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 41261
Los Angeles, Calif. 90041
PresidentElmer J. Lorenz, Calif.
1st V.P.Leonard Kent, M.D., Calif.
2nd V.P.Tim Lorman, Calif.
Rec. Secy.Jeanne Woodbury, Calif.
TreasurerJoyce Lorenz, Calif.


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, Fritz Kubisch, W. R. Paylen, Amy Jean Gilmartin, Edgar Smith.

1978-1981: Jeanne Woodbury, Ervin Wurthman, Victoria Padilla, David H. Benzing, Louis Wilson, Joseph F. Carrone, Jr., Timothy A. Calamari, Jr., Roger Vandermeer.


Adda Abendroth, Brazil; Luis Ariza Julia, Dominican Republic; Olwen Ferris, Australia; 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, USA.


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

Individual copies of the Journal $2.00

Copyright 1979 by the
Bromeliad Society. Inc.


The Picture on the Cover51
The New Bromeliad Identification Center At Selby52
The Preparation and Observation of Tillandsia Trichomes
  Uwe Heine59
Navia splendens
  J. Bogner68
Coming Events71
Speaking of Hybrids72
Plant Growth Substances
  Vernon Stoutemyer74
Notes from Brazil
  Luis Carlos and Sergio Gurken77
The Bromeliads
  Louis Dutrie80
Two Noteworthy Observations
  Wilhelm Weber83
Tillandsia wagneriana96
Picture on the Cover Guzmania lingulata. Photo by Jeffrey Kent.


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.

The Picture on the Cover

Guzmania lingulata

One of the most popular of the genus Guzmania is probably G. lingulata, for it is not only comparatively easy to obtain, but is not difficult to grow and propagate. Its inflorescence lasts in bright color for many months and its bright green foliage is at all times attractive. However, it is also one of the most variable of the genus differing widely in size and coloration of the inflorescence, so it is generally wise to buy the plant in bloom.

There are five recognized varieties according to Dr. Lyman B. Smith:

var. lingulata is found growing from Central America and the West Indies to Colombia, Guiana, Ecuador, and southwestern Brazil, where it grows epiphytically in hot humid jungles from 200 to 3,500 foot elevations. The plants are large, the leaves concolorous, 12 to 16 inches long. The inflorescence, about 3 inches wide, is flattened, the floral bracts, red or pink, spreading out like a star around a cluster of white flowers.

var. splendens is a native of the Greater Antilles and Guyana. It is a handsome plant, about 2 feet in diameter, the leaves marked with red-purple longitudinal stripes. The inflorescence terminates in a funnel-shaped, purplish-red spike. It formerly went by the name of G. peacockii.

var. cardinalis is considered to be the largest and most brilliant of all the varieties; otherwise it is similar to the type plant. It was discovered by Andre in the wettest valleys of the western Andes of Colombia at elevations of 3,000 to 6,000 feet.

var. minor is, as its name implies, almost a miniature. The leaves are narrow, not more than a half-inch in width, and not more than a foot in length. It is found growing at sea level to 3,600 feet from Guatemala to Colombia and northeastern Brazil. The inflorescence which appears at the end of a short, stout stem is a raised cup of yellow to red bracts and whitish yellow flowers. One form known as flammea is noteworthy for its brilliant scarlet bracts that are white tipped.

G. lingulata has been used extensively in hybridizing, Louis Dutrie leading the way with a number of magnificent crosses. Best known is his beautiful G. Lingulzahnii insignis, a cross between G. lingulata var. splendens and G. zahnii. Gulz of Germany, more recently, remade the cross and obtained a handsome red-leaved plant which he called G. Symfonie. Walter Richter has created several beautiful crossbreeds, the most outstanding being G. lingulata 'Magnifica' a cross between G. lingulata var. cardinalis G. lingulata var. minor.

The New Bromeliad Identification Center At Selby

The Science Building at Selby Botanical Gardens houses the new Bromeliad Identification Center.

It is with a great sense of achievement and pride that the Bromeliad Society announces the opening of the Mulford B. Foster Bromeliad Identification Center at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. This outstanding institution is the world center for epiphytic plant research, is the international orchid identification center, and houses the world's largest gesneriad collection. It will soon be internationally known for its work with bromeliads.

The Gardens were originally the home of Mrs. Marie Selby, long-time resident of Sarasota and well known for her activities in garden clubs throughout the state. A year after her death in 1971 it was learned that she had bequeathed her property for a botanical garden. She had also designated an endowment, the income from which would be used for the maintenance of the estate. The gardens thus became a private, nonprofit organization, the endowment being the main source of income. In 1973 Dr. Calaway H. Dodson, professor of botany at the University of Miami, was made director a wise choice, indeed, for he immediately undertook the task of transforming a private estate of ten acres into a full-fledged botanical garden. Quickly assembling a highly dedicated and efficient staff, he proceeded to bring into reality the ambitious intent of Marie Selby's generous endowment. Plans to improve the garden areas, the erection of necessary greenhouses and research laboratories, the formation of a library and herbarium were gotten under way.

