BSI Journal - Online Archive


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The Bromeliad Society, Inc.
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PresidentElmer J. Lorenz, Calif.
1st V.P.Leonard Kent, M.D., Calif.
2nd V.P.Tim Lorman, Calif.
Rec. Secy.Jeanne Woodbury, Calif.
Corres. Secy.Kathy Dorr, Calif.
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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.

1977-1980: William Kirker, Leslie Walker, Eloise Beach, Kathy Dorr, Fritz Kubisch, W. R. Paylen, Amy Jean Gilmartin, Edgar Smith.


Adda Abendroth, Brazil; Luis Ariza Julia, Dominican Republic; 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; Robert W. Read.


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

Individual copies of the Journal $2.00


Ten for the Mosquitia
  Louis F. Wilson147
Variants in Species
  W. W. G. Moir156
Frustration in February
  Lucile B. McMichael160
Navia arida L. B. Smith et Steyermark
  J. Bogner161
Howard Yamamoto, Plantsman
  David Shiigi163
Two New Variegated Tillandsias
  H. Luther — M. D. Moffler166
Two Tillandsias from Central America168
Plant Growth Substances
  Vernon Stoutemyer170
Frankee K. Albright of Islamorada
  H. Alton Lee173
The Unidentified
  Charlie Meilleur177
Notes on Native Florida Bromeliads
  Harry E. Luther178
In the Mail Bag181
Portea fosteriana192
PICTURE ON THE COVER — Tillandsia platyphylla Mez. Photographed in habitat by Alexander Hirtz, Ecuador.

Editor: Victoria Padilla

No article is to be reprinted without the expressed consent of the editor.

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.

Ten for the Mosquitia


Collecting in the lowland jungle of Guatemala

Black clouds hung low over the airport and rain patted gently against the windows while our plane taxied toward the runway. Ten of our collecting group, now leaving La Cieba, were bound for the remote Mosquitia region of Honduras to the east. Spirits were high as we would soon collect bromeliads and orchids in an area rarely visited by civilized man. Thursday was the day and our destination was the isolated fishing camp of Gretchen and John Eoff located at the mouth of the Rio Platano where it enjoins the Caribbean. This would be our home for the next five days because our plane would not be back until the following Tuesday. For the previous eight days, while collecting in Guatemala and western Honduras, we had especially anticipated this part of the trip. We knew the Mosquitia was nearly out of touch with the rest of the world and this gave us a chance for a special adventure and an ideal opportunity to see and learn about bromeliads and orchids in a habitat yet unspoiled by man.

Our adventure started in Guatemala City and from there we made daily excursions to the volcanoes nearby, concentrating somewhat on the drier habitats. Each morning our eager group boarded a bus with sacks and poles, knives and clippers — the accoutrements of the avid collector. Speculations rang out as each anticipated his portion of the daily "catch."

Our first trek took us to a scrubby brush-and-opuntia covered hillside near Palencia — not far from Guatemala City. The area looked bleak and as we approached on foot, the rocky outcroppings of black obsidian clattered against our feet betraying the land's fiery past. Brooks high on the hills tumbled over beds of this volcanic glass and broadened into streams which raced downhill and formed fissures along hillside junctures. This was the only water, and the dry thorny vegetation seemed to thirst for some. Numerous black vultures circled above our heads or settled in the trees nearby, completing the near-desert landscape scene we were about to enter.

Dry as it was, epiphytes nestled among the inhospitable limbs of the desert brush. Tillandsias were on every shrub, but no one species seemed to predominate. Clumps of T. schiediana first greeted us, the large entangled balls of plants encircling thorny limbs. We collected a few and carefully pruned the thorns so they would not rip our collecting bags. We searched for more species and readily encountered T. ionantha, T. caput-medusae, and T. circinnata. Also clinging to the shrubs were T. seleriana, T. setacea, T. utriculata and several other unknown species. Bromelias fenced in a native's hut nearby, and pitcairnias grew on cliffs over the hillside streams.

By mid afternoon each day we would return to Guatemala City with our booty. Hot, tired, and dirty — but happy — upon our return we followed a pre-set ritual. Sorting and cleaning plants came first, then a shower, a little socializing next, back to cleaning plants, and then early to bed. Cleaning plants is a big job but fun because it gives you time to really see your plants. The only problem with cleaning is that it may continue after dark and one is sometimes forced to clean them in his room. That has it own hazards! I recall the time in Costa Rica I was sitting on my bed and opened a clump of tillandsias and released a half dozen scorpions to scatter about the room. One stung me, and while in pain, I swatted them with my shoe hoping I hadn't missed any. Or, the time in Panama I couldn't extricate a 5-inch tarantula from the cup of a large bromel. After stuffing paper down the hole we slept a bit uneasy that night thinking it might get out before morning. Though tarantulas are usually docile creatures — they make decidedly poor bed partners! Also, when there are hundreds of plants scattered around your room, you always have that uneasy feeling that no matter how carefully you've cleaned them, some creature was missed. And, you know that creature is nocturnal and will come forth after the lights are out. An encounter with one of these denizens is bound to happen sooner or later. And it did to one of our group one night. This individual told me he was half asleep when he felt the "stomping" of feet proceeding up his chest. Suddenly awake, he grabbed his flashlight on the bedstand and pointed it toward his chest. There nose-to-nose and eye-to-eye was a "monster" — a 3" long cockroach. This denizen was harmless, but while in the dark and with the benefit of an active imagination he had conjured up all sorts of venomous creatures.

Left —

Author and friends after collecting in Guatemala.





Below —

Boys transporting plants on the Rio Platano.

After several days of collecting we all had become acclimatized to the tropics and were ready to proceed to Honduras, so that morning we headed northwest over the mountains. On the road toward Coban [possibly Copan? Check on web] we took the east fork and motored through brush on dry sunbaked hillsides. This was our last chance to collect before the border so onto the hillsides we went. We collected in the shorter trees and our "Indio" climbed the taller ones.

Silvery T. circinnata and T. ionantha clustered on dry branches and beckoned to us everywhere. Large T. xerographica encircled limbs above our heads. Clumps of T. balbisiana, baileyi and schiedeana dotted the higher branches. After collecting we drove on to Esquipulas for our last night before crossing the border.

Early next morning we crossed into Honduras at Agua Caliente, and all our bags came off the bus and went through a cursory inspection for plants. Promised we could bring our plants over, the government had informed us at the last minute that a recent quarantine prevented it. The broca, a scolytid beetle, was destroying the coffee crop and hitchhiked on certain agricultural products. Thus we had to ship our plants or lose them. All other agricultural products were confiscated — even the slightly wormy apples we had in our lunch bags. After considerable hassle we were released by 12:30 p.m. only to find ourselves down the road at another quarantine station at 12:45. This time the bus was fumigated inside and out.

