, 3370 Princeton Court, Santa Clara, Calif. 95051Education
George Kalmbacher, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, N. Y. 11225Study Course
Ervin Wurthmann, 5602 Theresa Rd., Tampa, Florida 33615Cultural Aids
Ralph Davis, 15500 E. 9th Ave., North Miami Beach, Fla. 33162Cultural Aids
Patrick Mitchell, 8211 Helmers St., Houston, Texas 77022Affiliated Societies
Ralph Spencer, 2620 Via Rivera, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. 90274Slide Library
Wilbur Wood, 1621 Irving Ave., Glendale, Calif. 91201Hybrid Registration
Kelsey Williams, 7430 Crescent Ave., Buena Park, Calif. 90620Promotion
Elmer Lorenz, 5110 Monte Bonito Dr., Los Angeles, Calif. 90041Display Notes
William Paylen, 1008 Gretna Green Way, Los Angeles, Calif. 90049Advertising
George Milstein, 33-55 14th St., Long Island City, N. Y. 11106Programing
William Dunbar, 11444 Ayrshire Rd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90049Legal Adviser

Adda Abendroth, Brazil
Luis Ariza-Julia, Dominican Republic
Olwen Ferris, Australia
Mulford B. Foster, U.S.A.
Marcel Lecoufle, France
Harold Martin, New Zealand
Richard Oeser, Germany
Prof. D. W. Rauh, Germany
Raulino Reitz, Brasil
Walter Richter, Germany
Dr. L. B. Smith, U.S.A.
Robert G. Wilson, Costa Rica
Julian Marnier-Lapostolle, France

TILLANDSIA PRUINOSA, epiphytic from Florida to Brazil in forests and on shrubs, from sea level to the high Andes. Photo by Dr. W. Rauh.



Fig. 1 Cerro Guazu, Paraguay

On his trip to Paraguay in 1966 to study the cactus vegetation Gerd Esser, a student of Prof. Dr. Rauh, visited also the Cerro Guazu, an isolated mountain (Fig. 1) in the Department of Amambay, at a distance of about 30 miles from the Brazilian border. Esser reached this Cerro by horse after a two-week trip from Lima (Department of San Pedro), and he is of the opinion that no botanist had visited this Cerro up to this time. It is situated in the midst of an evergreen tropical rain forest and bears on its steep rocks a remarkable vegetation of Cacti, such as a new, undescribed Pilosocereus (Esser 14945), a Monvillea, some xerophytic bromeliads, as Dyckia spec. (Fig. 2), Tillandsia lorentziana, and the new T. esseriana, an interesting species with blue-violet flowers. This plant has flowered several times in the collection of the Botanical Garden of the University of Heidelberg, and the authors have dedicated it to its discoverer, Dr. G. Esser.

Fig. 2 Cerro Guazu, showing typical vegetation

Fig. 3 Tillandsia esseriana Rauh et L. B. Smith

T. esseriana is mostly a stemless or short-stemmed plant, forming clusters and clumps. The numerous very hard, reddish-green or reddish-violet leaves form a dense rosette; the younger ones are erect, the elder, up to 50 cm long, are recurved at their tips. Their sheaths are not very distinct, about 5 cm long, more or less 3 cm broad, on the upper side white at the base, brown upwards and leatherbrown below; the narrow-lanceolate, about 1 cm broad leaf blades are tapering into a pungent tip, silver gray lepidote and underneath prominently nerved. The inflorescences, simple or few branched (1-2 spikes), are up to 35 cm long and shorter than the leaves (Fig. 3). The bracts of the 15 cm long scape are imbricate; the basal ones have a short blade, the upper are scale-like, green and scarcely lepidote. The flower bracts of the 10-17 cm long spikes are densely imbricate, 4,5 cm long, 1,5 cm broad, green, short tipped, scarcely lepidote, rounded on the back and slightly keeled only near the tip.

The flowers are big; they are about 5 cm long and 4,5 cm in diameter; the bright violet plates of the petals are spreading, broad-oval and slightly undulated at their margins, 2- 2,5 cm long, 1,8 cm broad. The stamens are deeply included in the tube; the sepals are connate up to a length of 2 cm, green at the base, white at their tips; the style is 1,5 cm long and shorter than the stamens.

T. esseriana is a striking plant when flowering, for the flowers are as big as those of T. lindenii. It is easy to cultivate, needing only a little water and full sunshine.

The type locality is steep rocks of the Cerro Guaza in the Department of Amambay of northeastern Paraguay. The collection-number of the holotype is ES 14853 (1966). The Latin diagnosis is published in Phytologia, Vol. XX, p. 162.

—Heidelberg and Washington, D.C.

Those who decry the fact that there is not enough literature on bromeliads should give consideration to those issues of Phytologia in which Dr. Lyman B. Smith, Senior Botanist at the Smithsonian Institution, publishes his latest findings on the various genera.

Particularly valuable even to those not academically minded is Volume XX, No. 3, for June 1970. In this issue Dr. Smith presents a revised key to Tillandsia, the purpose of which is to record all the changes that have taken place in the genus since Mez's monograph of 1935. He also lists the species, 329 in all, plus the many varietal forms. This is followed by a listing of synonyms and excluded names. Many Tillandsias have undergone changes in nomenclature—a fact which has created some confusion among growers. To cite a few examples

T. compressa is now T. fasciculata var. venosispica

T. deppeana var. costaricensis — T. oerstediana

T. funckiana — T. andreana

T. incurva — Vriesea incurva

T. pulchella — T. tenuifolia var. tenuifolia

T. simulata — T. bartramii

T. tritacea — T. spiculosa var. ustulata

T. unca — T. argentina

Also described are several new species: Aechmea mollis, Dyckia limae, D. pernambucana, Encholirium erectiflorum, Portea pickellii, Vriesea limae, and V. tuerckheimii.

