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—William R. Paylen, 1008 Gretna Green Way, Los Angeles, Calif. 90049
First Vice-President—Elmer J. Lorenz, 5110 Monte Bonito Dr., Los Angeles, Calif. 90049
Second Vice-President—Eric Knobloch, Box 121 Braithwaite, La. 70040
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
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

A closeup of Aechmea orlandiana. showing the brilliance of the red bracts. Photo by Jeanne Woodbury.



One of the rules for the successful growing of bromeliads, or any plant for that matter, is that the gardener emulate in so far as possible the conditions of the plant in its natural habitat. This is, of course, difficult when one tries to grow his bromeliads under the artificial confines of a living room or greenhouse. Light, humidity, a buoyant atmosphere, a friable pot mixture—all are necessary, as every bromeliad grower well knows. Of these essentials probably the hardest to maintain is sufficient humidity, as an occasional overhead spraying is not enough to provide the air moisture that most epiphytes require. In the forests of the tropics, bromeliads, though perched high on trees, receive a constant flow of damp air arising from the wet, sodden verdure which covers the jungle floor. This air is rich in the minerals exuded by this thick layer of plants that forms below, the bromeliads receiving not only constant humidity but nutriment as well.

How does one provide this situation in his greenhouse? In the Bromeliad House of the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens, Victoria, Australia, the pots containing bromeliads are placed on a thick layer of peat moss, which at all times is kept sodden with water. When a person enters this house, he is almost immediately struck by the jungle-like atmosphere which the damp peat moss provides. It is a heavy, earthy atmosphere, which the plants evidently like, as they are indeed all perfect specimens.



(continued from last issue)

Neoregelia laevis at seashore—Estaleiro Beach, Santa Catarina

On the Monday I first visited the Rio Botanic Garden I met Roberto Burle Marx. This world-famous landscape architect makes personal excursions into the countryside looking for new plants and on that morning was bringing rare specimens as gifts to the Garden. He was also seeking plant identifications. Such men as Burle Marx who bring in rarities to botanical gardens presents them with expanding problems, and a certain number of plants will defy specific identification for a long time, but eager botanists would not have it otherwise.

At Burle Marx's invitation I was invited to his home and remarkable garden the next day with a few other guests, including Margaret Mee, well-known painter of Brazilian bromeliads and other plants. Part of the estate is a large rock garden in an open area. The few rock gardens I saw in Brazil were obvious "rock," with large boulders or stones or rocky outgrowths and devoted pretty much to bromeliads. Burle Marx's rock garden is a large one with massing in spots, and it requires climbing up and down over a natural rock mass to view it properly. Time did not allow for much examination of the broms because of the variety of his other material. The great pride and joy of Burle Marx's acquisitions is his great aroid house. Here in deep shade is the greatest collection of the, often massive, tropical Brazilian aroids in the world.

The pendent inflorescence of Vriesea rubyae
The Bragas, Ruby and her husband, Olavo, took me to their country home near Petropolis one day. Ruby, a volunteer for five years at the Botanic Garden, has specialized in bromeliads. Among those in flower in their fine garden were specimens of Vriesea rubyae, a discovery of hers. There were several inflorescences in fine condition. The pendent large lanceolate inflorescences are very showy with about ten pairs of ovate glowing red bracts on a long bract-covered peduncle of the same red color as the outer floral bracts. The flowers that project, singly or doubly, out of the bracts are yellow.

Another interesting bromeliad in her garden was one she named with Dimitri Sucre — Tillandsia nuptialis, an attractive grey species. There were also T. araujei and T. malemontii, the latter with grey very fine long hairy leaves, somewhat like usneoides, but the flower is on a long stalk originating near the tip of branchlets. On the ground was Vriesea gigantea (tessellata).

In order to have a bit of flat ground on which to build his house, Olavo Braga cut off the top of a hill. Most of the garden is on a steep hillside below the house. Here Ruby has planted the various bromeliads she has collected, some on the ground, some attached to trees, spotted variously among their other tropical plants, trees and shrubs.

In Sao Paulo I found Guido Pabst, the Director of Varig Airlines, a man who has made a name for himself in orchids. He put me in touch with Eddie Waras (the "W" pronounced like a "V"), one of the biggest plant collectors in Brazil, who maintains a nursery specializing up to fairly recently in bromeliads and orchids The Brazilians are, with rare exceptions, not interested in bromeliads as garden or house plants, a terrible pity with such a wealth to work with, and Eddie has been discouraged in his promotion of bromeliads. Recently he has collected and is selling Brazilian cacti, concerning which there is now a great deal of excitement.

