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


A Bromeliad Journey to the Dominican Republic
  George Kalmbacher3
Why I Grow Pitcairnias
  Bernard Stonor12
A New Variety of Vriesea from the Cordillera Central of Costa Rica
  John Utley16
Growing Tillandsias in Japan
  K. Yamaguchi19
Growing Bromeliads — Strictly Amateur Fashion
  Mac and Addie Lester23
In Memoriam — Oather C. Van Hyning
  Racine Foster24
Speaking of Hybrids26
Tolerance of High Humidity
  Roger Taylor27
Proof of Insect Pollination in Hechtia Scariosa
  Patrick Mitchell28
Vriesea Rubra, the Gay Deceiver
  Lyman B. Smith30
Further Notes on Vriesea Rubra
  Clyde Harris31
To Feed or Not to Feed
  Bea Hanson33
Bromelia Antiacantha40


Vriesea 'Mariae' — 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



For its size the Dominican Republic has a wealth of bromeliad species. Its area is a little over 19,000 square miles, a little bit more than the combined states of Vermont and New Hampshire. Yet it has 58 known bromeliad species, and that's not counting the different subspecies varieties that occur. Tillandsias are the big thing with 28 different species, Pitcairnias with 9, Vrieseas 8, Catopsis 5, Guzmanias 4, Bromelias 2, Aechmea 1, and an Ananas comosus escape, the true pineapple when growing wild, but representing a retrograde small form. The full list with species will be given later in this article.

As is typical of those countries where bromeliads flourish in the native flora, persons who are capable of identifying them are rare. To find out where desired kinds are to be found is pretty much of the time an insurmountable task. I spent time with the three persons in the Dominican Republic who, know bromeliads, one of whom is Luis Ariza Julia, a business man living in Puerto Plata, whose interest in the local bromeliads over the years has made him the most knowledgeable man on Dominican Republican bromeliads in the world. Then there is Dr. Jose de J. Jimenez, whose profession is that of a medical doctor, a man in love with all the plants that grow in that country, who has collected for his herbarium enough to make it the largest private one in the country. The third man to introduce me to some of the plants of the Dominican Republic is Dr. Alain Liogier, a professor of botany and Director of Botany of the ambitious botanical garden at Santo Domingo with plans to become in ten years an outstanding tropical botanical garden.

Let me make the observation at this point that these three men who are so valuable to knowledge of Dominican plants have a very good knowledge of English, and from what I know, German as well in the case of Luis and Jose. It is no doubt their ability to gather information through these language channels that has enabled them to be of such paramount use in the study of the bromeliads of their country. Readers know about Luis Ariza Julia since he is an Honorary Trustee of the Society and has written for the Journal . . . Since I speak no Spanish, it was most fortunate that I could communicate with these gentlemen in English.

Tillandsia capitata — garden of Luis Ariza-Julia

Aechmea mulfordii — garden of Luis Ariza-Julia

It was my good fortune to meet Luis and his wife at the World Bromeliad Conference in Houston, Texas, in June 1972; and hearing from him about his garden that contained some bromeliads that I was not acquainted with, I discussed the possibility of paying him a visit. So it was in March, 1973 that I spent three weeks in the Dominican Republic. I was also told about Dr. Jose de Jimenez and I wrote to him. His cheerful letters decided me to spend time visiting with him. And the letters from Dr. Liogier were further reasons for my looking forward to botanic forays in the Dominican Republic.

I made several deliberate tours of Luis' garden and visited three impressive outstanding tropical gardens of relatives of Luis and will give details of bromeliads in these gardens later. Dr. Liogier took me out on two excursions the first days of this trip. The following week Luis took me and Jose on a two-day trip up into the highlands toward the mountain resort of Constanza, stopping here and there wherever they saw promising interesting epiphytic bromeliads, and places they knew to have particular plants they wished to collect.

On the third day Luis took me on a trip along the northwest coast, then southward part of the way near the Haitian border, then into highland country where a new paved road had opened country, rather remote, that had not been easily accessible before. This three-day trip was the highlight of my trip, and you can imagine my appreciation since I was the only person outside his country that he had taken on such a trip of exploration. The Dominican Republic, incidentally, has a very commendable highway system, so that we covered a lot of ground. Adding further to the completeness of the trip, Luis' chauffeur, Juan B. Polanco, proved an adept acrobat and tree climber in retrieving plants. He knows epiphytic bromeliads and orchids, but not by their botanical names. I will share with you latter the details of this excursion.

Interested in phenomenon? Tillandsia recurvata is what I call a phenomenon plant. Besides growing on trees, shrubs, cactus and rock faces, its dramatic speciality is growing on stretches of telephone wires. Its abundance on the telephone wires in the very heart of Santiago, the second largest city and one of the oldest in the hemisphere, is fantastic. The streets are very narrow and there is a profusion of wires overhead. There are sets of lines loaded in long stretches of closely growing — continuous or variously spaced — clusters of this "ball moss" or "bunch moss". These sets are probably old wires because there are other wires without them that may be too new or with a covering that discourages them, or possibly too high.

