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.Kelsey Williams, Calif.
2nd Vice Pres.George Kalmbacher ,N.Y.
Rec. Secy.Jeanne Woodbury, Calif.
Corres. Secy.Kathy Dorr, Calif.
Treas.Virginia Berezin, Calif.


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.

1973-1976: Robert G. Burstrom, Leonard Kent, Eric Knobloch, Elmer Lorenz, Patrick Mitchell, Edward McWilliams, Harold W. Wiedman, Kelsey Williams.


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


Introducing our President207
Plant Associations
  W. W. G. Moir208
The Preparing, Pressing and Mounting Of Bromeliads
  Victoria Jorgensen211
Variations of Growth in Tillandsia Circinnata
  Bill Swalley215
Two Vrieseas of Unusual Interest
  Victoria Padilla218
Collecting in Mexico
  Ed and Alice Hagthrop220
Three Silver-Leaved Tillandsias
  Alfred Blass225
The Men Behind the Scene—Fritz Kubisch
  Walter E. Goddard227
A 1919 Plug for Bromeliads
  George Kalmbacher229
Bromeliad Pests — The New Zealand Weta
  Laurie Dephoff232
The Variegation Problem
  Bernard Stoner234
Illinois and Florida Gardens
  Edith Meyer236
In the News237
Orthophytum navioides244


Guzmania sibundoyorum L. B. Smith — Photo by Elmer 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 — $1.50



At the meeting of the Board of Directors held in June, Mr. W. R. (Bill) Paylen was unanimously elected to the office of presidency for a second term. All agreed that Mr. Paylen is eminently qualified to hold such a position. Born and raised on his father's plantation in Java, Mr. Paylen knows the tropics and its flora as few growers do. He left his island home to attend horticultural college on the Continent, but because the enemy had confiscated the family estate during World War II, he did not return to Java but settled instead in California. A landscape designer by profession, Mr. Paylen has an imposing list of gardens to his credit, not including his own, which has been featured in national magazines. He has long been fascinated by bromeliads and has grown them for many years. He is closely affiliated with many horticultural groups, was the president of the International Fern Society and the Southern California Horticultural Institute before assuming office in the Bromeliad Society.



A fascinating study has been carried out by my wife and me in noting how certain plants are often associated with other plants in nature. With plants normally epiphytic we have long noted how bromeliads, ferns and orchids are found together and all seem to have germinated among mosses on the trunks of trees, on rocks or on hard wet ground. The orchids need their fungus to germinate but I do not believe the others have any such requirement, but do need a condition that will not dry out rapidly. Whether this association is just by chance because the growing conditions are good or whether there are some other factors I cannot decide. The close association of these seems beneficial to each other where the growing conditions are not just perfect, such as in dry forests or semi-desert conditions.

In the semi-desert conditions on Hispaniola we noted mixed growths of cacti, thorn bushes, trees, vines, tillandsias, oncidiums, etc. all growing together. Getting down near the ground we examined some little oncidiums on small branches of thorny shrubs, under the shade of the branch and on their leaves was a small Tillandsias juncea all covered with cobwebs. Placing a hand under the mass one could feel a slight movement of air — air that is cooled by the shade and air that is moister; this moisture came from the bromeliad that had collected the heavy dew that forms during the night. The oncidium's flowers were out in the sun but the aerial roots were in the leaf axils of the tillandsia. This was dry season but the heavy dew had left some traces of water in the bromel plants.

In a pine forest planted for turpentine production in Honduras we noted that the first epiphytes and the largest number were bromeliads, mostly tillandsias. Only a few ferns and orchids were noted and they were small and very close to the bromels. All plants were typical of a dry forest.

On another trip to the old silver mine town of San Antonio, Honduras, we noted epidendrum and sobralia plants out in the rock strewn, grassy and shrubby llanos or savanna on the other side of the ridge on which the old mine had been located. We set out into the llanos and looked at these plants. The tall and best growing plants were growing with their roots intermixed with those of hechtia plants. The low growing ones were growing by themselves. We gathered some of both types of this Epidendrum verrucosum var. album. After the plants came out of quarantine in Honolulu we kept them for sometime in pots. The tall ones grew well, although pruned down and the shorter ones soon died. At the base of those that lived were growths of hechtia from old stumps we had not noticed before. Soon we planted out the growing plants in our bromel garden and they have thrived there for 14 years except the clump whose hechtia had died. This seemed strange to us. Could the roots of these two plants have helped each other?

While on a sugar cane study tour of British Guiana in 1951 we were given a plane ride off the Demerrara River to the Kaieteur Falls in the interior highlands. While flying up the gorge of the Potrero River we noted huge plants that appeared to be a pandanus. These covered the gorge walls. After circling the 800-foot falls we landed on the river above the falls. Again the huge plants were everywhere while the glaring white quartz sand was all around in between the clumps. Under these plants, which we later found out to be Brocchinia micrantha, the ground was black from humus created by the big bromel. Growing in the humus were beautiful plants of Brassia bidens, a grassy looking orchid plant, in full bloom. These orchids just could not have existed in the white quartz without the humus, shade and moisture from the leaf axils of the bromel.

Following an Indian trail into the forest we soon came to an area that was carpeted in all directions with Vriesea splendens in all sizes. On the low branches of the shrubs and trees above them were ferns, mosses, other bromels and orchids all crowded into little space. It was near the end of the dry season yet the bromels on the ground and branches still had water in their "tanks". Had there not been water there, there would not have been the thick luxuriant growth of all these epiphytes.

