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. Thelma O'Reilly.

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.


Julian A. Steyermark
  Lyman B. Smith195
Experiences with Fumigation
  Paul Isley202
Plant Growth Substances
  Vernon Stoutemyer206
Foliar Trichomes and Evaluation of Taxonomic Affinities in the Bromeliaceae
  John F. Utley208
Handbook for Judges
  Mary Jane Lincoln212
Vriesea rubro-bracteata Rauh
  Werner Rauh213
Natural Hybrid Finds in Mexico
  Charlie Mellieur216
Our Experience with Bromeliads
  Dick and Janice Perkins218
Aquarium Terrarium
  Harry Tolen221
New Publications223
Tillandsia benthamiana224
Comments on Aechmea zebrina and Similar Species
  Harvey R. Bullis, Jr.225
Aechmea veitchii240
PICTURE ON THE COVER — Vriesea rubro-bracteata Rauh. Photo by W. Rauh, Heidelberg.


Julian A. Steyermark


I would like all of you bromeliad fans to meet my old friend Julian Steyermark, one of the most productive botanists of all time. Very few people have approached his record either as an author or as a collector.

It is over 47 years since we first met at the old Gray Herbarium in Cambridge, he as a graduate student and I as a new assistant in the herbarium. Since that time I have watched him grow to his present renown, first at the Field Museum in Chicago and since 1959 in the Instituto Botanico in Caracas, Venezuela. At the Field, Julian worked with Paul C. Standley, a tremendous collector and author who doubtless inspired him to his early efforts.

Julian's tropical experience began in 1934 with a trip to collect for the Missouri Botanical Gardens's Flora of Panama project. There he also collected his first new bromeliad, the ornamental Billbergia macrolepis.

In 1939 and again in 1941 and 1942 he collected in Guatemala for the Flora begun by the Field Museum and later jointly with Standley published its first six volumes. On these two expeditions he climbed to the summits of most of the volcanoes and also many cerros never previously ascended. In several instances nobody has been in these areas since. In the 25,000 numbers of collections of all families the small percentage of bromeliads included the new Tillandsia ponderosa and deflexa, Catopsis pedicellata and Greigia steyermarkii. Two of the four, Tillandsia deflexa and Catopsis pedicellata, have not been found in the forty odd years that elapsed since.

Julian also carried on Standley's principal monographic interest in Rubiaceae, the tropically tremendous family of quinine and coffee. This led logically to his next collecting expedition of 10 months in Ecuador on the wartime Cinchona Survey to find new sources of quinine. The survey also included general floristic collections with proportional novelties in Bromeliaceae. From the high altitudes came Puya compacta and obconica and from lower down came Pitcairnia alata and erratica, Vriesea appendiculata and Mezobromelia fulgens, this last only the second species in the genus.

In December of 1943 Julian moved his exploration for the Cinchona Survey to Venezuela, beginning his long association with that country. Collecting in the Venezuelan Andes yielded the novelties Pitcairnia tuberculata and Guzmania confinis but the big thrill was on three mountains in the Guayana Highlands or "Lost World" country of southern Venezuela.

In this area of flat-topped vertical-sided mountains Julian experienced his most difficult operations. There were moments of high tension such as the time he had to cross a sudden torrent by way of a fallen tree trunk but mostly it was the steady problem of obtaining enough help to bring in food and equipment. Indian help is difficult to obtain where the population is so small and scattered and can be dangerously unreliable. There was a near fatal example of this in the history of the region, when the German botanist, Ule, was deserted by his Indian help and barely made it back to his base in Brazil.

Until quite recently there was no road and it required several days' hike over the Grand Savanna or through rainforest to reach the base of one of these mountains. Then a trail had to be cut through the tangled forest on the steep talus slopes to reach the base of the sandstone cliffs towering straight up for several hundred feet. Finally a rift in the cliff had to be found so that the stream bed could be climbed to the top.