(Copies of Photologia may be obtained by sending one dollar to Harold N. Moldenke, 303 Parkside Road, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060.)



"But where are all the orchids?"

After answering this question for the three-hundredth time with "Up there in the treetops, but you have to be a hummingbird to see them," we finally decided to improve on nature. Since we obviously couldn't change tourists into hummingbirds, the next best thing was to bring the orchids and bromeliads down to people-level. And this we have been doing for the past year, until now our jungle lodge at Yanamono, fifty miles down the Amazon from Iquitos, Peru, is becoming a showplace of exotic plants. In a short time our collection has grown to include hundreds of plants of many different species, including some of the most spectacular flowers in the world. Some are in the tall trees around the lodge, many hang from the houseposts of the lounge and from the rafters of the dining pavilion, others are planted in the large clearing that surrounds the five lodge buildings, and a big part of the collection is housed in the new "orchidarium" behind the lodge.

Our plant collection doesn't include only orchids but every kind of jungle plant that the staff can find that visitors may not otherwise see in their short stay on the Amazon. There are waxy gingers, feathery ferns, flaming heliconias, brilliant bromeliads, and many kinds of flowering vines and shrubs. There is always something in bloom around the lodge. This month's visitor probably won't see the same flowers as next month's, although in the case of many bromeliads the brilliant inflorescence lasts in color for many months.

As you walk through the sandy Amazon jungle, you see only a few flowers, contrary to the common belief that the jungle is teeming with flowers everywhere you look, a misconception brought on by too glamorous movies and overly-enthusiastic novels. Here and there, in an occasional sunlit clearing where a giant tree has fallen, there are a number of bromeliads and orchids that still cling to the tree. One of the most handsome plants of the jungle floor is the Heliconia, relative of the banana, with curiously shaped bracts in bright reds and oranges that gleam sharply against the dark background. The graceful vine of the passion flower may here be covered with red or purple flowers with the strange spikelike stamen that recalls the Crucifixion; there a Hosta raises its stem of white lilylike flowers above a rosette of glossy dark leaves.

However, you have to raise your eyes to the high jungle canopy to see the tree trunks almost completely covered with epiphytic plants in breath-taking quantity and array. On one single tree you'll see hundreds of plants side by side—different species ferns, various orchids, and always the ubiquitous bromeliad, which more than any other plant could be named the flower emblem of the Amazon. One bromeliad, Aechmea chantinii with its striped foliage and blazing red bloomspike is so common that you see it everywhere even in the city of Iquitos—in homes, stores, garden plots, vacant lots, and even in the modern Amazon Bank.

The Lodge and its bromeliads

Bromeliads are especially adapted plants of a large family of which the pineapple is probably the best known member. With few exceptions they live high in trees, held firmly to the branches by roots that act as anchors rather than feeders; they are not parasitic. Their long leaves are arranged to form a deep cup that catches all the rain and condensed moisture to be used slowly as the plant needs it. Collecting bromeliads can sometimes take an unpleasant turn when a sudden jerk turns the plant upside down and sends a cascade of disagreeable-smelling water on the collector's head. But the beauty of the bromeliads' blooms makes even an occasional shower worthwhile.

One of the most striking members of this exotic family in our collection is a giant Billbergia with a pendent bloom over a foot long, enclosed in shocking-pink bracts and with spike-like purple flowers hanging below. As if the flower itself isn't enough of a treat, the manner of its opening is as marvelous as its appearance: what in the early morning appears as a cigar-shaped pink bud opens with a sudden burst and within hours the entire flowerhead is revealed. You can sit and watch the different parts separate and roll back into tight spirals and see the purple stamens separate in little jumps—like watching a slow-motion film. Once open, the flowerhead keeps its beauty for about ten days. Lucky are the tourists who arrive for this "blessed event."

To balance the exotic with the practical, we also have a "kitchen garden" to supply all kinds of foods and other useful plants cultivated by inhabitants of the Amazon for their daily use—yuca, papayas, cocona, pineapple, echiote, and many others. Visitors to the lodge often pick their own cocona fruit to have a delicious, refreshing drink prepared, or help dig up the tuberous roots of the yuca for dinner. Yuca (Manihot sp.) is also used by natives of the Amazon to make their strong, fermented beverage called masato. Many of our guests have gone through the entire process of digging—peeling—soaking—and chewing the yuca "just to know what it's like."

Plant collecting trips are made once or twice a month by staff members who spend from one to four days traveling in our thatch-covered colectivo, a typical river boat used ordinarily to carry cargo between Iquitos and Yanamon. It's a wide, deep and comfortable boat that travels along at a slow but steady pace with its 10/12 motor; hammocks are slung from the roof and there's plenty of room to walk around or stretch out on the seats that run the length on both sides. Three or four people usually make the trip.