Eddie, a transplanted Dane, grows his bromeliads and orchids in slat houses in rather dense shade. He has about 20,000 plants in various categories. His collections of Vriesea fosteriana from the state of Espirito Santo demonstrate that this is a very variable species as to leaf pattern. There was one strain with light yellowish-green base—it was this strain that I liked the best. During my visit some of his broms were in flower, including a specimen or two Vriesea fosteriana. Others were V. racinae, V. scalaris, and Aechmea victoriana var. discolor. (This was at Christmas time.)

He has also collected an Aechmea with a pendulous inflorescence and dull reddish berries richly covered with minute hairy papillae. He has sent material to Dr. Lyman B. Smith, who judged it a hybrid, but Eddie says he found large numbers of these with no other Aechmeas present to account for mixed parentage.

I had hoped that I would get to visit Padre Raulino Reitz in the state of Santa Catarina, but had no word from him in answer to my letter. I decided to chance a visit, and Guido Pabst gave me information on Varig service from Sao Paulo to Itajai, arranged my flight, gave me a letter in Portuguese to give to Robert Klein, a botanist who works in close collaboration with Padre Reitz in their Flora of Santa Catarina. The letter was a request to help me.

The man driving the official car from the little airport knew Klein very well and took me to his home. Roberto speaks German but no English. My German was good enough to let him know that I wanted to get in touch with Padre Reitz. Shortly he was driving me to the Padre's summer cottage. It is located on the shore of the South Atlantic, and Padre Raulino was spending his holidays there.

We found the Padre in his front yard in his swimming trunks where he and his brother-priest have established a little bromeliad garden, using large rocks with great skill. I saw Padre Joao working on the two days I visited the college, handling the large rocks. Raulino collects the plants; his brother makes the garden and cares for them. The result is a well-kept attractive setting.

The first plants to attract my attention were several Vriesea friburgensis var paludosa, perched on rocks with inflorescences about three feet high. Raulino informed me that this variety grows on low land near the sea; the variety friburgensis grows back on higher land. His plant had rich yellow floral bracts calyces, corollas, and filaments. The inflorescence branches prominently. Individual flowers are large and long.

During my three-day stay in that area, I stayed at the Hotel Miramar in Balneareo Camboriv, a popular bathing resort on the South Atlantic Ocean. Padre Raulino picked me up the next morning for exploration of the flora at an infrequently visited rocky cove called Estaleiro Beach. Neoregelia laevis, a very large clump, and Aechmea kertesziae were growing there. The latter species was named and described by the Padre himself in reference to the scientific name of the mosquito that lives in its tanks. (Seems like putting a mosquito on a pedestal!) Raulino recalled that when the world became aware of the threat of malarial mosquitoes and it was found that they bred in the tank-water of bromeliads, orders went out that such bromeliads be destroyed. Great numbers were lost in this way, but fortunately today the malarial mosquito danger no longer requires wholesale destruction of bromeliads—no longer a question of human life against lovely plants.

Ananas bracteatus in Padre Reitz garden

We also saw Bromelia antiacantha.There were orchids, too, including Vanilla chamissonis, the orchid that produces the vanilla bean of commerce. There were also cacti, but only those that can grow under a great range of conditions, such as Cereus peruvianus which grows from the Pacific to the Atlantic side of South America. Great Philodendrons were on the hillside. One thing that I noticed was the evidence among the plants we saw of the hard life they lead close to the sea. The salt spray, the winds, the hot sun scalding the foliage, the cold of the winter season chilling the wet plants—the resultant picture was a study in survival more than "growing pretty." The plants had faulty form, poor color, blemishes. Higher in the hills where plants have a more ideal environment, the same species make nice specimens, and the scene is green and fresh.

The next day Raulino called for me again in his jeep. He had no other car—the jeep being a necessity for his explorations has to do also for a "pleasure" car. We planned to visit the bromeliad collection in Brusque that he and his brother have established behind the seminary for priests where both have been teaching for about forty years. Raulino teaches biology.

This was a drive of about thirty miles. A heavy rain had been falling and much of the road was of red dirt. And did we need a jeep! The red soil absorbs water very quickly, becomes soft and mushy—well, it was just plain unadulterated goo, sometimes a foot deep. It is definitely difficult to manipulate, this mud wallow, but fortunately, unlike some, there was no slipperiness. However, because of the unevenness of the soaked roadbed, the sucking effect of the water, and the momentum required, it meant perfect constant control of the steering wheel. But, when the rains stop and the sun comes out, drying is very rapid and the roads are good as new in a very few hours.