Roraima had been reached in 1842 by Schomburgk who was unable to make the top but collected Connellia augustae below. This was the first record for this still little known genus of bromeliads. Over 50 years later in 1894, McConnell and Quelch made the top and collected Connellia quelchii named in honor of both of them. There were a number of other ascents before Julian climbed Roraima to find both old species of Connellia and the new Connellia caricifolia. To most bromeliad fans these are names for professional botanists only, but actually the plants have neat habits like small tillandsias and rose-pink flowers that make them well worth cultivation (see Flora Neotropica Monograph 14, p. 213).

Navia jauaensis

After some months of collecting in the Venezuelan Andes, Julian returned to the Guayana Highlands, this time to the much less accessible but also much larger and richer Cerro Duida. Cerro Duida was seen as early as 1801 when Humboldt and Bonpland passed that way and later others collected about its base, but the ascent was not achieved until 1928 when the zoologist, G. H. H. Tate, scaled the ridge of a steep spur with a series of ladders. The small botanical collection that he brought back indicated a much richer flora than that of Roraima, and so Julian discovered when he reached the top by the same arduous route. This time the haul included the new Navia aurea, glauca, steyermarkii and xyridiflora, as well as the earlier brachyphylla and duidae found by Tate. Further down he collected Brocchinia vestita and melanacra.

Toward the end of 1944 Julian spent a month and a half exploring the base and slopes of Ptari-tepui and found rich collecting there without being able to pierce the cliffs and reach the flat "peak". As it was he discovered Brocchinia secunda and steyermarkii and Guzmania retusa. In February of 1978 Julian realized his dream of seeing the top of Ptari-tepui when he landed there by helicopter.

Julian's next expedition to Venezuela was of 5 months in 1953 to the summit of the immense Chimanta Massif for the Field Museum. His 1500 numbers were necessarily highly selective and thus contained a large proportion of new species. The relatively few bromel collections included Navia scopulorum and another special genus of the Lost World, Cottendorfia geniculata, subsimplex and tillandsioides.

In 1955 he joined John Wurdack from the New York Botanical Garden for a 3 months' trip for another go at the Chimanta Massif and between them they discovered Cottendorfia argentea, minor, navioides, stenophylla and steyermarkii.

After his move to Caracas in 1959, Julian spent less of his time in the Guayana Highlands but managed to explore new areas on old peaks and a good number of peaks previously unknown such as Juau, Uroi, Ichun, Autana, and others. In the process he discovered Navia arida, navicularis, connata, intermedia, lasiantha and incrassata and Cottendorfia gracillima, dyckioides and longipes. Again these may be only names to most of you but a glance at the color figure of Navia arida (Journal vol. 28, p. 61) shows what they can offer as ornamentals. Furthermore the idea that they are difficult to grow is an error. The New York Botanical Garden has grown them from seed and J. Bogner in Munich finds no great problem in cultivating them.

When Julian took Ruth and me on a tour of the Grand Savannah in 1972 he was still running me ragged in collecting although arthritis was giving him much trouble. Later he had to have replacement of both hip joints but in what seemed a short time to all but him was back in the field as active as ever. On several occasions in recent years he has been helped by a helicopter ride to the top of a table mountain but that is not the end of his problem as a photo of the tangled forest, ticket and swamp shows.



Dense vegetation of Chimanta summit


So Julian goes on adding to his record of over 120,000 collections and 350 publications and incidentally adding to his more than 40 new species of bromeliads. His friends have acknowledged his help with over a hundred "steyermarkii" new species and even the genera Steyermarkia, Steyermarkiella and Steyermarkina. Not altogether unselfishly I wish Julian many more years of his superproductivity.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

Those interested in the flora of Panama — up to now incompletely described — will be pleased that 1980 will signal the completion of the Flora of Panama. This monumental undertaking was begun in 1943 and upon completion will result in more than 7,000 pages and hundreds of illustrations in which more than 5,000 species are represented, cataloged, keyed and described.

Experiences with Fumigation


U.S. importers of collected bromeliads, especially those of the genus Tillandsia, are facing ever-increasing difficulties when bringing the plants into the U.S. There are a variety of reasons for this and the overall issue is complex.