Trips may take the crew up Quebrade Yanamono, the stream that runs in front of the lodge, to the big Yanamono Island that lies just across the Amazon, far up the famous Napo River (the home of many sought-after bromeliads) which empties into the Amazon about twelve miles below Yanamono, or to any of the many smaller tributaries that enter the big river from both sides. If it's just a one-day trip they leave Yanamono at first light and return in time for a late supper. For longer trips, they carry their own food and hammocks with mosquito nets, cooking along the way and sleeping very comfortably on the colectivo when they find themselves far from any human habitation at nightfall, or sharing their food with some family along the river if they are lucky enough to reach a house by evening. Whether from a day's trip or one of several days, the big colectivo returns to the lodge at Yanamono loaded with orchids, bromeliads, and other interesting plants. The vast greenhouse that is the Amazon basin, with constant warmth, water in abundance and high humidity provides our special collection with optimum condition for beautiful growth and the jungle around us offers the best of conditions for the plant collector to see and enjoy not only the marvelous world of plants but an incredible variety of birds and other forms of wildlife.

—Iquitos, Peru.



Almost all articles on bromeliads in cultivation have dealt with plants being grown either in the outdoors or in the greenhouse. This, the first, of a series of articles on growing bromeliads indoors will hopefully serve to fill the void which has existed until now. In many cases, the plants, like those belonging to the writer, never get a chance to get outdoors or be touched by real sunshine. My deepest thanks go to those whose many articles on the subject have taught me much: Dr. Lyman B. Smith, Mulford B. Foster, Alfred B. Graf, Padre Reitz, Walter Richter, Adda Abendroth, David Benzing, and Amy Jean Gilmartin. Also, I am appreciative of the help given me by Frank Turek of Julius Roehrs, Inc., who has taught me much.

What is a bromeliad? The best answer to this question was written for the author by Dr. Lyman B. Smith, and I thankfully quote: "Let us play the old guessing game of 'Twenty Questions', only we shall not need that many questions to locate the Bromeliaceae. First, it is a plant, a member of the vegetable kingdom. Second, it is a seed plant and not one reproducing by spores. Third, it is an Angiosperm, or plant with seeds enclosed in an ovary, and not a conifer. Fourth, it is a Monocotyledon with one leaf on a sprout, like corn, instead of a pair like the bean. With this goes a character that is much easier to see, namely leaves with parallel veins like those of grass. Fifth, it has showy flowers with real petals, and not a lot of dry scales, like grass. Sixth, its petals are all alike as in a lily, but there are only three of them, while there appear to be six in a lily.

"Finally, flowers are scarcely necessary (for identification), for if you see parallel-veined leaves with scales on them somewhere, there is little else the plant can be but a bromeliad. However, within these limits, you can find such tremendous diversity as that between the pineapple and the Spanish moss."

The above description can be amplified a bit to demonstrate the differences between bromeliads and other members of the plant world. Most importantly, they are the only plants that can be bloomed on schedule by chemical means. Most bromeliads can grow well without a root system. From an esthetic point of view, they are usually beautiful even when not in bloom, and even if one disregards the exotic and bizarre leaf-markings, the over-all shapes or habits of most species and hybrids are so beautiful and sculptural that color is unnecessary to exhibit their superiority over most other plants.

With the exception of a single species found in Africa, all bromeliads are found in the Western Hemisphere in an area ranging from Virginia in the United States to Argentina in South America. They are, for the most part, rather tender tropical and sub-tropical plants. The majority of bromeliads are found growing on the branches and trunks of trees, and this gives them the common name of air-plants or air-pines. Some grow on the ground, and a few grow clinging to rocks.

A bromeliad plant is made of the following parts:

Roots: As a rule in epiphytes or air-borne plants, two types of roots develop. In terrestrial plants or those epiphytes which are grown in pots as terrestrial plants, only the soft feeding type of root develops. When the terrestrial or saxicolous plants grow either on trees or stony surfaces, the soft primary roots eventually undergo a metamorphosis. They harden and become as tough and strong as wire and are used primarily for attaching or clinging purposes. Even here, some of the bromeliads retain a portion of their roots (which remain soft) to ingest food and moisture which is extracted from the debris that accumulates around the root balls that cling to the branches to support the plant. An old theory existed that held that bromeliad roots, especially those in the air-borne specimens, were not necessary for feeding purposes. The writer has discovered that even though most plants will survive and bloom without roots, those which are grown in pots as houseplants, need to develop good root systems in order to thrive vigorously. Of course, Spanish moss or Tillandsia usneoides has evolved to the point where roots need no longer develop, since the plant can extract its necessary food and moisture supply through its scale cells from the surrounding air.

Stems: Bromeliads all possess stems, but in some plants they are so short as to be almost invisible. In some species, such as Tillandsia araujei, the growth habit of the leaves actually forms a comparatively long stem. Sometimes when a plant, Neoregelia carolinae, for example is grown in a poor manner, the outer leaves are lost and eventually the plant will be growing atop a thick woody stem. If this occurs, and the specimen looks unattractive or clumsy, this condition can be corrected. If the outer surface of the stem is scraped and dusted with a fungicide, the plant may be replanted deeper in the pot and new roots will develop from the stem. Enough new leaves will eventually grow from the top-center of the plant to make the plant normal and attractive again.