Many Saman trees (Samanea saman) in the countries bordering the Caribbean are veritable botanic gardens with hundreds of plants of bromels, ferns, orchids and vines. They all survive the dry season thanks to the bromels.

In the dry season many forest trees are deciduous and all the epiphytes on these trees have a struggle to exist but this usually is flowering season and growths are hardened and dormant. This is also the period when snakes hibernate and one can get native guides to go with you to collect. Depending on whether areas are rain forest, savanna or desert one still finds the epiphytes growing together but the species are often different for each area.

We made use of this information in landscaping our garden with orchids, ferns and bromels. Even where the strong sun and wind made it almost impossible to grow the small oncidiums on branches we attached tillandsias with them and covered the ground underneath with neoregelias, billbergias, and aechmeas and kept their centers filled with water. Even shade loving bromels thrived in these conditions and gave us unusually fine colored leaves with the extra sunshine and heat from the sun.

Some small oncidiums thrive on having their roots in Tillandsia juncea plants for support and feeding and just would not do well without the tillandsia. These are species with long rhizomatous growths between plantlets. The wiry leaves of the bromel are most convenient to get attached to. This bromel, in both red flowered and purple flowered forms, seeds itself throughout the garden. Tillandsia fasciculata and Guzmania monostachia also establish themselves rather easily.

How wonderful this world would be if humans could only learn a lesson from plants on how to associate with each other and live in peace.

—3311 Kahawalu Dr., Honolulu, Hawaii 96817.



Sometimes by the merest accident, or by careful planning, a person will run into a really beautiful plant that he wishes he could preserve in the peak of its bloom. Luckily, this is quite easy to do. All that is necessary is a few basic materials.

Several methods are used in collecting, depending upon the type of plant you are working with. When the plant is small, it is simple just to detach it and throw it into a plastic bag until ready to press. This is usually quite satisfactory unless it is beastly hot or unless you are delayed all day before you can press your specimens. When the plant is big, just take portions of the plant (the inflorescence or parts of the foliage) and then make descriptive notes about the size of the plant, etc., to help you remember about the whole plant's appearance.

What does it mean to press your specimens? Well, maybe all of us have a friend or relative who was satisfied to press his roadside collections in a heavy book. This works well with small, non-bulky material. But the most conventional method is to use a plant press. Basically, the plant press is rectangular in shape, consisting of two 11 by 16½ boards, with cardboard alternating with blotters in between. Naturally, it is easier to visualize one when you can see it for yourself. National history museums and colleges usually have some on hand.

Place the cardboard (called a corrugate) down, lay a blotter on top of it, and cap it with another corrugate. If desired, slip another blotter on top of the second corrugate and repeat the process for as many specimens as you want to press. In this way, you are making a sort of sandwich. Always remember to have a blotter underneath the specimen and a blotter above it. Now place the boards, one underneath the stack, one on top. To hold together, two straps or ropes are tied around the press and pulled snugly so that they give a nice snap when twanged.



A plant press is very handy because it supplies air circulation from the corrugates. Look at a corrugate in cross section and you will see it is honeycombed with air pockets. Without air circulation the plants may mold. The blotters soak up the moisture from the plant and they dry more quickly. The straps exert pressure on the specimens which is necessary to keep your specimens from crinkling up as they dry. In this way the plant holds itself in the position that you arranged it in.

Now take the plant press and place it on a floor furnace or next to a forced air heater. Desert collectors place their presses on the luggage rack and let the desert wind dry their plants as they drive along. Leave your press for a day; then tighten the straps. The plants will have lost moisture, and under less pressure they may crinkle while drying.

How long does it take for plants to dry? Well, this all depends on the amount of material in the press and the type of plant in the press. Three or four days is the average time, but some plants will take longer. After a while, you get to notice that completely dried plants have a "done" smell and feeling about them.

When the plants are dry, you can leave them as they are or you can mount them as herbarium specimens. In large herbariums, they are usually stored after they have been mounted and labeled. But if you decide it is too much trouble to mount them, just leave them as they are in folded newspapers and store them. Don't leave them in the sun, because the sun will fade the colors of the flowers and foliage. Ideally, they should be stored in an airtight cabinet which is sealed from marauding insects. In large herbariums where hundreds of specimens are housed, the cabinets have a ¼ inch to ½ inch space in the back behind the shelves to allow air circulation inside the cabinet. Such specimens are fumigated. Insect deterrents, such as paradichloribenzene crystals, are kept inside the cabinets. There are many hungry beetles that thrive on dead material, the most notorious being the "drugstore beetle" or the "museum beetle."

When plants are to be handled a lot, they can be mounted. There are many different ways of doing this. In fact, the U. S. Department of Agriculture puts out a folder on this. FSHZ2 4084-5 Handbook on Forest Service Collections (March, 1962). The way I mount is to spread some herbarium paste on a sheet of glass smoothly with a big paintbrush, then imbed the specimen in it lightly. I take the specimen with my fingers or with tweezers and transfer it to a sheet of herbarium paper.

You may wonder where you can get these supplies. Scientific supply houses carry the paper, the glue, and maybe even presses. Just scout around at the local museum or write to a college and ask them who supplies them. Once you get the catalogue, your troubles are over. It can't be said often enough that the proper paper and paste are essential. Poster board as mounting paper is unsatisfactory because it does not have the stiffness or the rag content of herbarium paper, and it doesn't last. Cellophane tape yellows in time, so if mounting plants use a special adhesive herbarium tape, which can be cut into strips and used to secure plants to the sheet and to train stray wisps into place.