However, it can be stated that the crux of the problem lies in the offices of PPQ, APHIS, USDA. As the inspection procedures at US importing stations have become more and more intense, the treatment procedures for "infested plants" have become, for tillandsias, virtually uniform-death by fumigation (methylbromide). This is a discriminatory policy because other genera of bromels, especially genera predominated with soft-leaved rosette shaped species, are allowed to be dipped in a malathion-carbaryl solution when pests are found, with the exception of scale and/or boring insects in which case they are gassed.

The official reasoning behind this is that these other genera are considered to be "sensitive" to the gassing while tillandsias on the other hand are thought by USDA to be tolerant to it. This, to anyone who has had imported plants gassed, is, of course, pure fantasy. Certainly some species are more tolerant than others but the point is that enough are not tolerant to make the situation dire. Species such as punctulata, streptophylla, ionantha, bulbosa, lampropoda, and the soft leaved species such as lucida, ponderosa, etc., almost always have a near 100% fatality rate. Some, such as juncea, xerographica, and fasciculata usually fare better, but there have been times when all of these species from a shipment would die.

The other major problem is the change in treatment procedure that was instituted in the spring of '77. Prior to that time, over a three-year span, I had only one shipment of plants gassed. This was for a boring insect found in a T. lucida. With no warning to importers, the policy was suddenly changed to not only gas tillandsias for detrimental pests not common in the US, but to gas all bromel genera for any scale encountered. This had an immediate sledge hammer effect on getting plants through inspection. More on that shortly.

Here in Los Angeles, the fulcrum time of spring '77 also marked the change in inspection personnel. The USDA inspectors who had previously looked at the plants at the airport, were replaced with young, eager, professional entomologists — people whose lives revolved around bugs. They were given modern facilities with all the accompanying accoutrements in which to inspect. And scale, which heretofore hadn't been a public enemy, suddenly became the major pariah. There was no advance notice that this was going to happen. It just occurred, willy nilly, and had an instant crippling effect on anyone whose means of support this happened to be. Not only were "A" and "Q" scale now going to be treated, but they also required gassing as a treatment. I pleaded with USDA to give us some lead time to adjust for the change, but to no avail.

Left — Tillandsias, cleaned and ready to be shipped.






Below — Same shipment after fumigation.

For an understanding of how radical the situation is, compare the philosophies of USDA with those of the State of California Department of Agriculture, which has jurisdiction to inspect interstate shipments. California has the most stringent agricultural protection system in the nation. During a state inspection, if a shipment is found to be infested with more than a few pests, it is fumigated. However, if only a few pests are found, the State reasons that dipping the plants is sufficient to protect agriculture. Dipping is harmless to the plants. Since the plants are almost always treated in the country of origin, this is most often the case.

Contrast this policy with that of the Feds, whose philosophy it is that if one pest is found on a plant, no matter how many plants of that species were found to be pest free, it is sufficient to warrant the gassing treatment-failsafe mentality at its finest. Either the Federal policy must become more like that of the State of California or the day will soon come when the well of beautiful imported plants in this country dries up. Imagine what it's like to have a large number of bulbosas or xerographicas gassed, and then after two weeks have them fall apart in your hands, one after another — all those plants, all that time and money spent, all irretrievably lost, because some inspector found a scale he wasn't sure had died.

Scale is the most difficult pest problem. It is the one most often found, the emphasis on it has changed so much, and it is difficult to discern a live one from a dead one unless it has been dead for a month. The reason is that although dipping the plant in a contact pesticide does kill adults, crawlers, and eggs, it takes time for them to desiccate. If a scale body is found, the only way to tell whether it is dead or not is to look for a heartbeat under a microscope. The Feds claim not to have the time to do this and therefore assume it is alive. The State does check and invariably finds that they are dead. The Feds tell importers to hold the plants for a month before shipping them. That sounds logical but the bromel business is not an exact science and the variables aren't that controllable.

Because the Feds inspect intercountry shipments first, and because of their policy toward scale, and because they only have to find one, they have a bear trap hold on the industry. And, according to their spokesman in Washington, it is not their problem, they don't feel any compunction to look at things differently, and it's totally up to us to make our program fit within their "system."