We arrived late at Copan, our destination, where we planned a day of sightseeing at the famous ruins there and a little collecting outside the park. The border incident was part of our delay, but we lost more time a few kilometers from Copan in Santa Rita when our bus refused to cross an arch-shaped bridge in the center of town. The whole town came out to either commiserate or just gawk at our predicament. Then, almost out of nowhere appeared a truck and a van and soon our bags were down and we were off again. When we reached Copan we learned that a French touring group had arrived ahead of us and they were given our rooms. We were sent down the street to the hotel annex — obviously where the cut-rate rooms were. Someone volunteered the rooms there only cost 75c per night. Austere, but neat and apparently clean, each room had two small cots. Light streamed through the transom all night and bathed the rough-textured walls. Though tired I tried desperately to sleep, but the room seemed hot and airless. And I itched all over. I had picked up chiggers on the desert and either that day's quota was having lunch on my hide or some new creatures were. I scratched awhile and then got up and went to the quaint little square in the center of town. The others too, had the same idea. There, a young man was playing his guitar and singing Spanish songs. Soon we joined him and sang into the night. We went to bed late. Up at 6:00 a.m. I left my room and was greeted by a 6" tarantula standing on the door frame,

After a little sightseeing we drove to Lake Yojoa — Honduras' only large lake. Formed in the Pleistocene a lava flow sealed the valley and dammed the river. Over 270 inches of rain each year keeps the lake full and the vegetation lush, I was told. Deep at one end and harboring an island off to one side, today it is a superior bass lake and a paradise with temperatures from 60-85° most of the year. We arrived late in the afternoon and met Bill Plowden, our guide for the next few days. I asked Bill if we could bathe in the lake. He said sure, but watch out for the crocodiles which get over 14 feet long. I decided to shower instead. I was watching two monkeys "monkeying around" nearby when I spotted some huge toads in the grass. I picked one up and showed it off to the group. Bill calmly informed me that this species of Bufo was poisonous and would kill any animal that bit it in half an hour. I put it down again.

Rain pounded the earth all night long, and ended just before sunrise. Bill said it rained every day at the lake but almost always during the night. At first light I was out exploring the moist trees along the shore. Collecting was easy and the trees were heavily laden with epiphytes — Catopsis seemed to predominate and before long I had tallied four different species. The most common species was a small tubular one resembling C. apricroides. This beautiful miniature with its delicate spike was in full bloom. C. nutans and C. berteroniana dotted the branches. An attractive spreading rosette depicted another species I tentatively identified as C. morreniana. Aechmea mexicana was the only aechmea I could find. Orange trees planted near the lake were densely covered with tillandsias — principally T. bulbosa, caput-medusae, and great garlands of Spanish moss. I also found patches of T. brachycaulos, a few T. utriculata, and an occasional T. streptophylla. Bill and a few others joined my collecting and soon we had our bags full of plants.

We had to return to camp by noon as our plane was leaving that afternoon for La Cieba — our jumping off place to the Mosquitia. Gretchen Eoff met us at the lake and she and her husband John were our guides throughout the latter portion of the trip.

Our DC-3, that workhorse of WWII fame, rose toward the west, circled over the ocean, and followed the coast toward the Mosquitia. Civilization vanished. We could see only a few huts or small villages along the water courses as we flew low over the jungle. The Mosquitia boasts only 0.6 people per km2 I was told. Nearly roadless it is a mixture of short mountains and lowland jungle broken by numerous rivers. Parrots and other birds are abundant. Other wildlife include el tigre, capybara, tapir, and monkey; and especially abundant is the unpredictable barba amarilla or deadly fer-de-lance.

Finally we were over a savanna dotted with palmetto and pine. A small hut appeared ahead adjoined by a flat gravel-covered runway. On the ground our bags and boxes were soon off and piled high in a wagon. A WWII vintage jeep parked nearby. Someone lifted the hood and connected two wires and the engine began snorting. The road, if one could call it that, was two muddy ruts connected by pot-holes. It was serviceable, however, and provided us in the wagon with a jaunty half hour roller coaster-like ride to Brus Laguna, the last stop before the wilderness. Horses, cows, and pigs moved aside as we chugged through the village. Grass and tin-roofed huts were lined in neat rows on either side of the elevated road. A sign on one hut pointed out the airline ticket agent's office, a few electric wires strung across the road were the only certain signs of civilization.

Two members of the party collecting in the Savanna.

Upon reaching the lagoon at the far end of the village we learned our boats had not yet arrived, so we had enough time for refreshments. One of the huts doubled as a store and had a small refrigerator filled with pop and cerveza (beer). We drank heartily knowing this would be our last cold drink until we returned.

Our put-puts arrived. These stable crafts are large dugout canoes with in-board engines, and their name, of course, is derived from the sound they make.

Once out in the lagoon we realized that afternoon had come. The sun beat straight down on us and reflected brightly from the water. The lagoon, several kilometers across, took over an hour to traverse at full put-put speed. At the far end, the lagoon opened into the ocean and this allowed sharks and other sea creatures access. Given the choice to ride the waves to the camp or walk the ocean beach when we reached the mouth of the lagoon, we chose the beach so we could explore for plants. This also gave the sun another hour to bake us, as the white sand reflected about as much as the water in the lagoon had done.

Fully "cooked" we finally reached the small native village of Platano at the mouth of the Rio Platano; our destination was across the river from the village. John Eoff greeted us as we landed ashore. We drank cool lemonade he had waiting for us. Viewing the village across the river the Mosquitia looked like a tropical paradise. The snook and tarpon were large and plentiful, the crocodiles were small and almost harmless — so we were told. John's camp had a small store for trading with the natives and three attractive thatched-roofed huts. A cook shack with a dining room and two outhouses completed the camp. John and Gretchen made a small epiphyte garden behind the cookshack where they had most of the native orchids and some bromeliads.

We were assigned our huts and soon we were in the tepid waters of the Rio Platano bathing our sunburn. John watched us with amusement and asked if we were too tired to collect before supper. "Not at all," we responded in unison. We were refreshed now and eager to find plants. We searched across the river near Platano village and saw only one large aechmea high in a tree and a tillandsia on a sea grape shrub. Two orchids grew on the sea grape and jicaco shrubs — Brassavola nodosa and Schomburgkia thomsoniana.

We returned to camp near dusk, just in time for supper. We had to eat by lantern light, and except for the mosquitoes it was delightful. By the way, the word mosquitia means musket and has nothing to do with the insects there. John had a pig slaughtered for us and then cooked it until it fell off the bones. The smell of fresh bread greeted us as we entered the dining hut. Jams made from local guava, lime, and pineapple decorated the table. Wine bottles were filled with rainwater for drinking. The cook brought out a large pot of refried beans, breadfruit cooked in coconut milk which tasted like boiled potatoes, and bowls of fried manioc. There were large pots of rich Honduran coffee. Our salad of lettuce, cukes, and tomatoes was from food we brought with us on the plane. For dessert we had homemade tablata de coca (coconut candy) and plantain. It was a feast and we ate heartily and joked about "roughing it" in the jungle. Afterwards we "waddled" down to the beach, lounged in the beached dugouts, and reminisced about our adventure while gazing at the clear black bespeckled sky. The stars hung down on invisible wires, and Cygnus and Sagittarius were almost blotted out by the creamy ocean of stars.

Our huts were comfortable but hot even after dark because they were sheltered behind the sand dunes. They were sufficiently open, however, to admit most of the smaller resident creatures, and large cockroaches, ants, lizards, and hairy spiders freely roamed the hut and rustled in the thatch. We slept under mosquito netting, which helped. John told us to keep our doors closed at night, mainly to keep out the tigre which roamed the compound after dark. The week before one hungry tigre twice entered Platano village across the river and stole pigs during the day time. "Use your flashlight if you must use the outhouse," cautioned John. "The fer-de-lance is nocturnal and you may encounter one in the compound." John had seen only two in camp in the years he lived there, but natives see them daily in the vicinity.

Most nights we went to bed by 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. Sure, we were tired, we had little else to do, and we always rose early to collect before the heat of the day, but it was hard getting used to. The first night was the worst because my bed was invaded with tiny ants that readily breached the netting. I nicknamed them "fireants" because of their fierce bites and relentless attacks. Two blood-filled mosquitos were sitting inside the netting in the morning and these reminded me to take my malaria pills. About 70 percent of the natives in the village had malaria.

