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Tissue Culture Propagation of Aechmea Fasciata
  Jeanne B. Jones and Toshio Murashige3
Easy Plants
  Bernard Stonor11
Tillandsia × Complachroma Rauh
  Werner Rauh15
Propagation of Poor Puppers
  Morris W. Dexter, M.D.23
Bromeliad Portraiture24
In Search of the Big Bulbosa
  Shirley Grubb26
Induction of Lateral Growths on Vrieseas by Cytokinin
  Sue Garnder31
Two Fine New Bromeliads34
Regional Reflections36
Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor48


Aechmea tessmannii Harms
Photo by Alexander Hirtz, Ecuador

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 Editorial Office, 647 South Saltair Ave., Los Angeles, California 90049.

Tissue Culture Propagation of Aechmea Fasciata and Other Bromeliads


(Reprinted from Proceedings of the International Plant Propagators' Society, Vol. 24, 1974)

The Bromeliaceae is composed of largely tropical American genera, many of which are herbaceous epiphytes. It includes the pineapple and some commercially important ornamentals. One flowering ornamental, Aechmea fasciata Baker, known in the trade as Aechmea, has been popular as a house plant for many years. In standard practice Aechmea is propagated through seed. This procedure yields plants that are quite variable and a significant proportion may be of unsalable quality. There have been other problems associated with seed propagation, such as a limited supply, seasonal availability, and poor germination. Vegetative propagation of Aechmea can be accomplished by division or suckers, as is done with pineapple, but this method is too slow to be practical. We now describe a tissue culture method of rapid clonal multiplication. The method appears applicable also to some other bromeliads. However, it should be used cautiously, inasmuch as sometimes there is difficulty in reproducing plant type. Some Aechmea plants obtained through tissue culture have shown genetic deviation, and the incidence of aberrant plants has been observed to increase with repeated reculture in vitro. Nevertheless, when properly employed, the procedure can yield 500 uniform clonal Aechmea plants from each explant within a 6-month period in vitro.

The Starting Tissue. Shoot tips measuring 2-5 mm in height are employed as explants. They can be obtained from buds that are located at the base of the mature plant or from the terminal of an actively growing shoot. The former is preferred, inasmuch as many more explants can be obtained from a given plant. In principle, the procedure of obtaining shoot tips in either instance is the same. When buds are used as source of explants the older leaves and all roots at the base of the plant are first removed to expose the buds. Usually the buds are buried in the stem tissue and may need to be located systematically. Since the buds on the stem occur in a regular sequence of whorls, once one bud has been found it is relatively easy to locate the others. The outermost 1-2 bud scales are removed and any dead tissue is trimmed away from the bud and the surrounding stem tissue. A 5-10 mm cube of tissue composed of the stem and the bud is removed from the plant and transferred immediately to a solution containing 100 mg/l ascorbic acid and 150 mg/l citric acid. These acids presumably retard oxidation and deterioration of the tissue. Those experienced with plant tissue cultures would be aware of the browning that results almost immediately in some plants in response to injury, and these substances appear to delay that browning process.

In using the terminals of growing shoots as shoot-tip explants, all leaves are first removed, leaving only a few embryonic leaves at the extreme stem apex. A 5-10 mm tall structure composed of the embryonic leaves and subjacent stem tissue is severed from the plant and transferred to the ascorbic/citric acid solution.

After a sufficient number of buds or shoot terminals have been obtained, they are wrapped in small squares, about 4-inch squares, of cheesecloth and transferred to 25 × 150 mm test tubes for preliminary disinfection. A generous quantity of dilute laundry bleach (Purex or similar bleach diluted 20-fold with distilled water and containing a small amount of detergent, e.g., 1-2 drops of Tween-20 emulsifier per 100 ml of disinfectant solution) is added to the tube, covering all contents within the tube. The tubes are capped with polypropylene closures (Bellco kaputs). After 10 min. the bleach solution is decanted and the contents of the tube are rinsed 3 times with autoclaved water.

Shoot tips of culturable size are isolated with the aid of the dissecting microscope. Usually a 10-20X magnification is adequate. Aseptic procedures should be followed and the surgical and transfer steps should be performed in a laminar-flow clean-air hood to minimize contamination by airborne micro-organisms. The bud or stem-tip section is transferred individually into a sterile Petri dish for further excision. The surgical instruments include a pair of fine-tipped long (about 25 cm) forceps, a pair of smaller (10 cm long) fine-tipped forceps, and a surgeon's scalpel with No. 11 blades. Sometimes the No. 15 scalpel blades may also be helpful. The surgical instruments are sterilized by immersion in 70% alcohol. One or 2 of the remaining bud scales or embryonic leaves and a portion of the stem tissue are first removed from the bud or stem tip section. The section is further sterilized by immersing for 3-5 min. in the 20-fold diluted bleach solution. An additional 1-2 scales or leaves and stem tissue are removed, and the final explant measuring 2-5 mm tall is obtained. The explant is dipped in the bleach solution and transferred to the nutrient tube.

Table 1. The Murashige-Skoog inorganic salt formulation employed in tissue culture multiplication of Aechmea fasciata Baker.

NH4NO3 1650.0 H3BO3 6.2
KNO3 1900.0 MnSO4 • H2O 16.9
CaCl2 • H2O 440.0 ZnSO4 • 7 H2O 8.6
MgSO4 • 7H2O 370.0 KI 0.83
KH2PO4 170.0 Na2MoO4 • 2H2O 0.25
Na2 • EDTA 37.3 CuSO4 • 5H2O 0.025
FeSO4 • 7H2O 27.8 CoCl2 • 6H2O 0.025

Table 2. Nutrient addenda employed in initiating cultures from freshly excised Aechmea shoot tips (Step 1).

Sucrose 20,000.0 Nicotinic acid 0.5
IBA (Indole-3-butyric acid) 1.75 Pyridoxine • HCl 0.5
NAA (α–naphthalenea-cetic acid) 1.75 Thiamine • HCl 0.1
Glycine 2.0 Citric acid 150.0

Nutrient Media. Three different nutrient formulations are recommended for the tissue culture propagation of Aechmea, one for each of the three major steps in vitro: (1) the establishment of initial culture from freshly excised shoot tips, (2) the subsequent step of rapidly multiplying shoots, and (3) the final step of preparing the multiplied shoots for their transfer to soil. It is possible to accomplish all three steps by using one medium, but maximum efficiency is more likely if the nutrient medium and other conditions in vitro are as nearly optimum for each step. The three formulations contain the Murashige and Skoog salt mixture (2); the composition of this mixture is reproduced in Table 1. Table 2 lists other constituents of the medium of the first step; they have been adapted from the Cattleya orchid culture medium of Reinert and Mohr (3). In Table 3 are found the addenda that are employed for the second, or shoot multiplication step; and in Table 4, the substances that are added to the nutrient formulation of the third, or pre-transplant, step.