The Reitz brothers' bromeliad garden is built on a very steep hill behind the seminary with a narrow zigzagging path to take care of about 140 different kinds of large bromeliads. With its assemblage of often large rocks, rugged hillside, and well-kept plants, this garden constitutes a threat to the reputation of Burle Marx. Seriously, though, it is not formal like his creations, and its virtue is in the variety of bromeliad material, the excellent individual specimens and their rarity. Probably little visited, for the climbing is not easy, the garden is nonetheless a joy and a revelation, an outstanding achievement in the world of bromeliads.

Part of the hillside of Padre Reitz in Brusque

Because it was just the beginning of summer (Christmas time down there) there were a number of broms in flower. It was our slight misfortune that, after we got to climbing, the rains started, and the Padres had to climb down and fetch an umbrella. We went over the collection with Raulino holding the umbrella and answering my questions, but it became too uncomfortable for me to do much examining. Among those in flower were Vriesea erythrodactylon. the highland variety of V. corcovadensis, Nidularium innocentii, and N. regeliana. V. corcovadensis gets its name from its habitat on Mt. Corcovado in Rio, on whose summit rises the great figure of Christ. Not in bloom, but outstanding, especially shiny in the rain were Wittrockia superba and Aechmea ornata 'Nationalis.' The latter was discovered by Padre Reitz as a single variegated plant. The foliage has striking colors, suggesting the national colors of Brazil, and he accordingly named it 'Nationalis.'

Tillandsia tricholepis (right) and
T. stricta growing side by side in
Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden
Wittrockia superba in Padre Reitz' garden


Another plant of note was an Ananas bracteatus, the large red fruit hanging downward with two well advanced offshoots arising from the base and two or three growing from the top. The back of the leaves of all shoots were finely lined with silver, and the basal shoots had red bases of their own. He had had offshoots which he gave away gratuitously, but which command a fantastic price on the market.

To sum up for those who are interested in bromeliads more or less exclusively and want to learn something about them in Brazil, you can profitably include Rio de Janeiro and its satellite cities; avoid Sao Paulo, except to visit Eddie Waras, if you wish: and spend some time in the State of Santa Catarina. Be prepared to find a kindly lot of people, a friendly welcome, a liking for Americans, and hospitality.

Of the plants that I brought back with me from this trip, the ones that have done the best in their new home are the fat-leaved, wide-and short-leaved Tillandsias. Our propagator, Tom Hoffman, has taken thin pieces of cork, make a hole in the center of the cork large enough to push the base of the Tillandsias through with the roots protruding and put osmunda fiber around the roots, then a little more osmunda fibre on top of the roots. He used a staple gun to secure the fiber on the back of the cork. With humidity these Tillandsias are growing beautifully.

—Brooklyn Botanic Garden.



(Part III)

Factors Necessary To Achieve A Balanced Indoor Environment

For the indoor horticulturist to achieve success in growing bromeliads indoors, he must supply many elements for horticulture that are accepted for granted when these plants are cultivated outdoors. In addition to providing the proper amounts of light, humidity, temperature, moisture, etc., he must also remember that there are seasonal changes and variations to be considered. That means, as a rule, night temperatures should be considerably cooler and night humidity a lot higher. In fact, many dry-growing epiphytes are fed solely by the air-borne moisture at night. Also all bromeliads, in nature, have to go through summer and winter in their natural habitats, which of course means that the summer photo (light) periods are much longer than those in the winter. Failure to accomplish this will surely result in much softer foliage and much weaker plants. All this should be brought to mind when developing an indoor area. Another very important matter is to consider growing the plants in more than one set-up. This is for the avid hobbyist who is going to undertake the growing of a great many plants. Each set-up should contain all plants that require similar light, warmth, humidity, watering, and feeding so that all can receive the same treatment in each section. All of this should be considered when developing the following factors to balance the indoor environment properly.

