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
PresidentElmer J. Lorenz, Calif.
1st V.P.Leonard Kent, M.D., Calif.
2nd V.P.W. R. Paylen, Calif.
Rec. Secy.Jeanne Woodbury, Calif.
Corres. Secy.Kathy Dorr, Calif.
Treas.Kelsey Williams, Calif.


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

1974-1977: Eloise Beach, Kathy Dorr, George Kalmbacher, Fritz Kubisch, W. R. Paylen, Amy Jean Gilmartin, Robert Read, Edgar Smith.

1975-1978: Jeanne Woodbury, George Anderson, Charles Wiley, Ervin Wurthmann, Victoria Padilla, Wilbur Wood, Thelma O'Reilly, David H. Benzing.


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; Dr. W. Rauh, Germany; Raulino Reitz, Brazil; Walter Richter, Germany; L. B. Smith, USA; R. G. Wilson, Costa Rica.


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

Individual copies of the Journal, $1.50


Bromeliad Growing Comes of Age179
A note on Neoregelia carolinae var. meyendorfii `Medallion'
  Donald Rock180
An Automatic Humidity Control System for the Small Greenhouse
  D. R. Robbin181
Scented Bromeliads
  Bernard F. Stonor185
  Lawrence Mason, Jr.187
Collecting in Santa Cruz Province, Bolivia
  Frank Hausman192
Cytokinins and the Propagation of Bromeliads
  Vernon Stoutemyer197
Guzmanias for Glamor198
Billbergia Bonanza
  James E. Humphrey200
Connoisseur's Corner - Tillandsia kalmbacheri202
My First Collecting Trip
  F. G. Breckenridge, III203
George Milstein - In Memoriam205
Regional Reflections206
From the Editor's Desk211
Puya venusta220


Guzmania berteroniana
Photo by Jules Padilla

Editor: Victoria Padilla

Editorial Board: Dr. R. W. Read, Identification; Dr. W. Rauh, Identification; Mrs. Kathy Dorr, Advertising; Elmer J. Lorenz, Index; Lawrence Mason, Jr., Science; Robert Burstrom, Regional; Edgar Smith, Regional.

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.

Bromeliad Growing Comes of Age

It would appear that it took the members of this Society over a quarter century to reach their majority insofar as developing an appreciation of what makes a truly fine bromeliad. That this period had finally arrived was evidenced by the superb display presented by the Southern California Bromeliad Council held on June 5 and 6 in Culver City, California.

What made this exhibition outstanding was not so much the rarity of the plants as their quality. Over a thousand bromeliads in prime condition had been brought to adorn the many tables, and what was more important is that they were, for the most part, the better known species that generally form the foundation of every collection. Recently, there has been a tendency to exploit the more bizarre cultivars — the variegated, the gigantic, the unusual. In many shows the ordinary species are ignored, so that the beginner at a show for the first time is at a loss to know how to start his stock of bromeliads.

After all, there is no cultivar any more exciting than a well-grown species. Is there any hybrid of more majestic proportions or regal mien than a well-grown Aechmea mariae-reginae or one of more intriguing configuration and coloration than Aechmea orlandiana var. nigra. These were but two of the hundreds of outstanding specimens at the show. Of course, there were a number of unusual plants. The best of show went to Neoregelia carolinae var. marechalii 'Medallion' exhibited by Dr. D. W. Rock. The highlight of the Kashkin exhibit was Guzmania xanthobractea, a species described in Issue No. 2 of this year. The Hechtia guatemalensis shown by Dr. Leonard Kent was by far the best specimen of this species this writer has ever seen.

The brilliant hues of many of the plants attested to the fact that the growers had finally solved the problem of the best growing conditions for their particular bromeliads. An example was the brilliant display of neoregelias put on by Charles Wiley, as well as Guzmania 'Symfonie' — a handsome red-leaved hybrid magnificent for its dark red foliage.

Mr. Wiley, who is president of the Southern California Bromeliad Council, was the guiding spirit behind this fine exhibit. He was aided and abetted in no small way by his two chairmen, Stan Oleson and Bill Paylen. The Council is made up of members from the Orange County Bromeliad Society, the Bromeliad Society of La Ballona Valley, the San Fernando Bromeliad Study Group, and the South Bay Bromeliad Associates.


A Note on Neoregelia carolinae var. meyendorfii 'Medallion'


I purchased from Kelsey Williams one of the offshoots of his original plant referred to in the November-December, 1975 issue of the Journal. This most beautiful of the neoregelias was a challenge and an inspiration to me to see whether I could develop a hardier and more fertile plant. In its culture I used a different method, which has produced some interesting and promising results.

The characteristics of my plant are not the same as those described by Mr. Williams although the plants are similar in appearance with the brilliant red rosette. Unlike his plant mine has developed a healthy and vigorous root system. In almost rapid succession and to my great pleasure it also produced two offshoots. These are true to the parent plant. To date one of them now has a pup of its own about 10 cm. in height.

It is my studied attempt in the culture of my bromeliads to provide them as nearly as possible an environment close to that found in a tropical forest. Because it is impossible to simulate all the nutrients that would naturally accumulate in the cup, I try to compensate for that in the soil mix. I feel that this is part of the reason for the robust growth and the formation of the root system. I have experimented and found a preparation of redwood soil conditioner, pebble bark, and perlite mixed with six nutrients to be an important factor which helps to produce a plant of this nature. It is my hope with continued growth to have the plant bloom in order to collect the seeds.

For the time being I am satisfied with this remarkably beautiful specimen. With a plant this beautiful a bloom is merely an anticlimax.

Donald Rock O.D. with Doris Graf Manhattan Beach, California

It is with the deepest regret that we learned of the death early this year of Dr. Luigi Califano, of Naples, Italy. He was the foremost grower of bromeliads in his country, specializing in tillandsias.

An Automatic Humidity Control System for the Small Greenhouse


A quick glance at the new 1975-76 membership roster shows that our growing society has members in many cold climate countries and states. The member in these colder areas must grow his or her broms in the home or in a greenhouse during winter months. Because a greenhouse environment is better for broms, I will go into the outfitting of a small residential greenhouse with a simple watering and humidity control system.

The small greenhouse can range from 8-12 feet wide with frames of redwood, steel, aluminum covered with either glass, Fiberglas, or plastic. The cost can vary from $150 to $1200. The small greenhouse must unconditionally be equipped with a good ventilation system preferably automatic. A heater using either electricity, natural gas, oil, or kerosene must be installed for the winter months. The longer and colder the winter, the more permanent and automatic the heater. The heating and ventilation systems can usually be purchased to fit your greenhouse from the same source selling the greenhouse. They are easy to install and operate. A more complicated problem for the cold-climate grower to overcome is that of watering and humidity control.