Table 3. Nutrient addenda employed in rapid multiplication of aechmea shoots (Step 2).

Sucrose 30,000.0 Adenine sulfate • 2 H2O 40.0
NaH2PO4 • H2O 85.0 Thiamine • HCl 0.4
IAA (Indole-3-acetic acid) 2.0 i-Inositol 100.0
Kinetin 2.0

Table 4. Nutrient addenda employed in preparing aechmea shoots for transfer to soil (Step 3).

Sucrose 30,000.0
IAA 2.0
Thiamine • HCl 0.4
i-Inositol 100.0

Liquid formulations are advisable for tissue cultures of Aechmea, although agar-solidified media may be more suitable for some other bromeliads. An initial pH of 5.0 has been satisfactory with liquid media. The pH adjustment is accomplished by adding a few drops of very dilute NaOH or HCl. The media are sterilized by autoclaving 15 min. at 121°C (15 lbs. pressure). The nutrient solution of step 1 is contained in 25 × 150 mm culture tubes, in 5 ml aliquots. The tubes are capped with polypropylene closures (Bellco K-25 kaputs). In the subsequent shoot multiplication step, the nutrient formula is placed in 125 ml Delong or Erlenmeyer flasks, each with 25 ml solution. The Delong flasks are capped with Morton stainless steel closures, whereas the Erlenmeyer flasks are plugged with non-absorbent cotton or sponge. The cotton or sponge plugs may need to be covered with aluminum foil to retard moisture loss. During the final pretransplant step in vitro, the nutrient medium is placed in a still larger vessel, a wide mouth 500 ml Erlenmeyer flask or equivalent, and each vessel is provided with 100 ml of medium. The flask is closed with a 2-holed autoclavable rubber stopper, with each of the holes of the stopper being filled with non-absorbent cotton. Additional protection against microbial entry is provided by covering the stopper and the lip of the flask with aluminum foil.

The Culture Environment. Best results with the freshly excised shoot tip of step 1 are obtained by placing the nutrient tubes on a rotating device and providing gentle agitation. The New Brunswick rollordrum apparatus (Model TC-4) with a constant rotational speed of 1 rpm has been satisfactory in our laboratory. The tubes are held at an angle of 10° from the horizontal. If agitation is not possible the cultures may be maintained in the stationary state. In that case, culture tubes should not be used; small, 50 ml capacity Erlenmeyer flasks are preferred.

None of the cultures in flasks of the second and third steps require agitation. Good cultures of Aechmea have been obtained by simply maintaining them in a stationary state on culture shelves.

All 3 steps of the tissue culture procedure are accomplished by providing a constant temperature of 26-27°C (about 80°F). The cultures are illuminated 16 hr daily with 1000 lux (circa 100 ft-c) light from Gro Lux lamps. It may be desirable to expose the cultures of the pretransplant step to a higher light intensity, perhaps near 10,000 lux (1000 ft-c).

The Multiplication Process. After 4 weeks, the shoot-tip explants should have enlarged considerably and should be ready for transfer to the shoot multiplication medium. Those that show only little growth, but are still alive, may require further reculture in a freshly prepared step 1 nutrient solution. Transfer of the enlarged shoot tip to the shoot multiplication medium results in the production of numerous new shoots. After 6 weeks in this medium, each culture is subdivided into quarters or other convenient portions, and each portion is transferred to freshly prepared multiplication medium. After a further reculture of 6 weeks, the tissue cultures should be ready for step 3 and prepared for their transfer to soil.

The Pretransplant Step. The pretransplant step is accomplished by simply subdividing the cultures of the shoot multiplication step and reculturing them in the step 3 medium. A period of 6-8 weeks in this medium has been about optimum for Aechmea. The nutrient medium contains no cytokinin; nevertheless, an increase in the number of shoots occurs. This probably reflects primarily an outgrowth from primordia which have been initiated during step 2. The recultures are placed under a higher light intensity (near 10,000 lux) at this time. The shoots elongate substantially and show well-developed leaves, and some will have roots.

Establishment of Plants in Soil. The clusters of shoots from step 3 are separated into individual shoots, and the shoots are handled hereafter as cuttings. They are set into an equiproportional mixture of peat, perlite and vermiculite. They should be placed under intermittent mist in the greenhouse and shaded during the first 2-3 weeks. By then a good root system should have developed and the plants should be ready for standard culture conditions.

Characteristics of the Plants Obtained through Tissue Culture. The above tissue culture procedure has been tested under commercial conditions and several thousands of Aechmea fasciata plants have been established. An average of 500 Aechmea plants of transplantable size have been obtained from each shoot-tip explant in 6 months. The shoots that arise in vitro have been rooted successfully and established into plants with a 90-100% survival rate. In general, the plants derived through tissue culture have been uniform in growth and flower characteristics. But there has been a significant incidence of genetically aberrant plants. These aberrant plants are distinct in the morphological appearance, and show plant qualities which in no way resemble the Aechmea. The frequency of appearance of these aberrant plants seems to be related to the number of times a culture is divided and recultured, and to the length of time a tissue culture is maintained in the laboratory. The greater the number of recultures and the longer the period of maintenance in vitro, the higher is the incidence of aberrant plants. For example, the practice of utilizing 3 recultures over a period of 6 months resulted in only 2% aberrant plants; in contrast, repeated recultures every 6 weeks for up to a year produced over 20% variant plants.

