BSI Journal - Online Archive


A non-profit corporation whose purpose is to promote and maintain public and scientific interest and research in bromeliads throughout the world.

There are 4 classes of membership: Annual $7.50; Sustaining $12.50; Fellowship $20.00; and Life $150.00. All memberships start with January of the current year.

Address all correspondence to:
The Bromeliad Society, Inc.
P. O. Box 3279
Santa Monica, Calif. 90403
PresidentW. R. Paylen, Calif.
1st Vice Pres.Elmer J. Lorenz, Calif.
2nd Vice Pres.Eric Knobloch, La.
Rec. Secy.Jeanne Woodbury, Calif.
Corres. Secy.Kathy Dorr, Calif.
Treas.Virginia Berezin, Calif.


1970-1973: Lottie Cave, Wm. Dunbar, Elmer Lorenz, Edward McWilliams, Patrick Mitchell, Eric Knobloch, Kelsey Williams.

1971-1974: David H. Benzing, Fritz Kubisch, George Kalmbacher, Wilbur Wood, W. R. Paylen, Kathy Dorr, Amy Jean Gilmartin, Bea Hansen.

1972-1975: Jeanne Woodbury, Ralph Barton, George Anderson, Virginia Berezin, Victoria Padilla, Charles Wiley, Ervin Wurthmann, Jean Merkel.


Adda Abendroth, Brazil; Luis Ariza Julia, Dominican Republic; David Barry, Jr., USA; Olwen Ferris, Australia; Mulford B. Foster, USA; Marcel Lecoufle, France; Harold Martin, New Zealand; Richard Oeser, Germany; Dr. W. Rauh, Germany; Raulino Reitz, Brazil; Walter Richter, Germany; L. B. Smith, USA; R. G. Wilson, Costa Rica; J. Marnier-Lapostolle, France.


Published six times a year: January, March, May, July, September, November. Free to members.

Editor: Victoria Padilla
Asst. Editor: Kathy Dorr


Field Studies on Pollination of Plants of the Genus Puya
  Fernando I. Ortiz-Crespo3
Trip to Haiti, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Again to Trinidad
  George Kalmbacher9
Vriesea duarteana
  Lyman B. Smith16
The Men Behind the Scene — David Barry, Jr.
  Victoria Padilla18
Spots and Hieroglyphs
  David Barry, Jr20
Small Group — But Oh My!
  Sue Bachrach22
Bromeliads for the Beginner25
Further Thoughts-- on Variegation
  Harry E. Luther26
Three Books for the Connoisseur29
Fecundity in Bromeliads
  Edith Potter Meyer31
Financial Statement33
Plant Portrait — Wittrockia superba Lindm.40


Billbergia × 'Fantasia' — Photo by E. Lenz

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

Individual copies of the Journal — $1.25



Puya macrura growing in the high Andes.

The tubular corollas and copious nectar found in the flowers of many bromeliads point out to birds as possible pollinators, but this cannot be easily confirmed because there are very few recorded observations of bromeliad visitation by animals. To remedy in part this state of affairs, and thanks to encouraging remarks by Amy Jean Gilmartin, I want to summarize here my notes on the subject of Puya pollination; these were made mostly from 1968 to 1970 when I studied hummingbirds in highland Ecuador, but are supplemented here by information gleaned from a number of publications. Support for field work in Ecuador came from the Chapman Fund of the American Museum of Natural History and Dr. O. P. Pearson, Director Emeritus of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of California, Berkeley.

The rich diversity of Ecuador's flora and fauna has been known ever since the first European collectors traveled there in the 17th and 18th centuries; it has now been established that the country contains about 12% of the species in the bromeliad family but amounts to only 3% of the family's area of distribution (Gilmartin, 1972). Similarly, over a third of the species of hummingbirds ever described have been collected in Ecuador, which represents less than one fiftieth of the total range of the hummingbird family. These facts should make it clear that the country offers outstanding opportunities for the study of these plants and birds.

The diverse ecology of the northern Andean region results from its mountainous topography and equatorial location. Altitudinal life zones are present that follow climatic strata more or less distinct from one another in temperature and rainfall. Moving up from the warm lowlands to the cooler flanks of the Ecuadorian Andes one notices both a change and a drop in the constituent species of the various communities; luxuriant rain forests give way to simpler montane forest and shrub associations and these in turn are replaced by scrub and bunchgrass prairie above the level of cloud condensation — near the mountaintops and in the rain-shadowed inter-Andean valleys. The bromeliads and hummingbirds of these communities follow this altitudinal trend; in the Quito valley at 2850 m above sea level, my headquarters during the extent of the study, the number of species of these organisms was comparatively small and this facilitated somewhat their identification and observation.

The most striking change in the bromeliads as one leaves the rain and mountain forests below is, of course, the disappearance of epiphytic species. Partly as a corollary terrestrial species increase in relative abundance; the genera Pitcairnia, Tillandsia and Puya are particularly well represented above 2000 m; the latter two prevail on the slopes up to 3000 m, and Puya species are the exclusive bromeliad inhabitants of the Paramo bunchgrass prairie from 3500 to about 4200 m. If one were to plot the size of individual bromeliads against elevation along a transect in Ecuador a positive correlation might be revealed. Clearly some of this result might be attributed to the prevalence of Puya species at high elevations, these being typically large-sized plants, but, because the trend is also seen within the genus and is demonstrated by terrestrial Tillandsia, it is possible that large size might have some adaptive value in the forbidding climate of the Andean heights. The largest bromeliads I found were Puya plants with rosettes about 2 m in diameter growing at 4000 m elev. in the Paramo of Mt. Cayambe and in the Llanganati Mts.; these plants' size approaches that of the giant of the bromeliad family, Puya raimondii, whose colossal stems, leaves, and inflorescences rising up to 8 m or more can only be seen at very high elevations in the Peruvian and Bolivian Altiplano. This species' exceptional dimensions, as well as those of the largest Ecuadorian Puya, could be related to pollination needs. We shall return to this after we know more about the plants' ecology.