I will use the growing conditions here in Ogden, Utah to show how the environment affects interior humidity. The first hard freeze comes in early October and the temperature keeps going down until February to a low of -10° to -15° F. During this period, the natural gas furnace (30,000 BTU) is doing the greatest harm to the humidity with its forced hot air. Therefore, any automatically heated small greenhouse should have an automatic humidity control system to keep the broms in top shape.

Summer heat here in Utah can bring the interior greenhouse temperature up to 120° F. plus, when only 80°-85° F. outside, which also has a drying effect on the air. During the warmer months and cold sunny days of winter, the vents come on when the house temperature goes above 90° F. pulling in dry outside air which also reduces the interior humidity. The smaller the greenhouse, the more difficult the interior humidity conditions are to control, and no matter what size, I feel every small residential greenhouse in cold climate areas should have the following: 1. automatic heating and ventilation to fit the house and, 2. an automatic humidity control system to offset the effects of heating and Mother Nature's moods.

Fig 1. Side view of greenhouse showing how pipes are set-up over benches.

Fig 2. Feeding pipes and solenoid valve hook up.

Fig 3. Wiring diagram.

Using my greenhouse again as an example, this is how the watering and humidity control system works. Believe me, it works, I tested the system for one week last June while on vacation with the door locked. I came home to find the plants with plenty of water and the greenhouse at 50% humidity.

The system is made up of an overhead-feeding pipe (3/4" P.V.C.) with brass mist/fog spray heads attached every 3 or 4 feet (1 meter). They are over the benches on each side and running the full length of the greenhouse. (Fig. 1) The misting heads put out a fine fog-like spray. This changes the interior environment in three ways, 1. increases humidity, 2. cools the greenhouse; it will drop the interior temperature 20°-30° F. in 10 minutes during hot summer days, and 3. waters the plants. Better air/mist movement is obtained by a small fan which turns on when the misting system starts. This provides the corners and areas under the benches with a good supply of mist and humid moving air; both very beneficial.

The humidity system's heart is a 110 volt humidistat, the type usually used with home heating systems having built-in furnace humidifiers. A humidistat is a switch which operates when the humidity drops below a pre-set level. When the humidity reaches a level above the set level, the humidistat turns off.

The humidistat is wired to a typical automatic lawn sprinkler solenoid valve, the type used with timed lawn sprinkling systems. Note that this water and humidity system for the greenhouse is not on a timer because a timer is not flexible enough to meet the changing environment of a small greenhouse. The solenoid valve, a valve which opens when activated by a 12 or 24 volt current, is connected between the water source and the feeding pipes. (Fig. 2) The humidistat is wired to 110 volt line and the line coming from the humidistat is wired to the fan and also to a reducing transformer. (Fig. 3) This transformer reduces the 110 volt coming from the humidistat to a voltage level that will activate the solenoid valve. (Fig. 3)

When interior humidity reaches a level below that set on the humidistat dial, it closes the circuit which activates the 12 volt solenoid valve and the 110 volt fan. The misting heads and fan operate until the interior humidity rises above the pre-set level; about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on water pressure.

The parts for the systems can be purchased from a lawn sprinkling firm and home heating firm at a cost of about $70.00. A final word, because a greenhouse is for enjoyment, this system is not designed to replace tender loving care. It only takes the worry out of vacation, weekend trips, and sudden changes in Mother Nature's moods.

Ogden, Utah

Scented Bromeliads


Bromeliads have now been grown extensively for many years and a considerable amount of literature has been published concerning the plants and their habits. In spite of this, there are many strange features about these plants which, I think, deserve some attention.

For instance, I cannot recall seeing any reference in print to the strange odor, scent, or if you prefer it, smell, which is so noticeable in a number of species. The subfamily Bromelioideae seems to be the principal producer of this feature, but it can also be noted in at least a few of the Pitcairnioideae. I have not so far noticed any trace of it in the tillandsias or vrieseas. It is most noticeable in the seeds of some species which produce large, fleshy berries, particularly in the billbergias. A plant of Billbergia zebrina recently informed me of the fact that the seed was ready for harvesting by filling the glasshouse with this curious aroma.

Seedlings often have this typical bromeliad smell, and again it is the billbergias which are most strongly affected, almost enough to enable one to distinguish a billbergia seedling by its smell.

The large berries of Acanthostachys strobilacea are also well to the fore in producing this effect, and although I have not seen or smelled the fruit of bromelia I would expect it to be much the same. Some people dislike this smell; one visitor here who was admiring a Puya alpestris in bloom was quite repelled by the slight but persistent smell of the whole inflorescence.

The next point to consider is whether this emanation is of any value to the plant and has been developed by natural selection or whether it is simply a product of the curious feeding system of the plants. It appears to me that there may be some benefit to the plants by repulsion of certain undesirable insects, etc. In the case of an inflorescence, obviously the pollinating agent must not be driven off. The puyas, we have learned from the Journal, are visited by humming birds, so obviously the smell cannot be obnoxious to birds. Two plants of P. alpestris flowered here recently, the first to flower being visited regularly by wild honey bees, which removed all of the copious supply of not very sweet nectar produced by the flowers. The orange pollen was also a source of attraction. The second plant flowered within a few days of the last flower fading on the first plant. Not a single bee or other insect was seen on any of the flowers. This was probably due to a prolific flowering of some eucalypts at this time, their sweet nectar providing a far greater attraction. The puya, it seemed, would just do in a pinch, provided nothing better was available. No moths were seen on the flowers of either plant. The berries which are often so strongly equipped with this scent are also relished by birds, which distribute the sticky seed on trees, etc., so here again birds cannot object to this smell. Whether they are in fact attracted by it is a point which might be hard to determine, but at least it is possible.

The presence of this feature in small seedlings certainly suggests that it serves to repel insects which might otherwise devour the plants. A number of insecticides have their origin in plants, Pyrethian[sp], of course, and Derris being effective against caterpillars. Marigolds when planted in the vegetable garden are said to keep eelworms away, and maybe we will one day be planting bromeliads among the cabbages to deal with the butterflies.

It will be an interesting experiment to see whether the substance, whatever it is, which produces the scent, is in fact an insect repellant. At the moment, perhaps due to our long, very hot and dry summer, suitable insects for such an experiment are rather scarce. At any other time this would be viewed with delight; now even a few small wogs would be (almost) welcome.

It is strange that so few of the bromeliads have flowers which could be called scented; only two species grown here have this quality, Pitcairnia flammea var. pallida and a small dyckia-like plant not yet definitely identified. The few small yellow flowers of the latter can be quite strongly and pleasantly scented at times. Color must be the principal attraction in many species, though it is the bracts more often than the actual flowers which provide the display.