Joe Halton, Selby Botanical Gardens bromeliad expert and manager of the Display Greenhouse, grooms some of his lush charges. He will be responsible for setting up the Bromeliad Identification Center operation.

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, in comparison with others throughout the nation, is young in years opening its doors to the public in July, 1975. Because of its limited size, the decision was made that the Gardens specialize in epiphytic plants, such as orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, ferns, and aroids. Shortly thereafter, the American Orchid Society, impressed by the high quality of the staff and the fine facilities, negotiated to have the Gardens serve as its identification center.

Located on a peninsula on the Gulf coast of Florida, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens enjoy a benign climate that is particularly suitable for the growing of choice plant specimens and epiphytes in particular. The location, near down town Sarasota, makes the gardens a popular place for visitors. The winding walks, the many beautiful vistas of bay and sea, the many plantings of unusual shrubs, the collection of hibiscus, one of the finest and largest in the nation, the live oaks covered with epiphytes of every kind all make it a place to spend many happy and profitable hours. The Gardens have six large greenhouses, only one, however, being open to the general public. This is the Display House a 7,000 foot structure with epiphytes of all kinds growing in a rain-forest setting with rocky cliffs, trickling waterfalls, ponds, tree ferns, and trees loaded with orchids, bromeliads, ferns and aroids.

However, the Gardens are not just for the casual visitor enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Like all good botanical gardens, Selby is a place of research, and its gates are open to all students interested in furthering their knowledge of the magical world of epiphytes. The old Selby home, located on the grounds, serves not only as a book and gift shop but also provides quarters for visiting scientists who come to study the collections and herbarium, use the library, and pursue individual research. One section of this building has been developed into an education center where classes and seminars are held. A large colonial style mansion has become the administration building, and across the street is another old home that is used as the science building. In addition to the offices of the scientific staff, it also houses the Orchid Identification Center, the herbarium, the orchid slide collection, and ample room has been given over to the Bromeliad Identification Center.

In charge of organizing and overseeing the new Bromeliad Identification Center, which began operations in January, is Joseph Halton, Selby Gardens bromeliad expert and manager of the Display Greenhouse. It will be directed by Harry Luther, bromeliad taxonomist of St. Petersburg, who, preparatory to the opening, spent two weeks at the Smithsonian Institution working with Dr. Lyman B. Smith, the recognized world authority on the Bromeliaceae. Working as consultants with Halton and Luther will be Ervin Wurthmann of Valrico and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bromeliad Society, and Nat De Leon of Miami's Parrot Jungle and nationally known grower and hybridist.

View showing bay.

A walk through rare shrubs and palms

Ervin Wurthmann at the Garden

When Dr. Lyman Smith announced his retirement from the Smithsonian Institution, the question as to who could assist in the identification of bromeliad species arose. At first, the Society had selected a California location for an identification center, but when Ervin Wurthmann and Victoria Padilla visited the Selby gardens in February, 1978, they were convinced that here was the ideal place for such an undertaking. The Board of Directors at their meeting in May, 1978, agreed with the suggestion, the idea for the California center was dropped, and plans were made to open negotiations with Selby. These were expedited by Bert Foster, who, upon the death of his father Mulford Foster, started a memorial fund in his honor, the proceeds from which were to go to the Bromeliad Identification Center at Selby. It was Dr. Dodson who recommended that the center be named the Mulford B. Foster Bromeliad Identification Center, especially appropriate in view of the later Foster's renown in Florida.

All members with unidentified or dubiously identified bromeliad species in their collections should avail themselves of the valuable service offered by the Bromeliad Society through the cooperation of The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

If the bromeliad is small, it is desirable that the entire plant be sent. If this is not feasible an entire leaf plus the sheath, the inflorescence including a flower, and full description of the plant should be sent. Information about the habitat and the natural growing conditions is vital. A picture or a drawing of the plant will facilitate matters. Notes concerning specimens and a check or money order for $5.00 per specimen, made out to "The Bromeliad Identification Center" should be forwarded by separate mail. Cut specimens should be packed in an appropriate box and sent by air mail to The Bromeliad Identification Center, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 800 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida 33577. The member will be notified by card immediately upon receipt of the specimen that the plant has been identified or that further research is necessary.

Bromeliads in profusion in one of Selby Botanical Garden's six greenhouses.

Bromeliads at Selby

Right Aechmea bracteata

Left Aechmea tillandsioides

HYBRID REGISTRATION For information and application forms write to

Hybrid Registration Chairman
The Bromeliad Society
P. O. Box 41261
Los Angeles, California 90041

The Preparation and Observation of Tillandsia Trichomes Using the Scanning Electron Microscope



In this study, specimens from the genus Tillandsia and a few other genera of bromeliads were fixed and critical-point dried using standard techniques. The specimens were examined in the SEM for differences in trichome morphology. Most of the species examined had visible differences which could be used as criteria for keying out species.


