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 $10.00; Sustaining $15.00; Fellowship $25.00; and Life $200.00. 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.Joyce Lorenz, Calif.


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.

1976-1979: Robert G. Burstrom, Leonard Kent, Elmer J. Lorenz, Edward McWilliams, Harold W. Wiedman, Tim Lorman, Sue Gardner, Herbert Plever.


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, $2.00


A Tree that Plays Host to a Bevy of Bromeliads51
Some Suggestions for the Use of Growth Regulators on Bromeliads
  Vernon Stoutemyer52
The Denver Botanic Gardens and its Bromeliad Collection
  Lawrence Mason, Jr.55
Premature Pupping of Some Bromeliads
  Tim Lorman59
Searching for the Red Tillandsia Capitata
  Joseph J. Ramos63
"The Seed Fund" Past, Present and Future
  Aria Rutledge & Harvey L. Kendall69
Potting Mixtures71
The Blushing Neoregelias72
Nighttime Carbon Uptake in Bromels and Other Flowering Plants
  B. Clifford Gerwick74
Regional Reflections77
Collecting Highlights
  Glenna Simmons81
Don't Miss the Boat!
  Katherine Jester82
Experiment with Your pH
  Herbert Plever84
A Propagation Hint for the Courageous
  Morris W. Dexter, M.D.86
Packing Bromeliads for Shipment in Cartons
  David Barry, Jr.87
For the Connoisseur96


Neoregelia carolinae growing happily in a
Hawaiian garden. Photo: W. W. G. Moir

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.

A Tree that Plays Host to a Bevy of Bromeliads

Photo taken in a Florida garden by Jack Holmes of Tampa.

Some Suggestions for the Use of Growth Regulators on Bromeliads


Plant tissue cultures are now being used commercially for the propagation of bromeliads, but this method has the disadvantage that desirable variegations are usually not transmitted. The writer suggested, in a previous note in this journal, the possible value of treatments with cytokinins on plants which ordinarily produce only one offshoot or no offshoots at all. Apparently the idea has already been tried with varied results. We believe that experimenters may be aided by recounting methods of treatment which have been used with auxins and by listing some sources of chemicals and equipment.

Overdoses of chemicals of this type can be fatal and we advise against risking the lives of scarce or valuable plants until safe dosages can be established. Cytokinins are generally used in liquid or agar media for plant tissue cultures at rates of from about 1 milligram to 20 milligrams per liter. Some woody plants have been sprayed at rates of 200 to 500 or more parts per million with excellent responses. Sticker spreaders or penetrants have often been used with the sprays.

Apps and Heuser (1975) cut off the shoots of daylilies near the crowns and applied kinetin at 25 and 50 parts per million to the cut surfaces with an eyedropper on 3 successive days. They obtained increased shoot production. DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) was used as a penetrant. Apps (1976) in a personal communication stated: "The most important thing I observed is that with kinetin treatment new shoots form at leaf axils. The problem here is that it is difficult to make the cut in the right location — too deep and you remove potential shoot sites — not deep enough and the kinetin doesn't seem to penetrate. In my research 25-50 ppm kinetin plus 5 per cent DMSO seemed to work".

Eighteen different cytokinins have already been prepared by one research laboratory in California. Some of these occur naturally in plants, but most do not. The first one discovered, kinetin (6-furfurylamino-purine) was an artifact but it has been widely used. Some of the newer compounds are often more effective. Probably one of the least expensive and most easily obtainable cytokinins is 6-benzyl adenine (6-benzylaminopurine). This chemical is often abbreviated in the literature as BA. Davies and Moser (1975) found that PBA which is 6 benzylamino-9 (tetrahydro-2-pyryl)-purine was more active than BA. A naturally occurring compound which is very active and desirable is 6(gamma, gamma-dimethylallyl-amino)-purine. This has the alternative name of N6(delta 2-isopentenyl) adenine. This compound should be stored dry in a freezer. All stock solutions or preparations of cytokinins are best stored in a household refrigerator.

Davies, Jr. and Moser (1975) found that cytokinins produced multiple budding on leaf cuttings of Rieger begonias. These investigators used several different methods of application with success. The cytokinins were dissolved in 50 per cent ethyl alcohol for quick dips (0.1 minute). For prolonged soaking treatments, we believe that more than a very small amount of alcohol in the solution will be toxic. Cytokinins are difficult to dissolve in water and we used to prepare our stock solutions of kinetin with sodium or potassium hydroxide. Bromeliads are acid loving plants for the most part and we suggest preparing aqueous solutions with an acid. Dr. Toshio Murashige of the Riverside Campus of the University of California dissolves cytokinins in one normal hydrochloric acid, using three tenths milliliters for each 10 milligrams of cytokinin. Cytokinins in lanolin pastes are giving outstanding results in the propagation of some monopodial orchids and are being marketed by several commercial orchid firms in Southern California. These are easily prepared by dissolving the cytokinin in alcohol, mixing in melted lanolin and evaporating the alcohol by heating. Davies and Moser (1975) used talc carriers, prepared by mixing alcoholic solutions with the appropriate quantities of talc, stirring the slurry occasionally as it dried to powder form. Wooden toothpicks soaked in aqueous or alcoholic solutions have been successfully used with auxins and this method allows precise control of the point of application. This type of carrier should certainly be tried with bromeliads.

Gibberellins have been widely available for some time at nursery sales outlets in aerosol spray cans. This growth regulator will increase the size of camellia flowers, promote stem elongation and will change the sex of flowers in some species. Cytokinins could doubtless be marketed conveniently in similar packages. However, since aerosols may soon be banned for ecological reasons, we suggest packaging in the small hand sprayers used for window sprays and some cosmetics.

Cytokinins and other growth regulators are available from:
Calbiochem, 10933 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla CA 92037
Sigma Chemical Co., P.O. Box 14508, St. Louis, Missouri 63178
Equipment & glassware for plant tissue cultures are obtainable from:
Bellco Glass, Inc., 340 Edrudo Road, Vineland, New Jersey 08360
Ready-mix tissue culture media can be had from:
Flower Laboratories, 1710 Chapman Ave., Rockville, Maryland 20852 and
936 W. Hyde Park Blvd., Inglewood, California 90302
Grand Island Biological Co., 3175 Staley Rd., Grand Island, New York 14072
and 519 Aldo Avenue, Santa Clara, California 95050

Amateur orchid hobbyists use many types of home made sterile transfer chambers with much success. Those wishing convenient deluxe equipment might investigate the laminar flow bench top clean work station manufactured by Airtech, 1206 West Barkley Avenue, Orange, California 92668.


Apps, Darrel A. and Charles W. Heuser. 1975. "Vegetative propagation of Hemerocallis including tissue culture." Combined Proceedings, The International Plant Propagators Society 25:362-367.

Apps, Darrel A. 1976. Personal letter to author.

Davies, Jr., F. T. and B. C. Moser. 1975. "Methods of applying cytokinins to leaf cuttings of Rieger begonias." Combined Proceedings, The International Plant Propagators Society 25:492-499.

Biology Department University of California 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

The Denver Botanic Gardens and its Bromeliad Collection


Flying across the Great Plains from the East, or the Rocky Mountains from the West, the first-time visitor to Denver always has many images and thoughts floating through his head. All the things popularized in film and John Denver's songs—the majestic peaks, cool, clear mountain streams, etc.—wait for you in Colorado. But one of the other things Colorado has is the only public conservatory between St. Louis and San Francisco. It's a part of the Denver Botanic Gardens.