Observations I made at the University of California Botanical Garden first suggested that hummingbirds could be among the natural pollinators of Puya plants. In 1967 and early 1968 I investigated California hummingbirds, mostly the Anna and Allen's Hummingbirds (Caylpte anna and Selasphorus sasin, respectively), at a study area that included the Botanical Garden and adjacent portions of the Berkeley hills. The garden is favored by these birds not only because the plants there are kept lush and green throughout the year, but also because there is an outstanding outdoor collection of exotic plants that produce nectar in abundance. I kept a record of the plants the birds visited and particularly of those where individuals established feeding territories. I was struck by the fact that hummers began exploring new Puya inflorescences days before any flowers had opened, and foraged regularly at an inflorescence as soon and as long as nectar was accessible. Moreover, inflorescences forming a clump were invariably taken over by an individual bird — usually an adult Anna male — that foraged there and excluded other hummers from the site for the one or two months that flower production lasted. The resident bird could often be distinguished by Puya pollen marks left on its front by the stamens of the flowers it had harvested; this and the fact that plants at a territory fruited abundantly led me to believe that successful pollination had been accomplished by the birds (for more details see Ortiz-Crespo, 1969).

My work in Ecuador began in late 1968, after the preceding observations had been made; I was thus aware of the possible mutual dependence of Puya and hummers, and when in the field studying the latter I kept an eye open for these plants. In late November, 1968, I located a dense population of Puya aequatorialis growing at Caspigasi on the dry northwestern slopes of Mt. Casitagua at an elevation of some 2900 m. This locality is about 20 Km north of Quito and 4 or 5 Km west of the Equator monument pictured in so many local postcards. When first discovered the plants had nearly full-grown inflorescences but no open flowers; nevertheless a few hummers were found, mostly Sparkling Violetears (Colibri coruscans) and Giant (Patagona gigas). By late December most plants were in full bloom and their flowers were coveted by many violetears and a few giants, the latter having some difficulty in outmaneuvering the smaller violetears around the relatively short — 1.5 m — inflorescences. Individual violetears settled at clumps of inflorescences where they fed and from which they excluded other hummers. A clump often included 5-10 stalks rising from one or more plants; each was seen to bear flowers of uniform color, but different plants could have flowers colored differently from dark purple to greenish yellow, presumably representing genetic morphs. The birds were obviously unconcerned about color, since various "morphs" could be included within one territory. I assume this or a similar territorial pattern of Puya use prevailed until about mid-January, but most plants were fruiting and few new flowers were found on January 26, when territorial violetears were no longer in evidence and hummer activity in general had ebbed.

The Caspigasi area was again observed in late 1969-early 1970; a similar pattern of hummer occupancy was then recorded, but probably because I was then better trained than a year earlier I noticed two other species of hummers feeding at the plants, Black-tailed Train-bearers (Lesbia victoriae) and Purple-collared Woodstars (Myrtis fanny). Remarkably enough for plants of a relatively aseasonal region, the flowering of the Puya there was as synchronous in 1969-1970 as it had been in 1968-1969; the peak occurred in early February rather than late December, however. On 3 February 1970 I spent several hours watching a 150 × 40 m hillside stretch covered with inflorescences in full bloom that were defended by about 15 violetears, each of which repelled other violetears and birds of the three other species from its territory. Most intruders were discouraged, but a few individuals of all four species managed to partake of the food there. The Giant Hummingbirds seemed to be the most successful thieves; persistent individuals of this species could easily tackle the smaller violetears (20 vs. 9 g in body weight). In general, however, the giants seemed to prefer the flowering stalks of neighboring Century Plants, Agave americana, to those of the Puya plants, and there they were capable of keeping off intruders of all other species.

Nectar reward might be critical here in addition to aerial mobility; plants producing more nectar than P. aequatorialis, such as Agave, might be easier to defend for giants simply because the profit to be gained by defense is relatively greater.

It is unfortunate that my other Ecuadorian records cannot be as clear as the previous ones on the identity of the plants concerned. However, I might get a measure of sympathy from the reader considering that collection of Puya specimens for identification is an unpleasant task, often made painful by the tough and thorny foliage which characterizes the genus. I, for one, preferred to leave this to the botanists and concentrated on hummingbirds. Thus, on December 28, 1968 I recorded a Great Sapphirewing, (Pterophanes cyanopterus), moving about the conspicuous stalks of a green-flowered Puya in Paluguillo Pass, some 35 Km east of Quito as the road Quito-Papallacta winds its way up to an elevation of 3300 m. Two species, Puya sodiroana and P. pichinchae, have been collected there; however, my notes on the plants I saw suggest P. clava-herculis, but this cannot be confirmed in the absence of a specimen. Similarly, on 18 February 1969 I observed a Giant Hummingbird feeding from the stalks of a blue-flowered Puya common in the smaller of the two islands at Lake Cuicocha, a crater lake on the slopes of Mt. Cotacachi at an elevation of about 3000 m. The plants could be P. glomerifera, but once again no specimens are available to substantiate this possibility. Incidentally, this record constitutes a 40-Km. extension of the Giant Hummingbird range northward in South America.

(To be concluded in next issue.)



Another show coming up and much discussion as to what we could have that was new and different! One member suggested that we did not need to have the same sort of rocks we always used. If not, then what we could we have instead? We had used many different materials as we have done many shows. Then a brain wave — or was it? How about some rocks made from pottery? It was worth a try, anyway. With the help of a friend who also makes pottery, we set to work. I must admit when I rang her and told her I wanted her to help me make some rocks she was slightly taken aback! We had no idea how to go about making rocks, but after a little discussion we decided what to do.

We used large pieces of clay and knocked them roughly into shape and then gradually hollowed them out. This was the longest part of the job, as we had to be careful not to take too much out and not to spoil the shapes. Some were "roughened" by rubbing with a piece of green clay, while others were left smooth. All shapes and sizes of rocks were made to go in the pool we were having.

The first firing was easy, as the rocks could all be piled one on top of the other so a lot could be packed into the kiln at once. But when it came to the glazing, it was another story. It was a work of art to try to get as many in the kiln as possible as they were such odd shapes. It was like doing a jig saw puzzle! The colors we used were pale greens, browns, yellows, etc., while for the pool pebbles we used much brighter colors as they would be under water. Each time I unloaded the kiln I looked doubtfully at the colors and wondered if we had the right thing! However, when placed among the green moss and with bromeliads tucked between them, the rocks really did look most unusual and gave the whole display a real lift.

Many people remarked on our unusual rocks and we were often asked where we got them! This is probably the only display ever staged where "kiln rocks" were used instead of those from natural places. Maybe someone else may like to try the same idea sometime.