These ball mosses began to appear on the approach to the city and became more numerous in the heart of the old city. Something paralleling this occurred in several hamlets in the drier areas in the northwest. On approaching these settlements that consisted solely of homes and establishments stretched out for some distance along the road with no back streets, I noticed the first clusters of this Tillandsia, with increasing crescendo up to a central point, and then upon leaving the town a more or less decrease until a vanishing point was reached.

Now the question: what is the explanation of this? What occurs to me is that it is the amount of carbon dioxide incident on human activity that fosters this phenomenon. Any suggestions?

What is interesting about this plant also is its great range and abundance. It is found from Florida down to Argentina and over to Brazil. As far as individuals are concerned it likely has more clumps over the warm parts of this hemisphere than any other bromeliad. Tillandsia recurvata has uninteresting flowers, but is a shining example of a plant pushing through vast regions. It, with Spanish Moss, is a conqueror of air spaces. All the great number of plants that people are apt to be acquainted with, that are bound up with the necessities of human life, agriculture and otherwise economic, need the good earth for support and normal growth of their roots, yet here are formidable populators that have become adapted to a different kind of world.

Come, now, and drop in on Luis' garden. He is down at sea level just a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean. He is interested in growing the native bromeliad species. These naturally can be grown outdoors the year around—shade is provided by trees—except that there are a few that grow as cloud forest plants, such as Tillandsia caribbaea and compacta, that do not get established properly under his garden conditions. T. ariza-juliae, which he discovered and which is named after him, is represented by a sole specimen . . . . there were only a very few to be had to begin with. Some of his bromeliads are very large such as T. baliophylla and Vriesea tuerckheimii.

Supplementing the natives are some "foreign" ornamentals. Three that were in bloom during my visit were among the "cream of the crop" among cultivated bromeliads: Aechmea dichlamydea, var. trinitensis, Hohenbergia stellata and Aechmea mulfordii, previously called Gravisia fosteriana. The latter when it was transferred to Aechmea could not be called A. fosteriana, because there was another plant already called by that name. In order to have the name continue to honor Mulford B. Foster it was given Foster's first name by Dr. Lyman B. Smith. It is a really spectacular plant but too large for northern windows. When I was in Hawaii in November, 1972, I saw this plant in blossom in the famous Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, an outstanding exciting display, a feature of the Garden at that time. But no one knew its name—which included me at the time—its label was missing. It had been given to the Garden with its name by the donor, Howard Yamamoto, who was not available to examine it. So, see, it was in Luis' garden that I found out from him its name a few months later.

Mrs. Julia Bermudez uses bromeliads as a part of landscape design.

One of Luis native species acquisitions are a few plants of Vriesea tuerckheimii, which blossom for him regularly every year, but one does not. The one that does not is from high altitudes, the type locality at Constanza, the ones that do he recalls are from Samana Bay at sea level, where he has seen a whole hillside covered from top to bottom at the shore with V. tuerckheimii. In visualizing this you will recall that this is a large plant. Incidentally, Luis points out that the great disparity of stations of this particular species indicates its great adaptability. His garden also has Tillandsia capitata which, so far as is known, grows only at one locality in the Dominican Republic, on a limestone hill in the eastern part. This same form, he notes, grows in Cuba in a similar habitat. His mounted clump of a Mexican plant of this species is a foliage masterpiece of slender copper-red growing leaves . . . . It never need flower!

Luis has plants of Vriesea sanguinolenta and I have just today (July 23) received a letter from him in which he says; "Will have a magnificent inflorescence of V. sanguinolenta with 8 spikes on a plant from Panama which I have had for years, that never flowered before. I used Florel on it but not on the native plants of that species, as they flower without artificial stimulation."

At the time of my visit Luis' Vriesea glutinosa was showing its final flowering phase with large stalk, branches and bracts glowing a strong dark red, but as Luis pointed out to me, flowers had failed to emerge, just as not one had emerged the year before. This intrigued me inasmuch as Ed Sard of our New York Branch had told me about his specimen that had acted somewhat like Luis' plant. The stage is set, is it were, and the props are there, but the actors fail to show up! I wonder if this is a clone that behaves this way all the time, or if a limiting factor could be the cause, since here at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this species fulfills its complete cycle and large red flowers push out in normal order slowly as the days go by.

Considering the native Aechmea nudicaulis, Luis says it is not worth garden merit because the inflorescence is not exserted enough. Guzmania eckmanii, named for the famous Hispaniola botanist-explorer, is found only on the island, both in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. Luis has this endemic growing in his garden. It had flowered and the post-inflorescence stalk, long, upright, and unbranched was evident for me to see.

Vriesea ringens growing in the botanical garden.

Two other fine inflorescences worth mentioning were a large-type Ae. tillandsioides var. kienastii, the best I have seen in my limited experience, and a variegated Ananas bracteatus with a showy starlike and sun-rayed effect that could be called a study of beauty in geometry!

Despite all these exciting possibilities as exemplified in Luis' garden with its native bromeliad riches and introduced kinds, the native people, even with their love of plants and flowers and the many gardens in the yards of many, many people, even those of the very poorest, about the only bromeliads one may see are occasional Bromelias, and they are grown for defense against encroachment or protection.

Luis' garden is not an organized one. Quite different was the garden in Santiago that belongs to Mrs. Julia Bermudez who designs and emphasizes landscaping. She has been strongly influenced by Japanese ideas, so that here one sees bromeliads, for instance, growing in large handsome oriental jardinieres. Bromeliads are among her favorites, but there are other plants. Everything is done with a special touch, and taste and imagination are everywhere. A giant piece of driftwood adorned with bromeliads was a work of art.