The author has been working assiduously for the last two years through correspondence and by telephone with the people at USDA and the US Congress, trying to make them aware of the disastrous effects of fumigation. Until recently however, not much had been accomplished.

In April of this year the Rainforest Flora, Inc. nursery was visited by Senator S. I. Hayakawa's Agricultural Affairs assistant, Karen Darling. The Senator is on the State Appropriations Committee for USDA and therefore can exert some not insignificant influence. When Karen Darling arrived, we introduced her to the bromel family, tillandsias in particular. She was already aware of the problem. After inspecting the USDA facilities here at LAX, she went back to Washington and met with the heads of the USDA, PPQ, APHIS. She was equipped with "before" and "after" photos of gassed plants and several samples of mounted plants. USDA promised her to "...conduct further tests to determine if the vacuum created in the gas chamber, particularly during the exit of the gas (when a 20-inch vacuum is drawn), is the primary factor in the plant fatality rate." As of this writing there has been no word from Washington.

This is an important step because heretofore USDA didn't allow that tillandsias in good condition suffered from the gassing treatment. And at this time they are still more inclined to believe that the harm is due more to collecting, shipping, or nursery mistreatment than the gassing. Much remains to be accomplished before the situation finally resolves itself. Scientific data is needed to extrapolate, on a biological level, what exactly it is that causes the demise of the plants; and what, if any, ways there are to protect plants from the fumigation experience if they must be subjected to it. We at Rainforest hope to soon be conducting experiments in conjunction with USDA, the State of California Department of Agriculture, and the University of California at Riverside. The program would be to determine how much detrimental effect the vacuum, created to introduce and exit the gas, has on the plants.

The University of California at Riverside under the direction of Dr. Frank Morishita (Entomology), is presently in the process of gathering scientific data to determine the toxicity level of five different tillandsia species: punctulata, bulbosa, xerographica, streptophylla, and caput medusae to certain pesticides that the University and California Agriculture Department feel will be able to effectively deal with pests such as scale that are commonly associated with bromels. USDA is aware of the program and has expressed great interest in it. Although the results won't be conclusive for another six months, the preliminary results are quite encouraging.

Anyone wishing more information or who wants to become more involved in finding a solution, please contact me through Rainforest Flora, Inc. As a united group, I know much can be accomplished.

Gardena, California

Plant Growth Substances — The Phenolics


Phenols are aryl ring compounds with a hydroxy side chain attached directly to the ring. The aryl ring has a hydrogen dropped from the nucleus. The simplest compound of this type is carbolic acid or phenol, familiar to most people in the common household disinfectant, Lysol. Some of these compounds have a similar function in plants. Disease resistance in plants may be due to the presence of certain phenolics. Also, when parts of plants are wounded, they are sometimes stimulated locally to form these compounds and thus prevent the invasion of fungi which cause decay. Some plants form substances which are unfavorable to the growth of invading competitors and thus utilize an interesting survival mechanism. Walnuts produce juglone, which acts in this manner. Some desert shrubs behave similarly.

Many of the odors, flavors and colors of plants are due to phenolic substances. These too have a survival value in many cases since they are attractants for pollinators which are necessary for some types of flowers. Lignin, an important constituent of wood, is a phenolic compound.

Many of the phenolics influence responses of plants in important ways. Often they are inhibitory, but sometimes they are stimulatory. Inhibitors in seeds are very important in preventing germination at times of the year or under external conditions where the plants could germinate but not survive and become established. The phenolics are not classified as true plant hormones, but they often influence the level of the activity of the primary plant hormones, such as auxins. These actions are not fully understood at present and plant physiologists differ somewhat in their viewpoints. The important plant pigments, the anthocyanins, are phenolics. They have colorless precursors known as the leucoanthocyanins and these are thought by some physiologists to have plant regulatory functions.