Margaret River, West Australia

Editor's Note — A number of tillandsias, especially those with white or yellow flowers, have a strong fragrance, usually very pleasant and spicy. These include T. xiphioides, T. usneoides, T. crocata, T. jucunda, T. monadelpha, T. duratii var. decomposita with lavender flowers and T. streptocarpa with light blue flowers also exude a pleasant aroma. I always know when T. usneoides is in bloom by the delightful perfume which pervades my greenhouse.

Neoregelia olens is so named because of the odor emitted by the old and decaying flowers.

If the members have noticed any particular scent coming from their plants, would they please let us know so that we can make up a list of such bromeliads.

Microscopy — Macroscopy


Part 3: Viruses and Variegation: Fact or Fiction?

A Halloween nightmare, given life, exists. It is unseen, but found everywhere. It attacks indiscriminately and is almost untreatable. It ravages crops, and in its many faces, has caused more human deaths than all of history's wars combined. Despite its obvious shortcomings, we are finding that it has done much more good than harm. I am speaking of the virus. For its tiny size and incredible simplicity, it is most remarkable indeed. Gaze into the sub-microscopic world inhabited by viruses. They have much to do with bromeliad variegation as well.

Never say never, or never say something is impossible...that is the cardinal rule of science. It is often learned the hard way by people engaged in scientific endeavors, and those trying to understand science. Many of the greatest scientific achievements were unexpected and thought to be impossible by most. Galileo held the unpopular view that the Sun was at the center of the solar system rather than the Earth. He saw the proof in his telescope, but when he tried to show it to his peers, they refused to look, saying that it was heresy and obviously impossible. He was persecuted the rest of his life.

As a scientist who understands the cardinal rule, and who sees justification for it every day in the laboratory, I view the current controversy of bromeliad variegation with much interest. The lines have been drawn between those who believe that all bromeliad variegation is caused by viruses, and those who think that viruses cause only disease.

You must not close your mind to new information. Look through my microscope, look beyond the heated opinions, and see what viruses really are. Then consider the facts and decide for yourself what viruses are or are not capable of.

What is a virus? It is a tiny particle which is so primitive that many of the characteristics that make up the definition of life are not exhibited by it (see Fig. 1). If it is alive, it is the smallest life-form known. If it is not alive, it is a minute package of a few basic chemicals...proteins and nucleic acids. A virus is essentially a tiny piece of a chromosome, packaged within a protein coat. This is the sole claim to life that viruses have...they contain nucleic acids organized into fully functional genes.

There is no simple definition of life, just a list of characteristics exhibited by all things we call life. Life-forms must respond to stimuli, grow or move, respire, reproduce independently of other species, and contain a nucleic acid genetic system. Viruses, as I already mentioned, have a nucleic acid genetic system, but don't meet any of the other life traits.

The "definition" of life is far from definitive, but it does work for organisms that we "know" are living. But viruses are more difficult to classify than Darwin's finches. Are they life or non-life? Decide for yourself. As a scientist, I must hedge my bet, keep an open mind, and wait for further discoveries.

Next winter when you catch the flu, it simply means that you and some strain of influenza virus have met on a collision course. If you are lucky, the virus attacks you for only a week or so, and then moves on to some other unfortunate soul. But how can such a primitive, tiny piece of nothingness give you a painful, miserable, or even deadly experience like the flu, or any of the other untreatable virus diseases? Simply stated, once the virus is within you, it rages through your body turning your own cells to the singular purpose of producing more viruses. This destruction of your cells is responsible for the disease symptoms you experience. Most of our cells can be replaced after the body fights off the infection. But with virus-caused plant diseases, dead areas are left on the plant as lasting evidence of the virus's former presence. If the disease is very virulent, the plant dies rapidly. However, if the virus is less efficient, the extent of damage to the plant may only be tiny brown dead spots. In Vol. XXIV #3 of the Journal, William Rogers made the observation that, as in many billbergias, the white spots on Billbergia leitzii develop into dead areas as the plant grows older. I have noticed this also on Billbergia chlorosticta. I think Mr. Rogers' guess as to the cause being a fairly benign virus is correct. But this is only one specific case. What about the maroon spots on Vriesea fosteriana var. seideliana rubra? How about the pure white, dark green, purple, brown, or black stripes, bands and markings common in variegated bromeliads? Most of you who have been partaking of the variegation controversy claim that no virus can cause those. Not necessarily true, for reasons which will soon become obvious. Bite your tongue before pronouncing sentence on the virus this soon.

It has often been said that everything on Earth exists for a purpose. For instance, the annoying mosquitoes that bother you all summer serve a useful purpose as food for other living things. Well, viruses are not used as food, but there is now some evidence that they may be responsible, in part, for the evolution of the human race! Read closely, for you are about to learn a deep-dark secret from the world of molecular genetics.

Viruses have an ability which is far more important to all life than the diseases they cause. When certain types of viruses are produced and released from host cells, they may incorporate a small piece of the host cell's chromosome into themselves. When these viruses go on to infect other cells, this extra piece, a matter of a few genes, can become inserted into the chromosome of the newly invaded cell. If this happens, the cell does not produce new virus particles, nor does it die, but it gains an important new piece of genetic information which the cell may then use to its benefit. Forgive the molecular weasel-words. The point is that viruses can change the genetic capabilities of cells.

Recently, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found rather convincing evidence of the exchange of genetic information, by viruses, between cats and apes, mice and apes, and apes and humans! Scientists have long searched for missing links in our past. It now seems possible that some of those magical appearances of important characteristics at very opportune times were the result of the unpredictable virus at work. At the time of its creation, the Earth was wound up and pitched through the Universe with plenty of fail-safe mechanisms to ensure the evolution and adaptation of future life-forms, and this is one of them.

Moments ago, we couldn't even decide if the virus is a living organism, but now we can describe at least two deeds it does which are absolutely essential to life evolution. It acts as a ubiquitous quality-control supervisor, killing off organisms that are weak and might carry undesirable traits. Also, it works to improve organisms by inserting new genes into populations for test runs. Needless to say, we have much to thank viruses for, as do the bromeliads, and indeed, every living organism inhabiting this little spaceship we find ourselves on.

David Barry (Vol. XXII #4) and undoubtedly others, believe that variegation is caused by viruses. W.W.G. Moir (Vol. XXIII #2), Bernard Stonor (Vol. XXIII #6), and Victoria Padilla (Vol. XXV #4) claim that viruses are not responsible for bromeliad variegation, but that changes in the genes must be the cause. The fact is that both sides are correct to some degree, and also both sides are partially wrong. Although Mr. Barry's article has been unavailable to me, I understand that he failed to consider that many variegations might be caused by gene mutations. Also, he didn't account for the reasons why variegation doesn't spread through a bromeliad population as a virus would be expected to do.

However, the virus theory opponents were unaware of the gene insertion capabilities of viruses, and considered them as only makers of disease and death.