John had us up by 4:30 and at breakfast shortly after for fruit juice, coffee, pancakes, refried beans, jellies, and fresh bread. By sunup we were on our way up the river in the put-puts to meet our "boys" in their pipantes and cayucus. The pipante is a long shallow dugout canoe with a flat end, and the cayucu is the more traditional dugout. Both would be needed to navigate the small streams and swamps. Our group paired up so each canoe would have only two people and his paddler or guide. "ΏComo se llama?" I greeted my guide. "My name is Edwin Davis," he said in precise English. I grinned sheepishly as my canoe partner Bob Hull chuckled. Edwin had been to the Mission school on the island of Roatan and had learned some English. We liked him right away and soon we were good friends and made a good collecting team. Edwin appeared to be in his mid 40's and he was the best climber of all. Also, he was especially conscientious in searching for plants. He knew I wanted bromeliads more than orchids so he was always leading us back into the remotest areas to find unusual species.

"My land," Edwin volunteered and pointed toward a clearing along the river. "I grow maize there. We can collect there also," he said. We started on foot through his corn field when he stopped and pointed his machete at a brush pile. "Barba lives there," he said, referring to the poisonous fer-de-lance, and reminded us of the native that was bit by one the day before. Apparently the young native had been up the river cutting thatch for his roof when the snake bit him. The man had cut palm leaves and piled them at the base of the tree where a young fer-de-lance was sleeping under some litter. The viper struck the native in the arm when he picked up the thatch and disturbed the snake. Three herb-doctors were treating the native and he was still alive at the end of our trip. Edwin tapped each bush and brush pile as we moved along, and we decided to stay close behind him.

We soon learned that much of the land behind the seacoast and along the river was either lowland jungle or swamp. The jungle is manageable on foot with the aid of machetes, the swamp is worse. Ceiba trees stand over 150 feet above the floor, while mahogany, cedro macho, wild fig, and vines form the canopy. The floor is wet with stagnant pools. The swamp is wetter. There we were usually over our knees in water, so when possible we collected from the pipante. The jungle and swamp are both dense and dark and most of the epiphytes are either high in the trees or plentiful near the ground around small openings where at least a little dappled sunlight reaches the floor for part of the day. Guzmania lingulata was the most numerous bromeliad in the swamp. It grew up and down, and along the buttressed bases of the trees, on vines, and on small hummocks of land. Edwin told us he knew where some red bromeliads grew and took us deep into the swamp in his pipante. One reddish plant appeared, then a few more, and finally there were dozens on each tree. The mature ones were in spike and appeared to be Vriesea heliconioides. Nearby were green plants spotted on the lower leaves. None was in flower but I tentatively identified it as Vriesea sanguinolenta. Further searching yielded large clumps of Tillandsia bulbosa, T. streptophylla, T. anceps, T. caput-medusae, and an unknown Catopsis. We located a large aechmea with a red spike high in the trees, but too far up for even Edwin to reach.

By lunch time, Edwin led Bob and me back to where the group was collecting on the Savanna. These open grasslands are mostly dry with clumps of tique palm, guava, small shrubs, and scattered tall pines. We had been there only a few minutes when "barba aqui" rang out. Someone had spied a fer-de-lance under some brush. After it was driven away we lunched on canned sausage, fresh pineapple, oranges, and biscuits. The natives made "plates" from tique palm leaves and ate their own pina, boiled breadfruit, and refried beans.

Bromeliads were not abundant on the savanna, but diligent searching revealed Catopsis berteroniana and T. streptophylla and a few as yet unidentified plants. The prize of the savanna was the beautiful orchid Galeandra baueri which grows on the tique palms just beneath their fronds. Some were flowering while we were there. Another common orchid there was Brassavola nodosa and it nearly covered the branches of some of the trees.

Each afternoon we returned to camp to bathe, take a siesta, and of course, clean plants. John or Gretchen always had fresh lemonade or water-coconuts ready at camp when we stepped out of the canoes.

Time went quickly at the camp and soon we found ourselves packing plants and retracing our course back to Brus Laguna and the airport. Refreshed but thirsty, at the airport we all sought out the thing we wanted and missed the most — a cold glass of water or coke filled with ice cubes. Revitalized, we boarded our plane for Miami and home.

In retrospect, let me emphasize that the avid plant collector can still have a jungle adventure not unlike those had by our pioneer collectors. And what better way is there to learn about bromeliads than to live with them in their native home? Though civilization is ever encroaching the wilds, there are still places like the Mosquitia where the plant adventurist can escape from the cares of the rush-around world and become part of the world primeval. True, you won't have all those hardships encountered by the early collectors because modern conveyances can get you to and from such places much quicker today, but once back in the "bush" everything is as before. You step back several hundred years in time — and time there stands still. The conditions are just as primitive and the thrills of discovery, and dangers too, are the same. If you want it, an adventure is out there waiting for you too!

Lansing, Michigan

Variants in Species


Recently I have taken apart hundreds of magazines that have piled up over the years to the point that I had no space for more. I did not throw away what I did not want but gave them (eleven market bags full) to a young orchid breeder. This young man has come to me since he was 12 years old and now is over 30. He had been interested in collecting all my early Laeliinae breeding, so I particularly saved him articles on these. For myself I saved articles on conservation, collecting, ecology, Oncidieae, Phalaenopsis, Zygopetaleae. Cataseteae and all articles I had authored. It is really surprising the number of bits and pieces one picks up on weather and climates of countries in most unlikely articles. I have been particularly interested in environment, for it is the single most powerful force that controls evolution and what variants of a species survived in any area.

The most surprising thing was the lack of material on variants in species and especially in species that have become widespread. A reprint from a Java publication in the March 1950 A.O.S. Bull. of an article by R. E. Holltum. "On Variability in Wild Orchids and its Implications" was a good one. But one is led to believe by reading it that variants are to be found in only a few species, which is not true. If this inborn ability of plants to create variants through realignment of genes were not present in every living thing, extinction of species would be much more extensive than it really is today. None of this is a matter of prior planning. Variants in genes goes on all the time and seeds with these grow if the environment is such that they can grow and survive in the area where they land.

Like Holltum, we — my wife and I — have examined no end of plants in the wild to determine variants and how extensive they were in any area. We studied the environment and chose representatives we thought we could grow in duplicating suitable microclimates in our garden for them. Early we realized color of flower could be as much a factor of the medium the plants were growing in as it could be heredity. We hoped to determine in the wild the seed-producing ability of these but never could because pod production in orchids is very scarce at any time of the year. Pods are more likely to occur at the end of the flowering season and in hardship areas. Over and over it was strongly impressed in our minds that environment was the most powerful force in what survived, but we never really could definitely say that it caused the genes to rearrange themselves in creating variants. Yet it just might do so. If this possibility did not exist why do we get different flowers with repetition of a cross at a different time and place?

I had embarked on gardening with microclimates long before going to see the jungles of the world but I sure changed many methods afterwards. How well we have succeeded is demonstrated by the number of variants of species that have arisen in the garden as well as natural hybrids. A visitor from Brazil recently was amazed at how the microclimates had been created in a walled-in garden of relatively small space and that the microclimates had been created partly by the plants themselves such as the bromeliads holding up the humidity of the area. He had not thought it possible.