The spot is as beautiful as the plant collection inside. Against a backdrop of several of Colorado's 14,000 ft. peaks along the Continental Divide stand the buildings, greenhouses, colorful and extensive outdoor flower gardens, and the architecturally impressive Boettcher Memorial Conservatory. The Gardens are located on the Eastern side of Cheesman Park, one of the largest in Denver's extensive park system.

The Denver Botanic Gardens is a unique undertaking which allows the visitor to explore the world of plants from the tropics to arctic tundra. Outdoors, the visitor finds several specialized garden areas. The Gates Memorial Garden was started in 1961 to depict the natural Rocky Mountain landscape. This tranquil scene is planted with mountain trees and shrubs, and is completed by a tumbling waterfall which rolls over rocky cliffs to become a wandering stream. The herb garden contains familiar and rare herbs, planted in the traditional bowknot pattern. The Denver Botanic Gardens Guild plants and maintains this lovely, fragrant plot.

Fifty miles West of Denver is the 12,000 ft. high alpine study area on Mt. Goliath. This nature center, part of the Arapahoe National Forest, is run jointly by the Denver Botanic Gardens and the U.S. Forest Service. A two mile trail, which winds through the outpost, enables the visitor to study both alpine and sub-alpine flora. The path crosses the timberline and gives the sightseer a magnificent view of the Colorado Rockies.

Fig. 1 Boettcher Memorial Conservatory

Left to Right — Mr. Gary Davis and Mr. Andrew Pierce with part of the greenhouse bromeliad collection.

The Botanic Gardens staff recognize that future interest in gardening rests in the hands of today's children. They attempt, and succeed at interesting children in gardening through the Children's Garden project. Each summer, approximately 125 children, ranging from 9-14 years old, learn about vegetable gardening by cultivating their own plots, under adult supervision. To augment their practical experience, the children receive the Jolly Green Gardener newsletter. It is a Botanic Gardens publication which deals exclusively with plant projects for children. Incidentally, the Botanic Gardens also publishes the monthly Green Thumb Newsletter, and the quarterly Green Thumb magazine.

The visitor is also treated to the experimental vegetable garden, roof-top garden, low maintenance garden, water garden, Kathyrn Kalmbach Herbarium, and the mycological collection.

The Botanic Gardens' offices are housed in a magnificent old mansion, which is a Denver historical preservation landmark. It remains from the wild-west days of old Denver when the unsinkable Molly Brown was shaking up high society. Other facilities include extensive classroom space, Horticulture Hall for large exhibitions, and the fine Helen Fowler horticultural library.

But in this area of extremes where night temperatures normally drop at least 30° lower than daytime temperatures; where the humidity can run as low as 3%; where the winter temperatures often fall below 0°; and summer brings over 30 days of 90° weather; will you find bromeliads? The answer is yes, in fact there is a wealth of them in the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory (Fig. 1). Stepping through the doors, the visitor in transported in space to the jungle tropics. A waterfall roars over a rocky precipice and forms a stream which wanders through the conservatory to its end as a lazy pool, the home of several equally lazy turtles. The epiphytic bromeliads cling to the towering trees in the conservatory, while the terrestrials enjoy the dappled light and high humidity on the jungle floor. There are also locations for the temporary display of pot-grown, blooming bromeliads from the greenhouses.

Behind the scenes are four large support greenhouses used to grow specimen and bedding plants for the conservatory and gardens. The bromeliad collection resides in a 14,000 cubic foot section of one of the houses. The bromeliads are maintained beautifully by Gary Davis who developed his special love for them after starting work at the Botanic Gardens. Many of the problems faced by bromeliad growers around the world are non-existent here. The Denver water supply flows down from melting snow in the mountains, has a natural neutral pH and low salts. Humidity is maintained at about 75% by spraying three times daily. The temperature range runs from 60° to 80°, and the plants are fed monthly with a dilute 18-18-18 fertilizer. The general potting mix used for the bromeliads is a combination of 1/3 medium grade orchid bark, 1/3 base bark, and 1/3 peat-lite mix that has no soil.

The new conservatory superintendent is Mr. Andrew Pierce, who started his duties here in February 1976, and came to Denver with an impressive horticultural background. Mr. Pierce received his training through eight years of work in England, two of which were spent at the world-famous Kew Gardens. From there, he spent 13 years working in Bermuda, part of which was for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Through the encouragement and cooperation of the Botanic Gardens, a number of us have formed a new Bromeliad Society affiliate, the High Country Bromeliad Society. Our members have been helping to increase the bromeliad collection at the Botanic Gardens by donating offshoots. Over 100 new species have been added to the collection during the past few months in this way.

The High Country Bromeliad Society meets on the third Monday of each month at 7:30 P.M. at the Denver Botanic Gardens. We encourage traveling bromeliad enthusiasts to see the collection at the Gardens, and sit in on our meetings.

Spivak, Colorado

NEW NEOREGELIA HYBRID — Neoregelia 'Glossy Print' is a cross between Neoregelia 'Fireball' by Neoregelia johannis rubra made by Ervin J. Wurthmann in 1971. First flowered in 1974. See page 72 for illustration.

Premature Pupping of Some Bromeliads


Immature mother plant with premature pup of Aechmea lueddemanniana marginata after eight weeks on propagation bench. Scale shown is in centimeters.

Having received an unrooted pup of Aechmea lueddemanniana marginata from a friend of mine during December, I was very excited to get it growing. The pup was put into a medium consisting of 50% screened German peat moss and 50% fine Sponge Rok, with a 3" clay container. It then was placed in a greenhouse on a gravel propagation bed containing electric heating cables. The plant would later be transferred to a plastic pot with a formulation of one part each of medium redwood shavings, medium fir bark, medium grade Sponge Rok, screened German peat moss, and washed plaster sand.

At the end of six weeks very little roots had appeared. A week later, a new initiation of growth was noticed at the base of the pup. This new growth which in fact was a new pup, developed very slowly but evenly until now, at the time of this writing (mid August), the pup from the young plant is almost the same size as the immature mother plant. The original pup is 7" tall, the premature pup 6" and another pup 3". A mature plant of this variety should range in size from 12-15" before pupping.

Being a variegated variety of bromeliad and needing more light to produce a strong plant, the pup was gradually moved into bright light and a slight reduction of humidity due to the nature of the greenhouse. Knowing that premature pupping is sometimes caused by disturbing the rooting process, I was hesitant to check the pup until a sufficient time and a noticeable addition of growth was evident.

Premature pupping can occur through various reasons. One can be from removing pups while they are still soft and undersized with no signs of root initiation. Early removal can lead to rotting of the base as well as failure of the pup to get established. Pups should be at least 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the mature mother plant before removal. The basal portion of the bromeliad pup should be firm and it is best to have evident root initials present or even established roots formed before removal. These factors were probably the reason premature pupping occurred in this case.

Oftentimes foreign matter such as a grain of sand or a small piece of redwood or firbark from the soil mix will fall into the center cup of the pup injuring the growth initials to abort flowering and initiate pup production. It is best to handle pups carefully in the process of removing them and to use a sharp knife or long nosed hand pruners that make a smooth clean separation of the pup from the mother plant without injury to the base of the pup or to the mother plant. After the pup is removed, it should be placed in a clean area. Many times pups are left on the potting bench to callus the wound for a day or two before being put into the growing medium, if no roots are present on the pup. Many pups get foreign matter such as the ones described above from the potting bench.