The content of phenolics is often rather high in the apical growing points of the plant. In the cells, the phenolics are found in the sap in the vacuoles rather than in the cytoplasm. One important relationship with auxins is now well established. The monophenols normally reduce the concentration of the native auxin in plants by favoring the oxidase which destroys indole acetic acid. This tends to overcome the axillary bud inhibition resulting from the auxin produced in the growing point. Para-hydroxybenzoic acid and vanillin are examples of typical monophenols. It is generally true that monophenols tend to destroy and reduce the level of auxin, but the diphenols tend to preserve auxin and amplify its action.

Charles Hess, now Dean of Agriculture on the Davis campus of the University of California, several decades ago pointed out that the easy rooting of woody cuttings was associated with the presence of several phenolic co-factors such as chlorogenic acid. Caffeic and ferulic acid likewise have some growth promoting qualities. On the other hand, such phenolics as the flavones, chalcones and derivatives of coumaric acid act as growth inhibitors.

I am not aware of practical horticultural applications of this knowledge at the present time, except in the field of tissue culture as applied to plant propagation. Such compounds as chlorogenic acid, gentisic acid, caffeic, sinapic, vanillic and p-coumaric acids promote root formation when added to tissue cultures. On the other hand, there is now considerable evidence that trans-cinnamic acid and the amino acid, 1-tyrosine, promote bud formation in tissue cultures. Media containing the latter compound can form plantlets from callus cells of many plants in the entire absence of light. I have grown plantlets of daylily to a height of about six inches in the dark in the culture vessels using such a medium. Plants become spindling and undesirably etiolated if grown to more than one or two inches high without light.


Dr. Russell T. Seibert, former director of Longwood Gardens and one of the original directors of the Bromeliad Society, has retired from the Gardens and now resides in Sarasota, Florida. He will continue his research on new food plants from Thailand at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Neoregelia vulcan? There appears to be much confusion regarding the neoregelia known as vulcan. A number of years ago Lotus Osiris in Brazil shipped to the United States a neoregelia which they had labeled "vulcan," probably because of its red coloring. This plant has since been correctly identified as Neoregelia olens var. vulcan. Walter Richter of Germany previously had made a cross which he had named Neoregelia × Vulkan. This is by far the more desirable of the two plants and is probably the one most frequently seen in cultivation.

Foliar Trichomes & Evaluation of Taxonomic Affinities in the Bromeliaceae


One of the greatest difficulties facing anyone interested in the Bromeliaceae is the identification of sterile material. Even when flowering or fruiting material is available, an unequivocal designation of genus is not always possible due to the evanescent nature of the floral features which are critical in defining many genera. This situation is frequently aggravated by the deceptive vegetative similarity of many species from different genera. A good, but by no means unique, example of the problems which have arisen due to the recondite nature of critical generic characters is Guzmania spectabilis (Mez & Werckle) Utley (Fig. 1). This species was originally described as Thecophyllum spectabile Mez & Werckle in 1904 on the basis of a rather battered and incomplete specimen collected in Costa Rica. When Smith and Pittendrigh dismembered Thecophyllum in 1953, they transferred this species to Vriesea; its name thus became Vriesea spectabilis (Mez & Werckle) L. B. Smith & Pittendrigh. My recent collections from Costa Rica have shown that this species has the floral characteristics of Guzmania and, as a consequence, the taxon was recently transferred to that genus (Utley, 1978a). In addition to the fused sepals and petals found in Guzmania, the foliar trichomes of G. spectabilis are most similar to those of its putative allies in Guzmania and unlike those of the thecophylloid vrieseas, its former neighbors in Vriesea. As can be seen in Figs. 2A and 2B, G. spectabilis and G. squarrosa (Mez & Sodiro) L. B. Smith & Pittendrigh have strikingly similar trichomes. The differences between the trichomes of these two species and the range of trichome morphologies encountered in the thecophylloid vrieseas (those vrieseas which were, or would have been, in Thecophyllum) are equally striking (cf Fig. 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D). This situation illustrates the potential usefulness of foliar trichomes as taxonomic characters.