You'll want to label the sheet with the botanical name of the plant. Usually labels include the collector, the collection number, the collection date, the determiner, and the determination date. If you collected the plant and you know what it is, you are the determiner. The determination date and the collection date would be the same. Of course, if you haven't the remotest idea which bromeliad it is, naturally the name of the plant (genus, species) will be left blank. The determiner's name would be left blank, because nobody has determined it. However, as soon as you have solved the mystery as to the plant's identity, the determiner's name and date can be filled in. Labels can also include locality, altitude, descriptions of the plant and a number of other things. All this information can be taken from notebooks which are kept at the time of collection.

I have emphasized the mechanics of preparing a bromeliad, but believe me, there is something very satisfying and artistic about arranging pressed plants. Once you have tried it, I know you'll enjoy it tremendously.

—Monterey, California.



On a recent collecting trip to Mexico while in the area of La Cruz, my wife and I gathered a number of Tillandsia circinnata from one tree. That evening while sorting and cleaning the plants, I observed some marked variations.

The largest number of T. circinnata plants, and the type I was most interested in, was the proliferating variety. This particular species is noted for its habit of forming new plants from the base of the scape bracts just below the inflorescence. This is in addition to the usual basal offshoots.

In collecting this plant it is sometimes necessary to untangle a succession of connected plants, up to 4 feet in length. This wouldn't be such a difficult task except that the temperature is about 95 degrees with 20 percent humidity, and most of the surrounding shrubs are armed with thorns. You have to keep a careful balance and watch where you step because the ground is carpeted with heavily spined bromelias, and the mosquitoes are having their afternoon snack. While most of the proliferating varieties produce a single plant on the inflorescence, it was not unusual to see two or more new offshoots forming on the recently flowered spike.

The regular form of T. circinnata produces offshoots only from the base of the plant after flowering. I also noted that while the proliferating variety spreads throughout the branches, the regular type will clump itself around a single limb.

The last variation is unusual in that the plant is the proliferating type but sends forth a new plant in the place of the inflorescence. We found there such plants in the group we collected. At the time, the other mature plants were in various stages of bloom. The new plant that emerged from the center of the old plant was mistaken for a new bloom spike, until I noticed several months later that it was still growing with no sign of the usual flower head. This second plant is now sending out new growth that has the appearance of a bloom spike, but it is still too soon to tell.

In connection with this, I performed some surgery on a variety of old bloom spikes. As you know, most bromeliads have a small dormant growth tip at the base of each leaf which after receiving a signal from the parent plant will begin growing and form a new plant to carry on the species. This asexual form of reproduction generally results in the forming of one to three new plants, although it is theoretically possible for the parent to produce as many plants as it has leaves.

My first subject for dissection was the regular form of T. circinnata that had bloomed previously. Starting from the base of the plant, I carefully removed each leaf and noticed the presence of the dormant buds. I then proceeded to remove each scape bract and also found a bud at the base of each bract. I continued upward until reaching the first flower head. None of the buds found on the bloom spike showed any signs of development, and those nearest the flower heads were brown and shriveled.

I next removed the scape bracts from the proliferating variety of T. circinnata. The flower spike was approximately the same age of the first subject (five months). The dormant buds were present at each bract, but in the case of the proliferating variety, the bud closest to the top had developed into a new offshoot about one-half inch long.

As I mentioned earlier, these plants were collected from one tree, and while none of the regular varieties of T. circinnata had ever shown any signs of proliferating, about one third of the proliferating plants also showed no sign of proliferation.

Carrying my examination one step further, the same dormant buds were found beneath all the scape bracts on three other plants. I examined T. exserta, T. caput medusae, and an unknown vriesea species.

Whatever the mechanism that converts new leaf growth in the center of the plant into development of the bloom spike seems to carry forth in the forming of the scape in that each bud on the scape could form either additional flower heads or new plants. The variations of flower heads and offshoots on the proliferating variety run from one to five flowering branches, and from one to three offshoots a spike, though exceptions are to be expected. Maybe, one day we will be able to control the development of these numerous growth points into tremendous sized bloom spikes or the possible new propagation potential.

I tend to conclude that the stimulus that regulates flowering and the production of offshoots goes astray on a small percentage of practically all bromeliads.

I know other growers who have had the experience of a bromeliad that would bloom normally but produce no offshoots, while its sister plant, seemingly identical, would flower and offshoot as expected. Or the brom that will grow normally, then throw offshoots, then slowly die away. The majority of these plants are most likely victims of the variables of cultivation just as bromeliads in their natural habitat are at the mercy of Mother Nature. However, this still leaves that small percentage of plants that I would say are victims of crossed wires when their reproduction forces start to work.

—Santa Cruz, California.



Left —

Vriesea patula (Mez) L. B. Smith

Right —

Vriesea regina (Veil.) Beer


The genus Vriesea is a fascinating one, not only for the beauty of its over 200 hundred species, but for the wide variation to be found within the group. The two vrieseas pictured on the opposite page are a case in point.