Bromeliads in the garden of Luis Ariza Julia

Aechmea tillandsioides var. Kienastii

Ananas bracteatus var. variegata

A clump of Aechmea weilbachii had three jim-dandy stalks of flowers. Could it be that they were varnished with red lacquer?

I visited what probably are the two outstanding tropical gardens, and these both belong to, and are the work of, one man!—Gustavo Tavares. One is located in Santiago, his original home and the location of his department store; the other is in the resort town of Sosua, where he has his week-end home. He has some bromeliads, but his forte takes in the fantastic Heliconias as well as showy orchids and colorful trees, shrubs and various ornamentals.

The Spanish Moss, Tillandsia usneoides, is called Guajaca by the Dominicans. It is to be found in the pine woods, but is not the rampant populator it is in our southern bayous. As one drives along speedily it may be hard to distinguish it from the Old Man's Beard, (Usnea) that gives it its specific name. Incidentally, a Tillandsia lescaillei that we collected had some Usnea tangled in the inflorescence . . . . . In scanning the trees for epiphytes one may come across clumps of green that are tropical mistletoes. Since they are green—so are temperate ones—they are not wholly parasitic, since they could have no chlorophyll if they were. Bromeliads are easily distinguished from orchids.

Soon after my arrival Dr. Alain Liogier took me to the botanical garden of which he is Director of Botany—Jardin Botanico Dr. Rafael M. Moscoso. Extensive collecting of local plants is being pursued for planting in the garden. Alain took me to view the propagating area, or nursery. A few bromeliads were growing in the shaded plots. There was one fairly large species with leaf markings and bands, a very variable species with regard to such patterning. Of the several plants of that kind, there were two that intrigued me no end I thought the patterns were so beautiful. Dr. Liogier, since he had seen no blossoming and not knowing the species beforehand, could give me no name. It was a couple of weeks before I got a clue to its identity, and this was when Luis identified such an acquisition as we were collecting. The plant I refer to, Luis called Vriesea ringens. In fact, there were two of them that I brought back with me, but one died. I sent Luis my slide of the botanical garden plant after I got back and had it developed, and asked him if that was not V. ringens. He replied yes, there is no other bromeliad like it in the Dominican Republic. I have learned since that there is a plain green form. What an anticlimax!

(to be continued)



Pitcairnia undulata

Well, why not grow them? This genus, for various reasons, has not attracted much interest or publicity and might therefore appeal to people who are looking for something a little different from all those familiar aechmeas, billbergias, and so on. Surely, in such a large genus, it would not be unreasonable to expect a number of fine plants and colorful flowers.

Information concerning the growing requirements of these plants is not so plentiful as one might wish; and, as is so often the case, the species which are described in articles are not obtainable. So we are faced with the interesting task of discovering their requirements for ourselves.

Nomenclature, too, is not always so accurate as it might be, although this can add interest to the culture of the genus ; one never knows what fascinating plant may turn up, hiding under some pseudonym. Obviously, there is a lot to learn and some interesting discoveries to be made.

The first plant I acquired was labeled Pitcairnia flammea var. pallida. And by the way, I can never understand why, of some six varieties of flammea, var. pallida appears to be the only one grown in Australia. Maybe some of the others are here, but under different names. Anyway, the plant finally flowered and turned out to be P. undulata, an interesting if not exactly colorful species. A seedling of undulata flowered at the same time, which enabled me to identify the first plant. These plants were easy to grow and quite hardy despite their somewhat soft leaves, needing only plenty of water and some feeding when growth was active to build up to a flowering sized plant.

Another early arrival was Pitcairnia andreana, a small plant with attractive wavy foliage and a very showy inflorescence in yellow and orange. Here at any rate was one fine species. This variety proved a little more difficult to grow; clearly it is not so hardy as many of the others and although it is not deciduous, it does appear to have a dormant period during the winter. At this stage watering may rot the plant. I am not sure that there are any active roots to absorb the water in any case at this time of year.

By now some of the characteristics of the genus were becoming evident, one of these being the long time taken for the petals to develop in the buds before the flower finally opens. The inflorescence seems to grow steadily at first with the buds appearing without any delay. Then there is a long spell during which nothing much seems to happen until finally the petals emerge and open. Fortunately, the sepals, sometimes the entire inflorescence, are usually colored as well as the petals, so the spike is attractive for a long period before the flower opens. The petals last three or four days before withering.

Pitcairnia flammea var. pallida finally arrived, a nice hardy plant, easy to grow, which soon flowered. While the white flowers may not be particularly ornamental, they do have one interesting feature not often found in bromeliads—they are scented. A further point of interest was that the scent closely resembled that of the flowers of an olive tree which was flowering at the same time. So this species, too, proved worth while, for an unusual reason.

With so few plants available locally, there was only one way to increase my collection—grow them from seed. After a few not so successful attempts, the requirements for growing from seed soon began to sort themselves out. Fortunately, the seed, like most seed of the subfamily, remained viable for a long time, and I don't think any seed I obtained failed to germinate. The seed is very small and may take a long time to germinate, but sooner or later it will do so.