LIGHTING—as a rule this factor is the most difficult to come by. In most urban areas, pollution and smog have so corrupted the quality of window light that it is rarely dependable. That is why most bromeliad enthusiasts in temperate and northern urban areas must use artificial light as a growth necessity for their plants. In many ways, this is better than natural light since the quality and quantity can be controlled by automatic means. The author has tried all kinds of artificial lighting and has finally come to the conclusion that the following are best — "Optima", "Naturescent" and "Vitalite". All of these are exactly the same florescent types of tubes supplying about 93% of true daylight, with the exception of "Vitalite", which also has added the beneficial aspects of the ultra-violet portion of the spectrum. If you have difficulty obtaining these lights in your area, I suggest that you contact the manufacturer—The Duro-Test Corp. in North Bergen, N. J. It is recommended that these tubes, whether they be 2, 4, 6 or 8 foot lengths be placed in commercial or strip fixtures that hold at least 2, but preferably 3 or 4 tubes placed 3 or 4 inches apart. These fixtures should be mounted at least 3½ feet high from the base to allow for most of the plants to develop to a normal height. A simple, inexpensive method of constructing one of these units will be found in the last part of this series. Plants that are low in height or those that need less light can be placed on overturned pots or other supports to place them at the proper distance from the light source. Those plants that need a maximum amount of light can be placed close to the window (if the fixture is on a window sill. The lights should he controlled by an inexpensive automatic timing device which will both turn the lights on and off after the proper desired photo periods. In order to simulate seasonal light intensity changes, the author creates a summer limit of about 16 hours, a fall of 13-14 hours a winter of 10-12 hours, a spring of 14 hours. It is the belief of the author that once one supplies good lighting and good humidity, everything else is comparatively simple in order to develop well-grown bromeliads.

HUMIDITY—in the United States, especially, homes in the colder regions are heated in a manner that robs the air of all its moisture. The resultant atmosphere is not only detrimental to good horticulture but is also conducive to human ailments such as colds, as well. Fortunately, good humidity is not at all difficult to achieve. Nowadays, many appliance manufacturers make cold mist humidifiers that are inexpensive and easy to use. The author has two of these in his home and they throw off almost four gallons of water every night. This added moisture in the air at night is actually what the plants are used to in their natural homes. In addition to the humidifier, the author has constructed a simple high humidity chamber that enables him to grow those specimens that need the added moist environment. Plans for these are detailed at the end of the series. Another simple adjunct is to construct a pot stand or tray that will evaporate moisture around groups of pots. These can be built in a matter of minutes to fit any proportion of window sill or stand. These trays can be filled with pebbles, perlite, coarse gravel, pine bark chips or any granular material that will hold water and support pots. Again, plans to build these trays will be given at the end of the series.

TEMPERATURE—since bromeliads come from tropical and sub-tropical regions, the average horticulturist is tempted to grow them too warm. The author has been very successful in growing bromeliads indoors, and he has discovered that the temperature should never rise above 70° during the day. Since the heat is turned off in the rooms that contain the plants, the temperature sometimes drops to as low as 45-50° at night. This has never seemed to create any havoc among the plants. Chilly drafts can prove to be fatal, so it is a good idea to seal window edges with plastic tape.

VENTILATION—it is important to remember that plants must breathe and do require a constant source of carbon dioxide. If they are kept growing in areas where there is no exchange of gasses, the resultant stuffiness would be as harmful to them as it would be to animal life. Naturally, ventilation is no problem in the summer time, but in the closed-window atmosphere of the wintertime, suffocation threatens. The simplest method to supply a good gaseous exchange is to open a window in a room away from the place where plants are growing. Of course, this can be done on safe days, when it is not too chilly or freezing outside. Better yet, one can construct a slow moving fan from an old vacuum cleaner motor. If this is kept near the planting area, close to the floor, good air circulation will be in constant supply to the indoor garden area. In the summer, air-conditioners do no harm if the cold drafts do not blow directly on the plants.

GROWING MEDIA—not much time should be spent in this area. The one cardinal rule of thumb must be printed in capital letters — BROMELIADS CAN BE DESTROYED BY WET FEET, SO MAKE SURE THEY ARE POTTED IN QUICK DRAINING MEDIA. If one does not wish to make up his own mix, a good bagged commercial mixture is sold under the name of "Black Magic". Naturally, it is cheaper to make one's own mix if one uses large quantities. Frank Turek, bromeliad foreman of Roehrs, has taught the author that the best basic material for bromeliads is coarse German peat moss. To this is added small portions of leaf mold, humus, perlite, osmunda fiber, fine pine bark chips, coconut husk fiber chunks, redwood wool, and/or any other materials that do not get soggy and can be slightly nutritive. Note that no soil or vermiculite is added to this mixture as both have a tendency to remain too wet for long periods. Guzmanias, Nidulariums and potted Tillandsias will do better if the potting medium is pure German peat moss. The author when potting these plants frequently wraps the root ball in a compact bundle of osmunda fiber before placing the plant in the pot.