Cytological examination of root tips from the tissue-culture-derived plants revealed no difference in the chromosome number of the plants, indicating that the aberration did not involve polyploidization. Observations of histogenesis during development of shoots from shoot-tip cultures of Aechmea disclosed that much of the new shoots arose by way of adventitious shoot initiation in the basal region of the explant. This adventitious origin of the shoots would partially account for the genetically aberrant plants. Indeed, the occurrence of significant frequencies of genetically variant plants through adventitious organogenesis in tissue cultures has not been uncommon (1). The occurrence of sports in tissue culture cannot be avoided entirely. Nevertheless, the incidence can be reduced by keeping the number of recultures to a minimum. It is always tempting to obtain as many plants from a given explant and to maintain stock cultures of established lines for indefinite periods. This practice can lead to tragic consequences when applied to Aechmea fasciata and other genetically unstable plants. It is recommended that recultures be done no more than 3 times, with the third one being the pretransplant step. Between the initial stage with the freshly excised shoot tip and the final transfer of shoots into soil, a total of 6 months elapses in vitro. In practice, new cultures should be started from fresh shoot-tip explants at prescribed times to coincide with market demands. It is not advisable to maintain stocks of Aechmea tissue cultures indefinitely.

Applicability to Other Bromeliads. The procedure has been tried with 19 other genera or species of the Bromeliaceae. Success has been observed with Ananas comosus Merrill 'Smooth Cayenne', Cryptanthus bivitattus Regal 'Cafe au lait', Cryptanthus 'Star'. Cryptbergia meadii (Cryptanthus beuckeri Morr. × Billbergia nutans H. Wendl. ). Dyckia sulphurea C. Koch, and Guzmania 'Hummel's Supreme'. Whereas the rate of multiplication is satisfactory, the method is not applicable to some of the variegated bromeliads, e.g., Ananas comosus Merrill 'Variegatus', Cryptanthus 'It' and Aechmea fasciata Baker 'Albo-marginata'. The adventitious origin of new shoots causes separation of the chimeral components of these cultivars.


A commercially applicable tissue culture procedure for rapid clonal multiplication of Aechmea fasciata Baker and certain other bromeliads is described. The procedure starts with shoot tips obtained from buds that are located at the base of the plant or from stem tips of growing shoots. After an initial 4-week culture period, the enlarged shoot tip is transferred to a nutrient medium which enables rapid formation of new shoots. The cluster of new shoots is divided and each portion is transferred to fresh medium and recultured once more to further increase the number of shoots. Subsequently the cultures are divided again and recultured in a medium that enables the new shoots to elongate, harden and initiate roots. Finally, the shoots are separated from the clusters and transplanted into soil in the greenhouse.

The cultures are maintained at a constant 26-27°C. Exposure of the cultures 16 hr daily to 1000 Gro Lux light has been satisfactory for the initial development of shoot tips in vitro and for their subsequent multiplication. A higher light intensity, perhaps 10,000 lux, may be desirable for the third step of preparing the multiplied shoots for transfer to soil. The establishment of plants in the greenhouse is enhanced by providing intermittent mists and light shade during the first 2-3 weeks. This procedure, if employed improperly, can result in a high frequency of genetically aberrant plants. It is moreover not recommended for the propagation of some variegated bromeliads.

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California. Riverside 92502


  1. Murashige, T. 1974. Plant propagation through tissue cultures. Ann. Rev. Plant Physiol. 25:135-166.

  2. Murashige, T. and F. Skoog. 1962. A revised medium for rapid growth and bioassays with tobacco tissue cultures. Physiol. Plant. 15:473-497.

  3. Reinert, R.A. and H.C. Mohr. 1967. Propagation of Cattleya by tissue culture of lateral bud meristems. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 91:664-671.


1. The research was supported in part by an Elvenia J. Slosson Fellowship in Ornamental Horticulture to Dr. Murashige. The cooperation of Buena Park Greenhouses, Encinitas, California; Yorba Linda Tropicals, Yorba Linda, California; and Seaborn Del Dios Nursery, Escondido, California, is deeply appreciated. These firms provided plant material and/or financial assistance.

Easy Plants


In a sense, it might be said that the majority of bromeliads are easy to grow, provided, of course, that we understand the plants and their needs.

It takes quite a long time to understand the requirements of the many types of plants included in the family, and comparatively new growers are often bewildered by even the commonest types. There is a natural tendency for articles on bromeliads to describe the rare and unusual varieties, most of which are unknown to the ordinary amateur growers and not available anyway. Many of the plants which the established grower takes for granted, perhaps even neglects in favor of the more unusual species, are still novelties to the new grower and also may be among the most attractive species when well grown. By taking a little trouble over such old favorites as Aechmea lueddemanniana it is not hard to produce a really beautiful plant which can compare favorably with many of the expensive and elusive rarities.

Most, if not all, beginners will be growing their first Aechmea fasciata, but how seldom does one see any reference to the requirements of this species. In my experience the plants do best in a fairly shady position and should not be overfertilized, as this may lead to burning of the leaf tips. All kinds of composts are recommended for this and other species, but it seems to make little difference to the plants what particular mix is used, provided that it is very well drained and open. After all, most of our plants are epiphytes, so it is necessary to provide some air around the roots. A most important point to remember is that the plants must not be planted too deeply, just sitting on top of the compost is usually best.

Another requirement for success is, I think, a good air circulation in the glasshouse, whether it be cold or heated. It is also best to keep the glasshouse well filled with plants — they seem to like company. If bromeliads are not available in sufficient numbers, other plants with similar requirements as to temperature and light are equally suitable and will inevitably be replaced by bromeliads as time goes by.

A question which all new growers ask is what fertilizer to use. This is not a question which can be given a simple answer. Most species will grow very nicely without any regular dosing with fertilizer, and perhaps this is the safest way if there is any doubt about what to use. After all, when growing in their natural habitat it is unlikely that the plants will be visited by some philanthropist with a water can filled with suitable nourishment. They simply have to take what comes their way and generally do quite well without any artificial help. There is also the question of whether the plants are being grown as epiphytes feeding through their leaves or as terrestrials feeding through their roots. A large number of species undoubtedly do make better plants when grown as terrestrials, either in large pots or in the open ground. If the compost is rich, then little fertilizer should be needed for the months following repotting or planting out. When a fertilizer is used, my own preference, after trying a variety of different types, is for one having a high proportion of nitrogen. This will naturally be applied while the plants are in active growth, the slow and stately progression of a bromeliad can be called active. I really think, however, that the feeding of his plants is a matter to be worked out by each grower to suit his own climate and growing methods.