I walked over to a location under the three-foot eaves of the house and behind a Dracena marginata tree which is two feet in diameter. He saw crowded together a number of mutating bromeliads. I pointed out that a huge Aechmea chantinii var. Dark Goddess had occupied a large part of the area originally and the nidulariums were added later. Now the chantinii Dark Goddess had but one fourth its original area and the other part was occupied by two variants of chantinii - amazonica and zebrina. I pointed out how they had arisen in turn, the first after a green stripe occurred down the middle of one leaf on the Dark Goddess and later how zebrina had arisen from the amazonica. This I have written up in the Jan. 1978 issue of the Journal of the Bromeliad Society. We doubt the difficulties of keeping the Dark Goddess under the stress of location had forced the mutation to the other in turn, but it might.

However, the variants in Nid. innocentii lineatum were constant from almost green to almost white while Nid. regelioides did not vary as it had the favored position of the run-off of water from a paved walkway.

The hardships to our garden, because of a drought since early 1976, have almost tempted us to get rid of bromels and grow cacti. No amount of watering can equal the rain and the humid moving air of a rainy season. Normally we have two or three wet seasons a year but none now. Nov. to Feb., March to May and July to Sept. were our moist times and yet did have showers in Feb. and June, Sept. and Oct. On top of that we are asked to save water and maybe should be on rationing. Gardening is not easy or enjoyable any more and it has meant so much to us.

It is surprising how the weather changes have affected the garden and the variants. The tree ferns cannot take it and the shade loving bromels, flower freely but loose vigor, color and mass when shade (cloud cover) is reduced.

Aechmea orlandiana has been magnificent in three locations, much more so than ever before. The lovely red flower heads have come out on longer stems than usual and the plants in three different microclimates look like three different species, from solid green to strong pinks and purple leaves, but the flowers are identical.

The Guzmania 'Magnifica' are out with long stems for a change and a month or more late. The T. cyanea are still blooming. Normally they should have all stopped in early January (this written in the middle of February). The allspice perfume of these blue flowers is stronger in the dry weather and permeates the garden. The small neoregelias do not like the strong sun and burn and "Firefall" really sunburns. Patches of it that have are now in shade as the sun went south turned a bit green and as the sun comes back turned red again. Fortunately the cool area to the northeast of the house has suffered less because of the cross ventilation created by a wall full of holes, some real shade and mottled sun from judiciously arranged plantings.

A Nid. innocentii var. innocentii, moved out of shade because it refused to flower, changed to a green topped leaf from the purple bronze. Neo. carolinae tricolor reverted to the type form and no end of changes are noticeable. The whole area takes on a worried look to us, less brilliant and less showy but to visitors it still is amazing.

Our future does not look rosy, as it is a well known fact that the more urbanization is carried out to the windward of the rain forest near us the less our rainfall will be. The more the urbanization the more automobiles and the more air pollution. If we could only dispense with people and particularly tourists who go by tour buses that fill the area with black smoke and noise how much better it would be for the environment. Yes, other areas in the world have suffered changes in environment, but somehow an island that depends on a rainforest to maintain its only good supply is very fragile and needs protection from urbanization and additional people.

It is very fascinating though sad to see the changes, but when you have spent a lifetime (nearly 50 years in this garden) you do not move away from it

Variants are more or less of definite patterns and one can look for them knowing what to look for. Variegations in several patterns are the commonest and these are degenerate forms with a loss of green food manufacturing capacity. Silver or dark bars are another form but less drastic than variegations yet beautiful. In the reverse, one looks for green leaved forms in variegated variants. In all red flowered plants one looks for a partial loss of the red to shades of fiery orange and eventually yellow and sometimes in the reverse. There are quantitative and qualitative variants and variants in the ability of the plants to breed and pass on good qualities. By looking for these one finds them and makes good use of them in breeding. Arguments are still waged that changes are very small in evolution but anyone acquainted with plants can see that these jumps are often very big as well as little.

It is when two very wide variants of a single species hybridize, but still are the same species, that nature and environment come up with variants that get called new species. This same process is even more startling in hybridization between species and even more in intergeneric breeding. But exceptions to every statement can be found, for nature has no text books or rule books to follow.

One of the best places to hunt for variants is in hedges of plants that get trimmed back and checked too often. While a youngster I collected these variants from hibiscus like H. waimeae, H. arnottianus and H. kokio and fortunately had the yellow and orange variants of the last which is normally red. On the cover of the Bulletin of the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden for Jan. 1978 is a picture of the yellow variant just like I used in 1912 but now it is called a different species — H. saintjohnianum and the text speaks about the variants also in the same area, that are all really kokio. This is one of the problems of living too long — we find people who knew nothing about the plants of long ago and their variants and now give them new names.

This was the trouble with the A. chantinii complex of tessmannii, amazonica, and zebrina and you find the same in fulgens-miniata. In the first of these (chantinii) the variants are in silver bars, width of leaves, size of plant and color of leaf. In Fulgens it is the glaucous covering and color of the underside of its leaves. Yes, certain species are much more prone to variants than others. Some, if not all, of these are from very widely spread locations and different environments. The study of these variants should be a must by taxonomists in describing species. Nature is the best school for them to go to.

It is really amazing how few people realize that this process keeps on repeating itself unless the change was so severe that all variants were killed off. I get more and more amused at the reviewers of research that do not realize what is a common thing in nature and also that one can garden to demonstrate these happenings. I have enjoyed 70 years of doing this and could go on for a long time longer if the environment will let me.

A few showers have fallen since I started writing this article and it revives one's spirits to feel the moisture in the air. Many of you live in areas that do not have such a fragile environment so might not understand our concern for the water supply. Many of you do not have gardens to live in all year round so you must go to natural areas to see these workings of evolution or come see us before we become cacti growers. Variants are the first visual signs of evolution working and if you garden with microclimates you see how fast and fantastic these changes take place. It seems to be a game of plants with you to show what they can do to prove you have changed their environment and they do not like it.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Frustration in February


The month of February is usually a month of frustration for those of us who live in east central Florida and who grow most of our bromeliads outdoors. For the past two years the cold spells have come with more frequency and lower temperatures. So, with each cold wave warning, out comes the wheelbarrow, and we start transporting the more tender plants to a closed-in porch or a small greenhouse. During this past winter there was a period of a month before I could move any of the more tender plants outside for a breath of really fresh air. Watering on the porch and in the greenhouse was kept to a minimum. And I worried!

Then, while gathering the plants in one day I walked by a bed of Quesnelia testudo that had multiplied from two plants originally planted about 1973 to perhaps 15 plants now. In the center of five plants I found the beautiful red showing of the inflorescence to come. In two weeks the spikes were above the green, sharp pointed leaves which showed absolutely no damage from the 32 to 34 degree temperatures we had been experiencing. Between the first of February and the first of April the Quesnelia testudo bed was a rewarding sight that helped me forget the worries and frustrations of the preceding weeks in February.

The latter part of March I received my most exciting reward. For five years I have had clumps of Quesnelia arvensis planted in different locations with varying degrees of light. I decided to clean out one bed of bromeliads and replace the Q. arvensis with some plants that would take up less space and offer coloration or bloom. I carefully placed two large clumps of them under a palm tree (I can never force myself to throw away a bromel) and told myself I would make a decision the next day. It was three days before I returned to that section of the yard; and when I picked up one large Q. arvensis, there in the center of the cup was the bright red tip of a bloom showing. In a matter of minutes I had it placed in a pot with a handful of cypress mulch packed around it. Each day I watch that lovely red bloom climb higher toward the tips of the leaves!