Bromeliads have long been known to possess very specialized water-absorbing trichomes. In this project several species from the genus Tillandsia were examined in the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) for differences in trichome morphology. A few specimens from other genera were also examined for comparison.

Materials and Methods

Leaves were taken from the specimens to be examined and placed in a petri dish containing glutaraldehyde. While the leaves were in the dish, small (3x3mm) sections were removed from them and placed in a carefully labeled specimen holder.

The specimen holders containing the leaf sections were then immersed in glutaraldehyde for twenty hours for fixation. After this time the specimens were removed from the glutaraldehyde and placed in a solution of osmium tetroxide for one and a half hours. This further fixed the tissue and made it somewhat conductive by depositing heavy osmium metal in the cells.

The specimens were then rinsed three times in a buffer solution (pH 7.2) over a twenty-five minute period, and then run through a series of alcohol dilutions, from 35% to 100% ethyl alcohol, to remove water from the tissue. The specimens remained in each alcohol dilution (35%, 50%, 70%, 85%, 95%, 100%) for five minutes. They were then rinsed three times in amyl acetate and soaked in the third rinse for thirty minutes.

Following treatment with amyl acetate, the specimens, in their holders, were placed in a critical point drying apparatus in which the amyl acetate was replaced by liquid carbon dioxide under high pressure. After the amyl acetate was completely replaced, the temperature was raised to the point at which the transition from liquid to gaseous carbon dioxide took place without stress-forming phase boundaries.

Tillandsia usneoides 400
T. usneoides 200

T. pruinosa 200
T. pruinosa 100

T. ionantha 400
T. ionantha 200

T. chaetophylla 400
T. chaetophylla 200

T. circinnata 400
T. circinnata 200

T. flexuosa 400
T. flexuosa 200

T. filifolia 400
T. filifolia 200

T. caput-medusae 400
T. caput-medusae 200

At this point the carbon dioxide was vented from the chamber, and the specimens were ready to be glued onto stubs and gold-coated. The gold-coating was done in a vacuum, with the gold being evaporated onto the specimen using high voltage.

Observation of specimens

The specimens were then ready to be observed. The SEM showed surface morphology of the trichomes clearly. However, in some of the specimens, excessive charging on the edges of the scales was evident, so the accelerating voltage was reduced from twenty kilovolts to ten or fifteen kilovolts, depending on the nature of the specimen. The resulting loss in resolution did not affect this study due to the low magnifications used.

Two photos were taken of each specimen, at 200 and 400, unless the size of the trichomes dictated to do otherwise.


The examination of Tillandsia trichomes showed clearly that much variation between species does exist. There are, however, some basic similarities among all of the specimens in the subfamily Tillandsioideae. Of this subfamily, Tillandsia and Catopsis were examined in this study. There were invariably four central cells, surrounded by two concentric rings of cells, consisting of eight and sixteen cells respectively. These, in turn, were surrounded by the long, thin wing cells. Results from another study (Benzing, et al, 1978) showed the same basic morphology in other Tillandsioideae: Tillandsia, Catopsis, Vriesea, and Guzmania.

Fig. 1 Bromeliad trichomes. A) Tillandsioideae B) Bromelioideae

T. lindenii 400
T. lindenii 200

Catopsis floribunda 800
C. floribunda 200

Cryptanthus beuckeri 200 Upper leaf surface
C. beuckeri 200 Underside of leaf

C. bromelioides var. tricolor 300
C. bromelioides var. tricolor 150

A few specimens from the genus Cryptanthus were also examined. These belong to a different subfamily, the Bromelioideae, and had a much different morphology. They tended to have a more random distribution of rounded cells in the trichome, with the cells in the center being largest, and gradually decreasing in size toward the edges. Benzing's study showed this same general morphology in other Bromelioideae: Aechmea.


The fact that the trichome cells in the Bromelioideae were rather randomly distributed would make classification of these more difficult than the Tillandsioideae. Criteria used in classification would be limited to such things as average cell size, average trichome size, and density of trichomes on adaxial and abaxial leaf surfaces.

The ordered structure of the trichomes in the Tillandsioideae makes variation among species more evident. Criteria for comparison would be whether the trichome is radially (T. circinnata) or bilaterally (T. usneoides-"Spanish moss") symmetrical. The area of the central cells versus the wing cells could also be measured. The number of wing cells per trichome would be a good criterion for aiding in keying-out species, as there is a wide range, from thirty two in Catopsis floribunda to approximately one hundred and fifty in Tillandsia pruinosa. One other major difference between species of Tillandsia was the degree to which the trichomes were raised above the surrounding tissue. In T. lindenii the scales were pressed right against the leaf and even appeared glued to the epidermal tissue. This was also the case with a few other species, but to a lesser extent. In most species, however, the scales were extremely ruffled and the wing cells extended well above the surrounding tissue.