Photo by Author
Fig. 1 Guzmania spectabilis (Mez & Werckle) Utley in situ in Costa Rica

Figure 2. Trichomes from abaxial leaf-blade surfaces as viewed with a scanning electron microscope. The guide line in each photograph is equivalent to 50 um in length.

A. Guzmania spectabilis (Utley & Utley 5590); B. Guzmania squarrosa (Steyermark 94,131); C. Vriesea capitata (Mez & Werckle) L. B. Smith & Pittendrigh (Utley & Utley 4477); D. Vriesea pedicellata (Mez & Werckle) L. Smith & Pittendrigh (Utley & Utley 3795).

As part of a systematic revision of the thecophylloid vrieseas, I recently completed an extensive study of the trichomes of these unique vrieseas (Utley, 1978b). Thusfar, my research indicates that, while these structures are not a panacea, they are often useful in delimitation or evaluation of taxa. What are needed now are not broad scope surveys of a potpourri of taxa, but systematic examinations of foliar trichomes from groups of related species. Furthermore, the variability of trichome structure within taxa, as well as the influence of environmental parameters on trichome morphology must be determined whenever possible. These studies are a necessary prerequisite to an effective utilization of foliar trichomes in bromeliad classification.

Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Orleans


Mez, C. 1904. Additamenta monographica 1904. Bull. Herb. Bois. ser. II 4: 873.

Smith, L. B. and C. Pittendrigh. 1953. Realignments in the Bromeliaceae sub-family Tillandsioideae. Journ. Wash. Acad. 43: 401-404.

Utley, J. F. 1978a. A new combination in Guzmania (Bromeliaceae). Phytologia 40: 55-57.

_____. 1978b. A revision of the Costa Rican thecophylloid vrieseas (Bromeliaceae). Ph.D. Dissertation. Duke University.

Enclosed in this issue is ballot form for directors to fill vacancies for the period from 1980 through 1982. Members are to select eight members. Please read the instructions. It is hoped that all members will vote for those who will best represent them.

It is the time of year when we earnestly request members to renew their membership for the coming year. We like to get renewals as early as possible in order to avoid the holiday rush and to make certain that all who renew will receive the first journal for the coming year, which will be mailed the last week in January. We know that all members will be pleased that dues remain unchanged despite the rise in cost of practically everything. However, the Journal will maintain its high standard with many color illustrations to heighten the reader's enjoyment. Why not give a year's subscription for a Christmas gift? An extra journal plus a gift card will be sent to any of your friends. An envelope for your remittance is enclosed.

Handbook for Judges


For the past three years the Greater New Orleans Bromeliad Society, under the guidance of Mrs. Valerie Steckler, has conducted a series of classes for bromeliad judges. The information gleaned from these judging schools or classes is now being incorporated into a bromeliad judging handbook.

It has been difficult in the past to obtain competent flower show judges — most were unfamiliar with bromeliads and had great difficulty in judging them fairly. During the 1972 World Bromeliad Conference in Houston, Ervin Wurthmann and others stressed the need for a bromeliad judging handbook and qualified judges. Because of her work in this field, Mrs. Steckler was asked by The Bromeliad Society to assemble a handbook, and this project was combined with the formation of a number of judging schools.

Mrs. Steckler is a nationally accredited flower show judge and understands how judging schools should be conducted. Each school consists of a full nine-hour day of classes. Discussions by specialists, slides, and over 100 plants are used. A text is provided. At the end of each session three specimen plants are point scored by each student and a final written examination given. So far, twenty-three have completed the exhaustive requirements and are truly qualified bromeliad judges.

Mrs. Steckler has been appointed Judges Chairman by The Bromeliad Society and will conduct similar schools throughout the country. She has already started on this project by conducting two schools each in both Miami and Tampa, Florida. The classes were well attended and well received.

The Handbook for Judges will be formally presented at the 1980 World Bromeliad Conference to be held in May of that year in Orlando, Florida. It will include "How to Set Up a Standard Bromeliad Show," "How to Critically Evaluate a Plant," "Point Scoring a Plant," "Awards," and other related topics. It will be a text worth waiting for, as it is sorely needed. It is to be hoped that all affiliated groups will use this handbook as a guide.