It is my belief that the true answer lies somewhere between these groups. Some variegations like the spotted billbergias seem obviously to be caused by viruses. Others are probably due solely to gene mutations. But I think there is a third class, those created by gene insertions caused by viruses. Why doesn't this variegation spread from plant to plant? Simply because once the virus has inserted its genes, there is no further virus production. Since new viruses are not made, there is no spread of variegation. In addition, once the new genes are inserted into the plant cell's chromosomes, they become indistinguishable from gene mutations in their characteristics.

Stop for a minute and take a look at your plants. Not all is as it may seem, for plants have a definite, secret genetic life. There are a great many genes which are in non-functional states for one reason or another. As an illustration, let's take the all-green precursor of Vriesea hieroglyphica. Since we don't know what plant it is, or was, we'll call it Vriesea green. Vriesea hieroglyphica can spontaneously arise from Vriesea green due to the following types of mutations:

  1. V. green has the genetic ability to produce dark green glyphs, but this capability is repressed by another gene. A mutation destroys the masking gene, allowing all cells arising from this one to produce glyphs, i.e.: the plant becomes V. hieroglyphica.

  2. V. green has the necessary gene for dark green hieroglyph formation, but it is non-functional because of a mutation in that gene. Another mutation arises which reverts the inactivating mutation back to normal. V. green then becomes V. hieroglyphica.

  3. Although it is unlikely (remember, never say never), it is possible that a mutation could alter an unrelated gene so that it would cause dark green markings.

By inserting its own genes within a gene of a host cell (thus destroying that one host gene), a virus could accomplish all of the preceding mutational events. But viruses are more likely to just insert a new gene, or series of genes, which will give V. green the ability to become V. hieroglyphica. Verily it is written, or at least it is now, that viruses make very bad tenents...they always rearrange things.

Figure 1. Electron Micrograph of Viruses attacking a cell.
(Courtesy of Donald G. Lundgren, Syracuse University).

We can't propose to know all of the mechanisms by which plant evolution occurs. There are probably other things that cause bromeliad variegation that we can't even guess at with our current scientific knowledge. We must expect that this incredible world we live in has many ways of accomplishing its goals. But for now, the evidence is fairly clear that we are at least dealing with both mutational and viral causes of bromeliad variegation.

So I think all of you who have written articles for the Journal dealing with this topic deserve a pat on the back. You were all somewhat correct, yet you were all partially wrong. If you feel that I have added a third side to the controversy, rather than solving it definitively, you are also correct. It is to the eternal benefit of scientific endeavors that we will never have all the answers. Each answer simply opens more doors for exploration; that is the fun of science. But if we ever learn everything there is to learn, we will have lost our purpose, and will fade away like dust on the wind. We have here, in the study of bromeliad variegation, an example of why that is highly unlikely to occur.

Spivak, Colorado

Collecting in Santa Cruz Province, Bolivia


W. Rauh
Tillandsia didisticha

This past Christmas night I joined 22 orchid collectors, led by my friend Fred Fuchs, and flew from Miami to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Most of the group were primarily in search of orchids, but several collected foliage plants, and some just about anything of interest to them.

We settled at the very pleasant Hotel Cortez, which stands across the highway from the ancient fort-like public jail, then lunched and assembled for the first trip to the "sand dunes." The Toyota Land Cruiser into which the last group loaded shortly developed tire trouble, forcing our return and a change of jeeps. The ride along primitive roads developed into a series of bumps which ended when we stopped at a farm. Another jeep, sent to look for us, bailed us out and we learned we were 40 kilometers in the wrong direction. Finally, the scrubby area, with scattered tree cactus, gave way to sand dunes — we had arrived. We walked across these dunes and then descended in a steep incline down the opposite side.

Here we found a slightly more dense forest area, with many tillandsias. My eye first caught the Tillandsia duratii var. saxatilis [decomposita Baker], a truly fantastic plant. It was always found in exposed, sunny places, clambering over trees with its octopus-like leaves entwining the twigs. Many had long, upright inflorescences with green seed pods. We were at the wrong time for the beautiful, fragrant blue flowers. The great variety of tillandsias was a rare sight with easily eight or more species in close view. From Dr. Smith's Bromeliaceae of Bolivia I could identify T. tricholepsis, a moss-like plant with tiny yellow flowers, and the beautiful T. didisticha, with its rosy pink fans hanging down and its white flowers.

Soon I saw something I especially wanted and immediately recognized from the fine cover drawing of the September-October 1963 Bromeliad Society Bulletin — Aechmea tocantina. After collecting some small offshoots, I found a huge clump on a tree, including one with ripe golden berries which I gathered.

There was another very spiny aechmea, which I at first thought was A. nudicaulis, but found it is not listed from Bolivia. However, with the long spines in the inflorescences, which no longer had any color, it fits the description of A. kuntzeana. It is an interesting plant with pale green leaves and very dark, strong spines.

The next day on the road to Cochabamba, we turned off to a dirt road which led to a broad shallow river. The drivers removed their shoes, rolled up their pants, and waded about for half an hour, and then decided it was impossible to cross here at this time. So we proceeded back on down the highway and later turned off at another very primitive road and forded eight rivers before starting some mountain climbing. On turning a corner, we saw a sheer cliff hundreds of feet high whose upper area was covered with huge bromeliads with their large golden yellow inflorescences hanging down some six feet or more. It's hard to imagine the unforgettable beauty of this sight. The area was unreachable, but farther on we were able to collect some interesting items, including a Costus with a beautiful imbricated red cone and yellow flowers.

On the return trip we came upon some Sobralia orchids in flowers on a steep hillside. So we clambered up the rocky gully to reach them, and though the orchids were beautiful, my reward was finding one large clump of a pitcairnia with very large rhizomes, like pseudobulbs, and wide leaves with one green seed pod. I troweled it, rolled it down the hillside, and with a sharp knife divided it. The rhizomes were very difficult to separate and the little barbs at the base of the leaves, which so many pitcairnias have, also interfered. The lower parts of the outside of the leaves are thickly fuzzed, and the bases of dead leaves coil up like the petals of the Helicoid Billbergias. The two-foot square plant was too large to get in my burlap bag and would have crowded the jeep which was carrying four other collectors. I have since planted this pitcairnia outdoors in south Florida and here in a New York apartment.

This reminds me of a seven-day trip to Tingo Maria, Peru, in December, 1974, also with Fred Fuchs. While riding along a mountain road with a group in a small taxi I saw a tall, orange-red bromeliad spike in the bushes. I scrambled up the mountainside to dig it, but found only the one plant — a pitcairnia with a spike over five feet high, with flowers erect and most attractive leaves. It is doing well here in New York and in southern Florida.