—Auckland, New Zealand.



Tillandsia utriculata

Upon arriving in the capital of the island of Guadeloupe, for all I could judge then, I was in the midst of a student riot. Because of crowds in the street my taxi had to detour to get to my hotel. Police with vehicles were to be seen. No one handy at my hotel could tell me what all this confrontation was all about. I saw youths racing away or to some points, heard a thrown rock hit something with a bang. More racing by my hotel. I had only one day on this expensive island, and perhaps it would be ruined or result in problems. After a few hours I found out that groups of youths were trying to crash the gates of a theater where an all-West-Indian musical competition was taking place.

Aechmea nudicaulis
Georgetown Botanical Garden
But, next day, however, I was elated to look up at bromeliads perched charmingly on trees in the old public park at the waterfront. Although years go by without any natives paying attention to these plants, and the park poorly kept, these graceful and healthy tillandsias up in trees were a beauty thing in this park. The rest of the park was cared for after a fashion, and probably no attention given toward the welfare of the epiphytic bromeliads, but there they were—unattended gems. I discovered them from my restaurant window. Going outside I found a number of Tillandsia utriculatas high up in a sand-box tree—Hura crepitans, a common tree with a thorny bark native to the West Indies and northern South America. Some of the plants had inflorescences, large and full, but probably in the seeding stage. A royal poinciana tree had a fine specimen of this species on its trunk about fifteen feet above the ground.

I wasn't long in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, before coming upon an impressive sight—bromeliads, of course. Just around the corner of my hotel on the main street was a large raintree (Samanea saman), its very stout branches loaded in places with Aechmea nudicaulis packed in rows. Later, in the Georgetown Botanical Garden came amazing evidence that this species thrives thereabouts in a prodigious manner. Great limbs of trees were loaded exclusively so closely with these large specimens that they had reached their approximate maximum population potential for that particular niche. One does not have to take a tortuous trek into the wilderness to have the opportunity of seeing bromeliads in massive manifestation. Go to the Georgetown Botanical Garden.

Only several were in bloom—it was Christmas time—and these were high up. I wanted to get a good look at their inflorescence, so one of the staff went back to fetch a very long-poled cutter and he brought two down from the same tree. There was a difference in their inflorescences; since it is such a common species of great range, other variations can be expected. When there is great variation, or even little variation, in collecting for attractive specimens, one must see the plant in flower.

Vriesea splendens var. Trinidad

The new curator in charge of the botanical garden is a native Guyanian, Mrs. Elsie Croal, a botanist graduate of the University of California. Besides furnishing me with staff assistance, she arranged to have me driven out to the G. S. Jenman Herbarium at the School of Agriculture. There was no one that I could find in Guyana that was a bromeliad student or specialist, so if anyone wishes to know what a native species looks like when in flower, or as to habit, it is advisable to go to the Jenman Herbarium to look over the mounted sheets. George Samuel Jenman (1845-1902), founder of the Georgetown Botanical Garden, was an Englishmen trained at Kew Gardens. Jenman had written on a sheet of Aechmea nudicaulis, "common on trees—a pest." Being an outsider, I saw it as an exciting example of lush bromeliad phenomenon—but you see another botanist had another view of it—he was where he could not be impersonal.

Having read from time to time of the prodigious puyas of the Andes—chilensis and its variety gigantea, and gigas, I was surprised to see the specimens of three different puya species in the Jenman Herbarium, Puya augustae, P. floccosa and P. guelchii. The latter sheet was inscribed by Dr. Lyman B. Smith as a new combination. It was collected on Mt. Roraima, SW Plateau, a plant only eight inches tall. It grows in rock crevices and swampy soil and has ball-like flowers of pale pink with bright yellow sepals. Guzmania lingulata was collected growing on rocks.

The Jensen Herbarium is housed in a frame building, and like nearly all similarly built Guyianian homes is built high on stilts, with no ground floor, because the populated land is mostly below sea level. The whole area is protected by a many-miles-long sea wall built by the Dutch, who held the land in colonial times. This valuable collection of plant material is rapidly deteriorating because of lack of funds.

I was in Guyana at Christmas time 1971 for about ten days. My luck at times was just plain miserable. I was sick with the flu for all that time except the first day, and it was the rainy season with all that means in frustration. But as far as bromeliads were concerned, the third and climactic pleasurable experience occurred on my trip to Kaieteur Falls in Guyana near Brazil and Venezuela, which is five times as high as Niagara and the highest large falls in the world. Once a week the government airlines has an excursion flight to the falls, which permits the visitor about three hours to get around on the trails, eat lunch, take pictures, etc. It does not allow much time to study the flora and enjoy the geology, but it so happened that it permitted me to get acquainted with one of the intriguing sights of the bromeliad world, along with the sight-seeing.

We had been flying over about a hundred and fifty miles of absolute forest when suddenly a small open area appeared as we were settling to alight on the small runway. The most conspicuous objects were a lot of stout-trunked, large leaved plants growing sometimes in large colonies, sometimes scattered. They remotely suggested Agaves, or "century plants", and although I had never seen them before, I felt they could be bromeliads, but there were no signs of flowers or fruiting. I took photos after landing and sought some out. The leaf edges were without any spines. This could be easy I thought. When I get back home I will find out what giant Vriesea grows near the brink of Kaieteur Falls. The leaves were too large to bring back with me, along with my other impedimenta.

Aechmea dichlamydea var. trinitensis
Sometime after I got back home, I went through Dr. Lyman B. Smith's "Bromeliaceae of British Guiana" published in 1930 (Number 89, Contributions from the Gray Herbarium, pages 46 to 89). It included a single Vriesea growing in that area that was too small for the plant I saw. It had to be something else. After rummaging around for other possibilities I came upon Brocchinia micrantha which is found at Kaieteur Falls. It was described as a very large plant, stem thick and woody (it is one of the few woody-stemmed bromeliads), one meter high and more, leaves one meter long, Dr. Smith gave as a reference an account of it by J. G. Baker in the Gardeners Chronicle (1880) who gave it the name Cordyline micrantha. Thus it was published for the first time, under the impression that it was a member of the lily family. There is a pen-and-ink sketch of a group of the plants—and because I recognized my plant, that sketch was more than beautiful!