Taxonomic identification using scale (trichome) morphology shows much promise, in light of the wide variation among species. Further research in this area would be very worthwhile, and would be a great aid in classifying these plants.

My thanks go to Dr Charles Krause, who trained me in scanning electron microscopy.

Ohio Wesleyan University


Benzing. D. H., Seemann, J., and Renfrow, A., 1978. "The Foliar Epidermis in Tillandsioideae (Bromeliaceae) and its Role in Habitat Selection." American Journal of Botany, 65(3):359-365.

Navia Splendens L.B. SMITH



The genus Navia Mart. ex Schult. f. contains 74 species, but as far as I know only two species are in cultivation (see Journ. Bromeliad Soc. 28: 161-162 (1978)). It is surprising, because at least these two kinds Navia splendens and N. arida are very handsome bromeliads. Navia splendens was also collected by me on my trip to the Auyan-tepui (Venezuela) in 1975.

Navia splendens L. B. Smith

Leaves of the terminal rosette 20-30 (37) cm long, below to 3 cm wide, slightly fleshy, dark green; margins spiny and a little barbellate, spines 0,5-1 mm long, arranged in a distance of 2-4 mm. Inflorescence more or less sessile, ca. 8 cm in diameter; bracts triangular, 3-4, 5 cm long, orange red, hairy. Flowers sessile, 6-7 cm long; sepals 2,5-3 cm long, orange red; petals 4-5 cm long, golden yellow at the top, towards the base orange red; stamens and style longer than the petals; filaments 5,5-6 cm long, light yellow, anthers ca. 5 cm long, golden yellow; pollen grains golden yellow; style pale orange red, a little longer than the stamens, stigma tripartite, their ends papillose.

This lovely species is distributed in the Estado Bolivar, Venezuela and in Guyana. Our plants were collected at Guayaraca, Auyan-tepui, Estado Bolivar at an altitude of nearly 1000 m on vertical cliffs.

The first cultivated plant flowered from June to September 1978 in Munich, but the colorful bracts appeared much earlier. We are growing Navia splendens in the same soil mix as used for other bromeliads (Billbergia, Vriesea, Guzmania, etc.) and do not give it special care. The plants of Navia splendens do not like to have water in the center; otherwise they rot; it is understandable because of the natural habitat, where they grow on vertical cliffs only.

Munich, W. Germany

2. Collecting Highlights

On another day in Nicaragua, we drove into the mountains north of Managua seeing bright red bloom on aechmeas and tillandsias high in the trees or close to huts of natives; then as we got away from human habitation we began to see great masses of light yellow green Catopsis berteroniana growing on the ground, up and down the open hillsides; others in shaded patches or growing up in the scattered trees from which they must originally have come, were darker green. All were well covered with a white powdery coating. The one I brought home has lost the yellow color, but each pup is almost white as snow from this coating. One of our members was sent such a plant and she was sure it was covered with insecticide dust. When we got up to 4600, we wished we could get out and look around the forest, but we couldn't ask for an unscheduled stop. Then it began to rain lightly for we were in a rain forest, and then our bus had a flat tire! We jumped out in a hurry in our rain-clothes and walked up and down the mountain road looking at the ferns and the many interesting plants along the ditches. Here, even the power poles made from twisted small trees had ferns, orchids and bromeliads growing on them. There were many beautiful blooming Cornutia trees along the fences. There had evidently been a good wind recently for branches were lying about, on and off the road many had bromeliads on them. I was really thrilled to find a 12 to 14 inch ball of Tillandsia butzii a real mass of small spotted things. Now I wish I had brought the whole thing home, but I pulled off only a few and handed it to others who were interested. Later in the day, one of the men said "If it hadn't been for that flat tire we'd have missed the best part of the trip."

Coming Events


The Southern California Bromeliad Council will sponsor a bromeliad show to be held at the South Coast Botanical Gardens, Palos Verdes Peninsula on June 9 and 10, 1979.

Featured will be collectors' displays, competitive displays, plant sales, and educational lectures conducted by nationally known experts in the field. Plans are under way to hold an awards banquet on the evening of June 9.

Last year's "Bromeliad Bonanza" was an outstanding success and drew large crowds of bromeliad enthusiasts from many parts of the country. The 1979 show promises to be even bigger and better with more emphasis being placed on a larger number of competitive entries and more educational sessions.

The South Coast Botanical Gardens is a perfect setting for the show, with over 150,000 items of various flora on display from all over the globe. The facilities feature a handsome large auditorium with lighting designed especially to enhance and reproduce plant colors perfectly. There will be a large plant sales area and several large classrooms in which to hold the educational seminars.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula (just a short ways to the southwest of Los Angeles) is also an especially attractive setting for the show. Many fine hotels and restaurants are located nearby, with Marineland and the Queen Mary only a short distance away.

The large size of the auditorium will allow for a much greater number of displays than in the past. There will be no limit to the number of competitive entries an individual can make. Greater emphasis will be placed on increasing the number of competitive entries.