NUTRITION—since indoor horticulture does not entail ideal conditions, a good balance means a lessening of nutrients. All too often, there is the great danger of overfeeding. If one is growing under the full spectrum florescent lighting, it will be discovered that watering and feeding must be more frequent than when the plants are grown on windowsills only with the aid of the natural light that is filtered through the window glass. As David Benzing's research has more or less substantiated, bromeliads are carnivorous feeders. Because of this an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion has been proved most effective. Even here, care should be used and the material should be diluted to about half the manufacturer's recommendations. The author fertilizes about once every four or five weeks. Since fish emulsion has a built-in putrid odor, the dilution helps to cut down on the resultant smell as does also the fact that the plants are divided into about four groups, roughly, and these groups are fed alternately each week. In this way, the odor is hardly noticeable.

PEST CONTROL—probably the greatest pest danger in indoor horticulture of bromeliads is the mealy bug. If not too numerous, these can be removed rather easily by means of cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. However, if a large invasion of these pests is discovered then a 50% Malathion solution is prepared in a pail or bucket and the entire plant immersed in this. Sometimes, it will be necessary to remove the plant from the potting mixture and even immerse the roots. Another pest, but not too frequently seen, if the plants are purchased from reputable dealers, is the scale insect. These scales can be removed by the use of a stiff toothbrush, soapy water, and plenty of elbow grease. It must never be forgotten that Malathion is a deadly poison and great care must be exercised in using it. It should be used outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. Of course, the best way to combat pests is to take precautions in advance. This should be automatic to avoid spreading an infection throughout an entire collection. Every new plant that enters the home should be carefully examined. If it is found to be clean, then it is potted in new or absolutely clean pots with sterilized potting material. If the potting material is placed in large cake pans and baked in the oven at 350° for about 30-45 minutes, all dangerous insects and their eggs will be destroyed.

FORCED BLOOM STIMULATION—Bromeliad hobbyists are fortunate indeed in that their beloved plant family can be scheduled to bloom by means of some form of outside stimulation. A simple method is to place the mature, well-rooted plant in a plastic bag, first removing all water from the cup of the rosette. Along with the plant, a ripe, fragrant apple is sealed into the air-tight bag. After about 5 days the bag can be opened and the apple removed. The ethylene gas emitted by the ripe apple should inaugurate bloom in the bromeliad. Another method is to dissolve a teaspoon of calcium carbide granules in a gallon of water. This forms acetylene which is poured into the empty rosette tank after the fizzing stops. The great disadvantage of this method is that it leaves a white unsightly deposit in the cup. Some commercial growers use compressed acetylene gas which is sprayed into the plant rosettes. Nowadays, "Omaflora" ahydrazine and a component of space rocket fuel (and incidentally a favorite of the author) is made into a 1:1000 solution and this is placed into the cups of the plants. A newer material is "Ethrel" which is applied to the foliage by means of a spray. Except for the apple treatment, all the chemical methods can be dangerous and should be used with caution only on mature, healthy, well-rooted plants. As mentioned earlier in this series, some bromeliads such as Aechmea fasciata can be brought in to bloom by growing them very dry for a long period of time.

PROPAGATION—Bromeliads can be multiplied in two ways; the sexual or seed method is not very practical for the home grower, because of limitations of space and time. Since the average indoor hobbyist is usually more than satisfied with only a few replacement plants, the asexual method of propagation from offsets is by all means the most practical. Much has been written about the stabilizing of new offsets in the pots in order to prevent movement that might injure the newly forming delicate rootlets. If the offset has no roots, it can be tied to a small stick before potting. Even firmly placing the offset in the pot is sometimes all that is necessary. Use as small a pot as possible and keep the medium on the dry side. This will help initiate root formation. Of course, it is best to have roots form on the offset while it is still firmly part of the mother plant. If the beginning of the stolon is under the potting mix surface, roots will usually form by the time the offset is large enough to be removed. To make sure of this, a knife can be severed at the point of stolon attachment and this is severed only half way through. If the stolons are out in the open and are long and stemlike, the stolon can be scraped of its scales down to bare wood and this bare surface encased in a firm wet ball of osmunda fiber for a few weeks. This is known as "layering" and usually causes a healthy root ball to develop.

(To Be Continued)


From the Reverend K. Maley of the Church of Christ the King, 52473 U. S. 31, South Bend, Indiana 46637, was received an interesting letter in which he stated that he was growing Vriesea splendens seeds under artificial lights in the basement of his rectory. He is hoping to be able to raise plants for sale, the money to go to help the poor in his parish. He would like to obtain more seeds of the hardier varieties. If any member has any such seeds, Father Maley would certainly appreciate receiving them.