Injury to the pup before and during removal is probably the most common reason for initiating premature pupping. If the pup is not allowed enough pot space to develop up and out, injury can occur. Some of the leaves of the mother plant may have to be removed to let the pup develop properly, symmetrically and allow it enough light for development. Also the tendency to want to wiggle and especially grip the base of the pup too tightly can injure the tissues enough to physiologically put the plant into a reproductive cycle.

Excessive, unnecessary repotting of bromeliads should be avoided to reduce premature pupping. Bromeliads of the epiphytic nature have a very small root system that needs very little medium if any surrounding them. The less mass of medium to the size of the root system the better. Very few bromeliads should be potted up to a size larger than 4" but of course there are exceptions.

It is best to not let the water in the center-cups of bromeliads remain unchanged for more than two weeks so that stagnation occurs and algae begin to form. This later can lead to bacterial or fungal diseases that will kill off the center bud at any maturity of the plant including an unrooted immature pup to initiate pupping.

Premature pupping can also occur due to moisture stress where the pup went too long between waterings. Hot drying winds inland and along the coast should be kept in mind for desiccating epiphytic plants as well as terrestrial ones. During this time frequent fogging of a collection outside as well as saturation of the growing medium is important.

Temperature-humidity relationships affect the timing of pupping. Perhaps a drastic change in temperature, especially warmer trends with a reduction in humidity will cause any unrooted premature pup to send out a pup prematurely. Excessively high temperatures and low humidity are enemies of many plants requiring an environment similar to where they are natively found.

Premature pupping of a bromeliad means that a longer time will be involved for reaching a full mature specimen plant. The food produced in the immature mother plant will now go toward development of the premature pup as the immature mother plant begins to decline before her characteristic form, size, and perhaps color are reached. The premature pup will now be the plant to watch and protect from injury by moving or through reproduction. In this instance, it would be best to remove the immature mother plant only after she has completely exhausted her supply of nourishment to the pup and to any further pup production. This is the reverse idea of removing the pup from the mother and possibly causing shock or injury to the pup where initiation prematurely may occur again. By the time the immature mother plant is exhausted, the premature pup should hopefully be up to a good size with still somewhat retarded growth but with a good rootsystem developed while still attached to the immature mother. Further generations developing from the new pup will be in most cases the characteristic size at maturity when they will produce pups.

Los Angeles State & County Arboretum, Arcadia, California

In the Journal of Agricultural Science, Japan, 1972 a publication of the Tokyo University of Agriculture, K. Otani published an article "Effects of Soiless potting compost on the Growth of Epiphytes." The compost examined consisted of osmunda peat, sphagnum peat, and unglazed earthenware fragments. Data on the specific gravity, total pore space, air space, water space, and temperature changes of each on young Vriesea psittacina plants were presented and discussed. The pure sphagnum compost resulted in the greatest, and the sphagnum plus osmunda compost in the next greatest growth. Growth was poorest and plant nutrient uptake least in the fragmented earthenware.

Search for the Red Tillandsia capitata


Tillandsia capitata var. rubra in a Hawaiian garden.

After 25,000 miles of traveling throughout Mexico, I have finally come to the conclusion that the red form of Tillandsia capitata is indeed rare.

I first saw this beautiful bromeliad on a plant collecting trip some seven or eight years ago which was made by Bill Seaborn, George Kennerson, Ed Collins, Steve Talnadge, and me. After collecting a number of plants, I remember leaving Mazatlan for some bromeliads that Bill said he had to find. What they were, I did not know. We traveled east towards Durango, stopping from time to time gathering tillandsias. We had traveled for an hour or so, when suddenly George and Ed in the lead truck turned off the road, followed by Bill and me in the second truck, and Steve Talnadge in the third. There was hardly room enough for one truck, let alone three, as everybody knows who has traveled in Mexico, and there is very little room anywhere along the highways of Mexico to stop, even for emergencies.

Suddenly George stopped and stepped out of his truck and very excitedly pointed towards the wall of a barranca. The mid-afternoon sun was shining directly on a mass of red plants high up on the barranca. From where we were they couldn't be identified. We looked in vain for plants that were within our reach, but there weren't any. So George and I decided to climb up the steep cliff. The slope leading to the plants was gravelly and crumbling. It was not hard to climb the first half of the slope, but as it became steeper, we were practically crawling. It got to the point where we were clawing up three feet and sliding back two, but by helping each other, we finally made it to the top, some 800 feet high.

After our long struggle, what did we find on the top? Nothing, but rocks and a few shrubs; the bromeliads were growing just below the brim of the cliff. We lay down on our stomachs hanging over the edge and while one of us scraped the plants up against the side of the rock, the other would reach down as far as he could for them before they fell. Lacking a container in which to carry them we got as many as we dared carry, for the trip down wasn't going to be any picnic. But we finally made it, and drove onwards towards Durango. We had no idea what we had collected.

This trip was my initiation into plant collecting. On subsequent excursions to Mexico I have gathered more of this tillandsia at the same location — always a difficult job.

In January 1976, I made an extensive trip to Mexico, accompanied only by my mixed shepherd dog, Flora. This trip was planned mainly to seek out, collect, and identify bromeliads and cacti and on occasion a few orchids. I entered Mexico through El Paso, traveling south on Highway 45. I concentrated on cacti from the American border to the state of Mexico. Tillandsia macdougallii and a few other species of tillandsias were collected on the way to Fortin de las Flores, Vera Cruz. I believe Fortin is and has been the headquarters for collectors for many years. Posada Loma, a motel, and a charming place in a beautiful setting, is a central location, a hub from which radiate all roads leading to the different plant locations. During my stay at Posada Loma there were five different parties collecting — some searching for bromeliads, some for orchids, and others for cacti.

A rock formation on which grow T. capitata rubra.

T. capitata rubra in habitat.

From Fortin de las Flores I headed south to the Monte Bello National Park in the state of Chiapas, the park bordering Guatemala. On my way back on Highway 190 I gathered T. seleriana, T. carlsoniae, T. matudae, T. butzii, T. magnusiana, a tillandsia which looks like T. carlsoniae except that it has a red flower spike, a tillandsia which looks like T. imperialis but is about three times larger.

When I arrived at Tuxtla Gutierrez I turned west towards Villa Flores. Here I found a number of cycads, including Dioon edulis var. purpursii and several species of Ceratozamia. I also found a second location of the red capitata, a small colony which will probably be exterminated within the year for agriculture.

Mexico, on the whole, is on a clearing program — clearing and burning the native plant life for agriculture. I collected two plants from this area to compare with those from Durango. Turning back to Highway 190, through Tierra y Libertad, I collected other tillandsias. Flora and I camped a short distance from Oaxaca on Highway 125 which leads to Puerto Escondido on the west coast. This road has a wealth of tillandsias, cacti, and other succulents. Here I found a third location of the red capitata. It was another small colony, which will also be cleared away to make for agricultural purposes very soon. I noticed that these last two locations were not on high inaccessible rocky formations as in Durango, but rather on high, tall, deciduous trees — also very dry areas on the west side of the sierra.