The Greater Dallas-Ft. Worth Bromeliad Society will host the annual show this year of the Southwest Bromeliad Guild on May 26 and 27. It will be staged in the Garden Center in Fair Park in Dallas.

The San Francisco Bromeliad Society will hold its Spring Plant Show and Sale on May 5 and 6, from 10 to 5 at the Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

Also on the agenda is the Show to be held by the Southwest Louisiana Bromeliad Society on May 11 and 12 in the Prien Mall, Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The Morris Henry Hobbs Bromeliad Association are planning a fine show on April 20, 21, and 22 at Delgado College, East Michoud Blvd., New Orleans. Louisiana.

Speaking of Hybrids

Aechmea Bill Hobbs

The beautiful aechmea illustrated above is one made by the late Ralph Davis in 1969 and named after his good friend the artist Morris Henry Hobbs. The plant is a cross between A. dealbata and A. chantinii.

The neoregelia 'Beta' pictured on the opposite page is one of the finest of the small neoregelias produced in recent years. It is a chubby little plant, about 9 inches across with leaves about 2 inches wide. Its brilliant color is maintained throughout the year. Its hybridizer is Charles Coolbaugh of Lackland, Florida.

Registration of hybrids is earnestly solicited. For forms and further information write to Hybrid Registration Chairman, Mr. Tim Lorman.

A list of bromeliad hybrids received prior to January 1, 1979 is being compiled and will be available to the members in the near future.

Neoregelia Beta

The parents of Beta Oeser Hybrid Coolbaugh and N. carolinae 'Marechallii'.

Plant Growth Substances


I was told recently that an exhibit on triacontanol appeared in a youth science fair in this locality. I was surprised to learn that information on this new discovery had been disseminated so widely until I recalled that one of the initial announcements had been made in Science (Ries, Wert, Sweeley and Leavitt, 1977) and that this had been followed by a popular article in Horticulture (Driscoll, 1977).

Perhaps the term "newly discovered" should not be applied to this substance, because it was actually first reported in 1933 by the famous plant biochemist Chibnall. For a long time no one realized that it had any growth promoting activity. Triacontanol is a 30 carbon primary alcohol which has a terminal polar group. It is found in the waxes on the leaves of a good many plants, and is also a major constituent of beeswax. The first use of this substance as a growth promoting substance was made by Dr. Stanley K. Ries and coworkers of the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University. Dr. Ries obtained considerable increases of growth and yield of several agronomic plants by applying ground alfalfa hay in bands below the soil surface. These responses were so large in comparison with the amounts of hay used that they could not be attributed to nutrient effects. Extracts were made of the active material and a crystalline fraction was obtained. This was determined to be triacontanol with a mass spectroscope. A sample of the synthetic materials was obtained from Analabs, North Haven, Connecticut, and this matched and also produced identical plant responses.

No mechanisms are known which explain all of the responses of plants which have been observed. Growth or elongation was initiated only a few hours after treatment and, with rice plants, this took place in darkness. (Ries and Wert, 1977). Water intake was increased with the application of the chemical. Even if further field testing does not confirm the economic value of treatments with triacontanol, these observations will doubtless lead to some new developments in plant physiology.

All of the information which is currently available on triacontanol comes from the research group headed by Ries, although other research groups are starting investigations. One of the striking aspects of this research is that the substance is effective at very low concentrations, and the dosages seem to be somewhat critical. Rates of application as low as 5 to 500 milligrams per hectare were effective in foliar sprays on 7 of 10 crop plants treated in one series of experiments (Ries, Richman and Wert, 1978). Promotion of elongation growth were observed following applications to the seeds and to the soil but these did enhance plant yield. Increases of growth ranging from 10 per cent to over 40 per cent have been obtained without the application of expensive nitrogenous fertilizers. Crops which have responded favorably were sweet corn, barley, rice, carrots, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

This new development may well be a major technological breakthrough although the discoverer will make no predictions yet. It will be interesting to follow the results of future research. The pure crystalline material is available in laboratory quantities. It may also be possible to prepare useful extracts from alfalfa or from beeswax at low cost. One interesting aspect of this research is that it may lend credence to some of the assertions which have been made by those promoting organic gardening and farming. We have at times been irritated by the unscientific statements which have been made by some of these people and probably we have over-reacted. Up to the present there have not been many well documented instances in which very small quantities of organic substances have been shown to increase plant growth. Recently, we have read a. statement by a lady prominent in the organic movement in which she claimed that composts seemed to be most effective when they contained some undecomposed plant material. If true, it is possible that she was observing a triacontanol effect on plants.


Driscoll, Everly. 1977. Alfalfa yields mystery chemical that spurs plant growth, even in the dark. Horticulture 55(8):8.10.

Ries, Stanley K., Violet Wert, Charles C. Sweeley and Richard A. Leavitt. 1977 Triacontanol: a new naturally occurring plant growth regulator. Science 195:1339-1341.