In the August Newsletter of the Greater New Orleans Bromeliad Society, Inc., has this helpful cultural note: "A good way to control scale is with Ortho Isotox Systemic Granules or Acme Systemic Insecticide Granules. One-half teaspoon of these granules in a 4-inch pot sprinkled over the potting medium will effectively rid plants of scale."

Dr. Roger K. Taylor, of Winter Garden, Florida, writes relative to sensitivity to damage by cold: "On the lower branches of a tree I had placed three bromeliads: Aechmeas orlandiana and lasserii and Billbergia × Theodore L. Mead. After one of our unwelcome freezes—I don't know precisely how low the air temperature was, but radiation to the sky wasn't a factor because of the foliage canopy—Ae. lasserii was killed outright, Ae. orlandiana was damaged and succumbed to a later cold spell; the Billbergia was completely unscathed. As there could not have been any significant temperature difference, this should show the relative hardiness of the three."



Figure 1. Feeding relationships of some of the bromeliad inhabitants.

While staying at the Virgin Islands Ecological Research Station in the early spring of 1970, I became interested in the fauna which inhabit the leaf axils of 2 species of bromeliads. On this island there are many varieties of bromeliads, but only 2 species which trap water in their leaf axils and may support considerable animal life. Tillandsia utriculata, which is usually epiphytic, is found in the hot open land near the Caribbean Sea. The second species, Aechmea lingulata, is rarely epiphytic, and grows in the moist mountain areas far from the coast. In a previous article for the journal (Vol. XXI, No. 2, pages 33-35) I discussed distribution of some of the immature stages of flies which lived in the leaf axil water; now I will describe some of the larger species which also live in the leaf axils.

In Figure 1 there are the major leaf axil inhabitants arranged in the form of a pyramid. Arrangements such as these are useful for demonstrating various relationships of animals living in a particular habitat and have been used for many years by ecologists. At the largest portion of the pyramid, the base, are the smallest, and also the most abundant organisms, while at the summit there are the largest animals which are few in numbers. Each layer of animals feeds upon the group at the next lower level and therefore depends upon this group for its survival. This suggests an important balance in the environment, since if one of the lower levels becomes scarce then the next upper level must seek another source of food, or else some of its members will starve. Usually the entire system is altered if a lower group becomes either very scarce or very abundant.

At the base of the pyramid in the bromeliad habitat are the plankton. These are small, usually single-celled plants or animals which are found in almost every body of water. Though some of these organisms are predaceous, most derive their nourishment directly from the sun. Because the plankton produce their own food in the presence of sunlight they are termed the primary producers. In the leaf axils, as in any body of water, these are the smallest most numerous organisms, on which all larger life ultimately depends.

The next level on the pyramid contains insect larvae, in this case the immature stages of various species of flies (Diptera). Many of these fly larvae feed on organic matter in the axils, but some (the mosquito larvae in particular) are predaceous and feed upon the plankton. Because of this the larvae are called the primary consumers. The total number of fly larvae in a bromeliad might be in the hundreds, while the smaller plankton might number well into the thousands.

When the aquatic larvae are fully developed they change into a resting stage or pupa. After 24 hours they will emerge as fully developed, winged adults. The mature flies are now able to leave the bromeliad where they may seek a mate and reproduce. In the Ieaf axils there are larger, secondary consumers which feed upon the adult flies. The next level in the pyramid is filled by two species of frogs, Elutherodactylus antillensis and E. cochranae, which also live in the leaf axils. In addition to the adult flies, the frogs may eat ants, termites, beetles or any small insects or crustaceans which are in among the leaves. The frog population in a single plant may be as few as 2 or 3, or as high as 15 or 20 in a bromeliad in very wet areas.

There are several important animal species which are in the bromeliad but which have not been included in the pyramid. One is the familiar cockroach which shuns the light and lives deep in the leaf axils. The cockroach is a scavenger, consuming dead plant or animal material which might be in the axils of the bromeliads. Other scavengers are isopods (pillbugs or sowbugs) and millipedes (thousand leggers), which feed almost entirely on decaying vegetation. These scavengers rid the bromeliad of dead plants or animals which might otherwise accumulate in the leaf axils. In their feeding they break down complex foods, and by way of their own waste products may aid in the nutrition of the plant.

In many of the Tillandsia utriculata in the very dry regions of the island there is a tertiary consumer, a small scorpion. These scorpions are predaceous and will eat frogs, cockroaches or any small insects. There is rarely more than one or two scorpions per plant, though on several occasions I have found females carrying a brood of young attached to the underside of the abdomen.