From Highway 190 we turned northeast at Telixtlahuaca towards Teotitlan and Tehuacan. On the way I noticed T. pueblensis in plentiful supply as was T. concolor. This is a very dry area. After collecting around Tehuacan, I returned to Fortin, where I rested and cleaned my plants.

Leaving Fortin de las Flores, I took Highway 150 to Highway 190 to Azucar de Matamoros and on to Azizintla near Taxco picking up T. caput medusae on the way. From this point I drove to Toluca, and on to Colima, collecting a few varieties of tillandsias on the way — varieties which I did not recognize. Somewhere along Highway 110 between Tamazula and Colima, I saw another colony of T. capitata, the red variety. These were on boulders, like in Durango, growing on the west side of the rocks.

From Colima, I went on to Manzanillo and at Barra de Navidad I took Highway 80 to Guadalajara. On this road I found the green form of T. capitata. Here again this tillandsia was growing on high sheer cliffs growing in the cracks of the barranca. There was also a very small tillandsia which I collected near Autlan. It measures about 2½ to 3 inches tall. Its texture and form are very much like that of T. capitata, but the leaves are chartreuse; it has not flowered as yet. On this road also grow T. baileyi, T. caput medusae, T. circinata, the proliferating variety.

From Guadalajara I followed Highway 15 to Mazatlan and the motel Flamingo where arrangements were made for the ferry to La Paz in Baja. While waiting for the ferry I decided to go north to La Cruz to collect T. exserta. I camped in an area that was being readied for clearing. About eight o'clock at night four dump trucks and two dozers moved in next to me and camped. Before daybreak they started to bulldoze the whole area. Some debris was hauled away and some was piled up to dry and be burned. While all of this was going on I was jumping from one felled tree to the next collecting T. exserta. I packed the last I had left and squeezed it into the camper. By two o'clock I was on my way back to the ferry and arrived just in time to board it.

From La Paz to Tijuana it's all desert traveling with the exception of a few agricultural areas along the way. The only tillandsia I have ever seen in Baja California is T. recurvata. If any of the readers know of any others I would like to know. Arriving at the Tijuana-San Ysidro border, I had completed a three-month trip through Mexico, logging 16,000 miles — a long trek in search of tillandsias, and I was glad to be home.

Regarding the red T. capitata, I made several observations, which may be of interest to those who grow this beautiful plant.

First, the elevation at all locations, a total of five, was between 3,500 and 4,000 feet.

Second, they were also between 35 to 45 miles away from the Pacific Ocean. However, there are probably other areas which I had not discovered being a novice collector.

Third, all the red capitatas were growing in full sun and in arid conditions.

Fourth, in all areas they were growing on the west side of the barrancas or sierras.

Fifth, only in three locations were they growing on rocks. The ones growing on tall deciduous trees were bigger, but not so red, the same way they grow in cultivation.

If anyone knows of other locations, please contact this writer so he may examine for comparisons.

10215 Sunland Blvd., Sunland, California 91040

IN THE MAIL BAG: Mr. F. Thomas of the Institute of Ornamental Plant Growing in Melle, Belgium, writes: "In issue No. 4, page 154 for 1976, the Vriesea 'Rose Mary' is a Vriesea cv 'Lucille'. Both are hybrids obtained by A. de Roose, of Evergem, Belgium, from the parents V. 'Viminalis Rex' × V. carinata. The V. 'Lucille' does not have a branched inflorescence, but the V. 'Rose Mary' has a branched inflorescence.

The V. 'Vigeri' on the same page seems to me to be V. 'Poelmanii' and not V. 'Vigeri.' V. 'Vigeri' is a hybrid obtained by Duval, the parents being V. rodigasiana × V. 'Cardinalis.'

Prof. Eizi Matuda is still finding new bromels in Mexico. In 1975 he discovered and described the following. Tillandsia hubertiana, T. roseospicata, T. laui, T. flavobracteata, T. jaliscomonticola, Vriesea nocturna, and Catopsis minimiflora. Descriptions were printed in Cactaceas y Suculentas Mexicanas.

"The Seed Fund" Past, Present and Future


Early issues of the Bromeliad Society Bulletin (now Journal of the Bromeliad Society) reveal the interesting history of the founding of the seed fund. The first reference to the availability of seed through the Society is to be found in the fifth issue of the Bulletin (September-October, 1951). At that time our very distinguished editor, Miss Victoria Padilla, was the Society's secretary. Also among her duties was the collection and dispersal of bromeliad seed. This first announcement informed the reader that an "an interesting packet of mixed Dyckia seeds" was available for the price of a self-addressed, stamped envelope. In the following issue, she offered "several different genera such as Aechmea, Puya, Dyckia, Streptocalyx and Gravisia" to anyone who would renew his membership before January 31, 1952. A year later she gave a progress report on information from some of the growers of the seed: "It would seem that there will be no shortage of these plants in the near future, practically all the seeds having germinated almost 100%." No further references to a seed fund were made until the first issue of 1954, when Miss Padilla publicly thanked Mr. Ronald Townsend, Director of the Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, for having contributed seed from several puyas and dyckias. Again the seeds were offered at no cost. Then in Vol. VI, No. 5 (September-October, 1956) appeared the first announcement of a separate office for the seed fund, held by Mrs. Meade Goodloe of Los Angeles. The list of available seed was again published in the Bulletin: Billbergia elegans, Tillandsia geminiflora, Tillandsia stricta, and Vriesea triligulata, at 50c per packet. The list was extended to 19 species in the issue of January-February, 1975. Similar announcements were published until the May-June issue of 1960, when Miss Estelle Recinos of Los Angeles became the proprietor of the seed fund. In the issue of March-April, 1961, the Bulletin announced that Mrs. Leo (Mabel) Goerth of Orlando, Florida, was in charge of seed. In the next issue she published a policy statement, in which she announced for the first time a separate list available from her. Therefore the journal periodically announced the address of the seed fund chairman and informed the members when the seed fund changed hands.

Essentially the seed fund continues to operate under Mrs. Goerth's plan. Seed contributions are solicited from all available sources. We can offer you one of our packets (approximately 15 to 20 seeds) for one large packet of yours. Upon the receipt of a self-addressed, stamped envelope from you, the seed fund chairman will forward a current list of seed available (72 species at the present). Seed packets may then be bought for 50c per packet.

Although the listing of 72 species may seem impressive, problems still exist in the acquisition of seed for the fund. The membership of the society has grown tremendously since its inception, and more and more members are trying their hand at growing from seed. The demands on the fund frequently exceed its capabilities. Often the hopeful buyer is disappointed when the seed of his choice is no longer available, or when seed of some old favorite species just simply does not appear in the fund any longer. Because of the increasing difficulty of importing plants, the problem of dwindling availability will not be solved unless all growers — professionals and hobbyists — help by collecting and contributing seed. A complaint sometimes offered by professional growers, that they do not wish to increase their competition by giving away their product, should be reconsidered. The rate at which the Society is growing and the increasing popularity of bromeliads among the general public will assure a good market for many, many years. It is obvious, too, that the small nursery does not have room to stock all the old species plus new hybrids. The survival of the older known species may indeed depend on a membership effort to share seed through the seed fund. Long-standing members should especially be encouraged to gather seed and forward it to the fund. Often these members have large collections that include many rare species that may forever remain rare if they are not shared with others.