But let us get back to Bolivia, where on Sunday we went to a special place to collect Zamia boliviensis, the small cycad found in that country. For this we had the help of Indian friends with shovels. In this area I came across one clump of Ananas ananassoides, which had a ripe fruit. There were also some stemless palms with beautiful foliage, probably an Allagoptera.

The next day, Monday, we traveled over 100 kilometers on the road to Cochabamba, almost to Samaipata, where we were rewarded with the sight of a beautiful waterfall. On the way, we saw more cliffs with the huge bromeliads with the golden spikes; I think it is a species of tillandsia, but not sure what one. We stopped at a high roadside cut or cliff, and on the top was a large clump of an amaryllis, with its huge pure white flowers hanging over the edge making a truly beautiful sight. The mountain scenery was truly marvelous and the plants at the waterfall fantastic. Many species of orchids with small but attractive flowers were on view, as were many kinds of tillandsias. Then higher on the barren mountainside were scattered puyas, but without inflorescences. Huge boulders along the creek above the falls were veritable rock gardens — tillandsias, several types of cacti, ferns, anthuriums, and many other types of plants growing in luxuriant profusion, but, unfortunately, well out of reach. At the creekside I found a single clump of pitcairnia with beautiful, dark red, secund flowers. There were a few plants of Vriesea maxoniana along the trail, but they seemed rather uninteresting with their greenish-yellow bracts. I went off the trail and collected a beautiful little fern and a large clump of an epidendrum orchid. I climbed a little way up a small tree to reach this and accidentally slipped backwards and landed with my thumb on the leaf tip spine of Aechmea kuntzeana. It hurt to the extent that I wore my leather gloves thereafter.

On the return trip we were on our own and stopped at several of the cliffs by the road. At one, there were large purple leaved bromeliads. We got offshoots of one with a long tree pruning pole. These offshoots were odd — a tall, narrow stem, about a foot high, with short, narrow purple leaves. There was a washout in the cliff above, and a very spiny bromeliad with long scaly rhizomes was playing "Tarzan" across it. With the pole I pulled down three small plants, with interconnecting rhizomes over a foot long. I think it is Pseudananas sagenarius. At another cliff, we managed to get a few small plants of the giant tillandsia (?) that produces the golden spikes. It is a sturdy looking plant with pale green leaves. Atop another cliff was a large, very spiny bromeliad with a branching inflorescence with small tubular orange flowers with green tips. Unfortunately, it was getting late and there was no time to figure out how to get up to this plant, but I did get a section of the inflorescence down with the pole. It was woody and fits the description of Deuterocohnia longipetala. I found two small spiny plants with pale green leaves and large dark spines. I had thought this was a dyckia, but the rosettes look just like the photograph of D. longipetala on page 38 of the Bromeliad Society Bulletin, March—April, 1966.

Monday faded into Tuesday, and this meant Oncidium jonesii country — flat, scattered thickets, many bushes, scrubby terrain with open grassy spaces, and cows. Many beautiful tillandsias, especially T. didisticha, were to be found here, but the most common bromeliad was the terrestrial Bromelia serra, often seen with its flaming heart, the leaves looking as if hand painted in red, and always with its terrible barbs. It is smaller than B. balansae and possibly more feasible for planting. This plant, along with Pseudananas sagenarius, sometimes formed dense impenetrable masses under trees in and around thickets. The latter plant, in one case, was found with its orange pineapple-like head. I also found a large specimen of Oncidium jonesii growing out of the old dead leaf bases of a large clump of Aechmea kuntzeana. There were isolated, scattered trees in this area whose outer branches were densely matted with T. duratii var. saxatilis.

On Wednesday we cleaned plants. Several of us went downtown to see the ancient city of Santa Cruz and while there visited some small nurseries. At one there were large clumps of the red pine cone costus, much larger plants and cones than the one wild plant we saw.

One of Fred's taxi drivers invited us all to his place for a New Year's party. It was most jolly; the taxi drivers seem to be among the elite of Santa Cruz. At midnight, someone danced around sprinkling champagne in the air, and after serving the drink we threw confetti, hugged, kissed, and then the driver's beautiful wife entered with a roll of lavender toilet paper and wrapped some around everyone's neck, amidst much laughter. This was all accompanied by much loud Latin rock music from the stereo, and occasionally some small boys would throw firecrackers amongst the dancers.

The plan for Thursday was to go wherever we chose, but, unfortunately, all the taxi drivers were either asleep or drunk. So we cleaned plants and visited the two orchid collector friends of Fred, Dr. Morano and Mrs. George Gutierrez. They had discovered two new species of Oncidium orchids. One, a tiny plant with beautiful flowers, is named after Dr. Morano. Unhappily, Mr. John Stacy, who was on one of Fred's early trips there, took a plant of the other species off to Harvard and had it named after himself — Oncidium stacei. This is an odd and rare plant, with rat-tails (terete leaves) hanging 3 to 5 feet. In the doctor's small but well packed slat house, there were many very beautiful orchids in flower, and hanging by wires from the ceiling, Tillandsia duratii var. saxatilis. There were also single specimens of various native tillandsias on fern bark.

In the patio of George Gutierrez's beautiful home, among many choice plants was a fairly large specimen of that giant tillandsia in a large clay urn, apparently growing in dirt. It would be interesting to know the name of this plant.

We could only go a short distance on the last day, so it was back to the Jonesii area again. It seems that every time Fred Fuchs takes a group to this place, someone gets lost. As fate would have it, it happened again. The country, being totally flat, surrounded by trees and by bushes, it is easy to lose one's way without a compass. But everything ended happily. After a delicious evening dinner in a most delightful place, we left for the tiny airport and thence back to Miami, where my two large boxes of plants arrived as fresh as when I packed them.

New York, N. Y.

Cytokinins and the Propagation of Bromeliads


A method of facilitating the development of offshoots of bromeliads would probably be useful. Some growers find that certain species do not produce offshoots reliably. One group of compounds which should be tried are the cytokinins.

This important group of plant growth regulators has been known only since about 1950, following the pioneering work of Skoog and Miller at the University of Wisconsin. The first active substance known, kinetin, has not been isolated from plants, but now a number of cytokinins are known to occur naturally in plants. These substances produce at least a half-dozen different effects on plants, but two that are related to propagation are that they delay senescence in tissues and they promote the formation and outgrowth of buds. When sprayed on woody plants such as roses, apples, photinias, and rhododendrons, they have caused the outgrowth of axillary buds, producing a desirable bushy plant.

Wright (1976) reported that sprays of 100 to 500 mg/1 of N6 benzyl adenine (N6 benzyl amino purine) were effective on two different cultivars of holly. A small quantity of spreader was added to the spray. Kunisaki (1975) found that two successive sprays of the same compound produced offshoots on Ascocenda orchid plants. These results suggest similar experiments should be conducted with bromeliads. With those bromeliads which have foliar tanks, the solution could be dispensed to each plant in an appropriate concentration. The cytokinin mentioned above is probably the most easily obtainable and inexpensive.