Ries, S. K. and Violet Wert. 1977. Growth responses of rice seedlings to triacontanol in light and dark. Planta 135:77-82.

Ries, Stanley K., and Terry L. Richman and Violet F. Wert. 1978. Growth and Yields of crops treated with triacontanol. (Abstract-Program 75th anniversary meeting), A.S.H. HortScience 13 (2) Section 2; 343.

Our congratulations go to the newly formed Oregon Bromeliad Society for their handsome display at the Vancouver Mall, Vancouver, Washington, (just across the river from Portland) on February 17 and 18.


Contributions for November & December 1978

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kirk
Northeastern Oklahoma Bromeliad Society
Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Waggoner

Mrs. Emma R. Schweppe
Mr. and Mrs. David Besst
Racine Foster
Miriam Foster O'Neill
May S. Hurff
Mildred A. Horne
Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies, Inc.

New Jersey
Mrs. Lola F. Evans
Preston S. Foster

Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Zarfoss

Mrs. Ed Boothe

Day & Associates
San Fernando Valley Brom. Study Group

Riverbend Bromeliad Society
Greater New Orleans Bromeliad Society

Atlanta Bromeliad Society

New York
Mr. Howard Van Hyning

Contributions are still being received for this fund which goes to help set up the Mulford B. Foster Bromeliad Identification Center at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Checks may be mailed to the Mulford B. Foster Memorial Fund, 846 North Irma, Orlando, Florida 32803.

The Bayou Bromeliad Association invites all members to its spring show on May 19 and 20 at 1000 Canulette Rd., Slidell, Louisiana.

Notes From Brazil

Luis Carlos Sergio Gurken

Aechmea racinae variety

(Editor's note) Luis Carlos and Sergio Gurken are two very earnest young brothers residing in Rio de Janeiro. Their great interest is amassing a collection of the bromeliads native to Brazil. They go out into the countryside and secure all the plants they can find, making careful notations where they obtained the plants, the special growing conditions, outstanding characteristics of the plants, etc. Many of their bromeliads are as yet unclassified, but it is their intention to catalog and photograph all the plants they have. They are especially interested in cryptanthus, and their collection includes all the species indigenous to Brazil. In the next few issues of the Journal will appear descriptions of some of the plants which they have collected.)

Sergio Gurken before a clump of Streptocalyx floribundus

Aechmea racinae var. racinae

This interesting variety occurs in the rainy mountains of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, a municipality in the state of Espirito Santo, which is situated just north of the state of Rio de Janeiro bordering the coast. It was initially collected by Mulford B. Foster in the village of Gulomar near the small city of Vargem Alta. Foster named this attractive small aechmea after his wife, Racine.

We found this variety alongside the road that connects Vargem Alta to Guiomar, in the few forest areas that still remain. The native growth of the region has been destroyed in order to make way for the cultivation of coffee and black beans. We noticed that the plant grows as an epiphyte in trees near small brooks in very humid areas.

Aechmea racinae var. erecta

This variety differs from A. racinae var. racinae by having a short, erect scape. The variety erecta occurs in the municipality of Domingos Martins near the city of Paraju in a location somewhat higher than that of the village of Guiomar. We found it growing as an epiphyte among quartz rocks. We found one plant that had a yellow inflorescence except for the base of the petals that was of a greenish color.

A possible natural hybrid of Aechmea racine var. erecta and Aechmea warasii was given to us by a friend. Both plants grow in the same region around Domingos Martins and both bloom in August.

Aechmea racinae var ?

In the state of Rio de Janeiro bordering Sao Paulo, in the municipality of Angra dos Reis, we found an unknown variety of Aechmea racinae. It grows in the mountains near the coast where there is heavy rainfall. There was no record that we could find of this plant having been found in this location. This possible new variety has reddish leaves and flowers with purple petals and brilliant red berries.

(To be continued.)

BOOKS FOR THE NOVICE No beginning bromeliad collector should be without the following books:

Bromeliads, A Cultural Handbook to help him with his growing. (A society publication $3.50)

Bromeliads by Victoria Padilla for a descriptive listing of the bromeliads most often seen in cultivation. $12.95 from the Editor.

Glossary for Bromeliad Growers to assist in understanding the botanical vocabulary. (A Society publication $3.00)

Bromeliads by Walter Richter for a better understanding of this wonderful plant family. (A Society publication $3.50)

All those plantsmen interested in rare and beautiful specimens will be glad to hear of the Amaryllis Research Institute, Inc., which is presently accepting members. An ambitious and exciting program is under way. For information write to

Dr. James E. Shields, President
The Amaryllis Research Institute, Inc.
P. O. Box 50121
Indianapolis, IN 46250

The Bromeliad Society of Greater Chicago will exhibit at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show on March 24, 25, and 26 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The Bromeliads


The Choice of Parents

The end sought by the horticulturist in making crossings between genera and species is evidently the creation of hybrids that are superior in quality and in beauty to those of the parents or that present new characteristics of form or of color.