For future issues of the Journal, the two authors of this article — the immediate past chairman and the present chairman of the seed fund — intend to write a series of articles giving detailed accounts of the cycle of bromeliad life from seed to seed and instructions on how to gather, store, sow and raise seed. With your cooperation, the joy of raising bromeliads from seed will reach more growers and will benefit us all.

The current address of the seed fund chairman is: Harvey L. Kendall, 2020 Tweed Street, Placentia, California 92670. We will be looking for your contributions and requests.

Potting Mixtures

The following were described in a recent issue of the News Letter issued by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society.

Dr. Kent of Vista, California, uses the following with great success: 3 parts coarse Canadian Peat, 4 parts Redwood chips, small size, to a bathtub full of this mix, the following mineral fertilizer is added: ¾ lb. of 0-18-0; ¾ lb. of 21-7-14, and 1 lb. of powdered dolomite. This mixture is used for plants grown in greenhouses under controlled conditions of 60 percent humidity and temperatures of 60° to 80°, with moving air by fans. The Kents are very pleased with the vigorous root system which the plants develop in this potting mixture in a very short time.

Dr. D. W. Dexter uses 4 parts of peat moss; 1 part of coarse shredded tree fern; 1 part coarse perlite and 1 cupful of milorganite for each 2 gallons of mixture. For vrieseas he uses double the amount of shredded tree fern for better drainage.

Another successful mixture is that used by Dr. P. J. Logue. He uses equal parts of Hall's Sterilized All Purpose Potting Soil and coarse perlite. For fertilizer he uses the slow release Osmocote, 14-14-14, at the rate of about 1 teaspoonful sprinkled on the top of a 6-inch pot.

Cypress mulch comes in for high praise from several Florida bromeliad growers. It is preferred to Canadian peat as it seems to "open up" the mix, which is necessary where there is much humidity. One mix for outdoor culture is 1 part Canadian peat, 1 part cypress mulch, 2 parts perlite, 1/10 part 2-1-2 cow manure, plus 1 pint per bushel of mineral fertilizer.

TO OBTAIN AN IMPORT PLANT PERMIT — If you plan to bring in plant material from outside of the United States a permit is required. To get your green and yellow permit labels write to the U.S.D.A., A.P.H.I.S., P.P.G., Federal Bldg., Room 638, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782.

From Hannover, in the German Federal Republic, comes the notice that Aechmea fasciata is being propagated in vitro by lateral buds using a liquid medium enriched with cytokinins. Growth of the plantlets was promoted by exuded sap from Betula pendula.

The Blushing Neoregelias


Right —
N. 'Glossy Print'


Left —
N. carolinae 'Meyendorffii variegata'

Right —
N. cruenta (in habitat)

Right —
N. coriacea

Left —
N. 'Fireball' known in Europe as N. 'Schultesianna'

Right —
N. carolinae 'Medallion'

Nighttime Carbon Uptake in Bromels and Other Flowering Plants


An important part of photosynthesis is the incorporation of carbon dioxide into sugars in a process known as photosynthetic carbon metabolism. Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) describes one of the three types of photosynthetic carbon metabolism and it is found in many bromeliads. The truly unique aspect of this pathway is that it provides for carbon dioxide uptake at night which is in contrast to the Calvin-Bensen (C-3) and Hatch-Slack (C-4) pathways. These latter pathways are characterized by the more familiar daytime uptake, with the vast majority of plant species possessing the C-3 pathway exclusively. Besides the Bromeliaceae and the Crassulaceae (after the latter, CAM takes its name1), nighttime carbon assimilation occurs in some succulent members of only seventeen out of more than two hundred families of flowering plants.

The carbon dioxide which is taken up at night by plants capable of CAM is fixed by the photosynthetic tissues into organic acids. Large water storage vacuoles, thought to be necessary for CAM, store the acids until the following day. With the onset of light, the acids are released from the vacuoles and flood the cytoplasm where they are broken down to release carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide generated is refixed into sugars.

Hence, in CAM plants, a rhythm results from acid accumulation during the night, alternating with acid depletion during the day. In fact, this day/night change in the levels of organic acids may be so pronounced that the tissue of CAM plants may taste bitter in the early morning but by late afternoon the bitterness has disappeared.

The unique and complex nature of the CAM pathway poses the question: what is the selective advantage of this photosynthetic system? The pathway is actually less efficient than the C-4 pathway or the C-3 pathway in terms of maximum rates of carbon assimilation; yet, in terms of carbon gained per unit water loss, CAM plants may excel. In delaying the uptake of carbon until night, the stomata or gas exchange pores of the shoot surface remain closed during the day when the evaporative demand is highest. While the ability to gain carbon with comparatively little water loss must be looked upon as the overriding selective advantage of the CAM pathway, its regulation and ecological significance to individual plants and plant groups are dependent upon local habitat selection pressures.

In Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Crassulaceae) as well as in many other CAM plants, the assimilation of carbon dioxide at night rather than during the day is a flexible photosynthetic option. Under long days, which correlate with the day length during the wet season in its native habitat of Madagascar, this species utilizes the C-3 pathway to assimilate comparatively large amounts of carbon. Under short days, however, which correspond to the drought season, carbon is initially fixed at night with concomitant day/night fluctuations in acidity. Hence, keying on photoperiod, this species is able to maximize carbon gain by employing the more efficient C-3 pathway during the wet season and then switching to CAM during the dry season. Other members of the Crassulaceae also possess the ability to utilize CAM as a flexible option but key on different environmental parameters, as selected for in their native-habitats, to alter the pattern and extent of carbon dioxide fixation. Most of these species respond directly to precipitation, utilizing the C-3 pathway during favorable moisture conditions and CAM during drought conditions.

In halophytes such as Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (Aizoaceae) CAM may also be used only during periods of water stress. This species, which is native to coastal salt flats, was originally reported to show the induction of nocturnal carbon assimilation in response to increased levels of sodium chloride in the growth medium. Approximately a one week lag was noted between the application of the salt and the appearance of day/night fluctuations in acidity. Daytime (C-3) or nighttime (CAM) carbon uptake was readily reversible simply by the removal or addition of sodium chloride. However, the same inducing effect of sodium chloride can be observed when other salts, sugars, or mixtures are added that impose equal amounts of water stress. This suggests that CAM induction is a response to a lack of available water rather than to the effects of certain ions. In fact, even if light and humidity are such that a temporary leaf water deficit develops the induction of CAM may occur. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that sodium chloride levels play a major role in determining plant water status and hence, the pathway of carbon fixation when this species is present in its native environment.

Members of the Cactaceae and Bromeliaceae were perhaps the first species recognized as carrying on a fluctuation in acid content we now know as CAM. The acid accumulation of the cactus is not of the magnitude of leaf succulents, but considerable variation can occur depending upon the plant's water status. Unlike most other CAM plants the evidence suggests that cacti assimilate carbon solely at night through CAM. During periods of drought the stomata may remain closed throughout the twenty-four hour cycle yet a measurable day/night variation in acidity persists. This is possible through the refixing or recycling of carbon dioxide generated from respiration, and has been reported to persist up to two years in detached pads of Opuntia basilaris placed on ring stands in a Californian desert. With even small amounts of precipitation, stomata open at night with a resultant dramatic increase in acidity. Thus, cacti have the potential to reduce water loss to extremely low levels and to minimize the loss of carbon from respiration even during prolonged drought. Under more favorable conditions a net carbon gain can be achieved by assimilating carbon at night.