I also have a large clump of plants which were labeled Quesnelia Χ Gigantea when purchased from a nearby nursery. It is true to its name in that it is at least 10 inches higher than Q. testudo, and the bloom rises at least four inches higher. It too has bloomed during March with only a small amount of browning on the tips of the leaves. Is this the correct name for this plant? It not I would appreciate knowing, as I have never seen Quesnelia Χ gigantea mentioned in any of my bromeliad books.

Quesmea Χ lymanii also blooms faithfully for me in March and never seems to be hurt by the cold spells. That is why quesnelias and quesmeas are among my favorites. They help me to forget the frustrations and worries that come with the cold waves!

Palm Bay, Florida

Navia Arida L. B. Smith et Steyermark



During my trip to the Auyan-tepui in the Estado Bolivar, Venezuela, I collected a number of bromeliads that were not in flower (see also Journal of the Bromeliad Society 26: 237-243 (1976)). One of these flowered in October, 1977, in Munich and was identified as Navia arida. It is a very handsome species.

Navia arida

Plant 50-60 cm in diameter, leaves arranged in a rosette. Leaves a little fleshy, 25-30 (38) cm long and (1,7) 2,5-3 cm wide, middle green and sparsely covered with very small whitish-greyish scales; margin spiny, spines in a distance of 3-7 mm on the margin; inner leaves of the rosette shorter. At flowering time inner shorter leaves completely bright red colored and the longer leaves getting bright red basally. Inflorescence sessile in the center of the plant, few till many flowered. Flowers c. 5 cm long; sepals c. 4,5 cm long and long pointed, golden yellow; petals c. 4,5 cm long, lower part golden yellow (like the sepals) and the upper part (c. 1 cm length) bright red. At the anthesis the flowers open with a very narrow, opening c. 1 mm in diameter; the anthesis of each flower lasts one day only, but the flowering time of the whole plant goes over several weeks. Ovary partly inferior, 5-7 mm in diameter, yellowish; stamen and style shorter than the petals; filaments filiform, 2,5-3 cm long, anthers c. 0,8 cm long, all parts yellow; pollen grains nonaperturate, exine more or less foveolate; style c. 3 cm long and 0,8 mm thick, yellow; stigma subcapitate, red. Capsule ovoid, 5-8 mm in diameter; seeds without any appendages, c. 0,5 mm in diameter, reddish-brown, seed coat reticulate.

Navia arida is known from several collections from Venezuela and the adjacent Guyana.

The genus Navia contains 74 species and as far as I know only two species have been introduced into cultivation; the other cultivated one is Navia splendens L. B. Smith (see Journal of the Bromeliad Society 26: 237-243 (1976) and cover picture of No. 6). Both, N. arida and N. splendens are very handsome bromeliads and I am wondering why not more species of Navia have been introduced. Their culture is not difficult — the wild collected plants need some time for acclimatisation — and they were grown together with other bromeliads. They do not get any special care and are planted in the same soil mix as used for Guzmania, Vriesea, Aechmea, etc.

Muenchen, West Germany


It is with deep regret that we learned of the death of Prof. Dr. Eizi Matuda, who passed away in Lima, Peru, on February 11, 1978, following a heart attack. He was one of the great authorities on the bromeliads of Mexico and was unceasing in his quest for new species. Although Japanese by birth, he lived most of his life in Mexico and devoted all his time to the flora of that country. He was a gentle, unassuming man, but was greatly admired by all who knew him. See Volume XXIV, Page 59 of the Journal for an account of his achievements by Dr. Lyman B. Smith.

Howard Yamamoto, Plantsman and Hybridizer Extraordinary


Along with the Moirs, no one has done so much to further the development of bromeliads in Hawaii than Howard Yamamoto. Dating back to the mid-fifties while working for the federal government as chief auditor, Howard first became fascinated with these exotic plants while visiting the garden of Mrs. Thelma Hodge in Hollywood. Knowing the strict law against the importation of bromeliads into Hawaii, Howard decided to grow these plants from seed which he had received from the mainland and abroad. Most of the seed he grew were the more common types of species, but by using them he began to hybridize to produce more exciting plants.

Today some of the finest bromeliad crosses are from Howard. His first crosses were vrieseas and neoregelias, the latter bringing him national recognition.

His vrieseas were outstanding for their multi-spiked inflorescences, while the neoregelias were noted for their compact form and color. Others which deserve equal recognition are his aechmea and guzmania crosses. On page 34 of the first issue for 1977 is a picture of one of Howard's guzmanias. According to Howard this plant is a "mule," meaning that it cannot be pollinated further. There are no anthers, only bright bracts of perfect form. Seeing the plant in the Moir's garden is a vision to behold! The rosy bracts stay in full bloom for months and retain their glow.

To date Howard has made over 200 crosses, some of his most notable being:

Neoregelia #9 known as 'Painted Lady' - (N. vulcan Χ chlorosticta) Χ farinosa

Neoregelia #10 - N. tristis Χ farinosa

Neoregelia #11 - N. carolinae Χ farinosa

Neoregelia #12 - N. carolinae Χ plutonis

Neoregelia #14 - N. plutonis Χ farinosa

A section of the Yamamoto lath house showing a number of his seedlings and crosses.

Howard has also done much work with hybridizing cordylines or 'ti' plants. He has kept about 800 of his best semi dwarfs. He has named only nine of these. The top prize winner is 'Poipu Hula' which won two first prize ribbons at the Oahu Windward Fair for the best in show and the most outstanding new variety. It is a dwarf with twisting green and white leaves.

Howard is truly an artist who fully appreciates the aesthetics in nature. Using his brush as the instrument he is able to produce beautiful works of art. He has always striven to bring out the best and most unusual color at the same time achieving a perfect compact form.

Unfortunately he has not been able to do much work with bromeliads for the past two years, but we are hoping that he will soon surprise us with more beautiful bromeliad creations.

Pearl City, Hawaii

Two New Variegated Tillandsias


Fig. 1. Tillandsia utriculata L. forma variegata Luther

Fig. 2. Tillandsia xerographica Rohweder forma variegata Moffler

A variegated form of Tillandsia utriculata L. and Tillandsia xerographica Rohweder have been collected (Fig. 1 and 2). Variegation in tillandsias is infrequent (Lyman Smith, pers. comm.) although Werner Rauh has collected several. Unfortunately, these are losing their variegation in cultivation (W. Rauh, pers. comm.). An exquisite Tillandsia which has not lost its variegation in cultivation is T. viridiflora var. variegata from central Mexico (Jour. Brom. Soc. Vol. XXI (3), 1971). Even though there are not many variegated tillandsias in cultivation, the possibility exists that additional tillandsias with variegated foliage will be discovered by keen eyed bromeliad enthusiasts.

Tillandsia utriculata L. forma variegata H. Luther forma nov.

A forma utriculata foliis albo virideque longitudina liter striatus differt.

Type locality: Florida, Manatee County, epiphyte in coastal hammock, collected December 1976

Holotype: US

Isotype: SEL

Tillandsia xerographica Rohweder forma variegata M. Moffler forma nov.

A forma xerographica foliis albo virideque longitudina liter striatus differt.

Type locality: Guatemala, coastal area, collected January 1977.

Holotype: US

Isotype: SEL

Tillandsia utriculata forma variegata with green and cream longitudinal striations was found as a single plant by Mr. Terry R. Pulver. Tillandsia utriculata is common throughout peninsular Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean. Tillandsia xerographica forma variegata was found in a large collection of green xerographicas which were imported from Guatemala and the exact type location is unknown. Tillandsia xerographica is found in northern Central America. The variegation in these two Tillandsias when observed from below is effectively masked by the dense scale covering, hence, an observer on the ground would find it difficult to spot a variegated plant growing high in the tree canopy.