Vriesea patula is a small, gray-leaved species, which could easily be mistaken for a tillandsia. It is an epiphyte native to Central Peru, where it is found at an altitude between 1900 and 2000 m. It is an attractive little plant, about a foot in diameter, the 8-inch leaves, 1½ inches at their base, tapering to a fine point. The beautiful inflorescence is about a foot in length—a brilliant rose, with long yellow flowers. The bracts stay in color for several months. This plant is perfectly hardy, requiring the same care as would any gray-leaved tillandsia. All it seems to want is plenty of light and not too much water. (See Vol. XIX, No. 6, page 131 for further description.)

Vriesea regina, on the other hand, is a terrestrial species indigenous to southern Brazil where it grows on steep, rocky mountain slopes at elevations from 3000 to 5000 feet. It is one of the largest of the genus, when well grown its inflorescence attaining a height of 8 feet and its rosette a diameter of similar size. In the author's garden it reached a spread of 4½ feet and had an inflorescence of 5 feet. Its leaves are broad and concave, measuring 6 inches in width and 4 feet in length. The flowers are delightfully fragrant.

The author raised this plant from seed received from Walter Richter of Germany about 12 years ago. It grew rapidly at first, finally outgrew the confines the greenhouse, and was planted in the ground in a shady spot next to the lath house. There it remained an imposing rosette—for several years, and then all of a sudden it bloomed. It was such a spectacular inflorescence that it was well worth the long wait. This particular species sends out little plantlets around its base instead of the usual offsets. It is a perfectly hardy plant here in southern California, surviving our coldest winters which will reach the mid thirties. The plant received no special care whatsoever. It was planted in good soil but never received any fertilizer. The inflorescence was attractive for about two months.

—West Los Angeles.



Tillandsia pueblensis L. B. Smith
Having already collected bromeliads on the west coast of Mexico, we decided to explore the east coast on this trip. We crossed the border at Piedras Negras. The Mexican officials checked our tourist cards, car registration and looked over our pickup camper. Although they were very friendly, we always feel relieved when the inspections are over.

We usually use Sanborn's insurance and they provide a guide book which is very useful, if you don't know the areas you are traveling into.

The first day we drove through the desert to Monclova, Satillo and Monterrey. We stayed in Horsetail Falls that night. It is a tourist spot about three miles off the highway. As we walked to the falls in the early morning, we noticed T. recurvata and T. usneoides growing in the trees.

Leaving Horsetail Falls, we drove to Cd. Valles. We saw Aechmea bracteata, both red and green variety, and Aechmea mexicana in huge clusters along the road. In one spot, about forty feet up in an old giant oak tree, we saw some T. fasciculata with beautiful yellow spikes. We wanted to collect some of this, but the locations proved a difficulty. After some time, a young Mexican man happened along, and although he didn't speak English and we don't speak much Spanish, we finally got him to understand what we wanted. With a little help and my picking pole, he managed to get up the tree and get the plant for us. The spikes of this plant were in groups of three, six and nine. It was unusually pretty. In this same area, we also found some red and yellow fasciculata.

Since we always wanted to get an early start in the morning, we usually would be on our way, and stop along the road for breakfast in our camper. We always stayed in motels or hotels each night, and enjoyed our evening meal at the various restaurants.

Just outside Cd. Valles, we found a tree with great clusters of T. ionantha. They were about 3 or 4 inches in diameter and the color was outstanding.

We crossed the Rio Panuco on a car ferry. This was our first experience with a Mexican ferry, but all went well — with the exception of an hour's wait. We found an excellent motel in Tuxpan, which also had places for campers to stay. This gave us a chance to clean all the plants, marking them as to where they were found, and putting them away in the baskets we carry to bring them home.

The next day we left Tuxpan and although we had a few showers, we were still able to collect T. brachycaulos, T. schiedeana and T. streptophylla in giant clusters (which were full of red ants) on the way to Vera Cruz. Traveling along the coast, you can see the Gulf of Mexico. Since we had made better time than we had expected, we decided not to stay at Vera Cruz, but drive on to Santiago Tuxtla. Here, we were the only American guests at the hotel and no English was spoken, but with the help of a young boy, we even found ice for our camper.

The next day we drove west, heading for Tehuantepec. We collected T. schiedeana, T. capitata, T. concolor and a Tillandsia that looked similar to T. circinnata, only it was much larger and the bulb was maroon colored. The Tehuantepec flats are very interesting. The wind blows constantly, sometimes in gusts of around 40 miles an hour. When we stopped for lunch, we saw Aechmea mexicana and Bromelia balansae growing all around us. We decided to take a closer look — NOT TOUCHING — at the balansae, and happened to look up in a tree and found clusters of T. caput medusae, T. circinnata and even some orchids growing in the hot winds of the flats.

The next day found us driving north to Oaxaca, one of our favorite places to stay in Mexico. We saw T. xerographica high up in the trees. We also found T. bourgaei, which is similar, but the inflorescence is smaller.

We stayed one night in Oaxaca, although we always enjoy a visit there. We left early in the morning, planning to have breakfast under a special tree where we had found many Tillandsias in the past. We found a T. prodigiosa in flower, along with some varieties of T. fasciculata in full bloom; we could pick T. plumosa off the trunks of the trees. Their silver foliage with delicate pink inflorescences was beautiful.