Wishing for confirmation, I called up Dr. Bassett Maguire of the New York Botanical Garden who has made three collections at the Kaieteur Falls in his time. He also reported that he was impressed with the beauty of these plants, and that when masses of them are in flower with their large inflorescences the effect is indeed thrilling. He also told me the rock of the bed of the river was originally African rock! and that millions of years ago when all the land of the world was in one big piece and what now is South America was next to what is now Africa, this conglomerate rock extended from its African base and spilled into the part which is now South America.

It took three or four months before the mystery of Brocchinia micrantha was solved, and I am sure that I enjoyed the finding of this plant's identity all the more, not knowing what it was at the time of first seeing it, but having later come upon a "hot trail."

Next day I was in Trinidad for a day's exploration with the Paul Fosters in the mountains of the northeastern part of the country. First we went to the home of Peter Rapsey, plant dealer and collector, to see his garden. He had an outstanding form of Vriesea splendens which he had collected on some mountain site apparently known only to himself, and he wasn't telling! You will recall that I wrote about the variability of V. splendens in my article on my trip to Caracas. He also had the variety trinitensis of Aechmea dichlamydea.

Of three small Guzmania lingulata plants I collected in Trinidad, one had fine stripes all the way up on the back of its leaves, one had stripes to only half-way up and the third had no stripes at all.

Brocchinia micrantha at Kaieteur Falls

In those mountains cocoa can be grown favorably on cleared land. We passed several plantations, one deserted for a few years, the low reddish pods conspicuous at the time of my visit. Orchids and bromeliads nicely find homes on cocoa trees, and since the trees are low they afford good plant hunting. Of course, you ask the owner for permission. (Oh, well, not if it is deserted!)

As you are tramping through the Trinidad forest you may come upon an innocent-looking very sprawly grass, laxly mounded a few feet high. It has many slender leaves and it takes close scrutiny to see that it has many saw-teeth. Just go around it, don't try to push through, because the teeth can tangle into your clothes and bare legs and the further you push the more you get trapped and the bloodier you are going to get.

We had gotten out of the car to explore a certain area for plants and had spent about an hour going deeper into the forest, when down came a tropical rain storm. Mrs. Foster had cut me a couple of large aroid (Philodendron) leaves for an umbrella. In moments the trees were no longer any protection, and then my umbrella—one leaf for each hand—came in good stead—but after one hour of rain coming down in torrents my arms could no longer support the leaves—and I got soaked.

This particular trip included several days in Haiti. Victor A. Wynne, plantsman, was a most thoughtful host and guide. He took me on several trips in areas in which the roads were good. The land is 85 percent mountainous, and the mountains are steep, usually with no good roads. In that part of the country around the capital, Port au Prince, the mountains are shorn of trees and shrubs. Since the discovery of America what was once forested mountains has become bare of trees and it is not for the person interested in native bromeliads. Areas where Tillandsia and other genera are to be found cannot be reached easily.

A trip to the E. L. Eckman Herbarium at the Agricultural School at Damian afforded me examination of a goodly number of sheets of bromeliad species that had been collected in Haiti. Dr. Eckman was a Swedish botanist who made collections of the flora of the whole island, which includes the Dominican Republic. He made three collections of each plant, one for the island, one for a Swedish institution, and another for Kew Gardens. He spent several years in this venture, and lost his life in the cause contracting a fatal illness in the Dominican Republic.

The Flora of Haiti by Barker and Bardeau (1930) (the bromeliad section) has listed a number of tillandsias which require updating for valid names. The only vriesea of the country was listed as Tillandsia tuerckheimii—now V. tuerckheimii. The revised list given below in alphabetical order comprises twenty-one different taxa. This, so far as I know, is published here for the first time.

T. balbisiana
T. caribaea
T. circinnata
T. compacta
T. deppeana
T. fasciculata
T. fasciculata var. venosispica
T. festucoides
T. flexuosa
T. hotteana
T. juncea
T. polystachya
T. pruinosa
T. recurvata
T. schiedeana
T. selleana
T. setacea
T. tenuifolia
T. usneoides
T. utriculata
T. valenzuelana
V. tuerckheimii



In January 1972, when our botany department chairman, Dr. Edward S. Ayensu, and I made a circuit from Belo Horizonte to Diamantina in Minas Gerais State, Brazil, we were studying Velloziaceae and little else. Also Minas lacks extensive rainforest and the many beautiful bromels that go with it in the coastal states. There are a good number of dyckias, a few inconspicuous tillandsias, and a very few not so inconspicuous vrieseas. Bromels are not plentiful enough to warrant a special search but occasionally they can be quite startling.

We were cruising along the highway south of Diamantina looking for Velloziaceae on the low stone hills when we ran into three impressive vrieseas in succession. First there were numerous plants of six-foot Vriesea clausseniana on the sandy flats between the stone hills, but these were so old and broken as to be worthless. Next in a broad cleft in the rocks we came on a giant Vriesea still in such young bud as to be unidentifiable but already over twelve feet high. My friend from Parana, Gerdt Hatschbach, who was with us on this trip, may yet collect it in good shape in one of the follow-up trips that he is planning. Also he discovered our third and most beautiful Vriesea in considerable quantity on the bare ledge of a stone hill. At first I thought that we had a new species, but when I returned to Washington and tried to place it in my key, I found it already there because another old friend, Apparicio P. Duarte, had been there before us and I had named the species for him from an old and withered herbarium specimen.

As can be seen from the picture the plant is colorful enough to repay cultivation and is unusual in form. It is quite unlike any other Vriesea so far known from Minas Gerais and its long white quickly collapsing petals place it in the section Alcantarea along with the giants of Rio's sea cliffs. I take this opportunity to repair my original description and pay tribute to this beautiful species.

VRIESEA DUARTEANA L. B. Smith, Phytologia 16: 80, pl. 2, figs. 3-5. 1968.

PLANT flowering over one meter high. LEAVES many in a broadly funnelform rosette; blades dull green, concolorous. SCAPE and scape-bracts deep red. INFLORESCENCE subdensely cylindric; axes and bracts deep red. SEPALS bright yellow; petals, filaments and style shining white.

—Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.



One of the pillars of the Bromeliad Society since its very inception has been David Barry, Jr., of West Los Angeles, California.