If the descendant was always intermediate in size and in color between the two parents, the results would be easy to predict. A large species with red flowers crossed with a small one with yellow flowers should give a medium sized plant with orange or bicolored flowers. It is far from being thus and one cannot predict with exactitude the results of such and such a hybridization. Opinions have been divided on the role played by the parents and their influence on their descendants.

Certain botanists (Koelreuter, Gaertner, etc.) estimate that the power of the male and female elements is entirely equal. According to others (Focke and Bailey), the most virile parent, whether it be one sex or the other, has the dominant influence. Some practitioners attribute a preponderating influence to the male parent such as the form and the color, and to the maternal parent the constitution and vigor, and proceed to cite in support of their thesis, numerous examples. The growers have cited fully as many in contradiction. In reality, every hybridization brings surprises, and it is probably that the transmission of characteristics is an individual quality.

Experience has taught us, however, that variegation of foliage is not transmitted to the hybrids if it is white and never other than very attenuated if it consists of bands or marbling. The brown coloration of the leaves is transmitted rather frequently, but with a tendency to become weaker with each generation.

Among the descendants of Aechmea fasciata A. comata, of A. fulgens (or A. fulgens discolor) A. fasciata and of Androlepis skinneri A. fasciata, the dominant influence of A. fasciata becomes apparent in the form and the color of the inflorescences.

In A. fulgens discolor A. comata, the plant has the appearance of A. comata and the coloration of the leaves of A. fulgens discolor, red brown on the under side, glossy green above. As for the inflorescence, its general form is that of A. comata, but the spikes are longer and red (Yellow in comata). Fulgens discolor dominates in the colors, comata in the forms.

In crossing A. fulgens discolor A. chantinii, the former influences the coloration of the foliage, often brown; the latter the tough leathery texture of the leaves. The form of the inflorescence comes from chantinii; the coloration, very variable, recalls now one parent, now the other. It is one of the cases where the influence of the two parents appears to be in balance.

Of the hybrids of A. chantinii A. fasciata, the male parent contributes the form, strongly amplified. The white stripes of the leaves, particularly sharply defined in A. chantinii, are no more than vaguely apparent in the hybrid. The form of the inflorescence is intermediate between those of the two parents, but the color is of chantinii, the influence well divided.

The coloration of the leaves of the center in neoregelias can be transmitted to a species with non-colored bracteal leaves. Thus, Neoregelia binotii, with all green leaves, fertilized by N. carolinae, has produced hybrids with colored central leaves. By contrast, N. carolinae, fertilized by N. chlorosticta, of which all the leaves are colored brown red, has produced plants quite variable in size, intermediate between those of the two parents, with foliage of greatly diversified color, as vivid sometimes as N. chlorosticta itself, but of which the leaves in the center were not more red than on the outside. The influence of N. chlorosticta is here frankly dominant, although the plant may be smaller and more delicate than N. carolinae.

It would seem from all this that in the creation of the hybrid, Nature has reasoned as follows: If the leaves of the heart of N. carolinae are colored red, it is to attract the attention of the insect pollenizers. N. chlorosticta, of which all the leaves are red, is sufficiently showy without supplementary coloration. It is thus with the hybrids if they also are colored. If they happen to be of the type of which the leaves are green, there are many chances that among them the center leaves will be colored at the time of flowering, as is the case with the descendants of N. binotii.

Among the vrieseas, certain species (or hybrids) transmit more faithfully than others, to their descendants, the color of their bracts. Such are those of the group carinata and V. Rex Duval, Cardinalis, and Mephisto, with single spike, and among those with branched floral stem, V. Polonia, Vigeri, and Vigeri major.

Thus, V. lubbersii, with green bracts, fertilized by V. Mephisto with dark red bracts, has produced hybrids colored like the male parent, indeed, almost black (V. Africain). The same V. lubbersii fertilized by V. Rex, with red bracts, produced only those that were worthless, proof of the greater virility of V. Mephisto.

Another species with green bracts, V. rodigasiana, fertilized by V. Rex produced V. Vigeri, bright red.

It is evident if one seeks to obtain hybrids with a branched floral stem, he does not ask for it from the parents with a single stem. One accepts as parents those specimens that are perfectly healthy and vigorous. Every plant of which the leaves are blemished, or spotted with yellow, or misshapen, or malformed, must be ruthlessly rejected and must be eliminated in the course of the cultivation, every specimen that is puny or yellowed.

It is preferable that the plants that one plans on hybridizing among themselves should be previously placed, during several weeks at least, in the same conditions of temperature and shade; this last should be a little less dense than is the case with culture in general. One should, however, beware of overdoing it, a frequent cause of failure. The forenoon seems better suited than mid-day or afternoon for fertilizing. The mother plants should be placed on a table on the east side of the greenhouse if the latter is facing north-south, and on the south table if it faces east-west.