Leaves: Bromeliad leaves demonstrate a great diversity in their character and makeup. Their substance might range from a soft grass-like delicate feel through a thick leathery type to a real hard woody substance. The leaf surfaces might be so smooth and shiny that they look as if they were made of plastic, or they might be rough and covered by a thick scurf, that is actually modified scale cells. In almost every case, the leaves are arranged in a rosette form with their bases overlapping. This forms a water-impounding shape. It is from these tanks or reservoirs that most epiphytic bromeliads can absorb their food and moisture requirements. The leaves of most bromeliads are edged with barbs, but as will be seen later in this series, a whole sub-family of the Bromeliaceae are characterized by their complete or smooth-edged leaves.

Many species and hybrids have leaves noteworthy for the beautiful display of colors, patterns, and markings that make the plants attractive even when they are not in flower or inflorescence. Like humans, bromeliads have a protective reaction to bright sunlight. Just as people tan upon exposure to sunlight's actinic rays, so do most bromeliads take on a lovely pink to dark red or maroon protective coloration. This phenomenon is apparently harmless to most plants unless the sun's exposure is too prolonged or too intense.

Another interesting occurrence in many bromeliad species and hybrids is their tendency to occasionally "variegate." This variegation takes two forms: either pure white or ivory strips running the longitudinal length of the leaves or light green stripes running the same way. In rare instances, there are albino types that may develop. There are many species whose leaves possess two colors, usually green on the upper surface and some shade of red or purple on the under side. This arrangement is known as a "discolor," and it is not dependent on the tanning principal of strong sunlight.

An interesting and most beautiful type of bromeliad leaf coloring occurs in certain of the variegated varieties. In this case, the white or ivory stripes turn from pink to red and is often called a "tricolor" variety. A most frequent and fairly characteristic color effect occurs in many bromeliads. This is probably a hormonal change that occurs when the plant is beginning to infloresce. Here the leaves, especially in the center of the plant, turn a very bright red. Certain Tillandsias, such as T. ionantha and T. brachycaulos, turn red. In many Neoregelias (and here it is not associated with inflorescing) the tips of the leaves develop a bright red "painted fingernail" appearance.

Inflorescence: The inflorescence of most bromeliads is often the most strikingly noticeable part. Most uniformed persons think that the inflorescence is actually the flower of the bromeliad. In most species the inflorescence will remain in excellent color and shape for weeks and even months long after the flowers have finished. The inflorescence usually consists of a stalk or peduncle which may or may not be branched. On this peduncle are the bracts which frequently give the inflorescence its brilliant coloring. These bracts or protective sheaths may be found growing along the entire length of the peduncle and its branches. The peduncle may be upright and tall or so short (as in the case of Neoregelias) as to be practically invisible. Often, this stalk may be completely pendent (as in the case of Aechmea × 'Foster's Favorite') or recurved.

The flowers of bromeliads which emerge from under the protective bracts always have three petals and three sepals. The flowers are extremely short lived, in some cases lasting only a few hours. The flowers when either cross-or self-pollinated develop seeds in berries in the sub-family Bromelioideae or in capsules as in the subfamilies Tillandsioideae and Pitcairnioideae. The berries that develop in the genus Aechmea are frequently brightly colored and remain so for long periods of time. An unusual phenomenon that may occur in the berry is a color change, often from red or white to blue or yellow, when viable seeds form within. This brilliant color attracts birds and animals to consume the berries, insuring a spreading of the seed. What makes the berries more palatable is the thick sticky jelly-like substance contained within in which the seeds are suspended. In the case of capsules, the contained seeds are usually plumed, as in dandelions. When the ripe fruit or capsule bursts open, the seeds are scattered by wind and air action. (to be continued)



1. This is a report on the current status of research on growth regulating chemicals. It does not contain recommendations for their use, nor does it imply that the uses discussed have been registered. All uses of these chemicals must be registered by appropriate State and Federal agencies before they can be recommended.

2. Horticulturist and Agricultural Research Technician, respectively, Crops Research Division, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705. This article is released for publication under the terms of a memorandum of agreement between the USDA and the Society of American Florists.

3. Mention of a trademark or proprietary product does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and does not imply its approval to the exclusion of other products that may also be suitable.

Omaflora was provided as a 80% technical material by Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp., Sales Development Department, 745 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10022 and Ethrel as a 3.9% solution by Amchem Products, Inc., Agricultural Chemical Division, Ambler, Pennsylvania 19002.


  1. Grow plants on photoperiods regulated to maintain plants vegetative. Long days on Ananas, Billbergia, Neoregelia and short days on Aechmea and Vriesea.

  2. Treat plants that have well established root systems. Treatments too early in the development of the plant give erratic flower initiation, and the few flowers which form are small and misshapen.

  3. Remove water and algae from the leaves of the plant. Allow foliage to dry prior to treatment.

  4. Prepare a fresh solution of 2-chloroethane phosphonic acid (Ethrel)3 with tap water. Use 8 fluid ounces of the 3.9% concentrate to make 1 gallon of spray solution. This will treat the plants with approximately 2,500 p.p.m. Ethrel.

  5. Spray to cover all surfaces of the plant with liquid. Avoid overspraying to reduce leaf and growing point damage.

  6. Test each species of bromeliad to determine the minimum dosage of Ethrel required to force flowering. The optimum dosage is dependent on species, age of plant, growth rate, and volume of liquid used to apply the chemical.