The seed was sown on top of a compost of coarse sand plus some leaf mold, and a clear plastic bag was placed over the pot. The seed was kept just moist until germination commenced by spraying when necessary. As soon as the leaves begin to appear it is better to remove the plastic bag, giving the seedlings plenty of air. Growth can be very slow in the case of most species, and the seedlings generally do much better if left in the original pot until they are a fair size. It is also, I think, a mistake to transplant them at the beginning of winter. Even if they are quite large, I still prefer to leave transplanting until the spring and it is clear that growth is active.

As we might expect, not all the seed which we obtain is correctly named, and some interesting plants may appear. I must admit that I have never heard of many of the species being offered, so that is another point of interest, waiting to see what they are like. The first lot of seed I acquired included Pitcairnia carinata. This has proved to be a hardy, easily grown species with an all red inflorescense up to one meter high, colorful for a long time before the flowers finally open. A similar plant is labeled Pitcairnia roezlii, but this has yet to flower. Seeds labeled P. heterophylla have yielded seedlings with extremely long, narrow leaves. This species is more or less deciduous, very slow growing, with a small bulbous base; it is obviously not heterophylla. On the other hand, seed of the species angustifolia (?) has produced robust plants with unusually broad leaves. One never knows just what is going to come up. These seedlings have the usual grassy leaves, but they are almost devoid of scales. Some of the other seedlings I am growing also show this feature, while many other species are densely covered with white scales. It would be interesting to know whether these smooth-leaved plants are primitive types just beginning to evolve scales.

One of the most interesting species I have grown so far is Pitcairnia mirabilis var. tucumana. The name was enough to make me order seed; surely a plant with a name like that must be interesting, and var. tucumana suggests that it comes from the Tucuman hills, which I believe are in northern Argentina, so it should be hardy. Unlike most other species, the seed germinated quickly and the seedlings grew fast. The plants finally grew into strange affairs quite unlike any other pitcairnia I had seen. There is a large bulbous base with several tufts of tillandsia-like leaves sprouting from various points on top. These leaves are provided with small, innocent-looking thorns, but careless handling of the plants soon revealed the purpose of these spines. They are very sharp and penetrate one's fingers with ease, becoming detached from the leaf at the same time. This plant grows well in the open, taking sun, wind, rain, hail, anything that comes. While my plants have not yet flowered, I am told the petals are green.

Some time ago I was given a small plant labeled "Dyckia velascana." It is a small species with rosettes of narrow, arching leaves about 8 cms in diameter. The leaf blades are about same width throughout their length, do not have a sharp thorn at the tip, and bear rather soft spines, widely spaced. The plant flowered in the summer, a 20 cm high stem with three yellow flowers. From the characteristics of the flowers I am sure that this plant is a pitcairnia. The growth habit is very similar to that of P. mirabilis tufts of narrow arching leaves on top of a large bulbous base. It is an attractive and interesting miniature plant, and I hope I can eventually find out its identity.

These are some of the reasons why I enjoy growing pitcairnias. They are full of surprises, there is a very large number of species to choose from, and they certainly add variety to a collection of bromeliads.

—Margaret River, Western Australia.

Our thanks go to Elmer J. Lorenz, who so skillfully assembled the Index for 1973, which is included in this issue.



Vriesea leucophylla L. B. Smith var. subtessellata Utley
(The machete gives some idea of the size of the plant)

Costa Rica, with upwards of 55 Vriesea species, is second only to Brazil in abundance of species in this genus. Considering the small size of Costa Rica, 19,652 square miles, (as compared with Brazil's 3,286,470) the presence of approximately 25% of the described species of Vriesea seems somewhat paradoxical. However, Costa Rica's central position in the Middle Oligocene migration routes proposed by Graham and Jarzen (1969) and the environmental diversity present in the country may go a long way in explaining the apparent anomaly.

During a recent trip to Costa Rica my wife, Kathy, and I collected a striking Vriesea in the Cordillera Central which has its closest affinities with V. leucophylla L. B. Smith from the Cordillera de Talamanca but differs from it in having transverse purple markings in the leaves and symmetrical sepals. While the specimen does not seem worthy of recognition as a species it seems well within the bounds of tradition to accord it varietal status.

VRIESEA LEUCOPHYLLA L. B. Smith var. SUBTESSELLATA Utley, var. nov. Fig. 1 A var. leucophylla L. B. Smith foliis purpureofasciatis, sepalis aequilateris differt.

Stemless, about 60 cm tall in flower. Leaves arching, many, in a crateriform rosette, about 35 cm long with pale appressed brown centered scales throughout, these tending to form poorly defined longitudinal bands below; sheaths elliptic about 13 cm long; blades narrowly triangular, 25 mm wide at the base, suffused with narrow, irregular, weakly anastomosing purple bands, which tend to be more distinct on the undersurface. Scape slightly curved, 30 cm long; scape bracts imbricate, red. Inflorescence cylindric, bipinnate, 22 cm long; primary bracts red, geniculate-spreading, glabrous at the base becoming densely covered with pale, dark-centered, trichomes distally, the lower bracts about 7 cm long; branches shortly stipitate, 2 flowered. Floral bracts glabrous, orbicular, 14 mm long, splitting sagitally and then appearing bifid. Flowers subsessile, sepals symmetrical to subsymmetrical, obovate, about 13 mm long.