Most people start off with the idea that bromeliads are strange, difficult plants needing all sorts of curious treatments. Some of them are no doubt difficult, but these can be left to the experts and real enthusiasts. For most of us there are plenty of easy ones which we can grow in the garden in the same way as any other perennial. The billbergias are most adaptable, and species such as B. zebrina and B. sanderiana are an asset to any garden. Billbergia vittata is one species which is likely to be among one's first plants and will outlive many others. In my garden this hardy variety grows very well in full shade throughout the year and flowers earlier and just as freely as plants grown in good light with some sun. Plants which thrive in full shade are always welcome in most gardens.

The aechmeas include a number of really hardy plants for inside or outside planting. Some of the most spiky ones may be a problem to handle in the glasshouse and are far better planted in a safe spot in the garden where they cannot attack unwary visitors with their needle-pointed leaves. Aechmea ornata is one of these and grows well here in a sunny position, looking a little yellow after an exceptionally hot spell but soon recovering when the weather improves. It has not yet flowered, but I believe I am not the only grower who has had a long wait for this one to flower. Aechmea distichantha is another excellent all-weather species, provided one keeps well away from its arsenal of spikes and spines. This one, too, requires patience before the flowers are enjoyed.

At one time it was one of my ambitions to grow and flower Aechmea pineliana. There was a plant in my glasshouse, where it certainly grew and made a nice foliage plant but was most unwilling to flower. In the end this plant was added to a number of other species growing in the ground. This, it seems, was what it was waiting for. It grew very well in all kinds of weather, soon forming a clump some three feet across, and now, in early winter, it is pushing up at least four flower spikes. The soil is just an ordinary sandy loam, mostly sand, and the treatment the same as for any other plant in the garden.

Aechmea nudicaulis and its varieties are useful plants which grow well on the branch of a tree, rather than in the ground. Some hybrids of Aechmea recurvata are also good subjects for tree planting.

One of the easiest plants to grow here is Quesnelia liboniana. No pot is necessary, although the plants will of course grow nicely in a pot. The offshoots, being formed on fairly long stolons, soon form a compact system of interconnected plants which rest on the surface of the ground, with a few roots foraging among the dead leaves, etc., on the surface. Some time ago, a piece of this plant, consisting of three growths still connected by the stolons, was placed on the branch of an apricot tree, not even tied on. During a very long hot summer the plants received an occasional watering when the hose happened to come that way, unless they were forgotten as sometimes happened. At the present time each growth is producing a strong offshoot and looking very healthy in spite of having hardly any roots. I hope this note will be read by some of the people who say they have no where to grow bromeliads. You don't really need anywhere for a plant like this; it just grows.

The neoregelias have proved a very satisfactory genus here, easily grown and ornamental. The only real complaint I have about them is that they are difficult to identify. I consider them to be glasshouse plants for the most part, though there are some very hardy species such as concentrica which will thrive out in the garden. A suitable compost for these and many other bromeliads is a simple mixture of coarse sand and leaf mold. The sand must be coarse to insure good drainage and the leaf mold should consist of partly rotted leaves, twigs, etc., collected from under dense scrub. On top of this mixture it is helpful to place a layer, not too thick, of green moss. The moss in this district grows on rocks and can be peeled off in quite large sheets.

When potting new offshoots, often without roots, a layer of this moss can be placed on top of the compost, and the plant inserted into a hole in the moss. This helps to hold the plant in place and roots very soon form, growing into the moss rather than the compost.

A similar system has proved useful for vrieseas, and I am now growing tillandsias in coconut fiber (extracted from an old mattress) with a layer of the living moss on top. This seems to work quite well, and I am at last able to grow a few respectable tillandsias such as T. lindenii, T. cyanea, and similar types. The more strongly epiphytic species are undoubtedly best grown on fiber, wood, or whatever support is handy.

There are likely to be a few cryptanthus in most collections, and some growers find these plants rather difficult. This may be a matter of an unsuitable climate, wrong compost, overwatering and fertilizing, or even unsuitable water. My plants are improving, after a few tragedies, due I believe to some substance in the water supply. A rather poor compost of coarse sand, charcoal or brick with a little humus has proved successful here, but the plants do not seem to produce many roots, so care must be taken to keep the compost well drained and rather dry. I grow mine in a glasshouse with a little heat in winter, as they do not appear to be as hardy as their stiff leaves suggest.

The terrestrial species are also interesting and hardy plants though not so well known as they might be. Some of the dyckias soon make very colorful foliage plants, and the tall spikes with their bright orange or yellow flowers are most ornamental. Plenty of light seems to be the chief need of these plants, most of which are reasonably hardy. Here, some have proved susceptible to damage from hailstones, particularly D. brevifolia. It would be hard to find an easier plant to grow than some of the hechtias, in a mild climate at least, and their unusual appearance always fascinates people.

With so many species and hybrids available it is often a problem to know which plants to buy, and there are so many easily grown species that the difficult ones, guzmanias and the like, can be left until the grower has the experience and the facilities to succeed with them. Of course, if you have an air-conditioned hot house, electronically controlled, it is a different story, but not all of us can afford such luxuries, and it is really far more satisfactory to grow the plants without any more artificial aids than are essential.

Margaret River, Western Australia

Tillandsia × Complachroma Rauh

A natural hybrid between Tillandsia complanata Benth. × T. ionochroma Andre ex Mez


A. Hirtz

In the course of our trip to Ecuador in 1975 we visited several times the valley of Baeza (Quito - Papayacta - Lago Agrio) which is very rich in bromeliads and orchids. It is a very poorly explored valley because the road is a new one, constructed by oil companies, leading down into the Amazonas basin and up to Lago Agrio and Coca. A. J. Gilmartin evidently did not visit this region because she does not mention many of the bromeliads we saw here in her book The Bromeliaceae of Ecuador. I have already described some new species in "Tropische und subtropische Pflanzenwelt," but we found many more new species, which will be published in the near future. On the following pages I will present an interesting new natural hybrid between Tillandsia ionochroma Andre ex Mez and T. complanata Benth., two wide spread species in South America, but which are not related to each other. The only common feature between the two species is the fact that they belong to the highest growing tillandsias in South America and can be found growing at a 4,000 m. altitude.