One of the most persistent flowering and decorative house plants is the bromeliad. These members of the pineapple family are available in many forms and flowering types. They possess bizarre forms even the vegetative state, and are adapted to the adverse conditions found in most interior areas of homes, offices, and shopping areas. Care of these rugged plants is simple. Moisture is maintained in the clasping leaves of the plants at all times. The soil or growing fiber is moistened to saturation biweekly, then allowed to dry in order to maintain the plants under the arid conditions found in most interiors.

A complete fertilizer (0.1 gm of 20-20-20 per liter) is added to the watering solution at bimonthly intervals. Higher levels of fertilizers and more frequent times of watering promote the development of long drooping leaves. The form of the plant is thus lost and the unsightly leaves make the plants unsalable.

Bromeliads are propagated by seeds and offshoots. Plants grown from seed require several years of intensive care by a professional grower. Plants that are flowering or which have been growing for several years develop offshoots at their bases. Offshoots are easy to root. These vegetative shoots may be cut off and allowed to dry for several days. They are planted in a mixture of equal parts sandy loam, peat moss, and pea-sized gravel. The offshoots may be covered with a polyethylene bag to retard water loss from the leaves during the first weeks of potting. Routine watering and fertilization procedures, for the leaves and the growing media, (the same as those described for the rooted plants) provide an environment in which the offshoots will root and become useful plants.

The bromeliads as decorative potted plants thus have great versatility for the grower who produces the plants and for the eventual owner who places the plants in dark, arid interiors. There is, however, one major flaw in finding ways to increase their use. The grower never knows exactly when the plants will develop the decorative coloration of the foliage or when they will flower. Some bromeliad species flower each year at the same time; but many species grow for many years, developing larger and larger plants without flowering. When the plants eventually flower, the display is showy but the cultural methods do not have the precision in timing for a year-round flowering potted plant.

Growers have searched for ways to cause the flowering of bromeliads (1,2,7,8). The pineapple is a major field crop in several parts of the world. Research on this plant has benefited the growers of decorative bromeliads. Chemical regulators trigger the flowering of pineapples: wood smoke (6), calcium carbide generating acetylene (5), auxins and herbicides (4), and more recently beta-hydroxyethylhydrazine (Omaflora)3 (4). Each system requires careful handling of the plants to avoid damage of the developing leaves and growing points. The mode of action of the various chemicals is based on the triggering action of unsaturated hydrocarbon gases — ethylene is the most active chemical forcing flowering. Also, the chemicals are much more effective when applied to plants held in an enclosed environment or when drenched with large volumes of liquid.

Cooke and Randall (3) reported that ethylene and phosphonic acid were the decomposition products of 2-chloroethane phosphonic acid (Ethrel). The chemical is fairly stable at pH 1. When diluted with water at pH 3 or above and applied to the foliage of plants, it decomposes and releases ethylene to the surrounding cells. The release of ethylene occurs over many hours. The plants apparently can tolerate the phosphonic acid which is also released since the leaves are damaged only when massive dosages are applied. Besemer and Furuta (1) and Vanluchene and co-workers (7,8) have reported results with Ethrel on bromeliads.

The experiments reported in this paper develop guidelines for the uses of Ethrel for year-round flowering of bromeliads.


The bromeliad species listed in the tables were obtained as young plants or were grown from offshoots of vegetative plants. To insure that the plants remain in a vegetative growth, they were grown on photoperiods which suppressed flowering. The long-day plants were grown on 8-hr days by exposing the plants to sunlight from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and covering them nightly with black sateen cloth. The short day plants were grown on natural days and interrupted from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. nightly with at least 20 foot candles of incandescent-filament light. A minimum night temperature of 65-70°F was maintained at all times. The photoperiod and temperature inhibited flowering throughout the duration of the experiments.

Billbergia pyramidalis (Sims) Lindl. was selected for detailed studies. Rooted offshoots were grown for six months on long days. The leaves that clasped the growing point, called the well of the plant, were washed clean with tap water and emptied of liquid. The foliage was allowed to dry. The well of the plant was filled with 100 ml of 500 to 10,000 p.p.m. of Omaflora or Ethrel. This method is called a foliage drench. Other lots of plants were sprayed to run-off with the same solutions, approximately 20 ml of solution was used too spray each plant. As reported previously (2), Omaflora forced flowering at a dosage of 1000 and 2500 p.p.m. without visible leaf damage. Dosages greater than 2500 p.p.m. as a drench of the well caused severe leaf damage and death of the growing points (Table 1). Ethrel, in contrast, promoted flowering over the dosage range tested (500 to 10,000 p.p.m.) with leaf damage observed only at 5000 and 10,000 p.p.m.

Omaflora was less effective as a foliage spray than as a foliage drench. It promoted flowering at a dosage of 5000 p.p.m. with some leaf damage. The highest dosage of 10,000 p.p.m. caused severe leaf damage and death of the growing point. Ethrel was also less effective as a foliar spray than as a foliage drench. A dosage of 2500 p.p.m. or greater was required to force flowering. Leaf damage on the plants sprayed with Ethrel, however, were minimal and did not detract from their appearance. We conclude that Ethrel may be used as a foliage spray to force flowering without causing leaf damage.