Numerous bromeliads native to arid epiphytic or terrestrial habitats have been shown to exhibit CAM. Those members native to more mesic environments utilize the C-3 pathway exclusively. CAM has been reported to occur in some of the species of the following genera: Aechmea, Ananas, Billbergia, Bromelia, Cryptanthus, Dyckia, Guzmania, Neoregelia, Nidularium, Puya, and Tillandsia. Tillandsia, while not a succulent in the sense of having a large volume to surface ratio, does have large water storage vacuoles present in the photosynthetic tissue. In Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish "moss") nighttime temperature and precipitation are environmental parameters which regulate CAM. If this species is maintained under cool temperatures and dry conditions, it shows gas exchange patterns typical of a CAM plant with net carbon uptake occurring only at night. Temperatures less than 50°F inhibit nighttime fixation and temperatures greater than 86°F result in a net carbon loss over a twenty-four hour period due to increased respiration rates. Some daytime carbon dioxide uptake is observed in well-watered T. usneoides maintained at moderate to cold temperatures, but a favorable moisture status inhibits nighttime uptake so severely that plants kept under dry conditions and cool temperatures actually show a greater carbon gain over a twenty-four hour period. The ability to assimilate carbon at a maximum rate under dry to drought conditions marks a truly fantastic physiological adaptation.

Crassulacean Acid Metabolism is utilized by a variety of plant species indigenous to a variety of arid environments. Local selection pressures have finely attuned the regulation of the pathway to environmental parameters of particular local significance. Whether utilized as a flexible photosynthetic option in habitats characterized by seasonal drought, or utilized exclusively in areas of more incessant drought, CAM seems to play a major role in the water relations and carbon balancing of many succulent plants.

Washington State University, Pullman. Washington


1. Although this type of metabolism was named after the Crassulaceae its effects were observed in the pineapple by Beatrice Krauss in the 1930's (unpublished Master's thesis, University of Hawaii).

Regional Reflections


Now that spring is making itself noticeable, there, is much for the bromeliad grower to do. Early spring is the best time to move those bromeliads, which you wish to color-up, out into the sunshine. For there is no light like the direct early spring sun to color bromeliads quickly and more safely. There will still be nights during which the plants will need protection from the cold so don't move your entire collection out just yet. Select a few which need coloring and which respond well to the rays of the mild spring sun. Neoregelias such as marmorata hybrids, 'Oh No', 'Fireball' and concentrica; Aechmeas 'Burgundy', bracteata var. rubra, lueddemanniana, orlandiana and Billbergias 'Muriel Waterman', 'fantasia', and 'Pixie' will all develop their beautiful colors or spots quickly. Hechtias add amazing tinges of red and many of the cryptanthus will show their appreciation. Move the plants out quickly into sunny areas (the early spring sun is usually not strong enough to burn but do use caution) and watch the colors develop. But also watch the weather reports and give the bromeliads sufficient protection on cold nights. Last year, I moved some plants out in our unusually mild February and they adjusted to the sunshine so well they remained out in our hot 120º summer weather receiving great quantities of direct sun. There was a little fading on some of the bromeliads but no burning.

Spring is also a fine time to make up a new supply of your favorite potting mix. The mix can be stored in suitable covered containers — garbage cans, diaper pails, plastic shoe boxes, etc. The potting mix will certainly be needed, for the spring season is a fine time to pot up offshoots. Those offshoots which appeared in late summer or fall will need potting before long.

But don't remove the offshoot too soon! It is always best to leave it on as long as possible — hopefully till it develops small roots. The longer the baby plant can remain attached to the parent, the easier it will adapt to its independent life. The trick comes in not letting the offshoot remain until its shape is ruined. I tend to leave my offshoots on until the last possible moment. Of course, bromeliads not only do well left attached to the parents but some make fantastically beautiful "clumps". A point to remember: One pot of 3 or 4 plants takes up less space than 3 or 4 pots with only one plant in each.

So don't let spring fever get too strong a hold on you. Remember, there are those spring bromeliad chores to be done. Get outside, enjoy the warm sunshine — and take your bromeliads with you and let them respond to the miracle of spring.

Edgar L. Smith, 4415 Vandelia St., Dallas, Texas 75219


I live in the San Fernando Valley of southern California, where the climate is extremely harsh for bromeliads. Even plants such as Aloe pillansii, which grow in the hot, dry Namaquland region of South Africa, will burn up if grown in full sun in the San Fernando Valley. In summer, temperatures over 100°F. are not uncommon and are associated with very low humidity. In the winter the exact opposite takes place — with cold and frost being fairly common along with rain.

However, bromeliads as a group are remarkably tolerant to adverse conditions and can be grown in such climates without too much trouble. In fact, some of the terrestrials such as puyas, hechtias, and dyckias do very well with little care. However, most other species need some help.

As a starting point to the culture of any plant one should know the conditions under which it grows in its natural habitat. Bromeliads come from a widely divergent number of climates. Peru, for example, has bromeliads that grow in the desert, the rain forests, the cold high Andes, the Amazonian jungles, and many transitional areas. Except for the species found in the high altitudes, most bromeliads are never exposed to temperatures below freezing.

To grow plants successfully you don't have to recreate the exact climate that the plant was growing natively; you just need to approximate it. In fact, I have found that many groups of plants, bromeliads included, can be grown in cultivation under conditions that are better than those that they experience in nature. Many plants grow under stress conditions in nature. They live under these conditions because they can survive where other plants can't, or at least they grow better than other plants in these areas. Desert cacti often grow better in cultivation than they do in the wild. My own experience with growing cycads from seed leads me to believe that under cultivation they grow much better than they do in nature.

I think that the strongest limiting fact to bromeliad growth in the San Fernando Valley is the high heat coupled with the low humidity. One way to get around this is to build a greenhouse with a humidity and cooling system. However, this can be expensive, especially if one wants to grow more than just a few plants. As anyone who has a greenhouse can tell you, it doesn't take very long before it is filled. However, many bromeliads can be grown outside with expensive greenhouse space reserved for the tender species such as guzmanias.

Outside the plants will get heat in two ways. As the ambient temperature of the air rises, the bromeliads will also become warmer. The plants can also be heated by direct solar radiation. These two phenomena are not the same as some people may think. Plants exposed to the radiation of the sun will get much hotter than those in the shade. Even on a comparatively cool day, plants exposed to the direct sun may burn. The use of lath, seran, or the shade of a tree can greatly cut down on the heat load of the plants. Watch out for trees which may not be in leaf in the fall or early spring when the sun can still be hot.

Unfortunately, light itself in high levels is very beneficial to many bromeliads. I think light is the single most important factor in bringing out the fantastic leaf coloration that many bromeliads can but often do not show in cultivation. One has to make a sort of compromise, giving the plants as much light as they can take short of burning. But such bromeliads as most nidulariums and vrieseas can be successfully grown with less light, although neoregelias look like different plants if grown under strong lighting conditions.

One way, other than compromise, to get around this situation is to grow the plants under bright light and high humidity at the same time. This happens naturally in Florida and Hawaii, and the plants show this in their beautiful colors. Several growers in southern California keep their bromeliads outside in bright light with a water fogging system going to keep the humidity high. Although there have been some problems, the results in general have been very good.