That afternoon we drove through the Tehuacan Desert. The first Tillandsia we found was another bright red fasciculata, with multiple spikes, growing on the edge of a high cliff. We found a small tree nearly covered with T. atroviridipetala. Some of these tiny plants were in bloom, so we had a field day with the camera. We always take pictures of any specimens we find. This helps keep track of the plants and gives the true color of the inflorescence. As we traveled further in the desert, we found T. subulifera, T. pueblensis and an unidentified Tillandsia, all growing on cactus. The T. pueblensis was especially pretty, with the dark purple foliage and the beautiful pink spike.

By evening we had reached Fortin de las Flores. We stayed at Posada Loma with Senor and Senora Alverez as our very gracious host and hostess. This is a place everyone should visit. Not only do you have lovely scenery of plantlife, but the view of Mt. Orizaba is breathtaking.

We especially wanted to collect V. malzinei. Senora Alverez told us it wasn't far, but the road was bad, so we decided to go as far as possible by car and then walk in about three miles. The area was very humid and the bugs active. We found the V. malzinei, but many of them had been destroyed by someone. In this same area, we found T. leiboldiana, T. viridiflora, T. butzii, T. schiedeana, T. punctulata and several colorful orchids.

Leaving Fortin de las Flores, we took a long beautiful drive through a mountain pass to Morelia. We saw many plants on this drive, but the ones that stood out were the beautiful blooming T. macdougallii, T. violacea and T. prodigiosa, high in the pine trees.

On our way back to Guadalajara, we found T. caput medusae. These were such extra large plants, we had to add some of them to our collection. By this time, our camper was full, and another successful trip was nearly completed.

We stopped in Guadalajara for the evening, then on to Mazatlan and Hermosillo, where we found T. circinnata and T. balbisiana. We were looking for T. exserta and much to our surprise we found huge clusters growing up in a tree. Our trip was really complete after taking this find.

We crossed the border at Nogales. The Agriculture department inspected the plants and dipped them in Malathane. This procedure took about five hours, and we were on our way home, with a camper full of pleasure.

—Santa Ana, California.


In the July-August issue for this year, page 156, there is a beautiful photo of Guzmania sanguinea taken by Kelsey Williams. The plant, however, is not in full bloom. Its flowers are light yellow and develop in the midst of the central water-filled cup, just as do the flowers of a neoregelia, but here the relationship with the neoregelia ends, as the neoregelia flowers turn into berries.

I have wondered how the parachute of the guzmania seed could come out of the water without being so wet that it would be incapable of developing. As mentioned in the article G. sanguinea usually produces only one offshoot. Is it not possible that the quick growing offshoot is necessary to bend the mother plant downward so that the water goes out of the old cup and the rather big seed capsules dry out and can open in absolute dryness? The seed then has the chance to fly away in the manner of all Tillandsioideae.

Nature knows how to overcome all difficulties.

—Richard Oeser, M.D., Freiburg, Germany.



Tillandsia tectorum growing on dry Andean slopes in Peru.

Tillandsia tectorum E. Morr.

Among the tillandsias in my collection in Munich I have found three of great interest.

Tillandsia montana Reitz (1962) is a small species from Brazil that can easily be confused with several varieties of T. tenuifolia (T. pulchella). However, T. montana has especially long narrow leaves and blue petals that turn reddish violet on withering. Although slowly finding its way into cultivation, it is still an uncommon species. It is not difficult to grow.

Tillandsia tectorum E. Morr. is indeed one of the most beautiful of the silver-leaved species. It was first brought to Berlin by Koch in 1868; in recent years, it has been collected by Prof. Rauh of Heidelberg, and later imported directly from Peru by me.

It is a generally caulescent medium species whose leaves are so densely covered with silvery scales that it often appears white. On this account its cultivation in the glasshouse is not altogether simple, because the plant all too often gets sprinkled and then becomes covered with algae or rots. However, if one keeps it dry as in its home in the high dry stony valleys of the Peruvian Andes, it grows well, becomes wonderfully silvery-white, and also produces offsets. It rarely blooms for me, and its inflorescence with red bracts and white petals is inconspicuous, but it is a charming plant nonetheless.

A small inconspicuous relative of T. tectorum is Tillandsia heteromorpha Mez. This small species, whose habit is very variable, is one of the rarest in our culture. I believe that scarcely anyone but myself has it in Europe. Like T. tectorum, the plant is not easy to cultivate in a glasshouse. Habit varies greatly. Sometimes it resembles a small stemless T. tectorum; sometimes it is strongly caulescent and in vegetative state resembles a silvery-scaled T. funckiana. The 10 or so specimens that I have in cultivation come from a very remote area in the vicinity of Ayacus in Peru and were collected by Herr Krahn of Stuttgart and given me to care for. They have bloomed once so far.

—Munich, Germany.

Tillandsia montana Reitz

Tillandsia heteromorpha Mez



Fritz Kubisch in his nursery, showing his famous waterfall and the many Mexican tillandsias which he collected.

Bromeliad enthusiasts owe much to Fritz Kubisch because of his efforts to arouse interest in Mexican tillandsias and to show how effective they can be in the garden. He has been a tireless showman, and his early bromeliad exhibits did much to bring the plants before the public. Also it was he who decided that the Journal should have color illustrations, and he raffled off many of the plants he collected to raise necessary funds.

From his earliest childhood, Fritz Kubisch has been fascinated by plants and at nine already had his own garden. He majored in botany landscape architecture in college, but most of his time was concentrated on bromeliads and orchids. Living in Kiel, he was impressed by the always changing fleets of vessels which anchored in the harbor and then took off to the far corners of the world. So, it was no surprise that the Old World became too small for him and he left Germany to explore the other side of the Atlantic.