Offshoots of Billbergia plants at various stages of development were selected to test the effectiveness of various dosages of Ethrel applied as a foliar spray. Offshoots which had been removed from vegetative mother plants, and sprayed prior to rooting were unresponsive to foliar sprays of Ethrel. Offshoots initiated flowers in response to Ethrel when the plants were actively growing and had formed a visible well from the clasping leaves around the growing point. Partially developed offshoots on vegetative mother plants were erratic in forming flowers in response to foliar sprays of Ethrel. The flowers which developed were small, poorly colored, and misshapen. Offshoots that were six months old, ones that had developed visible wells and were expanding in size rapidly, were forced to flower with foliar sprays of 2500 and 5000 p.p.m. Rooted offshoots, also 6 months of age, even though they had formed smaller plants than those allowed to remain on the mother plant for the six months, were equally responsive to sprays of Ethrel. Vegetative Billbergia plants which had developed large plants as a result of growing the plants on long days for 24 months initiated flowers in response to a 1000 p.p.m. foliar spray of Ethrel. Large plants are apparently more responsive to Ethrel treatments than small plants, partially due to age and in part to the amount of liquid required to cover one plant. We can conclude that the plants must be actively growing at the time of the spray application of Ethrel.

Solutions of Omaflora held for three weeks in sunlight at room temperature (22°C) were stable and induced flowering on plants (2). Solutions of Ethrel were unstable held at room temperature (22°C) or in a refrigerated room (0°C). Solutions allowed to stand for even 24 hours were much less effective than freshly prepared ones. All experiments reported were conducted with solutions prepared and applied immediately.

Figure 1. Regulation of flowering of four bromeliad species. Left to right: Billbergia, Ananas (pineapple), Aechmea sp. and Aechmea fasciata. Plants sprayed with 2500 PPM of Ethrel. Flowering or fruiting after 4, 45, 16, and 12 weeks when plants were grown at a minimum night temperature of 65°F. Untreated plants remained in vegetative growth.

Removal of water and algae from the well of the plants is a very laborious operation. Plants were treated as reported in Table 1 but without prior removal of the water and algae. The responses of these plants were very erratic. Many plants remained vegetative, some initiated flowers while other showed severe leaf damage, since each plant contained different amounts of water due to previous handling methods. The water in the wells of the plants interfered with the proper treatment of the plants. Also, large volumes of liquids increased the chances of causing leaf damage and wasted some of the Ethrel. Dry leaf surfaces were essential for uniform responses of plants.

Multiple spray applications of low levels of Ethrel produced highly variable flowering responses. Billbergia plants were sprayed with 100, 250, and 500 p.p.m. Ethrel for five consecutive days giving the plants an exposure equivalent to a single spray of 500, 1250, and 2500 p.p.m. Ethrel. The multiple sprays did not force flowering while only the 2500 p.p.m. single spray forced flowering. A second lot of plants were treated with single sprays of 500, 1250, and 5000 p.p.m. or 100, 250, and 500 p.p.m. Ethrel for 5 consecutive days. The plants were placed immediately in air-tight polyethylene bags to trap the ethylene released by Ethrel. The bags were opened daily to allow for the 4 additional Ethrel sprays. All plants sprayed with Ethrel and held in an enclosed atmosphere for 5 days developed flowers. It is thus apparent that much of the ethylene released by Ethrel is lost to atmosphere and that relatively low levels of ethylene in the plants are forcing flowering. Trapping the released ethylene in a polybag greatly increased the effectiveness of Ethrel sprays but was not necessary if the dosage was sufficiently concentrated.


Four species of bromeliads were selected for treatment with foliar sprays of Ethrel at the dosages used on the Billbergia plants. The species names and the age of the plants at the time of treatment are listed in Table 3. The flowering of all species was promoted by a foliar spray of 2500 p.p.m. Ethrel, it forced flowering without leaf damage. (Figure 1). Plants of Aechmea and Ananas also flowered when treated with a 1000 p.p.m. foliar spray of Ethrel. None of the plants flowered in response to a foliar spray of 500 p.p.m. Ethrel, even though the Neoregelias formed a brilliant area of red anthocyanins in the parts of the leaves near the wells of the plants (Figure 2). The pigment formation occurred on the Neoregelia plants within 10 days after treatment and persisted throughout the life of the leaves. The pineapple plants flowered 24 to 28 weeks following treatment with Ethrel, miniature fruits were harvested 36 to 45 weeks following treatment (Figure 1).


Appreciation is expressed to Vosters Nurseries and Greenhouses, Inc., Cutler, Florida, for supplying the bromeliads used in this experiment.

Table 1. Comparison of 2-chloroethane phosphonic acid (Ethrel) and
Beta-hydroxyethyl hydrazine (Omaflora) on Billbergia plants.
Growth response to treatment procedure
Chemical and Dosage
100 ml in well
of plant
20 ml -
foliage spray

Omaflora — 500V-0V-0
— 1,000F-1V-0
— 2,500F-3V-0
— 5,000D-8F-4
— 10,000D-10D-8
Ethrel — 500F-0V-0
— 1,000F-0V-0
— 2,500F-0F-0
— 5,000F-3F-1
— 10,000F-4F-3

Code: V = vegetative plants; F = flowering plants; D = dead growing points;
Foliage injury rating: 0 = No injury; 10 = severe damage.
Figure 2. Change in the growing point and surrounding leaves of Neoregelia sp. Upper: Vegetative plant. Lower: Flowering in response to a foliar spray of 2500 PPM Ethrel. Note that the veining on the leaves around the growing point are fused with anthocyanin and that the well of the plant contains five small flowers. Photograph made 14 weeks after treatment.