Vriesea rubro-bracteata Rauh

Werner Rauh


On our trip in 1975 through Colombia and Ecuador, in southern Colombia, near Pasto (Prov. Marino) on the Atlantic side of the Andes at an altitude of 2800 m, and also in central Ecuador on the way to Baeza, we found a beautiful terrestrial bromeliad. We at first supposed it to be a tillandsia, but an analysis of the petals showed us that it was a vriesea, for the petals bear lingulae near their base. Since it is impossible for us to determine the plant by the Vriesea Key of Lyman B. Smith, and since there are only a few green leaved species of vriesea in Ecuador, we decided to describe our plant as a new species. On account of its bright red petals we called it

Vriesea rubro-bracteata Rauh1

Vriesea rubro-bracteata Rauh

Plant stemless, flowering up to 40 cm in height; leaves numerous, forming an erect rosette up to 25 cm in height and a diameter up to 50 cm; the inconspicuous sheathes are about 5 cm long, 3 cm wide and dark brown on the upper side; the ligulate blades are 3 cm wide, 30 cm long, acute, green on both sides and covered only with a few trichomes; scape is erect, up to 15 cm long, its bracts subfoliate, green with red margins; inflorescence laxly bipinnate, 15 cm long and 11 cm wide; the basal primary bracts are longer than the spikes, the upper ones shorter, bright carmine-red, green-tipped; spikes 10-12, short and stout stipitate, horizontally arranged, complanate, up to 5 cm long and 2 cm wide, with 5-6 flowers; floral bracts densely imbricate, acute, carinate, even, red or white at the tip, green at the base, 25 mm long, exceeding the green sepals; these 22 mm long, the posterior carinate and 2 cm high connate; petals 3 cm long, white, cucculate at the tips, with 2 ligulae at the base; stamens and style included.

Holotype: RAUH, Nr. 37 412 (Herbarium, Inst. Syst. Botany of the University Heidelberg (HEID).

Vriesea rubro-bracteata is a beautiful plant with green leaves and red bracts, which completely resembles a tillandsia. It is easy to grow in cultivation.


1) The Latin diagnosis will appear in "Tropische und Subtropische Pflanzenwelt," Bromelienstudien VIII, 1979.

Montreal will host in 1980 the first "Floralies Internationales" to be held in North America. The purpose of this floral exhibition is to foster the development of all forms of ornamental horticulture and to demonstrate the progress achieved by horticulture at the international level. Countless varieties of trees and flowers, which will be continually replaced, will be exhibited between the months of May and September. There will be both indoor and outdoor floral displays. The indoor display, in which bromeliads will play a major role, will open on May 17 and continue to May 29.

The Montreal Botanical Garden, which is world famous, is responsible for the technical and scientific aspects of this great international flower show.

Natural Hybrid Finds in Mexico


Tillandsia streptophylla × T. concolor

I have collected in Mexico a number of tillandsias which I believe to be natural hybrids. One is a recent and lucky find and is definitely a cross between Tillandsia streptophylla and T. concolor. This is a spectacular clump that is producing five new pups, one of which is spiking. I have found many natural hybrids in my collecting days, but this is by far my pride and joy. As you can see, the plant looks and spikes like T. streptophylla, but the leaves, although recurving, are somewhat hard like those of T. concolor. The color of the bracts are that of T. concolor, as well as the blossoms which are fuchsia instead of blue. The seeds shown in the picture were sown, but were not viable. It is said that natural hybrids do not put out viable seed; however, I will continue to sow the seed of these delightful plants.

T. schiedeana × T. brachycaulos

The other picture is a natural cross between T. schiedeana and T. brachycaulos. Note the bi-color blossoms of yellow and purple. The leaves turn color at blooming like those of T. brachycaulos. I have selfed and crossed this plant which I have had four years with negative results, but as I say, I'll keep trying.