The horticultural potential of T. utriculata forma variegata is rather limited. This Tillandsia rarely forms offsets after reaching maturity and variegation from seeds is infrequent. The possibility of variegated offsets from T. xerographica forma variegata is more promising, although this immature plant has not yet produced offsets.

Tampa, Florida


This book is the first overall presentation of the operation of hormones in governing all the stages in the growth and development of higher plants. It synthesizes the vast amount of information which has accumulated through years of world-wide research. With an encyclopedic command of this literature, Dr. Thimann views the life of the plants from seed to seed, covering all the stages or phases sequentially, and describing at each stage the controlling processes of hormones, as far as they are known.

Beginning with seed germination, he follows in fourteen chapters the enlargement and orientation (tropisms) of the seedling, the formation and growth of leaves, buds, and roots, the onset of flowering, the development of the fruit, and finally the aging and falling of leaves and fruits. In addition, Dr. Thimann discusses the chemical structure of known hormones and inhibiting substances, and reviews the present body of knowledge about their action mechanism at the cellular level.

"No one could be expected to write such a book better than Professor Thimann, bringing to the task his love of the subject, his intimate knowledge of it, and his unusual facility at writing with clarity and authority"—John G. Torrey, Harvard University.

Kenneth V. Thimann taught at Harvard University from 1935 to 1965, serving as Higgins Professor of Biology and Director of the Biological Laboratories. The author of several books and over two hundred and fifty articles, he is presently Professor of Biology Emeritus (recalled) at the University of California at Santa Cruz. 390 pp., illus, cloth, $35.00.

Two Tillandsias from Central America

J. Bogner
Tillandsia contorta Mez & Pittier

This attractive tillandsia — one time called T. guanacastensis — was first found in the forests near Cartago, Costa Rica, and described in 1903. It may be found growing in many moist forests throughout Central America, from Nicaragua to Panama, at elevations from 650 to 1000 m.

The light grey leaves, 10 to 25 cm long, form a dense sub-bulbous rosette, from the center of which emerges the slender scape with its digitate to laxly pinnate inflorescences. The flowers have green sepals and yellow-white petals.

Although not difficult to grow, it is still seldom seen in cultivation.

J. Padilla
Tillandsia yunkeri L. B. Smith

This bromeliad with its stunning, brilliantly red inflorescence was first described by Smith in 1938. It is epiphytic in forests in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Salvador at elevations from 900 to 2200 m.

When flowering the plant may reach 7 dm in height, the inflorescence rising from a crateriform rosette. The green leaves, 4 dm long, are broad, soft but firmly textured, and when grown in good light are strongly suffused with purple. The inflorescence lasts in color for many months.

T. yunkeri is of easy culture and is now obtainable in most nurseries featuring tillandsias.

Plant Growth Substances



Cytokinins are one of the five recognized groups of naturally occurring plant hormones which regulate growth and development in higher plants. The cytokinins are synthesized in roots and are translocated upward, but sometimes are utilized at or near their place of origin, unlike the other plant hormones. They are a little hard to define, but perhaps their most distinctive function is that they cause cell division in connection with auxin. They are involved in bud formation and outgrowth. They delay senescence of flowers, leaves and other plant tissues. In fact, if it were not for the difficulties of getting the necessary clearances, they would doubtless now be used on some vegetables in supermarkets to prolong shelf and storage life. Cytokinins are involved in the opening of stomatal openings on leaves, and abscisic acid is the antagonist causing closing. Cytokinins can break the dormancy of both buds and seeds.

The action of the cytokinins is not understood completely at the present time, but it has been shown that they combine with the nucleic acids which are the transmitters of genetic information, particularly the transfer-RNA in plant cells. This controls the formation of the distinctive proteins for each type of plant. Chemically, the cytokinins are 6-substituted amino purines (adenines).

Probably almost two dozen naturally occurring and synthetic cytokinins are known at the present time and the list will probably be extended. The first one commercially available was kinetin (6-furfurylamino-purine) but some other synthetic compounds now are effective in lower concentrations. The only naturally occurring cytokinin now on the market seems to be N6 (delta2-isopentyl) -adenine, which is abbreviated as 2ip. This is quite active but unstable and should be stored in a freezer. It is also somewhat more expensive. For this reason, kinetin or other more stable compounds are being used in the prepackaged tissue culture media being sold commercially. One of the cytokinins which has been most widely used in horticulture is 6-benzyl adenine (6-benzylaminopurine). It should be satisfactory for most purposes if used in the proper concentration. However, some published reports suggest that certain compounds may be more effective with a particular plant species. Little information is available on the stability of the cytokinins in stock solutions or lanolin pastes, but we would suggest refrigerator storage and also not keeping them more than several months. In previous issues of this journal (Stoutemyer 1977a, 1977b) we have suggested several methods of preparing stock solutions and lanolin pastes.

Guidelines from the orchid growers who are using cytokinins in the propagation of the monopodial orchids with considerable success have led to some damage with bromeliads. However, Stewart and Button (1977a) were able to produce bud proliferation on flowered plants of Paphiopedilum orchids by applying only one milligram per liter of 6-benzyladenine in the leaf axils. They (1977b) prepared the stock solutions by placing the appropriate amount of the chemical in an Erlenmeyer flask with distilled water. The flask was capped with a piece of aluminum foil and autoclaved at 15 lbs psi (per square inch) for 10 minutes. An ordinary kitchen pressure cooker or home canning outfit would do as well. They placed 100 mg of the cytokinin in the flask with 500 ml of distilled water, taking care not to swirl and deposit the chemical on the wall of the flask. After cooling, the volume was made up to one liter. The stock solution was kept in a household refrigerator and appropriate dilutions were made for the experiments. The treatment was not successful on unflowered plants.

Confusion will be prevented in reporting results of treatments of bromeliads with cytokinins if we distinguish between the outgrowth of preformed buds and the proliferation of buds which would not naturally occur on the plant. Reports of treatments which I have had indicate that cytokinins can hasten the production of pups. The second objective will probably be more difficult to obtain. Some results of a preliminary nature reported by Gardner (1977) are encouraging. Considerable experimentation should be done with plants which are not too scarce or valuable to evaluate the various factors which are involved, in a preliminary way.

The timing of the treatment may be critical. I have been starting tissue cultures of daylilies from petals, ovary walls, flower buds or portions of the scape. However, this can be done only when the tissues are very undifferentiated and this stage is very transient. Possibly we may need to use also a gibberellin or even an auxin (probably in very minute amounts) in connection with the cytokinin. Sequential treatments might be the proper procedure leading to success. In using cytokinins to produce buds in tissue cultures we usually include adenine sulfate or chloride which seems to aid the action of the cytokinins, along with myo-inositol and the B vitamins: thiamin, and often niacin and pyridoxin. Bud proliferation requires large amounts of the phospho-proteins and for this reason extra phosphate is added to the tissue culture medium when we want to produce buds. The mineral nutrition of the plant may be very important. The problem will be how to get the extra phosphate in without damaging the plant. As bromeliad growers know well, they cannot take very heavy feeding. Trace elements may be important, also.