Table 2. Response of bromeliad species to foliage sprays of Ethrel.
Bromeliad and age of plant Weeks to flower Growth Response to Ethrel Dosage (PPM)

Aechmea fasciata (Lindl.) Baker
14 months
Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.
4 months
Neoregelia (Moore) L. B. Smith
14 months
Vriesea splendens (Brongn.) Lemaire cv. Major
18 months

Code: V = vegetative plants; F = flowering plants.


  1. Besemer, S. T. and T. Furuta. 1970. Flowering of Aechmea fasciata with Ethrel. Florist Review. 145 (3761): 18, 39-40.

  2. Cathey, H. M. and R. J. Downs. 1965. Guidelines for regulating flowering of bromeliads. Florists Review. 135 (3509): 23-24, 65-66; South. Flor. & Nurseryman. 77 (52): 8-9, 18; The Exchange 143 (10): 27-29.

  3. Cooke, A. R. and D. I. Randall. 1968. 2-Haloethane phosphonic acids as ethylene releasing agents for the induction of flowering in pineapples. Nature 218: 974.

  4. Gowing, D. P. and R. W. Leeper. 1955. Induction of flowering in pineapple by beta-hydroxyethylhydrazine. Science 122: 1267.

  5. Kerns, K. 1936. Method and material for forcing flowering and fruit formation in plants. U.S. Patent 2,047,874. Acetylene.

  6. Rodriguez, A. C. 1932. Influence of smoke and ethylene on the flowering of the pineapple (Ananas sativus Schult.) Jour. Dept. Agri. Puerto Rico 26: 5-18.

  7. Vanluchene, I., J. G. van Onsem and K. Otten. 1968. Ferste ervaringen met "ACP 66-329". Nieuwe perspektieven bij de bloeiinduktie, Werkgroep voor de Sierplantenteelt, Rijksstation voor Sierplantenveredeling. 14: 20-27.

  8. Vanluchene, I. 1969. Nieuwe Bloeiinduktiemetode Bij Bromeliaceae. Mededeling. Ministerie van Landbouw, Bestuur voor Landbouwkundig Onderzoek, Centrum voor Landbouwkundig Onderzoek - Gent. 17: 1-21.



(Reprinted from Bromeletter, the Official Journal of the Bromeliad Society of Australia, Vol. VII, No. 5.)

One of the many problems which confront the enthusiast is the correct naming of the plants. The old hand and the beginner are both liable to come to grief when asked by a visitor to name some plant or other, and I have had complaints at shows if all plants are not clearly labeled. It is also necessary to know what plant we are growing so that it may be given the correct treatment. Newcomers to bromeliads have sometimes told me that they are completely lost when trying to sort out the various genera from such a large and varied collection of plants.

It is well to realize that identification and classification are by no means the same thing. Classification is based on the details of the inflorescence, since these are the only features which can be relied on to remain constant under all normal conditions. Positive identification will therefore require examination of the flower, but in most cases other features will enable us to identify a plant with some certainty.

If we wish to identify an unknown plant, the first step will be to determine which of the three sub-families it belongs in. The Tillandsioideae can generally be recognized by the absence of spines on the leaves, or the distinctive size and shape of the Tillandsias. There are a few plants in other groups with very few spines, so this fact alone is not absolutely reliable. The dry seed, each with a plume of fine hairs, is of course the distinguishing factor of this group, once the plants have flowered.

The next sub-family, the Pitcairnioideae, also has dry seed, which are caudate or winged. The plants may or may not have spines, but the Pitcairnias are easily recognized by the narrow, grass-like leaves, while most of us can recognize a Dyckia, even if some nurseries insist on calling it a succulent.

By far the largest sub-family is the Bromelioideae, the distinguishing feature in this case being the pulpy fruit or berries in which the seed are enclosed, and the typically vase-shaped or tubular plants with a distinct central "tank."

It is generally possible to determine the genus to which a plant may belong, at least after some experience in growing the various types. Any tall, tubular plant can usually be assumed to be a Billbergia, although a few have a more open rosette form and Aechmeas can occasionally resemble them in shape. Quesnelia marmorata, once classed as an Aechmea resembles a Billbergia shape, and so does Aechmea nudicaulis. Aechmeas vary so much in size, shape, and general appearance that a process of elimination would seem to be the only way to arrive at any result. Neoregelias can generally be recognized by the spreading rosette of thin, tough leaves, and in the case of species having noticeably scaly leaves: these are generally arranged in a distinctive pattern of numerous closely placed cross-bands. N. concentrica is unlikely to be confused with other plants in spite of the broad leaves.

Nidulariums can be confusing, and I must admit that I am still in the dark as to which plants are forms of N. innocentii and which are species of Wittrockia. There appear to be two types of Nidularium in cultivation—those with fairly broad, tapering leaves in the innocentii group and the more shiny leafed species, such as N. fulgens. Canistrums have broad, lightly spined leaves, usually mottled with darker green. Similarly, many other genera no doubt possess features which may suggest their identity.

It is often quite impossible to identify an individual species within a genus without having examined the flowers, although there are also many species which can be recognized beyond doubt. I have yet to see the flower of Aechmea orlandiana but have no doubt at all concerning the identity of my plant. Apart from the inflorescence, there are a few features which appear to be constant in all plants of any one species. The marginal spines are among these, their size, shape, and distance apart can often provide a useful clue to identity.