It was David Barry who conceived the idea of an international bromeliad society when the founding organization was only a small local group. It was he who persuaded Mulford Foster of Orlando, Florida, to take part in an international group and to come to the opening of the newly formed society.

Mr. Foster was elected as the first president of the Society in 1950 and Mr. Barry served as vice president. He assumed the presidency in 1959, a position he held until 1963, when he was succeeded by James N. Giridlian. Upon Mr. Giridlian's death in 1965, he again acted as president, but refused renomination in 1969, although still serving as a board member. In 1972 Mr. Barry was chosen unanimously by the Board of Directors to serve as an Honorary Trustee—an honor reserved only for those whose contributions to the study of and interest in bromeliads has been outstanding.

Although not a native Californian, David Barry has lived all but two years of his life in southern California. He attended Stanford University in Palto Alto, where he majored in natural sciences. Upon graduation he entered his father's highly successful real estate business, but never lost his absorbing interest in nature, and for years his attention was focused on aviculture.

A trip to the Caribbean and Central America awakened him to the great world of the tropics, and he became obsessed with the idea of bringing as much of its lush greenery to his garden and to those of friends as it was possible.

So began his introduction and culture of tropical plants, especially palms, cycads, aroids, bromeliads, orchids, and palms—an activity which has never abated. Before World War II he was active in an "international seed exchange service," which sent, received, and re-distributed palm seeds between governmental departments of agriculture and botanic gardens throughout the world. Few palms had been introduced into southern California in recent years, and it was largely due to Mr. Barry's endeavors that a renaissance in the growing of palms in the southern part of California took place.

In 1941 he went to Cuba in search of new palms and on his way home visited Florida where he met Mulford Foster. This meeting was an auspicious occasion for both gentlemen, as they had much in common, David Barry returning home with a renewed interest in bromeliads which he had started collecting in the early 1930's. At that time bromeliads were almost unknown in California, there being only a handful of nurserymen who stocked these plants.

Soon Mr. Barry's collection became the largest in the West, his species numbering well into the hundreds. These he housed in several green houses in his back garden. In 1948 he erected a large lath structure and several greenhouses in the rear of his office building in Brentwood, a suburb of Los Angeles, and upon retirement from the realty business opened his California Jungle Gardens.

No one has been more zealous than David Barry in introducing new bromeliads into California or in furthering the interests of the Society. His nursery is a lush tropical paradise filled to overflowing with treasures gathered from all parts of the globe. He is world-renowned for his work with palms, and these exotics form an appropriate setting for the many bromeliads he grows outdoors. In his greenhouses are many choice European hybrids—especially vrieseas—which he has introduced into the American trade. Their listing would take several pages. Recently he has amassed many fine crosses made in Hawaii as well as many choice species from Peru and Ecuador.



Spotted leopards and cheetahs, speckled hens, freckled boys and spotted bromeliads are of much more interest than if plainly colored. Spots have high decorative value, but not many bromeliads are spotted. Now I wonder why some are spotted and some are not.

About twelve years ago I had an exciting experience when collecting bromeliads in the Isthmus of Panama. I was taken to a deciduous forest of small trees where it was dry, the sun was burning hot, and there was no shade. The thin limbs of the trees were gaunt and naked except for many small bromeliads all about eight inches in width. Their rosettes were silhouetted against the sky like summer's birdnests in winter. Each lovely little plant was profusely spotted with small polka dots. They were as easy to collect as picking oranges, and I gathered quite a few and sent them with great expectation to my nursery in Los Angeles. I was in for a disappointment. They soon grew into large plants about two feet across, their spots disappeared, and they produced tall spikes of an indifferent green. I gave away a few plants and threw out the rest. Bench space was too important to waste on such colorless plants. They were Vriesea sanguinolenta.

It occurred to me recently why the spots disappeared. When the trees were leafless, the spots were needed to reduce the intensity of the sun on the leaves of the bromeliads. As the trees leafed out and provided some shade from the bright sun the spots were not needed so they faded away. The coming and going of the spotting on these bromeliads is annual and determined by the deciduous nature of the host trees. The development of the bromeliads from seed to seed is probably also annual. The rapid growth of bromeliads in Panama is made possible by the warmth and rain there. What would more heat and water do for your plants?

Tillandsia dyeriana from Ecuador is another bromeliad that loses its spots in maturity. Its host plants are undoubtedly deciduous trees. Other kinds of bromeliads keep their spots. Examples are Vriesea racinae, V. guttata, and some of the small neoregelias such as N. punctatissima, N. tigrina and N. pauciflora. As their spots are to reduce the brightness of light on the green of their leaves, it is evident that the plants live in exposed places and in cultivation must be given a great amount of light. In the tropics this means full sun. Vriesea racinae is difficult to grow, if not to keep alive, "in captivity", as it is usually not given enough light. I was told years ago to treat Vriesea guttata "rough" and I eventually figured out that this meant with little protection and with much exposure to strong light.

Broken linear markings of irregular pattern, or hieroglyphs, are used by some bromeliads to reduce light intensity on their leaves. Examples of such plants are Vriesea hieroglyphica, Guzmania vittata, G. lindenii, G. musaica and Canistrum × 'leopardinum'. The stubbornness to flower of Vriesea hieroglyphica, Guzmania musaica and Canistrum 'leopardinum' is very likely due to lack of enough light. Guzmania vittata has been culturally difficult for the same reason.

The rationale for giving stronger light to spotted and hieroglyph bromeliads than to unmarked plants is that it is needed to compensate for the comparative lack of green area in their leaves where the photosynthetic process can work on the chlorophyll in the manufacture of food. This requirement is not confined to these particular bromeliads but extends to other kinds of plants with deficiencies of green areas in their leaves.

—Los Angeles, California.



Is it possible that your local bromeliad society is losing some of its original enthusiasm, energy, or creativity? If so, perhaps this glimpse of the activities and accomplishments of a small group of bromeliad enthusiasts who meet in La Mesa, California, can serve to renew your inspiration.

On May 10, 1965 four bromeliad-minded folks met and organized the San Diego Bromeliad Society. The achievements of the small group that grew from this modest start are notable.

What other similar small club puts on four or five major displays a year, maintains continuing educational projects at its monthly meetings, can claim members who serve as speakers, judges and writers in the field, and above all, have established and maintain a special bromeliad planting in the county's only botanic garden?