One other action of the cytokinins certainly deserves exploration in connection with bromeliad propagation and that is the ability to delay senescence of tissues. The writer has lately been surprised by the ability of old bromeliad plants near death to produce offshoots. Perhaps many additional plants could be obtained if some method could be found to increase the supply of mineral nutrients as well as elaborated plant foods such as the carbohydrates and proteins in these superannuated plants when the cytokinin is used. Sugar feeding might be useful if fermentation could be prevented or reduced. Growers have noticed that if they leave pups on the plants too long before removal fewer offshoots are produced, doubtless because they exhaust the reserves which would make possible the formation of additional plantlets.


Gardner, Sue. 1977. Induction of lateral growths on Vrieseas by cytokinin. Journ. Bromeliad Soc. 27 (1): 31-33.

Stewart, Joyce and James Button. 1977a. The effect of benzyl adenine on the development of lateral buds of Paphiopedilum. Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 46: 415-418.

1077b. A note on lateral bud development in Paphiopedilum. Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 46: 934.

Stoutemyer, Vernon. 1977a. Some suggestions for the use of growth regulators on bromeliads. Journ. Bromeliad Soc. 27 (2): 52-54.

1977b. Additional suggestions for the use of growth regulators on bromeliads. Journ. Bromeliad Soc. 27 (5): 201-202.

Frankee K. Albright of Islamorada: Bromeliads in the Keys


Jerry Ellis

All of the plants shown in the accompanying picture came from a single plant, which was labeled "Neoregelia meyendorfii variegata (Gulz)" when acquired by Mrs. Frankee K. Albright of Islamorada (In the Florida Keys).

The plant produced nine pups, one of which Mrs. Albright gave away and one of which she sold before she realized that every pup is slightly different from another.

"I can hardly wait to see what the next generation will produce," Frankee says. She has been growing bromeliads (and very well) for more than a decade, but only got "deeply into them" in the last four or five years after retiring as a successful, professional fishing guide.

A visitor marvels at just how well Mrs. Albright succeeds with many plants others find difficult to grow (and in some cases, to keep alive).

Aechmea magdalenae quadricolor, Orlandiana 'Ensign', Zebrina. Guzmania 'Symphony' and Vriesea Species 'Nova' are a few of the plants which have turned into huge, showcase specimens for Mrs. Albright. Most pup freely for her.

It was Frankee's sister, Bonnie (now deceased) who actually got into bromeliads first. She insisted Frankee follow.

"Bonnie had a little bit of everything — a fine collection," Frankee recalls. "She was always ordering something special, even when she couldn't afford it. But who isn't?"

Before Bonnie died, she requested that the bulk of her collection go to the Florida State Prison at Raiford, which has a horticultural program that has gained nationwide attention and praise. The Florida State Fair (Tampa) frequently includes a large plant exhibit from the prison, and it is always heavy on bromeliads.

When Frankee contacted Mr. M. B. Jordan, head of Ornamental Horticulture at the prison, and told him of her sister's bequest, he arrived the very next morning with a large truck and trustees to help gather the collection.

Still, it took the assistance of a number of Islamorada bromel-lovers to dismantle and pack the vast plant collection for the trip back to a new home.

"Mr. Jordan drove nonstop to get here and the same way back with the treasured cargo," Frankee laughs.

Her own bromeliad collection is considerable, although it has to compete with a vast orchid collection and lots of other horticultural goodies (from begonias to palms, all of which she seems to grow well).

In orchids, Frankee immediately admits to a favorite genera: Vandas. With bromeliads, she is a little more hesitant. "If it's pretty, I like it," she says, finally settling on neoregelias to head the pack.

Much of Frankee's bromeliad collection, including the mother of the plants pictured, came via trade. But not bromel for bromel. Crawfish for bromel.

Frankee downplays her life as a professional fisher, telling a recent "Miami Herald" interviewer that "Fishing's in my past. I do it for pleasure now. Today, I'm interested in plants."

But she still fishes and "Bullies crawfish" (done with a net "the old conch way" and requiring considerable skill). She trades the catch with such plant-lovers as Fred Fuchs and Bob Mentelos (Fantastic Gardens). "I think Bob will do almost anything for good crawfish (Florida Lobster)," Frankee laughs. Trading is how she acquired Neoregelia 'Grande' and Aechmea lueddemanniana 'Mend'.

Many people might assume that anyone living in the Florida Keys could grow just about anything they acquired, except, maybe, tulips, since the keys so often are promoted as the only place in America "where winter never comes"

But, actually, it does. True, it isn't a Buffalo or Chicago version of winter; but many tropical plants don't recognize such fine, man-made distinctions of what constitutes winter.

During the more than thirty years Frankee has lived in Islamorada, the coldest it's been is 39 degrees. It was 42 degrees three mornings in a row in the winter of 1976 with a cold rain.

"This really drove the Phalaenopsis crazy," Frankee says. "But it didn't hurt any of my bromeliads." All of her plants are grown outside or in a small greenhouse covered only with shade cloth the year round. Frankee never carries plants inside. "They all have to take it" she says. "I play no favorites."

Of course, over the years, there have also been hurricanes. In 1960, Donna decimated Frankee's orchid collection (and much of Islamorada as well), but she had few bromeliads at the time to worry over. Hurricane Betsy in 1965 also proved a major storm. Frankee rode it out and didn't leave home. All of her plants survived.

Today, Frankee enjoys puttering and fussing over each of her plants, all of which get individual attention and all of which show this care very clearly. Frankee looks forward to the winter tourist season when she does a heavy trade in bromeliads on driftwood. Naturally, the driftwood is personally collected by the seller from "secret places."

This visitor found Frankee Albright some years ago when a nurseryman in Key Largo indicated her presence down the road. "They tell me anyone who loves orchids and bromeliads thinks he's died and gone to heaven when they find her place," he said. He was absolutely right.

The Unidentified


The unidentified


I have often times wondered why the many collectors who have found plants that are new or seem to be natural hybrids did not use the Journal of the Bromeliad Society for help in identification. I cannot help feeling that many taxonomists and botanists read the Journal to keep abreast of the many crosses and species which are described in this fine publication.

I agree that the correct way to get a new find identified is to send the plant to the Smithsonian Institution, but I find that this may take from six months to over a year for a reply. Then, of course, there is the possibility of controversy on proper identification which could delay an answer 'till the icebergs melt.

The power of this informative journal would be broadened if a direct line of communication were established with the taxonomists and botanists, not only in the United States, but abroad as well, to identify or at least to comment on photos submitted and published for wanted identification of plants collected.

Recently, I submitted two slides of a tillandsia I had collected near Oaxaca in Mexico, and the journal editor stated that the plant was not known to the immediate staff, but an article would be welcomed on its characteristics.

This attractive tillandsia is nicknamed by me "Flamea." It was found growing in extreme altitudes, and when I first saw it, I was reminded of a burning bush, since it had abundant color of red and orange in the petals and leaves that were long reaching. From its blooming habit, this plant looks like a cousin of T. bourgaei with its robust panicle; however, as you can see the flowers are chartreuse.

I have not submitted this plant for expert identification, thinking that surely it already had a name and classification; so if some learned person would comment on this tillandsia pictured here, my sleepless nights would end.

As a collector of bromeliads and orchids, I make two serious trips deep into Mexico a year and have found many of what some growers call tillandsia natural hybrid crosses. I will attempt to arouse curiosity and controversy by submitting slides and findings on some of these tillandsias at a later writing. I might add that I will be glad to send any of these plants to a qualified identifier. The address is 4626 Lamont, Corpus Christi, Texas 78411.


(Editor's Note) Mr. Meilleur will be pleased to learn of the Society's new identification center, the details of which will appear in a future issue.)