This miniature habitat within the leaf axils of the Bromeliaceae is remarkably similar to any large environment an ecologist might study. Between these leaf axils are consumers and producers, predators and scavengers. The inhabitants depend upon one another for their sustenance and to remain successful their numbers must be kept at a constant balance. This animal community is not totally self sufficient, however. It depends on the outside for air, water and sunlight. And perhaps most important is the bromeliad which provides a moist, protected shelter, free of large terrestrial predators.

—Delta College, Michigan.



Of course, all bromeliads do flower, even if it takes them 150 years to attain that achievement, as in the case of Puya raimondii. Most of us would prefer not to wait 150 years and so become a bit impatient when some of the species do not flower. One of the most provoking experiences is that certain species seem to flower regularly for one person or in one section of the country, yet, that same species may rarely ever flower in another area. Of course, there is a reason but we may not be able to explain it. There are so many conditions that enter into this problem that no one can give the specific reason in each case.

We do know, however, that some species are much more tolerant than others to different growing conditions, such as light and temperature, and this problem often becomes one of local conditions. Certainly, the water question is an important one and rain water is unquestionably the best, although not always easily obtainable. Water on the neutral to acid side is best; however, many Aechmeas, Neoregelias. Billbergias, etc., will tolerate water slightly on the alkaline side.

Vrieseas certainly want acid water and the ones that do best with me are those that I put outside in a shade house where they receive plenty of rain. Also, I always pot Vrieseas in osmunda alone, and almost all other bromeliads in an acid medium such as leaf-mold, German peat, osmunda, and sand. I think that osmunda could he used for practically all bromeliads, but it should not be allowed to break down to a soggy "sweet" mass.

Look and feel the texture of your plants. If the leaves are stiff, spiny, spotted, or covered with gray tomentose scales, they will most likely need much light and air. If the leaves are glossy and thin as with most Vrieseas, they will need more syringing, shade, and protection from too many air currents.

Light hours, cool temperatures, dry spells, rainy moist seasons are all natural causes for having normal flowering seasons for the different species. However, any one of these conditions along with the improper chemical content of water or food may cause the plant to continue to grow year after year, produce offsets and otherwise appear healthy, but it may not produce flowers. These problems are generally local and may or may not be solved by the grower.

I, myself, for years have been unsuccessful in even growing Guzmania musaica in my greenhouses. This species just doesn't like our conditions, water, or situation. I thought it might be altitude, but when I found it growing natively in Colombia at 4,000 feet above sea level and then in another area, ten feet above sea level, I decided that elevation was not the cause; but unfortunately I have not yet found the answer for its happiness, so far as my location is concerned, although it grows happily and flowers in St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, and New York. I have some Vrieseas which I collected in Brazil some years ago. They continue to grow, but do not increase in size nor do they bloom!

As a corrective suggestion I would say to try different potting mediums than you are using now, different light, a new location in your greenhouse, a different procedure on watering, a different feeding mix. A change in any one or more of those conditions may be the reason that will bring out flowers on your bromeliads.

—Orlando, Florida.



Aechmea fasciata plants flowered readily when treated with ethephon (2 chloro-ethanephosponic acid) supplied by Am Chem Products, Inc., Ambler, Pa. Regulated flowering of the crop for holiday periods is necessary for orderly marketing, Acetylene gas applied in the cup is frequently used, but treatment is slow and plants must he well matured, and results are often undependable. BOH (betahydroxyethyl-hydrazine) solutions also have been used, but severe plant damage may occur. Under southern California conditions, some natural flowering takes place with mature plants growing in the summer under greenhouse conditions, but this is unsatisfactory for growers.

To study the use of ethephon on Aechmea fasciata, several mature plants 18 months of age were treated on October 2, 1968, with an application of 17.5 mg. of ethephon per plant. A mature plant can be grown from seed in 18 months with greenhouse culture. The ethephon treatment was applied by spraying each plant with 25 cc. of a solution containing .7 mg. per cc. (approximately 5/6 oz. per plant of a solution of ½ oz. of 2 lb. per gallon ethephon formulation to one gallon of water). Nearly 100% flowering resulted for the treated plants with no flowering for the untreated plants. Flower bud initiation was observed from a month to six weeks after treatment. The plants were growing in six-inch pots under heated greenhouse conditions and were considered small to large in size.

Applications on April 29, 1970 of 5 mg. to 80 mg. ethephon placed in the cup of 26-month-old A. fasciata plants resulted in nearly 100% flower response at each treatment level, with no plant damage observed. Half of the controls flowered. Fifteen plants were used for each treatment.