Invitations to display choice bromeliads seem to come regularly throughout the year. For garden clubs and floral association affairs, choice potted plants and specimens mounted on driftwood and as hanging mobiles are always effective. For their own annual display, it has become traditional to combine the plants with many accessories and artifacts of various countries. At their last show in Balboa Park, separate tables featured bromeliads combined with seashells; with mineral specimens and crystals; as dish gardens and mobiles; a "Gay Nineties", an American Indian, a Mexican, a Japanese, a Polynesian and a early American setting with authentic fabrics, dolls, masks, musical instruments, baskets and other crafts adding color and interest. A staffed, educational booth on growing bromeliads from seeds was also featured.

It is at the Southern California Exposition at Del Mar each year, however, that the talents of this group can be appreciated by the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come annually to this event, with its superb garden-oriented displays. Usually the San Diego Bromeliad Society is awarded the blue ribbon place in its category, though once it had to settle for a second when its competition was a commercial floral exhibit. One year this club produced a pirates' cave opening on to a seashore; a year ago their large plot featured a native hut "above the Amazon" complete with tropical foliage, epiphytes in the thatched roof and a live "jungle fowl" in a large cage. The most recent display simply featured beautiful bromeliads and associated plants artistically arranged on two slopes above a stream bed with emphasis on the variety of color, texture and unique blooms of this chosen family.

At the monthly meetings, various on-going projects have helped to educate new members and maintain the interest of the more knowledgeable. A "Show and Tell" table has been a regular feature, involving bringing in and describing special "brag" or problem plants by the general membership. Each meeting of one year was devoted to one species with a brief discussion and as many examples brought in as possible. One project involved distributing three varieties of puya seeds to members to try to germinate under varying conditions. One member (who used a chicken brooder) was so successful that she is frequently asked to demonstrate her technique. In 1969, "Project Exposure" involved distributing similar plants to members whose growing situations varied. Particular attention was paid to the amount of sunlight received. The plants were brought back to meetings at intervals and a surprising range of differences showed up when comparisons were made.

For programs, the chairman has been successful in obtaining many speakers who have shown slides of their plant collecting trips in Mexico, Central and South America, as well as programs about such related plants as ferns, begonias and gesneriads. In addition, members bring pups of some of their own plants to put on a special sales table for the benefit of an on-going library fund.

Perhaps the project which reflects the most credit to this devoted group is the bromeliad planting at Quail Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, California. Four years ago, the San Diego Bromeliad Society decided to sponsor a special plot to feature both terrestrial and epiphytic bromeliads growing outdoors in Southern California. In cooperation with the regular staff at the Gardens, three dead trees were installed as supports. Attached on one were bromeliads (mostly tillandsias) which had been collected in Mexico by two of the members; on the second were attached plants imported from Peru, and on the third, various American species and hybrids. Terrestrials were scattered on the ground and on old logs. An overhead sprinkler system was finally installed and the plants have naturalized appreciably. Work parties are organized throughout the year to clean, fertilize and check on the plants. This plot is such a popular center of interest in the Gardens that the County and Quail Gardens Foundation have asked the Bromeliad Society to enlarge and enhance the planting considerably, and plans are now under way toward this end.

Even the social events of this club are unique. Each year, one summer meeting is a garden party, held at the home of one of the members to allow observation of the use and care of bromeliads around the home. At the annual Christmas party, games, puzzles and races are all especially devised around bromeliad themes.

It is hoped that this condensed overview of one active bromeliad society will serve as an inspiration to other small, possibly isolated groups who will find similar activities truly rewarding.

—San Diego, California.


Vriesea psittacina
A small to medium-sized species with light green leaves often shading to pale violet to-ward the sheath. The feather-like inflorescence, borne on an erect stem, is very showy, lasting in color for several months. Prefers a shady, warm location.

A robust compact little species that soon forms a large colony. The stiff gray leaves are about 3 inches long; the inflorescence about 5 inches high. This plant seldom puts out roots; it can be hung on a wire and let multiply. A good bloomer.
Tillandsia aeranthos



A chance seedling with white stripes of Vriesea splendens in collection of Didier Willot, Lesquin, France.
After reading the two articles on bromeliad variegations in the July-August issue of the Journal, I would like to add a few additional observations.

First, on the Florida Guzmania monostachia variegata, the disease seems to strike seedlings at about the third or fourth year, or when they attain a diameter of 8 to 12 inches. This variegation is very unstable, ranging from lines which are barely visible to broad bands in white which cover fifty per cent or more of each leaf. In the wild, offsets from all green plants rarely, if ever, variegate, but pups from variegated plants quite often fail to pick up the mother plant's coloring.

I might add that the variegated colony is located in a very dense protected area where water is usually plentiful; but fingers of the colony which extend to the south and east contain only all green plants. These fingers, being higher and more open, would be much more subject to stress by drought. The only explanation for the occurrence of the variegated plants in the core area would be that they were infected during the time the core area was heavily logged. The fingers which contained the less desirable scrub cypress were not stripped for timber.

Second, on the nature of variegations, I do not believe that all such irregularities can be attributed to viral infections. Many, if not all of the unstable types of variegation are most likely of this origin, but there are several plants that do not fit this mold. Take, for example, Aechmea coelestis var. albo-marginata—a more reliable plant would be hard to find; grow it hard or soft and it still keeps its white marginal bands. Also, the seed of this plant produces a very high percentage of short-lived albinos. This variegation is quite possibly the result of a recessive mutated gene. Bromelia serra variegata and Aechmea fasciata albo-marginata may be similar mutations.

This is not to say that all unstable mutations are caused by viruses and all stable types are genetic. I have one plant of Ananas bracteatus striatus which is very erratic in the coloration. Often it will produce a succession of all white leaves; the plant continues to go white until most of the old, partially green leaves die from old age. Then mysteriously the pure white becomes suffused with green and the plant begins to grow again. An eleventh hour reprieve—or can viruses look out for themselves? There seems to be plenty of work ahead before we can hope to control plant coloration, let alone understand it completely.

—St. Petersburg, Florida.

Recently bromeliad variegation has undergone extensive research. Many plausible explanations have come and gone as to the cause of variegation, but now it seems a definite conclusion has been reached, a virus or bacteria which renders plants incapable of producing chloroplasts, the structure within a plant's cells that house chlorophyll.