One should make sure at first that the pollen is fine powder. It is put on the stamens with the aid of a very small water-color brush, or by means of a sliver of bamboo, 5 or 6 mm (1/5-1/4 inch) at one end, sharpened to a bevel and to a diameter of 1 mm. (1/25 inch) at one end, and it is then deposited delicately on the stigma of the flower to be fertilized. If they are in sufficient numbers, one can try to fertilize some of them on the same style, after having removed the stigma with the aid of a sharp scalpel and dried the wound with blotting paper, following the method recommended by Reyschler for obtaining mutants. One should take care in this case to mark with a special sign the flowers thus fertilized in order to be able to, in the course of time, compare the results.

The self-fertilization of V. hieroglyphica succeeds better if the operation is made early in the morning.

While I am in a vein of confidences, I am going to confide in you a great secret if you want to succeed in the fertilization of aechmeas of the fulgens group, do not wait until the flower is completely open; it would be too late. As soon as you see the petals that form a dome above the sexual organs come off and leave between and above them a little opening, remove them with the point of your bamboo sliver, and go to it.

Every time you fertilize two species between themselves, profit by the occasion to do it both ways, each species playing in turn the role of male or female. You thus double your chances of success.

Two Noteworthy Observations


(Translated by Harvey Kendall)

Billbergia amoena: Right normal 3-petaled flower;
Left reduced 2-petaled flower on the same inflorescence.

The flowers of bromeliads are constructed according to a unified plan and are formed of three sepals, three petals, two chambers each having three stamens and three fused carpels. They consist of the ovary, which has three chambers containing the placentas and the ovules. The middle part is fused into a pistil, on whose tips are located the stigmata. The stigmata may be splayed or twisted into a spiral and frequently ciliated like the bristles of a brush.

If we closely examine bromeliad flowers, we will see this structure again and again. Differences exist not only in size and form of the individual parts, but especially in the position of the ovary in regard to the sepals and petals. In the Bromelioideae with berry-like fruits, the ovary is inferior, i.e. the sepals, petals, etc. are located at the upper tip of the ovary. Among the Tillandsioideae, on the other hand, the ovary is superior; the sepals, petals, etc. are attached at the base of the ovary. The flowers of most of the Pitcairnioideae are semi-superior. But we always see the three-part arrangement of the flower organs. In the spring of 1978, a Billbergia amoena bloomed for me. On the normally formed inflorescence, I noted one flower that was bipartite instead of the normal tripartite, i.e. instead of having three sepals and three petals, it had only two of each. The two chambers each displayed two stamens and only two stigmas. Also a cross section of the ovary showed me that instead of three seed chambers, only two were present. The accompanying drawing shows clearly the observed phenomena of this reduced bloom. I informed Dr. L. B. Smith about this case and he wrote me that until now he had encountered similar cases of bipartite bromeliad flowers only in Dyckia odorata described in Phytologia 10: 485 (1964) where all the flowers of the inflorescence were bipartite.

How can such a case be explained?

Through research in molecular genetics, we know today that the structure of all forms of life is based in the chromosomes, and more precisely in the genes. Not only the shape, size and arrangement of the organs are programmed in the genes, but also their number. In the language of electronic data processing we would speak of the flower's numerical index being programmed wrong, so that instead of three of each flower organ, only two were formed.

It is not known how often such defects appear. It is desirable therefore to observe your flowering bromeliads closely, to note any such abnormalities and especially to write them up.

I also observed a second interesting fact on an imported plant of Billbergia nutans. When it bloomed in January 1976 for the first time, I made a drawing with an analysis of the flower in life size. In January 1978, I again examined a flower of the same plant and noted that this time it had produced much larger flowers. The flowers of 1976 were 5 cm long; those of 1978 on the other hand, were 6.8 cm long! Therefore I conclude that not only in the various clones of a species do we find size differences, but even the same plant can produce flowers of various sizes in various years.

East Germany

Key to the drawing:
A. Billbergia amoena flower in life size. Cross section of the ovary magnified 3 times.
B. Billbergia amoena, bipartite flower, life size. Cross section of the ovary magnified 3 times.
C. Billbergia nutans flower of 1976, life size.
D. Billbergia nutans flower of 1978, life size.

Tillandsia Wagneriana L. B. Smith

Exquisite is the term best used to describe this tillandsia with its delicate luminous pink inflorescence. Few tillandsias can surpass it in beauty. However, it is not for everyone, as it comes from the hot humid forests of Amazonian Peru and so is adapted only to greenhouse culture.

It is a soft, green-leaved species that might at first be mistaken for a vriesea. The leaves, up to 16 inches in length and 1 inches in width, form an attractive open rosette. The large, branched inflorescence has plump, shiny, pink bracts, rising to a height of 18 inches. The flowers are violet.

The plant was named by Lee Moore, who discovered it in 1963, after a friend who perished in a plane wreck in Peru.

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