He arrived in California in 1929, finally settling in the town of Culver City, where he found the ideal climate for raising plants. He opened a nursery, concentrating on bromeliads, orchids, and aroids. From time to time the wanderlust called Fritz and he traveled all over the United States and then started to explore the jungles of Mexico, collecting plants there. This was a new life and a fascinating way of living for Fritz, and for the next 37 years he spent many weeks out of each year in the tillandsia-heavens of Mexico.

He became a charter member of the Bromeliad Society in 1950, later functioned as vice president, and founded the Bromeliad Society of La Ballona Valley in Culver City, where he acted as president for a term. He has been busy on the Council, an organization with representatives from the five local affiliates whose purpose it is to stage shows and displays wherever feasible. At these exhibits one always looked for Fritz's jungle or waterfall.

Fritz is best known for his outstanding work in landscaping estate gardens, especially many in the Santa Barbara area. Many visitors to the West Coast have seen the bromeliad section of the famous estate of Mme. Ganna Walska in Montecito; this is one of his most successful bromeliad plantings. Fritz is also in constant contact with botanical gardens the world over to which he is donating plant material, as well as bromeliad seeds.

Fritz no longer maintains his large nursery, but he is still eager to obtain more and better bromeliads. His main ambition is to enter displays at many, many shows and to keep on going to Mexico and other foreign places, as long as the urge for exploring and collecting is still pulsating strong in his veins.

By the way, the second syllable of the name Ku-bisch is pronounced like the middle part of the word "ambitious."

—Culver City, Calif.



A Brooklyn Botanic Garden Leaflet dated November 26, 1919, has mention of bromeliads in its collections at that time. The greenhouses were only a very few years old, so that these were the original exhibits, with a different set of locations than exists now. To quote, "In House #8, occupying at least two-thirds of the east bench, are members of the pineapple family, including the edible variety of our markets, and containing some of the most beautiful foliage plants known. Marbled, spotted, banded and all-over colors of green, yellow, purple, bronze and copper are to be found in the collection, nearly all of which naturally grew epiphytically upon trees and even telegraph wires in the tropical American regions. Some of them, particularly the purple banded Vriesea splendens and Guzmania musaica, are the finest of foliage plants. Most of the plants of this family, Bromeliaceae, produce very showy spikes of highly colored flowers and bracts, so that they are most worth while in any greenhouse. Of this family, and hanging in the air, is a specimen of Florida Moss, which drapes the trees in our Southeastern States as the lichen does in the north woods. There are hundreds of Bromeliaceae known, of which we have only a modest representation."

In the succulent house were Dyckia and Hechtia "drab little members of the Bromeliaceae, quite different from the gorgeous kinds in the tropical house".

The exhibit of bromeliads of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at that time could well have been due to the beneficence of the New York Botanical Garden since I find in our old accession books entries dated October 13, 1916 of 23 different bromeliads, gifts of the N. Y. Botanical Garden, some of which they had themselves obtained from Europe.

What can be gathered from these records is that there were in the New York area two "windows" of named bromeliads on constant exhibition in 1919. The first of the windows, the New York Botanical Garden, already had a worthwhile collection at that time, and the second was in its infancy. These were collected plants, serving to introduce bromeliads to the public—a pioneering operation—and not plants available in nurseries, nor apt to be in private collections. Note that this was twenty years before Mulford and Racine Foster did their marvelous "spade work" collecting bromeliads in Brazil, and before Mulford could do any of his well-known hybridizing.

This is delving into history since the above goes back 57 years. Incidentally, the leaflet mentioned gives instructions how to reach the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and lists four different "trolley" routes. Those were the "good old days" before bus pollution, but already polluted by the "five-cent cigar", when Brooklynites were dubbed "trolley-dodgers" and their historic baseball team flourished under the name, "Dodgers".

It is hoped by the writer that if anyone has some historical information of how bromeliads fared in the U. S., or comes across any other memorabilia, or recalls titillating memories, that they be sent to our Editor as companion pieces.


Bromeliads in Color and Their Culture is now out of print; however, work is going forward on a revision of the earlier Bromeliads —A Cultural Handbook, which should be completed in about a year. It will be a small, paperback manual. The new book Bromeliads is at the bindery and should be ready for delivery by the end of 1973.

The following back issues of the Journal are still available : Volumes 18, 19, 21, 22, 23. They are $6.50 a volume or five volumes for $30. Several volumes of No. 20 still remain; they are $8.50. Miscellaneous issues from broken volumes may be had. They are 10 issues for $5.00. These include issues from Vols. 14, 15, 16, 17, and 20. These may be procured from the editor.


Nidularium scheremetiewii Regel

Neoregelia fosteriana L. B. Smith




Many times in the news about bromeliads in New Zealand we have made mention of having plants and flowers damaged by wetas. I know this must be rather mystifying to most of our overseas readers, so I will try to give some idea of the worst pest in our bromeliad collections for it is the largest and hardest to catch. This is true especially when the bromeliads are outdoors and particularly if there is a lot of vegetation around.

The Large Headed Weta (Hemideina megacephala) is a brownish insect with long antenna, a fat body up to two inches long, and toothed hind legs like those of a grasshopper. Its bush home is in old trees, rotten logs, and under loose bark, but since the introduction of bromeliads, it has decided that the tube of a billbergia or an aechmea is a far more comfortable home than an old log. Evidence of the presence of a weta in the collection is first noticed by the beheading of a flower stem on a favorite vriesea or tillandsia, which is going to bloom for the first time, or else a swathe of chewed-off leaves in a row of small tillandsias.