The cytokinins made the use of plant tissue cultures for propagation possible. This method of propagation is now quite common in commercial use in California and Florida. These cultures require the use of a cytokinin in concentrations ranging from about 1 mg/1 to ten or even more times higher. It would doubtless be wise to start experiments at this lower range at first as bromeliads are not woody plants. Excessive quantities of these and other plant growth regulators are injurious. Possibly different species might require different concentrations. Results should be recorded carefully and made available to others.

Professor Emeritus, Biology Dept. UCLA, Los Angeles, California

Literature Cited

Kunsaki, John T. "Introduction of Keikis on Ascocendas by Cytokinin." Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 44 (12) 1066-1067, 1975.
Wright, R.D., "6-benzylaminopurine Promotes Axillary Shoots in Ilex crenata Thunb.", Hort. Science 11 (1):43-44, 1976.

Guzmanias for Glamour


Right — G. `Fantasia'
(G. zahnii Χ G. donnellsmithii)


Left — G. lychnis

First collected by M. B. Foster in the cloud forests of Colombia at 3,300 meters

Right — Guzmania lingulata 'Broadview' variegated form


Right — G. zahnii 'Omer Morobe'

A variegated form from Belgium


Left — G. sanguinea in a Hawaiian garden.

Right — G. nicaraguensis

A species from Central America.


Billbergia Bonanza


My friend and fellow bromeliad enthusiast, Lionel Flanagan, has a beautiful Billbergia venezuelana, which bloomed in August of last year. In December, Lionel gave me one of the pods. The seeds appeared to me to be immature, so I did nothing with them. On April 11, he gave me another pod from the same inflorescence, and upon opening it, I found 60 tiny brown seeds, floating in a clear jelly-like substance.

I contrived a seed incubator by placing a 2½-inch clay pot in the center of a plastic margarine container. I filled the container with builder's sand, leaving the clay pot empty.

I had read somewhere that the leaves of a pine or conifer put out a gas that is beneficial to the germination of seeds, so from my Swamp Cypress tree I nipped 4 or 5 three-inch green leaved twigs. These I tied to the bottom of a 15-inch stick and placed it in the center of the clay pot, anchoring it with gravel and hadite. I then filled the clay pot with rain water, which I keep on hand for my bromeliads.

I now began to extract the seeds by squeezing the pod, and with a sharp pointed plastic ladle, I picked the seeds up, one at a time, and attempted to place them on top of the sand in the container. I had difficulty in getting the seeds to drop off the point because of the glue-like substance surrounding them until I saturated the sand with water — then I simply scratched them on to the wet sand. I completed my incubator by placing it in the bottom of a one gallon "hefty" plastic bag and gathering the top, tied it to the center pole with a twistem.

After four days — I couldn't wait any longer — I checked the seeds daily. On April 19, 8 days after planting, I noticed some little, fuzzy white rootlets. On the tenth day I was elated to see a showing of green.

On the thirteenth day I made a head count and found that 48 of my 80 seeds had a tiny green leaf. On this day I added water to the center pot for the first time.

On April 30 the babies had grown a second leaf and were a third of an inch high. The head count had risen to 73. This was the day that I started to move them to individual "cribs."

I moved 20 of them to 2-inch pots, in which I had put a mixture of hadite, humus, and sand. I used an eyedropper of rain water to seat them in the mixture. The next day I moved 20 more and on the following day, 25 more.

A week later, all except two, were doing fine. Most of them had developed a third leaf. The 8 seedlings that I had left in the incubator had doubled in size.

Whether or not the success of this experiment can be attributed to the cypress branches, the high humidity of the incubator, the health of the seeds, or to a combination of all three, I do not know, but it has been a rewarding experience and my friends are delighted when I present them with a potted baby Billbergia venezuelana.

New Orleans, Louisiana



Have you ever mixed up your best spray combination or mixed up what someone told you was the greatest spray ever, and when the "operation" was completed, nothing happened? At least, nothing happened to the aphids, or to the ants, or to the spiders, and least of all, to the mealy bugs!

There is a secret to be learned in the process. Most important, there has to be an additive put into the spray mixture which holds everything together and makes the spray stick on plant leaves. Thus the spray can get rid of those pests we're conspiring against.

The additive is an oil and/or wetting agent. One grower tried them in combination, but it seemed the two together did not work so successfully as when a wetting agent alone was used. It seemed that one worked against the other when combined. Successive experiments proved that a wetting agent alone when added to any commercial spray material will work most successfully.

These are the facts — the product of years of trial and error by a man who pretty well knows what he's talking about. The wetting agent? Use "Water In" or "Consan" — either will do the trick.

Sun Valley, California

In the May-June issue Mrs. Simmons of Mt. Dora, Florida, spoke about rot in her bromeliads that would start in the center or near the center and eventually destroy the plants.

This apparently is a fungus, as after trying numerous sprays I ran across a fungicide manufactured by Chase & Co. of Sanford, Fla. called Sunniland Three Way Fungicide. This contains Captan, Therans, and Terracholor. As it was supposed to control black rot on orchids, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I used it at 2 tablespoons to the gallon of water. After one spraying, in about 10 days, I could see the difference in the plants. Now I use it once a month as a preventive measure.

Henry J. Hambrock, Ft. Pierce, Florida

Eugenio Pingitore of Buenos Aires writes that he has been invited to display some of his bromeliad art work at the Third International Exhibit of Botanical Art and Illustrations at the Hunt institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Connoisseur's Corner —

Tillandsia kalmbacheri, Matuda


This stunning tillandsia is a native of the state of Guerrero, Mexico, where it was discovered by an amateur botanist, Hubert Kuse, on the road to Acapulco. When in inflorescence the plant reaches a height of two feet. The erect branched one-foot scape is of a brilliant rose color. The branches, from 5 inches in length and up to 3 inches in width, are of a light golden green. The sepals and petals are the same shade.

It seems odd that despite the voracious collecting on the part of many bromeliad enthusiasts in Mexico, this plant was not brought to light until 1973. It was named by Dr. Matuda to honor Mr. George Kalmbacher of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

My First Collecting Trip


It was during Christmas past when I first became aware of bromeliads. My interest was so aroused that I literally talked to everyone and read everything I could to gain more knowledge concerning these exquisite plants. This process quickly led to membership in this society and an easy resolve on my part to become a firm fancier of bromeliads.

And it was with this history that I set out this past April with a friend, newly initiated into the world of bromeliads, for Kingsville, Texas. There is an Austin affiliate to the Society, and through speaking with its various members I discovered the existence of T. baileyi near Kingsville.