If you leave Quito in the early morning and drive down on the excellent paved road into the valley de los Chillos, and if the weather is clear and the heavens cloudless, you will have a beautiful view of all the volcanoes around Quito, above all the impressive pyramid of the Cotopaxi, the Cotocachi, the Cayambe, and the Antisana. In one hour you can reach the bottom of the deep valley de los Chillos with its warm climate; it is the fruit-tree-garden for Quito. Here grow peaches, mangos, apples, avocados, papayas, citrus, and other fruits. At the end of the paved road you must be careful not to miss the entrance to the "oil-road," which leads up to the pass of Papayacta and further on down to Baeza and Lago Agrio. It starts as a very narrow and rough road. At km 6 we can collect Tillandsia pectinata, T. pastensis, and a pig puya, probably Puya aequatorialis.

Soon the road improves and climbs up to the Paramo. Trees, bushes, and bunch grasses form a colorful mosaic of vegetation. One of the most striking plants of the grassland-paramo, at an altitude of about 4,000 m, is Puya clava-hercules Mez et Sodiro, forming in the vegetative stage an ornamental stemless leaf-rosette of a diameter of about 50-70 cm. The leaves are very spiny (Fig. 1) and the inflorescence, including the long, erect scape, reaches a size up to 1,5-2m; (Fig. 1-b); the fertile densely bipinnate part has the shape of a club, and the primary and floral bracts are densely woolly lepidote, nearly completely covering the small bluish flowers (Fig. 1-b). After flowering the plant dies. Puya clava-hercules is, like many puyas, a monocarpic plant. It flowers only one time.

After we cross the "cumbre" (summit) we have the chance of seeing the beautiful panorama of the glaciers of the volcano Antisana, which unfortunately are mostly hidden in the clouds. We descend quickly and have a fantastic view of the lake of Papayacta. It is an artificial lake, having been formed by a big lavaflow of the Volcano Antisana.

Fig. 1 Puya clava-hercules

Fig. 1-b Puya clava-hercules

Passing the little village Papayacta we enter a destroyed cloud forest which contains a number of interesting bromeliads at an elevation of 3,000 - 2,500 m. Outstanding was the large and ornamental Tillandsia cucullata L. B. Smith, described in the last issue of this Journal. We found many specimens, although, according to A. J. Gilmartin (1972) this species has apparently been collected only one time and may be restricted in its distribution to the area around Sevilla de Oro (Prov. Azuae, South Ecuador). Other tillandsias were T. buseri Mez. var. nubicola Gilmartin, T. riocreuxii Andre (a very large, 3-pinnate (!) form, T. tetrantha (Griseb.) L. B. Smith., T. complanata Benth., T. ionochroma Andre ex Mez, and large beautifully colored guzmanias.

At an altitude between 2,800 and 3,000 m. we collected a curious tillandsia, which we thought at first to be a new species. It produces like T. complanata several axillary arching inflorescences (Fig. 4), but these do not have simple spikes (Fig. 3), but bipinnate, narrow cylindric (Fig. 4) and compound of 4-8 short, erect spikes; indeed a striking and exciting plant! We know only one tillandsia from South America with several axillary spikes, and this is T. complanata. On an old cut tree we found the solution to the problem. There were growing beautiful specimens of T. ionochroma with thick, cylindric bipinnate inflorescences (Fig. 2), bright red primary bracts and violet flowers, and big plants of Tillandsia complanata (Fig. 3). Mixed with both grew our "new" tillandsia. Now, we were sure that we had found a natural hybrid between the two mentioned species, and we name it.

Tillandsia × complachroma (T. complanata × T. ionochroma). It stands exactly between the parents. Following is the description of the plant: Plant stemless, flowering up to 50cm high. Leaves numerous, forming a dense rosette of a diameter up to 60cm, Sheathes long-ovate, 13-15cm long, 7-8cm wide, on the upper side dark violet, beneath leather brown, with violet spots. Blades lingulate, acute, up to 30cm long, 4,5cm wide, green, beneath with violet spots. Inflorescences several, axillary, arching to pendulate, up to 30cm long, narrow cylindric, bipinnate (Fig 4-b). Scape-bracts erect, longer than the internodes, up to 4,5cm long, exceeding the internodes, green to pale rose, glabrous, lepidote at the tips. Inflorescence bipinnate with 4-8 short, nearly erect, complanate spikes, those up to 2cm long, 1,5-2cm wide with about 4 flowers. Primary bracts as long or shorter than the spikes. Floral bracts distichous, about 10cm long, shorter than the sepals, carinate, glabrous, red, obscurely nerved. Sepals 1-1,3cm long, green, red-tipped, the posterior carinate. Petals 1,7cm long, 4mm broad, obtuse violet.

Fig. 2 Tillandsia ionochroma

Fig. 3 Tillandsia complanata

Fig. 4 Tillandsia × complachroma

Holotypus: RAUH Nr. 37925 (Aug. 1975), Papayacta-Baeza, 2,800m, destroyed in cloud forest.

Tillandsia × complachroma ranges exactly between the two parents. It agrees with T. complanata in producing several axillary arching inflorescences; it agrees with T. ionochroma in the cylindric, bipinnate inflorescences and in forming offshoots at the base of the dying flowering rosette (Fig. 4); T. complanata, however, is of a monopodial growth and seldom produces offshoots; the flowering rosette lives for a long time.

Institute of Systematic Botany of the University of Heidelberg, West Germany.


  1. T. multicaulis, the other species with several lateral inflorescences, is restricted in its distribution to Central America and Mexico.

  2. According to A. J. Gilmartin (1972, p. 121) T. ionochroma has been found only in southern Ecuador in the Prov. Loja (1,800-2,600m).


1977 WORLD BROMELIAD CONFERENCE — Enclosed with this issue is an advance registration blank for "New Orleans, Bromeliads, and All That Jazz." Please note that there has been an error in the room rates: what reads as "twin" should be "single."

There are now more than fifty groups in the United States that are affiliated with the Bromeliad Society, Inc. If you wish to join such a group or would like to form one, get in touch with Mrs. Thelma O'Reilly, 10942 Sunray Place, La Mesa, California 92041. She will send you all necessary details.

The Bromeliad Society now has under preparation a number of pamphlets and booklets which will be issued during 1977. Among these will be A Dictionary for Bromeliad Growers, Growing From Seed, etc. The Cultural Handbook is also undergoing another revision and will be off the press shortly.