TYPE : Costa Rica : Province de San Jose. Southern slopes of Cerro Zurqui, 4-4.5 km north of San Isidro (de Coronado?). Altitude approximately 1800 M. 29 June 1972, John and Kathy Utley #401. (HOLOTYPE: DUKE, Photograph US)

DISTRIBUTION: Known only from the type location.

The distribution (as it is now known) of var. leucophylla and var. subtessellata and their collection at mid to higher altitudes (1650-2000 M) on the mountain ranges surrounding the Meseta Central tempts one to make some speculations concerning the evolution of the two taxa. It is too early for generalizations of this type; however I hope to report further on this and similar situations in the future.


The field work which resulted in the collection of the specimen herein described was partially supported by NSF Grant GB 27365. I wish to acknowledge the logistical support of the Organization for Tropical Studies and the sage counsel of Dr. Lyman Smith.


Graham, Alan and David M. Jarzen. 1969, Studies in Neotropical Paleobotany, I. The Oligocene Communities of Puerto Rico. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 56 (3):308-357.

—Department of Botany Duke University Durham, N. C. 27706

For those who desire all the information possible on bromeliads, the Journal of the British Bromeliad Society is highly recommended. It is a very attractive small periodical of approximately twenty pages illustrated with a fine line drawing on the cover and one color photo inside. The articles are all very worth while. The first issue appeared in September 1968, and since that time the editor has received 16 issues, there being no definite date of issuance. The annual subscription is $3.50. The editor is R. W. Gilbert, 54 Queensborough Terrace, London W2 3SH, England.

During the past year three bromeliad groups were added to the roster of Bromeliad Society Affiliates. They are the San Francisco Bromeliad Society, California; The Alamo Bromeliad Society, San Antonio, Texas; and the St. Petersburg Bromeliad Society, Florida. For information about the affiliate nearest you or material on how to form an affiliate, write to Mr. Patrick Mitchell, 7000 Fonvilla, #506, Houston, Texas.

Preparations are under way for the Silver Anniversary celebration of the Bromeliad Society to be held in June, 1975. This gala event, which will include a show, tours, lectures, banquet, and other social functions will be held in Orange County, the amusement center of southern California.



As my glass house is small, I can grow only little tillandsias. What you call medium-sized plants are already too large for me, because I keep most of my plants in 2 or 2˝-inch pots. I prefer pots to trees or branches, for I like to see plants growing in stately, symmetrical forms. However, some plants refuse to grow upright. Such plants I attach to a piece of tree limb and make a "Bonsai," sometimes giving the arrangement a title. If seedlings are available, I attach them to a stump without waiting for maturity to "manufacture" weird plants which often puzzle my friends.

I keep most of these plants in pots, but for those plants glued on stumps that have a flat bottom, I get rid of the pots and place the stumps directly on the bench or shelf. They surprise visitors. Besides stumps, I use branches of trees, bundles of twigs, hapuu slabs, pine cones, etc., taking into consideration the kind of stem and shape of roots.

T. bandensis on gnarled branch — "Wilderness"
T. multicaulis seedlings on limb of Mulberry tree

T. brachycaulos showing difference of growth.
The smaller plant is fixed on a pine cone; the other potted with moss. Size of pot is 2 inches.

T. pruinosa secured on potting medium
(sphagnum moss) with straw.

When I grow my tillandsias directly in pots, I use various kinds of potting media. Sometimes I use wood chips, sometimes hapuu waste, sometimes small twigs, sometimes coarse sand. I have used them according to the condition of the roots of the particular plant. But what I use most frequently is sphagnum moss. With me it appears that this medium is best for the growth of tillandsias. Even when I use another medium, I cover it with a layer of sphagnum moss, and the result is better than without the moss. The illustration of T. brachycaulos will show you the difference of a plant growing on a stump and one in a pot.

I was told that in habitat, epiphytic tillandsias live on branches of trees, and so they should be attached to branches in cultivation. I have tried this way; the plants live and bloom, but the speed of growth is always slower than the plants potted with sphagnum moss. T. × 'Victoria' when potted had three offshoots as large as the mother in one year, while the mounted plant showed no growth.

It is, however, troublesome and takes time to pot tillandsias in sphagnum moss, especially when there is no root on the plant. The photo of T. pruinosa will show you how I pot a rootless plant and keep it until it takes root.

Among the tillandsias which I attach to stumps or branches are T. capillaris, T. bandensis, cordobensis, permutata, lanata, pusilla, andicola, bryoides, pedicellata, recurvata, etc. supplied to me by a grower in Argentina. Most of them were received in a clump attached on a twig. I have found them most difficult to keep.

I spray my plants once or twice a day with fine mist, and most tillandsias are happy with it. But these moss-like species would die from the leeward of my misting. I endeavored to mist them evenly from the front and back. Then, they began to die back from the bottom side of the clump. It appears that these plants require much more and constant humidity than I can afford to give. I dug a pond or shallow basin in my glass house and hung them over the water, hoping the evaporation would benefit them, but they show no signs of improvement. I am now keeping them outdoors in the open air and will do so until it begins to frost. If they show no change I must decide that it is latitude that counts. My house is less than 100 meters above sea level, and these moss tillandsias come from a high altitude. I am keeping my plants at minimum 8° C and humidity over 70 percent.