Since a mature specimen has never been reported to have abruptly become variegated, it must be assumed that the plants build up an immunity to the disease as they mature. Albinism is apparently caused when a plant becomes infected before it has built up any immunity. Seedlings that have become infected during germination and have had a change to build up partial immunity become infected only in certain areas, causing variegation.

Certain plants when well fertilized and potted in a good medium lose their variegation. Fertilization invigorates the plant, giving it the strength to suppress the disease. Plants that have lost their variegation may regain it if less perfect conditions are introduced.

—Rich Shiell, Pacific Palisades, Calif.

I feel that I must take issue with the statement that "variegations are caused by a virus." If this were true, why would only one plant in an entire greenhouse variegate? Virus is airborne and would be considered a contagious disease. Could such a virus carry through in the seed? There is nearly always a certain percentage of albino and variegated plants in seedlings from seed of a variegated plant. This would indicate to me that it is a change in the genes, rather than a virus.

I do know that variegation can be caused by extreme cold. I used Ethyl Chloride dropped in the center of offshoots from the time they were nubs until some were half of the size of the adult plant to determine at which stage of growth I could cause a change if possible.

A Neoregelia johannis that was treated at the nub stage matured with some variegation; at the present time it has one offshoot that has some variegation and several more that are too small to be sure. A × Neomea Exquisita that was treated with three drops when two inches high has variegation on every leaf, but it is rather poor. An offshoot that has developed on this plant is nearly half the size of the mature plant, and the variegation is much better.

I must admit that this is a small percentage, when I consider the 25 plants that it was tried on. Some died; there were some that had misformed leaves; there were others that showed no visible change. None has bloomed as yet.

X-ray has been known to cause variegation also. This, we know causes mutations of the genes. I have been told that many of the lovely variegated plants from Europe were caused by X-ray.

—Kathy Dorr, Lakewood, Calif.


Considering the great dearth of written material on bromeliads, the publication of three books devoted solely to this family of plants during the past few months makes 1972 a banner year indeed.


Printed in Germany by Strauss and Cramer, 1972.

Obtainable from Stechert-Hafner Service Agency, Inc., 866 Third Ave., New York, N. Y. 10022. Price — $33.00.

To Dr. Gilmartin, who wrote this work as a part of her doctoral dissertation, we are deeply indebted, for she has filled a great gap in our knowledge of the bromeliads of Ecuador, the homeland of some of the most outstanding species. She spent several years in the field to study the plants first hand and has given us a truly erudite and thorough study. Keys to the identification of 249 species and 38 varieties of Ecuadorian bromeliads are given (in English) with detailed notes as to where the specific plants were found.

For the plantsman who intends to collect in this area, the book would be invaluable, as it was written with a view of aiding the field botanist in particular. On the other hand, the amateur grower may have a little difficulty in understanding the botanical terms and visualizing the plants from the scientific descriptions. To offset this, Dr. Gilmartin has illustrated the keys to the various genera with pen and ink sketches so that the student may better understand the characteristics of each genus. Also of assistance in determining the growing conditions of a plant is that part of the introduction which lists the commonly collected sites with their altitudes. The book concludes with 104 photographs showing the plants in habitat or just taken from the field. Although of some value, most of the illustrations, unfortunately, are not clear enough for one to distinguish the outstanding characteristics of the species. The book is paper bound, containing 255 pages of written material.


Published by the Instituto Botanico, Tobias Lasser, Director, Caracas, Venezuela, 1972. Price — $7.00

Over 300 species and varieties of bromeliads are described (in Spanish) in this first descriptive listing of the Bromeliaceae of Venezuela. Of this number, the greatest portion belong to the subfamily Pitcairnioideae, and in this group the Navia reigns supreme with 59 species.

The bromeliads of Venezuela are an interesting lot, a considerable number, such as some of the Navia, Brocchinia, and Cottendorfia being endemic to one area of the country known as "The Lost World." Very few of these plants are to be found in collections, not lending themselves to cultivation because of size, cultural requirements, or lack of attractiveness. However, they are an intriguing group of plants, perhaps because they are not well known.

But Venezuela can boast of a number of very beautiful species, Aechmea fendleri, A. castelnavii, A. dichlamydea, A. filicaulis, Billbergia venezuelana,, Vriesea splendens, V. platynema, V. rubra to name a few.

Although this book is chiefly for the botanist, it makes a welcome addition to a library dealing with bromeliads. The book contains a helpful index, is paper bound, and has 361 pages.

NOTES ON BROMELIACEAE — I — XXXIII by Lyman B. Smith. Reprinted from Phytologia, 1953—1971.

Contributions from the Reed Herbarium, No. XX, 1971. Obtainable from Dr. Clyde F. Reed, Reed Herbarium, 10105 Harford Rd., Baltimore, Maryland 21234. Price $7.50 plus 30c postage.

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Clyde F. Reed of the Reed Herbarium all the "Notes on Bromeliaceae" which Lyman B. Smith had published in Phytologia now appear in one volume. The Notes constitute a thick volume, numbering 666 pages, and bear witness to the great contribution of Dr. Smith to the field of bromeliads. According to Dr. Smith this series of notes was "begun with the aim of providing names for new taxa and combinations whose publication would be unduly delayed otherwise." In the Notes appear a number of keys which he had made to appear in his great work on bromeliads to appear some time in the future. These include keys to Hohenbergia, Hechtia, Pitcairnia, Puya, Vriesea, Orthophytum, Tillandsia, Dyckia, Bromelia, Neoregelia, Catopsis, Greigia, Navia, and Guzmania, Also included is a revision of the Mez key on the Bromeliaceae. New species are described.

These Notes have long been an essential part of the bromeliad grower's library, as it is the one authoritative reference on nomenclature. Such listings as those on Neoregelia, Tillandsia, and Vriesea are of untold value to the collector who is desirous of correctly naming his plants.

The work is a reprint, and unfortunately the reproduction is not uniformly good. Also the printer inadvertently removed the numbers at the top of the pages to which the index in the back refers. However, the reader can easily remedy this. This is of minor importance when one considers that finally all the Notes are at last in one volume.



When you aren't interested in too great a variety, but want mainly to increase the number of plants in your collection there are a dozen or so that seem anxious to help you. This is asexual reproduction so that you don't get much variety but a lot can be done to vary color and length and breadth of leaf by varying the conditions under which they are grown.