From Horticultural Abstracts for 1975 comes this result of an experiment conducted by B. Stahnof the German Democratic Republic in which he tried for better quality and a shorter production period for Vriesea splendens and Vriesea hybrida 'Flammendes Schwert' by treatment with flowering stimulators. The abstract reads as follows: "Two or three applications of 10 or 15 mg BOH (87% a.i.) (B-hydroxethylhydrazine) in 20 ml water or 5-15 s treatments with acetylene were made to seedling plants of V. splendens and V. × hybrida or Flammendes Schwert.

Treated plants were shorter than untreated controls, the flower scapes were longer, and the inflorescences longer, broader, more numerous and better developed. Of the 2 substances BOH gave the better results and was easier to apply. It reduced the production period from 48.5 to a minimum of 30.5 months."

If you plan to bring in plant material from outside of the United States, it is necessary to obtain a plant permit, the number of which should be placed on all packages. For information on plant importation and permits write to U.S.D.A., A.P.H.U.S., P.P.G. Federal Building, Room 638, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782.

Propagation of Poor Puppers


Vriesea splendens and Guzmania sanguinea (both large and small types) produce vegetative growths very close to the center of the rosette and are, therefore, difficult to remove. If not removed all of the energy of the parent plant will go to the single pup and the owner will not be able to increase the number of his plants.

Such plants may be induced to produce more than a single offset by the following method:

If the leaves of the parent plant are split longitudinally to the base and separated, it is possible to see the point where the pup is attached to the parent. This part of the plant is white and fragile.

A small sharp knife is placed between the pup and parent and carefully passed down to about ½ to ¾ of an inch below the point of attachment. The knife is then withdrawn and another cut is made on the outer surface of the pup, about ½ to ¾ of an inch below the point of attachment, directing the knife edge toward the previously made vertical cut. The new plantlet should now be free. If not, continue cutting, but never use force.

The most common errors are:

  1. Inadequate exposure of the point of attachment of the pup by failing to split the parent's leaves low enough or to separate them adequately. Good light is most helpful.

  2. Breaking off the pup.

  3. Making the horizontal (2nd cut) too high, thus cutting through the leaves.

  4. Cutting off the entire crown of the parent plant.

With a bit of experience this technique is almost always successful and should take less than two to three minutes.

The new pup should be allowed to ripen in a vertical position for three to four weeks or better yet until small roots are visible, at which time it may be potted in the usual way.

I have not found it necessary to treat the raw surfaces with fungicide.

The parent plant will usually produce another pup which can also be removed as described below. Two or three propagations are about all one can obtain from an average plant, but this is preferable to no multiplication at all.



Right —
Aechmea victoriana with tillandsia in back


Left —
Tillandsia stricta

Right —
Nidularium innocentii var. innocentii

Right —
Tillandsia rutschamenii from Ecuador

Left —
Streptocalyx species

Right —
Aechmea fasciata

In Search of the Big Bulbosa


Aechmea paniculigera growing near Christiana, Jamaica.

It had been more than a year since the bromeliad bug bit Jack and me, and we began wondering what all those "orchids and tree ferns" really were that we had seen so often in the Caribbean Islands. After a few trips to Puerto Rico to try our collecting abilities, we thought about our favorite island, Jamaica, and decided to go there after a four-year absence. Preliminary inquiries established that most of the bromeliads grew near Mandeville, a city we long had wanted to visit but had never seen. And so in May we took Delta's two and a half hour flight from New Orleans to Montego Bay for the first leg of our trip.

On Monday morning we rented a small car and headed west towards Reading, where we turned inland to cross the countryside that skirts the Cockpit Country on the way to Mandeville. As soon as we left the ocean, we began seeing tillandsias in the trees. This was quite a treat, since we really didn't expect to see much for many more miles. We stopped along the way to gather T. setacea, T. juncea, and T. fasciculata var. venosispica. Everywhere we looked there were G. monostachia, tillandsias, and various large hohenbergias in the trees, on the fences, and on the ground. All the while Jack told me to keep a lookout for the large variety of T. bulbosa that he was especially interested in seeking.

The Cockpit Country is an area of limestone outcroppings and very little vegetation. No roads cross the dry land of crater-like valleys that served the runaway slaves of the early nineteenth century as a refuge. We were on the western boundary of this wilderness on the way south.

As we approached Catadupa the good road became crushed limestone with chunks of rocks large enough to jar the car as we slowly proceeded. Our map was twenty years old; the road signs were often bent, turned, down, or gone. The houses became fewer and farther apart. But the rural people that we depended on for directions were friendly and helpful. At one point a lady shouted from her porch that we were on the wrong road. I suppose we were headed for a dead end somewhere. Her whole family came out to point us in the right direction. It was in this area between Catadupa and Mocho that I spotted the first T. bulbosa on a scrubby, dead tree, miles from any house. There were two single plants, one quite a bit larger than we were used to seeing in collections at home. On the same tree was a T. balbisiana. A quick look around the area revealed nothing else, but in retrospect, we believe there must have been more if we had scouted about. I was getting a bit apprehensive, because it was after noon, we were only a third of the way there, and unless the road improved, we were in for a long, bone-jarring journey. We proceeded and hoped we could spot more along the way.

Before we got to Maggotty the road did improve, and we began seeing more people and vegetation. On the way to Santa Cruz, where we could get on a super highway to Mandeville, we saw beautiful T. fasciculata var. laxispica and var. venosispica in the trees. Also, we began to see T. recurvata on the trees and telephone wires. Of course, T. utriculata was ever present.

Children and limestone outcropping covered with orchids and bromeliads at Banana Ground, Jamaica.

Jack Grubb sorting and packing various specimens collected. Montego Bay, Jamaica.

We checked into our hotel in Mandeville about 5 P.M. and immediately scouted the trees in the pasture behind for bromeliads. We gathered a few tillandsias, and while Jack took them to the room, I noticed an announcement for a flower show and plant sale that also mentioned orchids and bromeliads. Even though it was over at 5 P.M., we asked directions on the chance that the participants would still be there. We were in luck! They were packing their things, but stopped long enough to talk to us. They were using the flower spikes of A. paniculigera and the plants and bracts of G. lingulata for decorations but knew very little about them. One lady mentioned that bromeliads could be found at Banana Ground. Mrs. Hamilton offered to show us where she found her specimens if we would go to Christiana the next day and ask for her at the Holmswood Technical High School. We did, and she led us to a construction site on the side of a hill. There we found tillandsia species, G. lingulata, A. paniculigera, Vriesea platynema, and a small red plant that may be V. heliconioides. Mrs. Hamilton said she could show us where some plants grew that had blooms that the rats loved to eat. From her description we believed them to be some form of billbergia. We're sorry now that we didn't investigate them.