In nature some bromeliads are exposed to high humidity for one part of the day and very low humidity for the rest of this day. This is true of many of the gray-leaf tillandsias. Some of the Peruvian tillandsias are exposed to wet fogs at night and very arid conditions during the day time. I now fog most of my tillandsias about once a day in the summer, whereas I used to drench them about once a week. This fogging works much better for me. You must do this in the morning or the evening because water drops on the leaves of the plants will concentrate the sun's energy like a magnifying glass and can result in the sun's burning a hole through the leaf.

Our winters present a problem, because it is both cold and wet. Most bromeliads draw the line at 32°F (freezing), and if the temperature drops below this they will be damaged. The best solution to this is to have a greenhouse; however, there are many species that will tolerate at least a few degrees of frost. These include some aechmeas, neoregelias, and tillandsias, as well as a number of nidulariums and vrieseas, which are not so tender as most people think. Plants that are cold and wet are more apt to be damaged than those that are cold and dry. Plants outside will do better if given some protection from the rain in winter. This protection will also minimize the effects of frost. Small collections can be brought inside when the temperature is apt to fall below freezing. Other solutions that have been tried are the use of infra red lights for heat and also the use of fans outside. Strong healthy plants can tolerate adverse conditions much better than weak ones. Also plants grown from seed in cultivation adapt better to cultivation than plants that have been collected.

Bromeliads that receive nutrition through their roots seem to grow much better than those that are fed only by foliar spraying. Although bromeliads feed only through their leaves in nature, they will grow an extensive root system when grown in a pot. This does not always hold true with some of the gray-leaf tillandsias.

Lastly, a point to consider if you have to grow your plants under adverse conditions is not to get more plants than you can handle. In my case this has been a total impossibility.

Guy Wrinkle, North Hollywood, California


Although some members complain that they have difficulty growing Aechmea zebrina, I do not have any trouble with it. The mere fact that it is such a hard-to-come-by plant motivates me that much more to bring it to the attention of everybody. After having seen how all sorts of bromeliads are growing in Holland, which is below sea level, I have come to the conclusion that altitude does not have much influence in successfully growing Aechmea zebrina. Mr. Bak, of Holland, has one growing in a clay pot with soil always moist and with moss growing all over the pot. Greenhouse temperature is about 26° to 28° C. If I grew my plants the same way, they would rot.

I have been told not to grow guzmanias and vrieseas glued to wood; I have also been told not to pot my A. zebrina, for it would rot and keel over. On both counts I've beaten the odds. I grow my Aechmea zebrina indoors, in a clay pot in a north window. I never water the pot, but just spray the leaves once a day. The temperature is always 70 to 72°F. all year round, and I have a small fan going constantly. The plant is growing beautifully with very fine banded leaves. I never fertilize it. I think the clay pot and having it in a place where it gets cool circulating air is the key to my success. My potting medium is 2 parts of ground horticultural moss, 1 part coarse sand, an 1 part perlite.

W. Vilders, Sr., 18106 Hamburg, Detroit

Collecting Highlights


In Brazil we were on a drive from Sao Paulo down to Santos, the coffee port on the ocean. We were a small group of "horticulturists", mostly Palm Society members, but some of us were hopeful collectors of bromeliads and orchids, so we were very pleased when the driver stopped our minibus and the guide gave us half an hour to collect in a patch of forest. Not having expected this we were not really dressed for it, but we eagerly jumped out and rushed for the thickets under the tall trees despite the warnings of some of our group "Oh don't go into that snake infested jungle," etc. Most did their collecting on the outer edges and managed to find nice orchids. We hadn't gone more than 100 feet when my husband picked a nice-sized Vriesea hieroglyphica off of a low bush. Others were properly envious, but the Wittbolds found an even bigger one a few minutes later. I found small plants of V. fenestralis and V. phillippocoburgii. Down at the lowest damp area along a stream there were many nidulariums, probably a form of N. Innocentii. My plant hasn't bloomed, so I don't yet know what it is — it has a bronzy color. Our half hour was soon up and we were on our way over the tortuous but good highway. Because of the crush of cars that descend on weekends from Brazil's biggest city (over 5 million) to the beaches below, they are in the process of building a super-highway through these mountains, a fantastic feat of engineering, and we looked enviously at the clearings where no doubt we could have found plenty of plants on the fallen trees.

Mt. Dora, Florida

HINT OF THE MONTH: Light intensity is increasing at a rapid rate this time of the year as well as moving more to the north and shining on places where before there was shade. It is suggested that you take a careful look at your plants and begin moving the more light sensitive ones out of the light to prevent burning. Also, in some areas, March, April, and May are dry windy months, so it will be well in to increase your watering during this period.

Don't Miss the Boat!

H. K. Webb
Vriesea species known in the trade as Nova. This plant won the Best of Show award at the 1976 Bromeliad Show sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Bromeliad Society. Owner of the plant is Malory Mele.

The members of the New Orleans Area Bromeliad Societies are looking forward to greeting those who will attend the World Conference of the Bromeliad Society on June 2 to 5, 1977. Please register in advance using the form which was inserted in the last issue of the Journal.

There will be speakers or seminars on both afternoons of Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4. The speakers include Dr. Harold W. Wiedman and Charles A. Wiley of California; Dr. Amy Jean Gilmartin of Washington State University; Dr. Edward McWilliams of Texas A & M University; Mrs. F. B. Hanson of New Zealand; Dr. David Benzing of Oberlin College, Ohio; Dr. Robert Read of the Smithsonian Institution; Bert T. Foster of Orlando, Florida; and Herbert Plever of New York.

Guest speaker at the banquet on Saturday, June 4, will be Marion LeBlanc of New Orleans.

New Orleans has many unique sights to enjoy. Of course, everyone has heard of the night life on Bourbon Street. There are other enjoyments, too, such as a carriage ride through the French Quarter, coffee and doughnuts at a sidewalk cafe, a streetcar ride along picturesque St. Charles Avenue, watching artists at work around Jackson Square, or a jazz concert at Preservation Hall. There is something for everyone.

Don't miss the river cruise on the Natchez. A buffet featuring typical New Orleans cuisine will be served on board.

As we say down here, plan to "be in that number." We'll be looking forward to having you.

Katherine Jester, New Orleans

For those interested in trying their hand at tissue culture of bromeliads, the following may be of importance. For tissue cultures, Bellco Glass, Inc., 340 Edrudo Road, Vineland, New Jersey 08360, sells incubators, disposable glassware, and about everything. Dr. Murashige says that the disposable vessels are good for about 8 trips. Ready mix culture media are available from two firms, but unfortunately they do not sell in small quantities. They carry over a half dozen types which should work for most plants. Sometimes you have to use one stage with one medium and change to a different one to produce plants with both viable roots and shoots. The two firms are Grand Island Biological Company, 3175 Staley Road, Grand Island, New York 14072 and 519 Aldo Avenue, Santa Clara, California 95050, and Flower Laboratories, 1710 Chapman Avenue, Rockville, Maryland, 20852 and 936 West Hyde Blvd., Inglewood, California 90302.

Dr. Murashige often conducts classes in tissue culture at Lake Placid, New York, and at the University of California in Riverside, California. There are now about two dozen commercial tissue culture laboratories in California and a dozen in Florida. Many tissue culture techniques are not difficult, but some sophisticated equipment is required to perform all operations.