I have tried growing over 165 species of tillandsias and have failed completely with T. paleacea, T. aurobrunnea, T. cauligera, and a few others. The others all appear to be living. I have failed in my attempt to germinate seeds so far, but will keep on trying.

—Kobe, Japan.

T. capillaris glued on a twig.



We have two loves in our lives—each other and our orchids and bromeliads. We have been growing orchids for 17 years, bromeliads for about three years. The bromeliads are slowly worming their way into our affections just as the orchids did. We never cease to be amazed at the variety, colors, and blooms on the bromels.

We have two glass greenhouses. One is 14 × 14 and is attached to the south side of our home. The other 16 × 20 and is freestanding. Both houses are shaded with lath which gives 50 percent light at all times. This seems to be the secret for the color and blooms on both types of plants. We water our plants on a regular weekly schedule. We are fortunate in Sacramento in having good water for both people and plants. We fertilize with a water-soluble 30-10-10 material used with a hose-on attachment on a regular hose, about once a month. We pot our bromeliads in cymbidium mix, which consists of fine fir bark, sand, perlite, and nutrients.

Both houses are heated in winter and cooled with swamp coolers in the summer. Humidity is important and is provided by foggers placed under the benches and circulating aisle fans to distribute the mist.

As yet, we have not mastered the strange names of many bromeliad plants and families; this will take time. We have neither the hankering or the room to be prize bromeliad collectors, rather, we are plant traders. Other growers may have a plant we admire, so we trade him a pup for one of his. Under our conditions, they are not long in the "pup" stage, and room in the greenhouses is mighty scarce.

We exhibit our plants whenever we can and bask in the compliments we receive as to their culture, color, and blooms. We grow our plants with love and affection; they respond. We have even been successful in growing the difficult little Earth Stars — Cryptanthus. We are members of both the Bromeliad Society, Inc., and our local chapter in Sacramento. We would be proud and happy to show off our beauties if you happen to pass our way.

—Sacramento, California.



Mr. Oather C. VanHyning, a former director of our Society, passed away on August 2, 1973.

His interest in bromeliads and orchids took him to Mexico on fourteen extensive expeditions where he found several new species, three new Greigias, and one new Vriesea. The new Vriesea, found in Oaxaca, was named in his honor and described by L. B. Smith in Phytologia, May, 1960.

To readers of early Bulletins, he will be remembered in a photo with his new Greigia vanhyningii, plus descriptions of his two other new Greigias in Vol. IX, No. 4, p. 51. Another photo in Vol. VII. No. 4, 1957, shows him in a tree reaching for T. dasyliriifolia. In Vol. VIII, No. 4, p. 56, he wrote the article "A Chain Garden" concerning the unique plantings of bromeliads at the Knoblochs' estate near New Orleans.

His life interest was always the natural world. He was graduated from Cornell University, majoring in Biological Sciences. He worked with his father, who was founder and director of the Florida State Museum in Gainesville. For many years, from Lake Placid, Florida, Mr. VanHyning shipped fern fiber (osmunda) to all parts of the world.

Tillandsia ionantha var. Vanhyningii was named by M. B. Foster to honor this enthusiastic collector.

He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and associates.

—Racine Foster, Orlando, Florida.


Left —

Aechmea × 'Fascini'

Right —

× Orthotanthus 'What'


It is indeed regrettable that so few bromeliad growers have taken advantage of being able to register their hybrids and thus protect their plants and their own names as hybridists. The market is today flooded with bromeliads bearing such fanciful names as Aechmea 'Cousin Bette' or Neoregelia 'Surprise' — names which mean nothing to anyone except the persons who bestowed them on their plants. Many nurseries have had a difficult time when customers ask for certain bromeliads with such names and for which there is no further information. Hybrids to mean anything must be registered or at least have clearly defined parentage. The growers in Europe have been careful on this point, whereas in the United States they have tended to be careless in this regard. Ed Hummel's hybrids, many of them of outstanding beauty, have never been registered nor their lineage divulged. This is too bad, for none of his very handsome hybrids really has any legitimate place in horticulture.

The Bromeliad Society has set up a Registration Bureau, similar to that set up by orchid growers, and members are urged to register such bromeliads they believe to be outstanding. For further information they may write to Mr. Wilbur Wood, 1621 Irving Avenue, Glendale, California 91201.


Aechmea × 'Berticaulis' — A. nudicaulis × A. 'Bert' Cross made in 1969, first flowered in 1972. Registered by Kelsey Williams, California.

Aechmea × 'Fascini' — A. fasciata × A. chantinii. Cross made in 1969, first flowered in 1972. Registered by Kelsey Williams, California.

× Billmea 'Lazsloa' — Billbergia pyramidalis × Aechmea lasseri Cross made in 1967, first flowered in 1971. Registered by Kelsey Williams.

Neoregelia × 'Nana' — Neoregelia 'Fairy Paint' × N. sarmentosa var. chloristicta Cross made in 1969, first flowered in 1973. Registered by Kelsey Williams.

× Orthotanthus 'What' — Cryptanthus 'It' × Orthophytum saxicola var. rubra J. D. Garretson, California.