Being so close by (Kingsville is a five-hour drive from Austin), I decided to embark upon my first collection trip. I was completely naive and inexperienced, but strong in enthusiasm. Although recent reports indicated that promiscuous collecting had left this area ravaged, I hoped that by getting off "the beaten track" I would find a few specimens of Texas' largest and rarest tillandsia. Upon arrival in Kingsville, my friend and I realized that the absence of native trees meant the absence of native baileyi. Worriedly, we concluded that the trees had better appear soon or else we were grossly ill-informed. So we continued to a small village called Riviera, about eleven miles south of Kingsville. In that short distance, the floral topography of the land changes considerably. The closer proximity of the Gulf of Mexico brings the added humidity necessary to foster impressive enlargement of the native variety of the mesquite tree. Gone were the insignificant shrubs of Kingsville; Riviera's mesquite rival small live oak.

We turned due east toward the Gulf on a small ranch road, and, seeing "no-trespassing" signs, parked the auto and climbed the nearest barbed-wire fence. We were immediately enveloped by a dense thicket of mesquite, thorny shrub, and knee-high underbrush. T. recurvata was everywhere we turned. We began to scrutinize this new environment and plunged fearlessly into the formidable thicket. I walked not 20 paces when I first spotted T. baileyi. In that one area I located four clumps and collected two (elevation — 35 feet, humidity 75 percent, host support — mesquite tree). Since this was our first stop and we are strict conservationists, we left the other two festoons.

We then proceeded to Baffin Bay on the Gulf, a drive of about seven miles. Here the land drops gradually and no trees grow. We paid homage to Neptune and then retraced our way, intent upon three more hours of search and exploration. We halted twice beside the narrow ranch road and again plunged into the thickness of Kenedy[sp?] County, Texas. On each occasion the resident mosquitoes plunged back — into us! It became quickly apparent that one thing in this world was so important as to outweigh the massive onslaught of blood-thirsty insects. For the record, these two locations were devoid of T. recurvata, and we assumed that if it did not like the spot, neither would T. baileyi.

Moving on down the road, we neared our first location and found only one clump of baileyi. We left this "mother-and-seed" batch to preserve Nature's way and began to compare notes. Our conclusion was threefold: (1) T. baileyi, at this latitude, is very "persnickety" as to where it will grow; or (2) indiscriminate collectors have raped this area, too; or (3) we were just picking all the wrong spots except one. The reality of the situation may be a combination of the above theories.

In any event, it was quite a coincidence that on our first foray we found the object of our search and failed to do so at any of our other stops, and we combed each site extensively. Judging from the accounts read in the Journal concerning various members' collection trips, ours is perhaps insignificant in comparison. It was a "poor man's" effort towards collecting, yet I see it as a bromeliad fancier's initial desire for direct education in the marvelous classroom of Mother Nature.

Our next intent is to journey to northern Mexico in search of other species in the marvelous genus Tillandsia. We would greatly appreciate correspondence from members regarding collection of tillandsias and hope that the following address is printed"

11308 Jollyville Road, Austin, Texas 78759.

The National Science Foundation recently awarded the Missouri Botanical Garden a $50,900 grant for continuation of the Flora of Panama Project. This should be completed in the fall of 1977, ending a work begun more than 30 years ago. When complete, the Flora of Panama will contain descriptions of more than 12,000 species of plants from Panama with keys for their identification.

George Milstein — In Memoriam

There could be no more fitting memorial to George Milstein, who died suddenly in his home last December 30th, than this photograph which he took showing Tillandsia brachycaulos growing happily in his apartment house window. The New York skyline is in the distance. That such vivid coloration could be obtained in the dark confines of a New York apartment is nothing short of amazing.

It was Dr. Milstein who demonstrated that bromeliads can be grown successfully indoors under artificial light. He wrote countless articles on this subject, a number of which have appeared in this journal, gave many lectures on television, over the air, and on the lecture platform — always extolling the virtue of the bromeliad as a house plant. He was the founder of the New York Bromeliad Society, an active affiliate, and for a time served on the Board of Directors of this Society.

Regional Reflections


When The Bromeliad Society had its beginnings some 26 years ago, the observation was made that bromeliads were not native to California, but there were "many natives growing bromeliads." The same observation can be made of Hoosierland.

Not assuming, nor daring, to speak for other growers or aficionados in this area since I am but an amateur, what follows are some of one person's experiences with adapting bromeliads to a seemingly hostile Hoosier environment.

The outdoor growing season for house plants here in Indiana lasts safely from, roughly mid to late May through late September or early October. Sometimes plants are safe outside from late April through late October, but the fringe areas in April and October should be carefully monitored. When the time comes finally to move bromeliads outside, the temptation is to set them where they get very bright light or full sun. Sad experience with severe sunburn on delicate, unacclimated foliage precludes caution, for the sun's intensity here is about equal to that of Sacramento, California.

My plants go directly from the house to the protective dappled shade of an Ulmus pumila on the west side of the yard until the Neoregelia carolinae tricolors begin to turn pink. At this time, it is safe to begin easing sun lovers into brighter light, but this process must not be hurried. Observation has revealed that plants can generally take more light from an eastern exposure at this stage, and, in fact, all through the summer, than they can from a western one. But, with fully acclimated plants needing full sun to develop best color, the hours between 2:30 and 5 P.M. in July and August in a western exposure will make that plant color up two to three times faster than the same plant will color in an eastern exposure, and the color seems more intense. When in doubt, a southern exposure with dappled shade seems safe for all acclimated plants during the summer. For instance, Cryptanthus 'It' colors to its best potential for me under these conditions. Other plants will color, but some will not reach their fullest intensity.

During our summer growing season we face three main problems: gusty winds, periods of drought, and periods of deluge. As a means of dealing with winds, a layer of pebbles or pea gravel on top of the potting medium will keep some pots from tipping over and spilling precious rain water from the plants. Other solutions might include burying pots up to their rims in raised beds of pea gravel or crushed stone, or fitting pots into the holes of sturdy wire mesh stretched over the top of redwood or cedar benches. Care should be taken to stake newly severed offsets, or plants reluctant to put out many roots, so that beginning or already established roots are not torn from the potting medium by the sail effect plants have in the wind.

During periods of deluge, plants are checked to make sure none become water logged thus shutting out air circulation and encouraging rot. Hirsute tillandsias might benefit from being hung upside down so that no water is allowed to collect in the leaves next to the stem. Rain water is collected in flat trays and stored in clean laundry bleach bottles for use during dry spells.

During these dry spells, it is equally important that plants do not become bone dry. It seems that moderate fluctuations between the extremes of being water logged and bone dry are more beneficial than the status quo of being either constantly moist or constantly dry. During these dry spells, also, collected rain water comes in handy. Occasionally, a shower from the garden hose early in the morning substitutes for the natural stuff, but this method is used as infrequently as possible because the water here is quite alkaline and plants only tolerate it over a short period, whereas they respond well to the slightly acid rain water.