Usually it is rather hard to find where the creature is hiding except for up-ending all the plants, as it is possibly living outside and coming in only for dinner in the evenings. I have found the best attack is by torchlight after dark, but even so you have to be quick, as they are fast runners. Find one on the lip of a billbergia, make a quick grab (with a pair of pinchers or something similar), miss — and the weta does a crash-dive into the tank of the plant. Then the battle starts, for the weta wedges itself into the very bottom of the tub; and even when the water is drained out, it can be difficult to locate in some long-tubed plants. I have found that a piece of wire hooked at the end makes a good probe and usually brings it out in one piece; but with rarer plants, where there is danger of damaging the new leaves at the base of the cup, it has been necessary to refill the brom with water and wait for the insect to surface again ready for another attempt. Perhaps a quick flick of the wrist might tip it out with the water a second time before is has time to dive. I remember pouring something into the water one time—cannot remember what—which brought the weta out in a hurry, but this can be fatal to the plant also.

Another favorite hiding place is in the dead or dying leaves of an old plant, and many times I have pulled out the old debris only to discover a handful of wetas as well. They are rather tough and hard to kill underfoot, and a large one can even be a little sickening to dispose of. The one illustrated had just come out of the dead billbergia leaves in the top of the rubbish bag.

So now you know that wetas feature even more than scale or mealy bug in our bromeliad news from New Zealand. If you have an enemy on a par with this, please tell us about it.

—Auckland, New Zealand.



For many years we have been told that variegated plants owe their distinctive markings to the presence of a virus. This theory, I believe, deserves the same treatment as the theory that the earth is flat.

As suggested by W. W. G. Moir in an interesting article in the Journal for March/April, there are many reasons for rejecting this theory. For instance, at least one plant with cream leaf margins, when propagated from a section of leaf produces plain green plants. No sign of the virus is alleged to be present in the leaf. There are two varieties of ribbon grass (Chlorophytum); one with leaves having a green center and white margins, the other with leaves having a white center and green margins. Can you imagine a virus behaving in such a remarkable manner? Unless, of course, someone has turned the thing inside out. There are, of course, virus-infected plants with mottled leaves, but these are diseased plants, not variegated plants, and the proper place for them is the incinerator.

In considering the problem we must first decide just what is meant by a variegated plant. I believe this term is applicable to any plant with striped, mottled or blotched foliage showing more than one color in the leaf. However, when we refer to a variegated bromeliad, we generally mean a variegated form of a normally green plant, and it is this group of plants which are under consideration in this article.

The problem now is to see if we can find out what causes the variegation to appear. There are three main causes of abnormal coloring of the foliage of a plant, apart from changes due to normal factors, such as ageing, sunburn, etc.

First, consider the virus. There are, of course, many virus diseases which cause irregular mottling or discoloring of some or all of the leaves of a plant. Examples of this are the yellow-edge virus of strawberries, the TMD virus so familiar to orchid growers, mosaic disease of tomatoes, passion vines, etc., and many more. The markings are always irregular, and the disease is always harmful and often fatal to the plant. Infected plants cannot be called variegated plants. They are diseased plants, and that is all.

The second group comprises plants which show some degree of variegation due to chemical deficiencies, weather, and various other causes which cannot easily be determined. Such markings in the leaves are always irregular and often temporary. Chlorosis is an example of this type of variegation, the yellowing of the foliage being due to chemical deficiencies. Certain plants when grown in alkaline compost are unable to utilize the iron necessary for the formation of chlorophyll, but this condition disappears when the plants are transferred to suitably acid soil. Mr. Moir refers to the number of variegated plants coming from areas of Europe where the soils are alkaline. If the pH value of the soil in which they are grow is responsible, then one would find the variegation to be temporary. It is true that some variegated plants do revert to the plain green form. Aechmea caudata var. variegata is said to lose the variegation sometimes as the plant ages. Some camellias occasionally produce a proportion of variegated leaves, then revert to normal green foliage. This effect is supposed to be due to weather conditions. Finally we have those plants in which the variegation is due, as Mr. Moir points out, to mutation. The variegation is regular and usually permanent, persisting under all normal growing conditions. These plants, I think, are the only ones to which the term variegated plants should properly be applied. The variegation almost always occurs as longitudinal stripes on the leaves, of varying width and location. This suggests that, owing to a defect in the genes, at certain positions across the width of the growing leaf the cells are unable to produce chlorophyll, and as the leaf grows these points are extended into the familiar lines, stripes and white margins. If the whole width of the leaf is affected, then, of course, we have an albino plant, which, perhaps fortunately, cannot survive on its own. Such mutations can occur in many types of plants. I have crinum lillies which produce an occasional albino seedling.

Mutants may occur in seedlings or in offsets from apparently normal plants. One theory suggests that the genes responsible for the variegation are present in the plants but need some special conditions to produce this result. The characteristic would appear to be recessive in fact and thus could be present in many plants in a dormant form.

Plants grown from seed saved from variegated plants are generally plain green, and this has been the case with the few seedlings I have grown myself. It is said that there are often a few variegated plants among such seedlings, and this seems to be quite feasible in the case of the mutation of genes. There is a curious plant here, said to be a cross between Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor and Billbergia nutans. The manner of its growth suggests that it is an aneuploid, never likely to form a mature plant. My plant is plain green, producing a number of plain green offsets and it also produced one variegated offset which later reverted to green. There must be a curious mixture of chromosomes in such a plant.