The best we can do in most cases is to compare our plant with illustrations, descriptions or preferably other plants, and wait for the flower. Unidentified plants, for some reason, are often most reluctant to flower at all, which is hardly helpful. It must also be remembered that many plants have been grown under cultivation for many years, with selection of the most desirable forms which may differ considerably from the natural species. Neoregelia carolinae is an example of this, with several distinct types in existence under several names. One plant in my collection has very small pink tips to the leaves, while the color of the center at flowering is very variable in the different forms.

Perhaps the worst problem is that of the many hybrids which unfortunately exist without any identifying name and not always sufficient value to be worth growing. Plants are occasionally offered for sale labeled simply "Billbergia," or, as I once saw, "Bromeliade." The latter was fairly simple one to sort out; a few inquiries identified it as Cryptbergia × meadii, but as often as not the plant could be just about anything. It is also inadvisable to assume that the label on the plant is correct, as many of us already have discovered.

Once the plant flowers, the following characteristics serve to distinguish between the principal general:

Aechmea — Petals have a pair of scales at the base; pollen has a few pores.

Billbergia — Large flowers; pollen has a longitudinal fold and no pores.

Canistrum — Petals have scales at the base; inflorescence is large and dense, surrounded by large bracts.

Cryptanthus — Petals acute, without scales. Bracts resemble the leaves.

Dyckia — Stamens to some extent connected to form a tube. Petals yellow or orange.

Fosterella — Ovary above the petals.

Guzmania — Petals joined to form a tubular flower. Flowers in more than two ranks.

Hechtia — Petals and stamens free.

Hohenbergia — Pollen with 2 or 4 pores. No epigynous tube.

Neoregelia — Flowers in a dense head. Flowers pedicellate. Bracts resemble the leaves.

Nidularium — Flowers sessile. Bracts distinct in form from the leaves.

Puya — Ovary above the petals. Petals blue or green.

Tillandsia — Petals without scales at base.

Vriesea — Petals with two scales at base.

—Western Australia



In the hope of inciting others to do the same for the information of those members of the Society who are interested in this work, I am furnishing the editor a list of crosses I have made in the last few years, which are in various stages of growth. Having succeeding in flowering Pitcairnia xanthocalyx in 3 years from seed gathered in Goodale Moir's garden in 1966, I started to make crosses within that genus of indigenous species and varieties—some not named—and foreign, interesting species like—P. xanthocalyx, P. chiapensis—both yellow—and P. angustifolia with tall, much branched scape and red flowers, in the hope of duplicating the feat—for me, an amateur grower who cannot always to his plants properly. These crosses are as follows, and though still unflowered, I have designated provisionally names to me:

P. chiapensis × P. jimenezii (native) — P. × 'Chiamenez'

P. samuelssonii × P. sp. from Constanza — P. × 'Hondo Valle' (both natives)

P. xanthocalyx × P. fuertesii (native)

P. angustifolia × P. sp. from Barrancon (native)

P. sp. from Los Flaires (native) × P. angustifolia

P. xanthocalyx × P. chiapensis (both Mexican) — P. × 'Mexican Blondes'

P. angustifolia × P. xanthocalyx — P. × 'Borincana'

Neoregelia crosses made before and concurrent with the foregoing are:

(Neoregelia tristis × N. marmorata) × N. cruenta — N. × 'Kitty Ariza' — to flower this year

N. cruenta × N. chlorosticta — N. × 'Rojoverde' — to flower this year

N. ampullacea × N. morrisoniana

N. ampullacea × (N. spectabilis × marmorata) spotted form

N. johannis (hybrid?) × N. spectabilis (hybrid)

N. morrisoniana × N. marmorata

N. cruenta × N. macrosepala

N. carcharodon × N. cruenta

Also two crosses with the fine old Billbergia × Theodore L. Mead.

B. Theodore L. Mead × saundersii hybrid (of the trade)

B. Theodore L. Mead × amoena

—Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic



Tillandsia poenulata — This little species with narrow grass-like leaf-blades and dark-colored sheaths develops a relatively large beautiful inflorescence with red brown bracts and white petals. The species comes from Brazil and is easy to cultivate.

Tillandsia atroviridipetala — This dwarf Mexican species has unusually large numerous silvery scales. It is indeed beautiful, but not at all easy to cultivate.

Tillandsia magnusiana and Tillandsia plumosa

These small very strikingly silvery-scaled Mexican species have caused considerable confusion. Formerly T. plumosa was united with T. magnusiana, and then T. magnusiana was made a variety of T. plumosa. I believe that I was one of the first to point out that this could not be. It is to be noted that T. plumosa was mixed up at a very early date, because Mez in his Bromeliaceae had already described the plant as having "petala violacea," when actually the petals of T. plumosa are wholly green. Nor is that the only difference. The whole structure of the inflorescence is basically different in the two plants. T. plumosa has a long scape, whereas T. magnusiana has one so very short as to make the inflorescence practically sessile in the center of the rosette. Also in habit and in culture the plants are very different in spite of similar size and dense scales. T. plumosa has stiff slightly recurving leaves and a lax growth. The leaves remain gray-white and show scarcely any green coloring. T. magnusiana has leaves that are very thick and soft, gray or green and covered with silvery scales. The inflorescence is central with an extremely short scape and long violet petals.

—Alfred Blass, Munchen, Germany.

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