V. Stoutemyer

Experiment with Your pH


My curiosity in the subject of pH was stimulated by an article in an issue of the Journal of the Corpus Christi Bromeliad Society. I found my interest indeed further aroused by a fascinating study of the influence of pH on the effectiveness of the chemical BOH, in blooming bromeliads, reported in the December 23, 1967 issue of Nature, a British science publication. This study will be of interest to the many members who use BOH and will be described later in this article.

The levels of acidity and alkalinity in planting media and water used in growing plants can affect the character of their growth. pH is the chemical symbol used to express the ratio of acetic, hydrogen ions and the alkaline, hydroxyl ions in the soil or water. (Ions are charged atoms.)

It is known that the various kinds of plants differ markedly in their pH preferences. Orchids, for instance, generally need strong acidity whereas gesneriads and begonias prefer a slightly acid pH. Little experimentation has been done to determine the best pH for bromeliads. Most epiphytes are acid lovers and bromeliads have always been thought to like a slightly acid pH.

The pH ratio can be tested and measured on a pH reading scale called an Hydrion chart. When soil or water has an equal balance of acetic and alkaline ions, it is deemed to have a natural pH which measures 7.0 on the pH scale; (rain or pure water has a neutral 7.0 pH). The scale range, for our purposes, appears as follows:

4.5 to 5.0 = very strongly acid
5.0 to 5.5 = strongly acid
5.5 to 6.0 = slightly acid
6.0 to 6.5 = very slightly acid
7.0 = neutral
7.0 to 8.0 = slightly alkaline
8.0 to 8.5 = moderately alkaline
8.5 to 9.5 = strongly alkaline
9.5 to 10.0 = very strongly alkaline

Potting materials normally used for bromeliads such as peat moss, fir bark, osmunda fiber, tree fern, etc., have an acid pH. The water in various parts of the country, however, ranges from strongly acid to very strongly alkaline. The pH of water is often tested by using Litmus papers which turn color when immersed in water and the color is then compared to the color reading chart to determine the pH. Litmus paper, however, is not accurate or reliable. A more accurate testing kit can be obtained for only a few dollars at any aquarium hobby shop.

I had always assumed that our New York City water was neutral or slightly alkaline, and had even occasionally added a little white vinegar to my water to acidify it. Therefore, I was quite surprised when I tested my tap water to discover that it had an acid pH reading of 6.1 as did also the water in the cups of my plants.

The pH of the water can be adjusted by adding sodium biphosphate to acidify the water or sodium bicarbonate to alkaline it. These chemicals come with the testing kit. It would be interesting to ascertain what results would follow the adjustment of the water we use for our bromeliads down to a pH of 5.5 and up to a neutral 7.0. Anybody care to join me in an experiment?

A second pH experiment for BOH is suggested by the previously cited report appearing in the magazine Nature. For some years, BOH (Betahydroxyethylhydrazine) has been used by the pineapple industry to induce flowering and fruiting in pineapples. When BOH is combined with water, an ethylene gas is released, and that study demonstrated it was this ethylene gas which is the flowering agent.

The experimenters were also successful in using BOH to flower orange and other citrus trees and tested it using water with highly acid alkaline pHs. They found that the water with an alkaline pH of 8.5 converted and released 10 times more ethylene gas from the BOH than did water with an acid 4.3 pH.

This fascinating result suggests that we try alkalizing the water we use with our BOH to see if this will increase the percentage of successful flower inductions. If improvement in the results does follow, we can then experiment with the alkalized BOH solutions on younger than mature plants. In any event, the alkalized water should not do any harm to your bromels as we refill the cups with regular water three days after the treatment. — Reprinted from Bromeliana of the New York Bromeliad Society, Inc.

Editor's note — For an account of Mr. Plever's experiments and results with BOH, the flower-inducing chemical from Holland, refer to Vol. XIX, No. 1, p. 17, of The Bromeliad Society Journal.

A Propagation Hint for the Courageous


Ordinarily we prefer to allow a bromeliad to reach maturity and produce its inflorescence. Some plants require a very long time to mature, become too large for available space, or are essentially foliage plants with nondescript inflorescences. In such cases it may be desirable to hasten the production of offshoots.

This can be accomplished by destroying the major growing point (meristem) of the plant. A satisfactory instrument is either a very long thin screwdriver or better yet the following: a 12-inch length of number nine aluminum clothesline (unstranded, available in most hardware stores) which is flattened at one end for about 1 inch and filed to a point. The other end may be fashioned into a loop for easy grasping.

The point of this instrument is placed in the center of the cup of the rosette of leaves and with a twisting motion pushed downward until the point is felt to emerge below the root portion of the plant. Although placing fungicide in the cup prior to this procedure may be a useful precaution, I have not found it necessary.

Within a month or so new offshoots will appear. Failures are infrequent and are of two types:

1. The plant dies. This has happened only once (Canistrum × Leopardinum). Perhaps fungicide might have prevented this.

2. The plant resumes growing from the center as if nothing had happened. In such instances either the meristem was missed or the new offshoot developed close to the center. This seems to occur mainly in the very large vrieseas (imperialis and gigantea).

This procedure, however, has been almost uniformly successful.

Clearwater, Florida

Packing Bromeliads for Shipment in Cartons


Bromeliads are air plants and should never be crowded but kept loosely away from each other to allow free passage of air in the carton. Large cartons should be used if necessary. Each rosette should be wrapped in a newspaper cornucopia held on the plant with a rubber band. Pack the plants loosely enough to permit the cornucopias to retain their shape without collapsing from the pressure and weight of surrounding plants. Any spaces between cornucopias should be filled with loosely crushed newspapers.

NEVER SHIP WET PLANTS nor envelop their roots with wet planting material. Let plants dry out thoroughly before packing. In warm weather cut one-inch ventilation holes in the sides of the cartons. Never let one plant touch another plant.

Large bromeliads should be sent as such. Cutting off the leaves presents a most unattractive specimen that remains ugly for a very long time, as it will take two or three years to re-form a crown of leaves.

If size is a problem, try to send younger and smaller plants. They will remain attractive as they grow to maturity.

When in doubt use two cartons instead of one. This will make someone happy!

West Los Angeles, California

The blight which wrought such devastation to Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) in Florida five years ago proved to be a fungus which has been somewhat cleared up, although recovery is slow. A similar blight has now attacked the Spanish Moss which decks the stately old trees in Louisiana. Steps are being taken to eradicate the fungus, although the situation at the moment doesn't appear to be too hopeful.

For the Connoisseur Guzmania conifera (Andre) Mez


A. Hirtz

This magnificent species, whose inflorescence resembles the cone of Araucaria imbricata, was discovered in 1882 by M. H. Poortman in the course of a collecting expedition in the Andes of Ecuador under the direction of Edouard Andre. Guzmania conifera is to be found in the province of Zamore at an elevation of over 4,500 feet, growing on trees and also on the ground.

It is a large plant with bright green leaves that are 2 to 3 feet long and 2½ to 3 inches broad at the center. The dense conelike inflorescence is 8 to 10 inches long and 4 to 6 inches broad. The plant reaches well over 3 feet in height.

The plant was described by Dr. Amy Jean Gilmartin in her book on Ecuadorian bromeliads and has been collected by Alexander Hirtz, who took this photo.

Send comments, corrections and suggestions to:
© 1951-2012 Bromeliad Society International, All Rights Reserved.
All images copyrighted BSI.