When the all too short summer begins getting shorter, my bromeliads are reacclimated to indoor culture by bringing plants indoors at night and taking them outside again in the morning. Obviously, this process can become tiresome and time consuming over a period of a few weeks. The technique, then, is to gradually make the indoor stays of longer duration until the acclimation process is completed. Out of the entire year, the weather is generally most cooperative at this time, and the process can safely be carried out over as much as six weeks' time from the beginning of September through the middle of October.

In winter, under normal household conditions, observation has taught that the greatest challenges to indoor culture here are providing adequate light and adequate air circulation. Indoors, my plants are grown both under artificial lights — 40 watt florescent Vita Lites — and in two south facing window greenhouses each roughly 5' high, 3' wide, and 2' deep. Plants are rotated from artificial light to the greenhouses and back again to help them retain best foliage color. Results are better for me with these greenhouses, and using this rotation method, than previously when plants were grown in or near windows alone. Aluminum trays of pea gravel kept filled with water in the bottom of each greenhouse unit provide extra humidity; and fresh air is admitted each day through the hinged top pane of glass on each greenhouse.

Plants grown under lights, including seedlings, are regulated by timers to receive 12 to 14 hours of light daily with plants located approximately 4 to 8 inches below each two-lamp fixture. Most guzmanias, nidulariums, and some vrieseas are grown at the outer edges of the light fixtures. Mounted tillandsias are hung on a large peg board near bright light from both artificial and natural sources.

Since the space these plants occupy is confined, careful attention is given to air circulation. A small electric circulating fan placed several feet away from the plants runs all day, and when a timer shuts it off, a large room humidifier comes on and runs all night with the door to the room closed. Daytime humidity is generally low, 30 to 40%, rising to 60 to 80% at night. Temperatures generally fluctuate from a nighttime low of 60 to 65° to a daytime high of 75 to 90°, depending on outside temperatures and available sunshine.

Plants are watered sparingly during winter, but when they are watered, it is thoroughly, and always with rain water. "Keep the cups full" is a phrase familiar even to the uninitiated here who still pronounce the word "brom-a-lyed." Taking the "cup" phrase one step further, one might add: keep the cups full, and when you do add more water don't do so sparingly. Keep pouring it on so that all the organic goodies composting in the plants have a chance to wash into all leaf layers, over the plant, and into the root system. In other words, let the cup runneth over! This method also stalls stagnation, and allows the plant to benefit from a similar type of cup filling and emptying that would take place it if were subject to the action of rain year round.

A program of fertilization is followed year round, except for the period between mid December and the end of January when only clear rain water is used. Although experimentation is still being done with various types and proportions of fertilizers, presently being used is a water soluble type at Ό teaspoon per gallon each time plants are watered. This solution is poured over the roots as well as into the cups. As long as cups are already full, chemical damage should not occur.

Bromeliads seldom suffer any infestations of insects or disease here. But, if problems do occur, as a precaution whenever new plants are moved in with the rest of my collection and when plants are ready to come back into the house in the fall, they are either sprayed with or totally submerged in a solution of 1 tablespoon Cygon3 plus 2 tablespoons Zineb per gallon. If submerged, plants must be carefully drained afterwards to avoid any possible chemical burn.

Potting medium varies, but generally it is soilless, very fast draining, and slightly acid, often having the following ingredients in varying amounts and combinations: shredded medium-grade tree fern, german peat, unmilled sphagnum moss, redwood bark chips, perlite, and occasionally, a small amount of time-release fertilizer. Keeping in mind the conditions a plant grows under in its natural environment, one can choose the ingredients and proportions for use with that particular plant.

Containers used for pot adaptable bromeliads also vary, but styrofoam pots are favored, although these, along with clay and plastic, are now being used. Styrofoam is clean, resistant to fungal and bacterial diseases, extremely porous, and relatively inexpensive.

Whether summer or winter, there are ongoing and ever changing challenges to growing bromeliads in an area of the country to which they are not native, challenges which, I feel sure, we share even with growers lucky enough to live in southern climes. But, at the very least, culture has come to the cornfields, and so have the beginnings of the horticulture of bromeliads.

Elissa Hafsten, Indianapolis, Indiana


1. Foster, Mulford B., The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 1.

2. Taylor, Roger K., Journal of The Bromeliad Society. Vol. XXV, No. 3, p. 97.

3. Frase, W.C., Op. Cit, Vol. XXIV, No. 5, p. 177.

In The Mailbox —

Is there someone who could give any advice for moving bromeliads a long distance during the summer? I rented a trailer to move my plants across the country to Colorado and lost a number of them because of the heat in the trailer. In other words, how can one prevent cell blast, because it can get so hot so fast in a closed trailer. Gerald K. Ebanks, 7388 S. Lafayette Cir. W., Littleton, Colorado 80122.

Bob J. Germer, Rt. #1. Forest Lane, Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501, would like to correspond with other bromeliad members who are teenagers with the possibility of organizing a teenage bromeliad round robin.

From the Editor's Desk

With this issue members will find renewal envelopes for 1977. A trifle early, you say? Perhaps. But consider the flood of mail we would receive at holiday time if we asked you to renew later in the year. Instead of enjoying the Christmas festivities, we who work with membership would be completely bogged down with mail. So won't you help us by sending in your 1977 dues today?

Unlike most organizations we have not cut down on the quality of our publication because of inflationary costs, but have continued to improve our journal each year with more pages, more color, and better articles — and we want to continue to do so. However, with increasing postal rates, rising printing costs, and the need for an expensive mailing service, we are left with no alternative but to raise our membership dues.

In 1977 membership dues will be as follows:

Annual — $10.00
Sustaining — $15.00
Fellowship — $25.00
Life — $200.00

This is our first increase in five years, and it has been only with very careful budgeting that up to now we have been able to avoid doing so. In the future we promise you everything in a journal that you would like it to be. If you have any suggestions or comments, we would be only too glad to receive them. We will do our best to meet with your requests.

Puya venusta

C. Wiley

Few are the puyas that are tractable enough to be grown by the average collector — most, in fact, are appropriate only for large botanic gardens. This is regrettable, for many puyas are magnificent plants with stunning inflorescences and are tolerant of inclement growing conditions as well as considerable neglect.

There are a few exceptions, however, and Puya venusta from Chile is one of them. It is a robust, small species that will thrive either in a container or in the sunny rockery along with other succulents. Its pale gray-green leaves are one foot long, one inch wide, tapering to a point. The flower stalk, including the inflorescence — a branched panicle, is less than two feet high. This species with its silvery mounds of rosettes and globose clusters of purple flowers is highly ornamental.

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