Notes on Native Florida Bromeliads


Mr. Thompson's (1977) recent article on Florida's native tillandsias has been a source of controversy and confusion among local bromeliad growers. This paper is intended to supplement and hopefully clarify certain points presented in that article.

I will agree with Mr. Thompson that normally T. usneoides and T. recurvata are quite distinct. I say normally because I was recently presented with a plant collected by Mr. Tom Davis of Tampa that seems to combine characters of both species.

There should be no reason to question the validity of T. setacea. This species can be separated from the T. bartramii complex on a number of points. These differences can be summarized as follows (modified from Smith, 166, 1970):

T. setacea T. bartramii
Leaf sheaths 8 to 10 mm wide. Leaf sheaths 15 to 20 mm wide.
Leaf blade ribbed, very narrow, nearly filiform. Leaf blades more or less even, narrowly triangular.
Leaf blades covered with finely appressed lepidote scales, leaves appear green or red. Leaf blades covered with scruffy cinereous scales, leaves appear silver.
Primary bracts usually longer than the axillary spikes. Primary bracts usually shorter than the axillary spikes.

It should also be noted that the T. bartramii complex appears to be made up of two similar but distinct species.

T. fasciculata is represented in Florida by three varieties. Var. densispica is found throughout central and south Florida; var. clavispica with longer, basally sterile spikes appears to be restricted to a few sites in Collier County; and var. floridana is most common in river swamps of central and northeast Florida. This last variety can be recognized by its very narrow leaves and pale pink, thin, densely lepidote floral bracts.

Both T. circinnata and T balbisiana can vary greatly in size, coloration and in length and number of spikes. This range of variation is, however, normal for these species.

T. polystachia is usually cited as being native to the state. Smith (1938) has expressed doubt that it has ever been collected in Florida although he (Smith and Wood, 1975) subsequently included it in a listing of native bromeliads. The plant that is usually identified as this species is of uncertain taxonomic status but it has been suggested (Rickett, 1966) that it is a natural hybrid of T. fasciculata and T. balbisiana. This plant is fertile and apparently true breeding. In view of the uncertainties surrounding this local tillandsia, I propose that this taxon be provisionally known as Tillandsia 'Florida'. The Florida plant differs from T. polystachia in the following characters:

T. polystachia T. 'Florida'
Leaf sheaths and blades finely pale-appressed lepidote, green. Leaf sheaths and blades densely lepidote, grey or silver.
Leaf sheaths flat. Leaf sheaths inflated.
Floral bracts not over 20 mm long. Floral bracts up to 25 mm long.
Sepals 9 - 15 mm long. Sepals up to 20 mm long.

I see no reason to exclude T. pruinosa from a listing of native tillandsias. Its range is similar to that of other native species. The fact that it didn't evolve here has little bearing on whether or not it is actually native. It may be a fairly recent introduction but it is spreading rapidly in southern Florida and is merely a good example of an organism exploiting a new habitat that meets its ecological requirements.

I would not be surprised to find T. ionantha escaping in Florida as it is well adapted to local conditions; I have had them naturalize on garden trees. I would be surprised to see T. flabellata do as well. To my knowledge in Florida it rarely sets seeds without hand pollination. Possibly someone has confused it with T. valenzuelana. Also the statement that T. ionantha and T. flabellata "Do not fit the surrounding botanical grouping" makes no sense to me. They are both members of the subfamily Tillandsioidae of the family Bromeliaceae. Actually T. flabellata and T. fasciculata are more closely related than are T. utriculata and T. fasciculata. Surely Mr. Thompson would not exclude T. utriculata from a list of natives on this basis. Phylogenetic affinity and geographic distribution are not always related.

Mr. Thompson's last paragraph is based on a false assumption. Any species can appear anywhere if that species can gain entry (usually from an adjacent area where it is native) and can survive and spread in the new habitat. Once introduced, a species can colonize a new habitat if the environmental extremes of that habitat are within certain tolerances, if it can reproduce, and if it can successfully compete with established species. Florida is on the fringe of the tropics and our bromeliad flora is made up of species that have two things in common: they made it here and found conditions to their liking. As time passes, additional species may gain entry, new species may evolve and some species may become extinct. This dynamic process has gone on for many years and will continue for many more. So long as bromeliads inhabit the nearby land areas of the Caribbean and Central America, the possibility will exist that Florida will continue to be adopted as a new home by the successful and widespread cousins of the pineapple.

St. Petersburg, Florida


Rickett, Harold W. 1966. Wild Flowers of the United States. Vol. 2. The Southeastern States. Part 1 - pg. 86. New York.

Smith, Lyman F. 1938. North American Flora. (Xyridales) Bromeliaceae 19(2) - 135.

1966. Notes on Bromeliaceae, XXIV. Tillandsia bartramii. Phytologia. 13(7):454-55.

1970. Notes on Bromeliaceae, XXXI. Key to Tillandsia and Simulators. Ibid. 20(3):121-78.

and Carrol E. Wood Jr. 1975. The Genera of Bromeliaceae in the Southeastern United States. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 56[4]:385.

Thompson, Jim. 1977. Up to Date on Florida's Native Tillandsias. Journal of the Bromeliad Society. 27(4):156-57.

In The Mail Bag

I've been buying, growing, trading, selling and loving bromeliads for ten years. I've been to almost every dealer within a 300 mile radius. I've written to numerous dealers and have been a member of various Bromeliad Study Groups. But, since I've been growing bromeliads from seed, I've become aware of some problems that I believe our Society, and in particular our voice (the Journal), can help solve.

Not long ago a friend of mine saw a picture of a neoregelia hybrid in the Journal. It's a lovely thing and she wanted it, at any cost. On a trip to Texas, she stopped at a nursery where it was being offered. She asked about the plant, and was shown a bench covered with a large variety of plants. Some of them were wide leafed, some narrow, some spotted, some streaked, some red, some pink and some green. She was told it was the hybrid she had asked about and which one did she want??? She searched, and found one somewhat like the one she wanted, and paid the large new hybrid price.

Now, as I understand, our hybrid rules say that any and all plants resulting from a cross of two parents, can be called by one name. Having grown neoregelias from seed, I know the resulting plants will vary a great deal. As a matter of fact, this variety is what is causing so much confusion in knowing what to call so many of our plants. Now, I know it's fun to send off to the tropics for a surprise package of plants, hoping to receive a yet to be discovered gem. But, when it comes to sending away good money to a hybridizer for a specifically pictured plant, and getting a surprise package — THAT'S DIFFERENT. I find our regulations are greatly weighed toward the grower, not the consumer. The growers are not being dishonest; they are just following the letter of the law. There are a few growers who are very careful about what they grow and sell. But, I have found much game playing with hybrid names and even some species names. Right now, a friend has four plants named 'Vulcan'. Each is different — each came from a nursery.

Now, my suggestion is that the Journal take the lead in seeing that rules for hybrid naming be more realistic; in suggesting strict ethics in advertising and selling and in considering its obligation to the consumer.

Doug Davis. Long Beach, California

Portea Fosteriana

Photo by J. Kent

Porteas are handsome plants; which because of their size, make pleasing subjects in the subtropical garden. The genus consist of only six species, but what it lacks in numbers, it makes up in the, singular beauty of its several members.

Porteas are terrestrials and grow, for the most part, on the littoral, often on rocks and sand in full sun. They are robust plants with prominently spined leaves, sometimes reaching 3 feet in length, and when in bloom they may attain a height of over 4 feet. Their inflorescence is always spectacular and lasts in color for many months.

Its geographical range is small, being confined to the coastal region in Brazil from Rio de Janeiro to Baia.

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