Mr Garretson made this interesting bigeneric cross in March of 1971. He used Orthophytum saxicola var. rubra as the mother plant and Cryptanthus as the pollen plant. He made the cross both ways; however, all seedlings from the mother plant 'It' were white and did not survive.

The seed matured and was planted in June of 1971. The seedlings were large enough to transplant in August of that year. There were approximately 500 little plants. Only four of these were variegated and just one plant held the variegation to maturity. There were many "dogs" resembling neither plant parent. Some plants remained dwarf, reaching a size of no more than two inches high. Two plants were extra large.

These little bromeliads began flowering in late February of 1972. Three of the variegated plants flowered in early 1973; one had normal flowers and produced one seed pod. The other two produced pseudo flowers and the central growth has continued to grow. On the two plants that produced the pseudo flowers, there has been an offshoot produced at nearly every leaf base.



The beautiful but slow-growing Aglaonema rotundum appears to thrive only in a nearly saturated atmosphere. About a year ago I combined my several plants of it, previously in separate containers, in an approximation of a Wardian case, consisting of a 20-gallon aquarium with two inches or so of a damp 50-50 (by volume) mixture of peatmoss and Perlite in the bottom. The top closure, instead of being tight, is a sheet of plastic in a wooden frame; water vapor is retained, but atmospheric gases can diffuse back and forth. This assembly is close to a south-facing window, shaded by a porch and shrubbery. As there was room for them I also included several bromeliads I thought might do well under such conditions, and their present status is as follows:

Several kinds of Cryptanthus, including beuckerii and bromelioides tricolor, all are thriving; some have flowered.

Vriesea glutinosa, as might be expected from its native habitat, is also doing well and has made considerable growth.

Nidularium innocentii var. innocentii is about holding its own; presumably it is growing but has lost several outer leaves.

Guzmania fuerstenbergiana hasn't grown, and is dying off leaf by leaf.

Bromeliads in general, no doubt, do better with air circulation and lower humidity; but there are some that can tolerate an environment such as that in a terrarium.




Rarely do those doing field research accomplish a particular study in two days of observation due to locale, weather, and in the case of Hechtia, their bloom cycle. Such was not the case when we decided to study how Hechtia scariosa is pollinated. Interest in pollination came about as a result of recent articles in the Journal and through discussions with Dr. Edward McWilliams at Texas A & M University. We know so little about how bromeliads are pollinated that often conjecture and/or comparative guessing form the foundation of our knowledge. For some time, Dr. McWilliams and I have discussed the various ways we believed Hechtia was pollinated. The general and often accepted idea was the wind. This cannot be ruled out as a factor but certainly has less significance as a result of recent findings.

Dr. Barton Warnock, professor of botany at Sul Ross University in Alpine, was instrumental in providing the approximate blooming time for Hechtia scariosa in the Big Bend Park where the bulk of the field study took place. A student of Dr. Wardock's, Tony Green, accompanied me into the Park and to various other locations where this species of bromeliad grows. The initial search was disappointing as no blooming plants could be found. I remembered, however, from a previous trip that the Old Ore Road area held an abundance of plants and it was here that we finally found the species in bloom. The first hour of observing clumps of blooming plants produced no results for insect involvement in pollination. The morning was slipping into midday and all observations suggested wind pollination until we reached an area near the Sul Ross Research Station in the eastern part of the Park. The Hechtias we saw were in excellent bloom and bees were darting about the flowers. What luck! Tony ran to the car for some glass jars while I watched a small green bee spend a full minute in each flower. The emerging bee's head and thorax region were covered with the yellow pollen and portions were dropped on the white flower petals of each flower he visited. By this time, Tony was back with the jars and in a quick sweep, caught the green bee still in the flower. Our excitement increased with the sound of the larger bumble bee. This fellow spent only a few seconds in each flower and covered about 20 blooms in a minute. His legs were heavily laden with pollen but his great speed prevented capture. Still another species of bee appeared, the honey bee and he, too, carried heavy packs of pollen on his legs. Tony pointed out the sweet aroma given off by the Hechtia flowers which also seemed to have a "nutty" smell. While climbing up a hill, we discovered yet another pollinator, a species of beetle, which was promptly placed in another jar for later identification.

In conclusion, our observations are as follows: Male flowers are open before female flowers and there are more male clumps than female. Bees appear to be the dominant pollinators of Hechtia scariosa with wind playing a minor role. Few if any spontaneous outcroppings of individual plants would tend to indicate that asexual reproduction is more successful than reproduction by seed. The flowers emit a sweet aroma with a bloom cycle in April-May. The clumps of this bromeliad definitely help in keeping soil from eroding.

We plan to go back to the Big Bend area for further study and also include T. recurvata growing saxicolic at 7,500 feet.

—Houston, Texas.



In 1965 I planted one offshoot of a Billbergia chlorosticta, usually known as saundersii, in my front garden under a bottle brush in an eastern exposure. I watered and fertilized the plant whenever I watered and fertilized all the other plants. The next year, it produced one bloom; I was delighted. The plant produced several offshoots, and in 1967 there were two blooms. The plant multiplied. In 1968 I counted 4 blooms—this in March and April. In 1969, the cluster all green, produced 6 blooms. Each year the number of blooms increased. In 1972 there were 12; in March, 1973, there were only 3, due I assumed to a severe winter, although the plant now had grown to about 3 feet square. In May, 1973, I discovered 3 blooms again; in July, there were more, and one even in October.