After lunch we decided to go to Banana Ground, and on the way stopped at the local agricultural station to ask if there were any T. bulbosas in the vicinity. The man showed an interest in the specimen we showed him and told his workers to bring any in that they might find. Each of the workers had to hold the plant, and they all were fascinated with Victoria Padilla's book that we had with us.

As we climbed the mountain around hairpin curves, we came upon a sign saying, "You are entering Banana Ground." There were a few scattered houses, a little church, and some curious rock formations that gave an almost barren, other-worldly appearance to the place. The elevation was about 2500 feet, and the sun often broke through the low-lying clouds that bathed us. We got out of the car to examine the area more closely and were surprised to see orchids clinging in the crevices of the rocks. As we looked more closely, we found bromeliads growing on some of the rocks. We found G. lingulata var. splendens that had purple foliage and red-purple bracts, V. platynema variegata with purple on the undersides of the leaves, Catopsis floribunda having an orange hue, hohenbergia species that were almost inky-black, and several tillandsia species. The people living in the vicinity were growing potatoes, onions and cabbages in the little patches of earth among the rocks. Soon the children began to appear, standing silently and watching. We're sure some of the little ones had never seen white people before. The boys wanted to help; and one older boy, Leslie Richards, caught on quickly to what we were looking for. He, too, carefully held the T. bulbosa, but said he had never seen any like it. It didn't take long to get more plants than we needed.

The next day we decided to take the highway east to Spanish Town and north through Fern Gully to Runaway Bay. We stopped many times along the way. At one place on Mount Diablo Jack pulled very large T. balbisianas from a small tree. He walked up the road and back again to find one lonely T. bulbosa on the same tree. Though we searched the area closely, we couldn't find any other T. bulbosas. Nor did we find any more on this trip. The three that nature yielded to us will have to do until our next trip to our favorite island.

River Ridge. Louisiana

With reference to the article in the Journal No. 5 for 1976, "Scented Bromeliads" by Bernard F. Stonor, I would like to report that I have frequently detected a carnation-like fragrance from the blooms of Tillandsia lindenii which is growing and flowering under Saran cloth at my greenhouse in the community of Hana on the southeast coast of the island of Maui. These tillandsias were divisions of a parent plant which I have grown for more than fifteen years in my greenhouse in Pasadena. Other divisions of this plant are growing outside in a sheltered location nearby. None of the Pasadena plants have any detectable fragrance.

John C. Elliott

Induction of Lateral Growths on Vrieseas by Cytokinin


N6-(benzylamino)-9H-purine (N6-benzyl adenine), a growth regulator or hormone belonging to the group called cytokinins, has been found useful in producing lateral growths on a number of plants including some orchids. Vernon Stoutemyer, in the Sept.-Oct. 1976 issue of the Journal of the Bromeliad Society suggested that this hormone might also be useful for the propagation of bromeliads which never, or rarely, produce offsets.

In recent months I have conducted some limited, preliminary tests on this same theory. The results have been positive enough that I plan an extensive and controlled series of tests under more scientific conditions in the near future. It was advantageous to select plants which do not, under normal conditions, produce offsets. The results could therefore be attributed to the cytokinin, and not to chance, or normal growth cycles. At the time the test was started, the only plants I had available which met this condition were two Vriesea hybrids; V. 'Double Pleasure', a cross of V. splendens and V. glutinosa, and a similar hybrid of unknown parentage, V. 'Minnie Marcus'. These plants have always produced a single, large new rosette near the center of the plant shortly after flowering. Neither has ever produced the small seedling-like growths typical of V. glutinosa.


N6-benzyl adenine is available in a non-soluble powder or in a chemically modified white crystalline powder which is at least somewhat soluble in water. The latter can be used in a spray form or poured into the tank of water impounding bromeliads. My experiments have, to date, been with the non-soluble form, mixed with anhydrous lanolin to produce a 2% cytokinin salve.

Left —
V. 'Minnie Marcus' inflorescence showing the largest bud developing. Only ¾ of an inch long, it has two smaller buds, one above and one below.



Below —
V. 'Double Pleasure' produced nine basal offsets in addition to the normal large new rosette next to fading inflorescence.



The stem area between the lower leaves and the potting medium was scraped lightly to create some open wounds enabling the cytokinin to enter the plant. The 2% salve was then applied to these areas with a toothpick. The inflorescence was also treated by carefully removing the bracts along the stem and applying the salve to the wounds left by the removal of the bracts and the tiny buds which were exposed by their removal.


Treatments were made on June 7, 1976, and within two to three weeks, definite growth of buds was detected. At the time that the accompanying photographs were made, September 11, the V. 'Double Pleasure' had nine offsets growing from the base. The largest was six and one half inches tall and three quarters of an inch across at its base. Of the nine inflorescence nodes treated, seven growths resulted; one died as the result of bloom stem die back and six still survive. The inflorescences were well into their flowering cycle when the tests were initiated. (Selection of plants just maturing their inflorescences but not into the flowering cycle might be advantageous.) The V. 'Minnie Marcus' produced growths and are still growing. The growth of the buds on the inflorescences has slowed considerably in the past few weeks and at this time no roots have been observed. They may be lateral floral shoots rather than plantlets.

Many interesting phenomena are yet to be discovered by experimentation with this group of hormones, some of which may prove useful for commercial or hobby growers in propagating those bromeliads that are difficult to reproduce and to increase production of the more desirable ones. Cytokinins stimulate cell division in otherwise dormant meristematic, or bud, regions. Bromeliads have lateral buds and thus potential growth producing areas on the stem at the base of each leaf or bract (modified leaf). Some of these break dormancy and normally develop into vegetative or floral growths at certain times during the plants development; others remain dormant. These potential, but dormant growth areas that otherwise never develop are the untapped source, of additional plants, that may be made available through the use of cytokinins.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Two Fine New Bromeliads

Neoregelia 'Alpha'

Guzmania lingulata 'Howard Yamamoto'

Neoregelia 'Alpha'

This beautiful neoregelia is a hybrid made by Charles Coolbaugh of Lakeland, Florida. The parents are Neoregelia compacta and Neoregelia tristis. That the best traits of both parents were transmitted to the offspring is certainly evident by the photograph on the opposite page. The cross was made in 1969 and first flowered in 1974. Mr. Coolbaugh is presently working up a stock of this lovely hybrid. What is important in the desirability of neoregelias is not only their coloration but also their compactness, and the progeny of this cross certainly meet this standard. The mature plant is approximately 14 inches in diameter.