Probably the most common bromeliad in south Florida, outside of the native tillandsias, is B. pyramidalis. This plant grows rapidly and soon reaches blossoming size. It reproduces frequently whether planted in pots, in the ground or fastened to trees. As its stolons extend up a tree the masses of plants, when left to themselves, often become so large that the roots can't reach the trunk and they break off and fall to the ground. When this happens I have found that they often have to be propped against a fence after being separated in order to make them stand up because of the length and softness of their leaves. The blossoms of these bromeliads are large, brilliant, light red inflorescences which appear faithfully each July or August. For a few days they make a gorgeous spectacle but unfortunately they are shortlived and soon fade. The variety B. pyramidalis striata is less often seen although it, too, reproduces well. The principal disadvantage of both forms is their extreme susceptibility to scale.

For plants to grow in the ground in open shade, as well as in pots indoors or out doors, there are none better than the painted fingernails, especially N. marmorata, N. spectabilis and N. marcon. These are somewhat flat, spreading plants and are more attractive when each is permitted adequate room for growth. Consequently it is better to remove offsets. I usually let them get to be at least 8 inches in height before separating them for they then reach a mature size proportionately faster than when removed sooner. Generally 2 or 3 appear at a time and when one set is removed another ordinarily appears within a short time. Color is most brilliant when plants are in very bright light although exposure to direct summer sun causes fading.

A. × 'Foster's Favorite' and A. × 'Royal Wine' are two that reproduce rapidly and also bloom faithfully in midwinter. When placed so that light can be seen coming through the almost transparent red leaves of A. × 'Foster's Favorite' the glowing color is striking. They are attractive with several in a pot although the pots may have to be propped since the offsets grow laterally, often on fairly long stolons. We have both varieties growing on a fallen log where they require no care except for occasional removal of old, dead plants. The pendent red or orange inflorescence appears early in the year and stays in color several months.

Neoregelia ampullacea var. tigrina is a relatively small plant that I grow only in pots. The shiny green leaves with their incomplete red bands are very attractive and best looking I think with 6 or 8 in a 6-inch container. They multiply by short stolons and need not be separated until they become too crowded. None of mine has ever blossomed but the leaves are so good-looking I'm glad they don't. Aechmea fasciata is one of the most eagerly sought after plants in this area because of its long lasting beautiful pink bracts and pale blue flowers. It is fortunately a good reproducer as well as a reliable bloomer although the pale green and silver bands of its leaves make it a lovely plant even when not in blossom. Unfortunately it, too, is very susceptible to scale.

Cryptanthus, as a species, blossoms and reproduces more prolifically than any other. C. 'Cafe-au-lait' is especially fecund and from one original plant I have had a great many children and grand-children to give away and to further increase stock. C. bromelioides tricolor has not done well for me, but a friend with a lath house is constantly separating his plants of this variety to start new pots. I acquired 3 plants of C. 'It' about a year ago and have grown them all under identical conditions. One has had no pups, one has had two and one has had six. I wish I knew what made the difference.

Other plants of which I always have a supply to give away because they, too, make a good many offsets are Billbergia × 'Fantasia', B. saundersii, Aechmea weilbachii, A. lueddemanniana, A bracteata, A. fulgens, A. × 'Maginalli', Billbergia nutans, B. horrida, Dyckia brevifolia, Neoregelia sarmentosa var. chlorosticta, N. carolinae and Bromelia balansae.

I find that many plants reproduce without blossoming. This seems to be especially true when they are newly potted. Many that I have acquired by mail have fairly soon grown an offset while later they have sat for months before developing another or blossoming. Some varieties have never produced offsets for me. It would be interesting to know the specific factors, in addition to genetic constitution, that govern reproduction.

—Fort Myers, Florida.


Cash on Hand 10-1-71:
Home Savings$6664.03
So. Calif. First Nat'l.8824.69
Income for year:
Sale of Handbook2539.92
Sale of "old" issues of Journal712.85
Seed Fund149.75
Expenses for year:
Secretarial Expense598.32
Promotional Material (including Medallions)70.93
Advance Payments for 1973:
Cash on Hand 10-1-72
Home Savings$10618.32
So. Calif. First Nat'l.6631.04
Other Assets
Burroughs Stock150.00

The Society is pleased to present to its members the Financial Statement for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1972. As the members will note, the Society is operating on a firm financial basis and that the monies received from dues are about equal to the amount expended on the Journal. This balance is due only to the fact that no salaries of any kind are paid to the editor, the secretary, or the treasurer, their services being purely on a voluntary basis.

The Society has grown to the size where computerization has been deemed necessary to ease the arduous task of taking care of membership and of mailing. Journals are mailed the last weeks of January, March, May, July, September, and November. Change of address must be received at least 6 weeks prior to this period; if Journal is not received, another will be sent only upon the receipt of $1.25. Bulk mailing is a slow process, taking up to 3 weeks for delivery even within the same locality where the Journal is mailed, so members are urged to be patient. All inquiries must be accompanied by a stamped self-addressed envelope.

The Society has for sale the following back issues of the Journal: Volumes XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII.

One volume —
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4 volumes —
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$ 6.50

12 miscellaneous issues from broken sets — $5.00. Single copies $1.25. Send order with check to The Editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif. 90049.

FOR SALE : Duplicated copies of The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, Volumes I through XV. $10.00 for complete set. Send check to Charles A. Wiley, 4036 Via Solano, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. 90275.



Wittrockia, named after the Swedish botanist Veit Wittrock, is a little known genus endemic to the southern coastal mountains of Brazil. Approximately a half dozen species have been recorded, and of these, only the plant pictured above, W. superba, is to be found to any extent in cultivation.

W. superba is a robust plant that in habitat grows as both a terrestrial and an epiphyte at elevations up to 5,000 feet. It is not a bromeliad for the small green house, for the firm, very shiny, lacquered yellow-green leaves, 18 to 24 inches long and 1 to 1½ inches wide, are armed with hard red teeth and are tipped with a sharp spine. The sharply pointed apex is blood red. The species needs room to show it off to its best advantage, for it is an attractive open rosette. The inflorescence, resembling that of a nidularium, is very slightly raised above the heart. The many white-petaled flowers are well guarded by spiny red bracts.

The bromeliad does well in the outdoor garden in southern California, thriving in both shade and dappled light.

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