—San Mateo, California.



Vriesea rubra in native habitat

Among the many bromeliad species that have deceived and embarrassed me, Vriesea rubra is outstanding. I met it first in 1931 in preparing the Bromeliaceae for Macbride's Flora of Peru, where I called it Tillandsia rubra as had its original authors Ruiz and Pavon in their Flora of Peru in 1802, and on the basis of their illustration I equated it with Tillandsia fendleri. Years later in the Field Museum in Chicago I ran across a specimen from their original collection and realized that it was the same as what Ule had found in Brazilian Amazonia and correctly identified as a Vriesea, but named as a new species, albiflora, in 1907.

Usually, as one might expect, the common species are the first to be discovered and are collected frequently, but here was one that had a century between its first and second collection. Then in 1919 Mez described it from the then British Guiana as Tillandsia rhododactyla. To add to the confusion these collections were from hundreds of miles apart. Today Vriesea rubra is still one of our rarer bromeliads and at the same time one of the most widespread. So when I received some beautiful fresh plants and colored photos from Clyde Harris it seemed so different from the dried and dull herbarium specimens that I compounded past errors and failed to recognize it. At his wish I was just about to name it as a new species in honor of Helmuth Schmidt-Mumm who had guided him and Jean Merkel to its discovery in Colombia about 120 kilometers from Bogota on the Villavicencio highway. As a matter of course I went through my key again to determine its nearest relative and this time I realized my error.

Clyde Harris sent me two color photos, one of the plant (with a small inflorescence) originally discovered in the forest and one of a plant grown from a small seedling collected. Since the only previous illustration is the very crude original black and white one, it seemed good to share this color with our readers.

—Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., U. S. A.



In July of 1969 Jean Merkel and I were guests of Mr. Helmeth-Schmidt-Mumm in his beautiful home overlooking the city of Bogota, Colombia. Helmith has for many years had a great interest in plants, particularly the native orchids and anthuriums there and has a large collection of them. It follows that he would take us in his Volkswagen bus to see them and to collect.

The Vriesea rubra pictured in color, which Dr. Lyman Smith has been kind to identify from a plant I mailed to him, is one of the few we collected as seedlings, each three or four inches across. They were growing near a plant in spike (see black and white photo), all on a tree trunk smothered with epiphytes and near the Rio Negro, a beautiful stream tumbling over boulders with sometimes a large, vividly blue butterfly skimming along just above the water. The plants being near a trail received nearly full sun during mid-day. Our location was at about 850 meters in altitude in the Department of Meta some 120 kilometers from Bogota in the direction of Villavicencio.

The plant pictured is 22 inches across; total plant height with inflorescence is 28 inches. It is now in its third blooming. This time two pups are growing as well as the new off-center crown. The inflorescence is a rosy-red; unfortunately the photograph does not capture its brilliance. Foliage color is a shining light green. Of the few plants of V. rubra Jean Merkel and I found, all have grown and bloomed. Apparently the species does well under cultivation. It is an attractive vriesea and a worthy addition to anyone's collection.

—West Palm Beach, Florida.

(Editor's note — This plant is being grown in southern California and is offered for sale by a local nursery. It is a fast grower, requiring no special care.)



There seem to be two schools of thought as to the feeding of bromeliads. Some growers do feed regularly; others not at all. Which is best?

The thing that decides whether a grower should or should not feed his plants is how much space he can afford. Or that is the way I look at it.

If one is crowded and plants are doing well, it seems to me pointless to feed the plants and have them grow bigger and better only to cause more congestion. Perhaps there is a happy medium where they could be fed once a month rather than weekly or fortnightly as some growers do. Feeding certainly does make a difference in some ways. Leaves become wider and in variegated plants this seems to be quite noticeable. Compare two variegated pineapple plants — one being fed and the other left to grow without feeding. The fed one is a far better plant in every way and leaves the unfed one in the shade. Here again, space comes in to it. I have not fed mine as I cannot afford to let it grow too fast. One member who has been feeding his since the day he purchased it has found it is taking up far too much space in his glass-house and has to move it elsewhere. Mine is still growing slowly and is still good to look at, but it will be a long time before it becomes a problem to house.

With too much feeding very colorful plants can lose a lot of their beauty, becoming lush and losing the red, bronze, or other color that enhanced them before they were fed. An occasional feeding would no doubt improve them and not take color from them, but most growers who feed their plants seem to do this very regularly.

Feeding is something that must be left to the individual. For me it must he an occasional feed or maybe none at all. Space is my big problem, so smaller plants are a must.

—Auckland, New Zealand.


Bromelia antiacantha Bertol. is a native of southern Brazil and Uruguay where it is terrestrial in forests and fields. It was one of the first of the genus to be grown in Europe, its cultivation dating back to 1824 in Italy.

It is a formidable plant, the 100 or more leaves forming a robust rosette 5 feet in diameter. The 2-foot-long panicle is borne on a stout stem, 1 foot high. Bracts are powdery-white, petals are red-violet. The inner leaves turn bright red at time of flowering. The large fruits are yellow.

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