Guzmania lingulata 'Howard Yamamoto'

Some of the most beautiful hybrids of the past few years have been the work of Howard Yamamoto of Hawaii. However, he has been remiss about bringing them to the fore; perhaps it has been a case of "Polynesian paralysis," which is indeed too bad, as he is a very fine propagator.

The guzmania pictured is what is known as a crossbreed; that is, two forms of a single species are crossed—in this case Guzmania lingulata var. 'Memoria' (Hummel) was used as the pollen parent and Guzmania lingulata var. cardinalis as the seed parent. The plant flowered for the first time in 1976. This guzmania is relatively compact, green with slightly bronzed leaves about 10 inches long and the top of the leaves only 8 inches above the base of the plant. The flower head is 8 to 9 inches across, and the stem is 2 inches above the plant center. The beauty of it is that the inflorescence is a brilliant red all the way down the stem.

Members are urged to register their hybrids and to send in photographs or films of their interesting mutations with full descriptions to Wilbur Wood, Plant Registration Chairman, 1621 Irving Avenue, Glendale, California 91201.

Regional Reflections

(Problems relating to the growing of bromeliads are as diverse as the many geographic areas that comprise the United States. "Regional Reflections" is an attempt to break down the different climatic conditions that prevail throughout this land and to set forth cultural suggestions for each section. Members are urged to send in their experiences and any other pertinent information to the editor.)


I realize it takes space to use bromeliads as groundcovers, but most yards have a corner with nothing in it, a tree that should be ringed about its base, a hedge that could be made more interesting fronted with bromeliads, even that parkway covered with ivy might be livened up with some bromeliads. Anything to cut down lawn mowing is worth trying.

The Mulford Fosters use masses of colorful neoregelias as groundcovers. A border of ophiopogon or liriope is good along the edge. Some will climb up trees when they get crowded. I have masses of Neoregelia spectabilis hybrids that haven't been separated; they make such a tight growth no weed ever gets through. Many of the billbergias will do the same thing.

Billbergia pyramidalis is a favorite in Central Florida. I plant it in rings around trees, as do many other gardeners who grow no other bromeliad. This billbergia will grow way up into trees if encouraged and when it blooms is a spectacle. The flashy red blooms last less than two weeks, but after fading the pink ones last a long time and in the rain become quite rosy. Because I have plants from five sources, I have several bloom periods and am apt to be surprised many times a year with their bright splashes. This was the first bromeliad I planted when our house was built in 1961. My father brought it over from Mount Dora. Billbergia pyramidalis will take a lot of sun but will be more yellow and the leaves will be wider and shorter. Those in deep shade look like a different plant, but they bloom just as well.

Where you don't want dogs, cats, or people try a planting of Aechmea distichantha or a variety of it. This will keep you away, too, unless you clip off the points of the thorns—they are wicked, but the blooms are very beautiful and last many months. Bromelia balansae with its stunning bloom will also give protection, though it is not as dense a cover. A planting of ivy under it would be good to keep out weeds. It may send up a stolon ten feet away, but it is easy to remove when young. In Central America it is used for living fences to keep thieves from places like citrus groves. It also can be used for food if you are very hungry. Some of the dyckias will make good groundcovers, too, in an open area.

Glenna Simmons. Mt. Dora


Growing in their natural habitat, epiphytic bromeliads utilize their roots to secure themselves to host trees. In this manner, their roots are exposed to light and air. As bromel enthusiasts, we attempt to recreate natural growing conditions as much as possible.

However, except for tillandsias, epiphytic as well as terrestrial bromeliads must be grown in pots. The introduction of transparent plastic pots may assist the growth of epiphytes, at least insofar as such growth is aided by exposing roots to light.

I decided to plant a small Aechmea fasciata var. albo marginata which had just arrived from California in such a pot. Before potting, the plant was almost rootless. In two months of summer growing outdoors, this plant developed an abundant root system that was clearly visible in the transparent pot. I believe the transparency of the pot assisted in this root growth.

Clear pots have other advantages. The watering requirements of the plant can be easily ascertained without plunging a finger deep into the potting mix. If moisture is present, it tends to consolidate on the sides of the pot. Also, the thoroughness of a watering can be readily judged. Another advantage is the ability to see signs of either root decay or the presence of pests in the root system. Without a control, it is impossible to draw any but the most tentative conclusions about clear pots.

I have now moved my plants inside for the winter to grow under lights. The plants are grown close together, which will limit the amount of light the roots will receive. One disadvantage of these clear pots is that they presently cost considerably more than other plastic pots or even clay pots of comparable size, but undoubtedly an inexpensive substitute, such as plastic leftover dish, can be found.

Sam Herrup, New York City


The Corpus Christi Council of Garden Clubs, Inc., and the Corpus Christi Bromeliad Society will present the 1977 Festival of Flowers. Show Chairman for the Bromeliad Society is Charles Meilleur. The title of the show will be "Texas Brags." It will be held at the Memorial Coliseum, 402 South Shoreline, Saturday, April 2, from 3 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, April 3, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Corpus Christi Bromeliad Society will host the Southwest Bromeliad Guild Annual Show and meeting to be held in conjunction with the Festival of Flowers. Affiliated societies of the Southwest Bromeliad Guild are Alamo Bromeliad Society of San Antonio, Austin Bromeliad Society, Greater Dallas-Fort Worth Bromeliad Society, and the Corpus Christi Society.

A guild Show Schedule may be obtained by writing to Claud Ward, 3513 Aransas, Corpus Christi, Texas, 78411. Plans include seminars, garden tours, program for student judges, and a banquet. These events will be listed in the Schedule. There will be commercial exhibits in addition to exhibits by the Guild member societies.

Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor

Grown in the shade

Grown in bright light

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