Now there are several points on which I cannot agree with the views expressed by Mr. Moir. Maybe I am wrong, but I believe that many viruses are in fact transmitted in the seed from infected plants, including some of the mosaic diseases. It is also claimed that meristem propagations from cymbidium orchids are virus free, even when taken from infected plants. I have been told that bromeliads are not suitable subjects for meristem propagation. Possibly there is little incentive to increase our stocks of rare plants by this method. It is possible to propagate a pineapple plant from pieces cut from the caudex of an old plant, and I would think that meristem culture might be possible. I would very much like to see mericlones from a variegated pineapple. Would they be variegated or green? Mericlones are supposed to be identical in all respects with the parent plant, so they should be variegated.

I am also not prepared to regard all variegated plants as unhealthy weaklings. Many are just as vigorous as the green form, although there are a few, such as Cryptanthus bromelioides var. tricolor, in which the mutation has proceeded to the point at which there is often insufficient chlorophyll for satisfactory growth. Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor is one of our most popular plants and given suitable conditions grows just as fast and vigorously as the normal form. The worth-while variegated varieties may be few in number, but there is nothing sickly about them. The unsatisfactory ones will, as Mr. Moir says, eventually be discarded in favor of better plants.

—Margaret River, West Australia.


In Issue No. 4 for this year, Padre Raulino Reitz described the Bromeliario which had been created in the Botanic Garden in Rio de Janeiro. On the 165th anniversary of the garden, June 13, 1973, the leading event was the official opening of the Bromeliario by its director, P. Reitz. The city papers covered the occasion extensively and gave good illustrated explanations of the bromeliad way of life and place in horticulture. The above photograph shows Dr. Jose Piquet Carneiro, president of the Brazilian Foundation of Nature Conservation, cutting the symbolic ribbon for the inauguration of the Bromeliario on June 13. The gentleman who is clapping is P. Reitz. The new Bromeliario already has 150 species of Bromeliaceae and can house at least 500 species in all. At this writing, P. Reitz is on a bromeliad collecting expedition for new bromeliads for the collection, which eventually will be one of the most outstanding in the entire world.

There were several interesting meetings and shows held during the past year — in Australia, California, Florida, Texas among other places — but by far the most important was that held in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia, which took place on May 7th and 8th. It is certainly astonishing that the first Bromeliad Symposium in Europe should be held not in Belgium, France, or Holland where bromeliads have been cultivated for generations, but in a country behind the Iron Curtain and one where bromeliads are a rarity. It seems safe to say that up to now there have been no more than five or six bromeliad enthusiasts in the CSSR who have collections. The only grower who is a member of the society is Vladimir Vasak of the Botanic Garden at Pruhonice near Prague.

Over a hundred persons attended the meeting, most of them being professional gardeners and students. Among the Society members present were Christian Zechel of Frankfurt, Alfred Blass of Munich, and Walter Richter from Crimmitschau, East Germany. Obviously there is no tradition of bromeliad culture in eastern Europe as there is in East Germany, founded by Walter Richter, but the participants visited a bromeliad nursery where the more common species and even some new hybrids are being grown successfully and in increasingly larger numbers. Bromeliads are also being introduced into Hungary.

Our heartiest congratulations go to Rolf Rawe of Kommetjie, Cape, South Africa, whose bromeliad catalogue is the first to come out of the African continent. In his brochure he lists 17 genera and 143 species. Mr. Rawe has to import both plants and seeds, and at the present has about 600 species that are mature plants and 100 species in seedlings. Mr. Rawe says he sows everything he can lay his hands on and has very good luck with tillandsias and vrieseas. He has created all the conditions suitable for bromeliads and though the vast bulk grow happily outside in a shadehouse, he has provided tropical conditions for those that must have heat as well as cold house conditions for his cloud forest plants.

It is that time of the year when we must remind our members to get in their renewals if they wish to obtain Issue No. 1 for 1974. Because of the expense involved, we cannot afford to send journals to those who have not paid their dues. We trust that you have enjoyed this enlarged journal and have benefited from it. Our thanks go to all those who helped us. With the best wishes of the season. The Editor.


Orthophytum navioides L. B. Smith 1955 is probably the most charming member of this genus. It was discovered by Mulford Foster, who describes this find in his book Brazil, Orchid of the Tropics. He writes: "His sharp eyes discerned the tiny spines on the 'grass' and with breathless surprise he realized that here indeed was a bromeliad of quite different character than anything we had yet seen. Its delicate but stiff, green, slightly serrated, leaves were bursting from the center, and like a Cryptanthus, little sucker shoots were growing out from underneath. A delightful and dainty plant when green, but superb when in flower as the entire plant turns brilliant red, and from the green center bracts emerge delicate flowers like pearls displayed on the most resplendent, brilliant red cushion. To our astonishment the flower has a perfume which is 99 & 44/100 per cent pure, unmistakably, the clean fresh odor of Ivory Soap! It was restricted to very special moist rocky ledges. Climbing from crevice to crevice on sheer perpendicular rocks in moist atmosphere but in utterly dry surrounding country, it could be said to be a terrestrial plant with epiphytic habits, for it has the characteristics of both."

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