Quality of flowers has been excellent. With well-developed plants, flowering response to ethephon treatment has been at a high level regardless of time of year. The chemical can be applied either by spraying or by pouring a solution of it directly into the "throat" or "cup" of the plant. Flowering response has been obtained with A. fasciata plants as young as 6 months of age from seed in other studies.

Ethephon Per PlantFlowering Plants (%)
  0 mg.  50
  5 mg.  93
10 mg.100
20 mg.100
40 mg.100
80 mg.100

Several other species also flowered following ethephon treatment. They are Ananas comosus viariegatus, Guzmania monostachia, Neoregelia carolinae tricolor, Nidularium innocentii, Tillandsia lindenii, Vriesia × 'Mariae.'

—*Respectively Farm Advisor, Orange County, Extension Ornamental Horticulturist, and Technician, Riverside.



Earlier this year southern Florida experienced its longest drought on record--so bad was it that some two and a half million residents were ordered to cut back water consumption. What made the matter worse was that wildfires broke out over more than 30,000 acres—all valuable land in so far as conservation is concerned. In one area, near the town of Copeland, an 8,200-acre fire sent plumes of blue-grey smoke skyward while orange tongues of flame licked through thousands of acres of dense cypress growth. In another area fire burned off 13,000 acres of cypress and palm—all land that had been untouched by man.

What makes the situation so tragic as far as we are concerned is that this area has been the home of some of Florida's choicest bromeliads. It was here that the late Ralph Davis first discovered the beautiful variegated form of Guzmania monostachia. I went as close as I could get into the stricken area, and I am afraid that there is a possibility that most of the Guzmanias have burned up. As only 1 out of 10,000 plants have the variegations, I feel that this bromeliad has a poor chance to survive. This area where Guzmania monostachia abound is also better known as Fakahatchee Strand (Slough). The name itself is Seminole Indian, and this slough is part of the Big Cypress Swamp that was spoken about in the March-April Journal. Here are also found by the thousands and thousands Catopsis floribunda and C. nutans: Tillandsia setacea, pruinosa, utriculata, fasciculata, circinnata, balbisiana. valenzuelana, recurvata and many varieties of native orchids. Also lost were many huge native cypress trees that logging companies did not cut down at the turn of the century. Much of this area is passable only on foot or by swamp buggy.

All but four of the nineteen bromeliad species native to the United States are growing in Florida. While other states, such as Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, Louisiana, the Carolinas, and even the southern section of Virginia can claim some bromeliads, Florida can boast of 12 Tillandsias, 1 Guzmania and 2 Catopsis species. Florida bromeliads have had to depend entirely on the wind for distribution. The ones we have no doubt came by way of Cuba and Mexico, as most of our native bromeliads are also found in these Caribbean countries.

A close observer can see that it is the hardy, sturdy xerophytic Tillandsia group which predominate in Florida. These Tillandsias can take the dry, hot days because of their natural protective coating of grey fuzz; they are, generally more in the open areas than the soft, delicate-leaved Guzmania which hides itself in the deep Everglades; the two Catopsis also seek seclusion in the lower tip of Florida's fast disappearing natural forests of Collier County.

—M. B. Foster.


The above photograph taken by Walter Singer shows part of the exhibit put on by the New York Bromeliad Society at Gimbel's Department Store in New York City on April 19 to April 24, 1971. The entire exhibit encompassed a complete living room area and was outstanding for its artistry and good taste. The New York Bromeliad Society, Herbert H. Plever, president, is to be congratulated for its many projects to promote interest in bromeliads.



Has a phenomenon like this ever been reported before? I had this bloom on a Neoregelia tristis. The pup was not an inch high and yet produced fully developed flowers. (The photographs are by a 16-year-old pupil of mine at the local Chinese school where I teach. His name is Kin Yun Fok.) —Transvaal, South Africa.


This is a genus consisting of but 4 known species: one (A. pectinatus) is native to Costa Rica; the others are from Amazonian Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Surinam. Only 2 species are in cultivation—A. flagellifolius and A. pectinatus.

A. flagellifolius, pictured above, is from the upper Amazon where it grows as an epiphyte near the banks of rivers at elevations of approximately 700 feet. In cultivation it is fairly hard, thriving out doors in southern California.

It is a unique bromeliad with long whip-like bronzy-hued leaves about 2 feet long arising from a slenderly ovoid pseudo-bulb. The low-growing slender flower stem, pale red in color, bears many small pink flowers followed by blue-black berries. It is an attractive species.

Araeococcus is taken from the Greek araeo, meaning few, and kokkos, the genus having the smallest fruit and the fewest seeds in the family. Flagellifolius refers to the whip-like leaves.


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