Some other natural hybrids which I am equally proud of are T. baileyi × T. ionantha, T. baileyi × T. balbisiana, T. circinnata × T. concolor, T. tricolor × T. juncea, T. streptophylla × T. brachycaulos, T. schiedeana × T. juncea, T. ionantha × T. concolor, and T. circinnata × T. streptophylla.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Our Experience with Bromeliads


Bromeliad growers will find no surprise in another article that begins — "One day my wife returned from a shopping trip to tell me, with great excitement, about the beautiful plant she had found with a huge pink bloom." You would guess correctly that the plant was an Aechmea fasciata in full bloom. When we went back to purchase the plant it had been sold, but this precipitated a search through numerous florist shops in Memphis until we found another...and this started us on an exciting and continuing experience with bromeliads. Although we are neophytes a brief recounting of our experiences to date may be of encouragement to some newcomers, and warn others of the addictive nature of this type of plant collecting.

We purchased our first bromeliad just over three years ago in December little realizing what would result. During our search for the A. fasciata we learned that few local florists knew much about bromeliads, and that there are an amazingly large variety of beautiful plants in this family. We could not believe we had never found them before. There were very few for sale in Memphis, but we acquired several during the next several months. We read the little that was available in the public library and learned there was a Bromeliad Society, which we promptly joined. The first copy of the Journal we received encouraged us and we ordered a copy of Victoria Padilla's reference BROMELIADS. The Journal also gave us a source of more plants through advertisements, and we obtained several sales catalogs.

During the summer we planned a weekend vacation to Mobile, Alabama. There we enjoyed spending some time in Mr. Max McGill's greenhouse, where we acquired several fine bromeliads, and learned many things we needed to know to grow bromeliads successfully. A business trip to Tampa, Florida, in the fall provided me with an opportunity to visit the nursery of Charles and Bernice Coolbaugh in Lakeland. I returned to Memphis with a dozen fine new plants, and many tales about the ones I had left behind. By late October, and the onset of freezing weather, we had to move the bromeliads inside. By now we had about forty bromeliads besides some hanging baskets that had to winter inside. This was not too bad and the only real problem was the need to water them all about once a week. Surprisingly, most of the plants survived that first winter even though the house interior was much too dry, the plants received very little sunlight and did not receive nearly enough air movement.

As soon as spring approached we built a small screened plant table against the east wall of our house outside the kitchen window. We moved most of the bromeliads outside where they could enjoy the rain, fresh air and limited sunlight. They responded very quickly with foliage coloration improving, and the numerous pups that had emerged during the winter grew very rapidly.

We decided to attend the World Bromeliad Show in New Orleans. This was a real delight well worth attending. We enjoyed meeting many knowledgeable enthusiasts and returned to Memphis with eighty new plants of many varieties. About forty of these were from a "want list" we had prepared before we went to the show and plant sale.

During the summer my wife and I flew to Tampa and spent a brief time again visiting Mr. and Mrs. Coolbaugh's nursery and Mrs. Snowden's nursery in Tarpon Springs. We took several more plants back to Memphis and began to seriously consider how we could possibly "winter" our growing population of bromeliads. Instead of 40 plants we had the previous winter we now had about 140 plants with new pups emerging everywhere! We had already begun to discuss building a sunroom on the house just outside the large kitchen window. As summer progressed and we watched the bromeliads grow, the need for the room became more urgent. Plans for the room were completed and a contractor's bid was selected. The room was to be completed by late October — in plenty of time for the plants to be inside before frost. Work was begun on the 13' × 30' sunroom with concrete floor and 63" wall jealousy windows on the three walls so the entire room may be opened for air circulation. In order to take advantage of best sunlight, the outer half of the roof was made of corrugated transparent greenhouse plastic panels. The roof next to the house was covered solid with decking and roofing to shade the room and house from the hot summer sun.

With the room under way we relaxed, until the work that was to take three weeks stretched into nine. By the time the contractor was finished the bromeliads had all been moved inside the house for the winter, and I no longer had time to install the heating system or build plant tables for them. It is very fortunate that my wife cares for the bromeliads as much as I do or the next few months could have been a disaster. We literally had "wall to wall" bromeliads sitting in saucers all over the house. The dining room was full of them, and each bedroom had eight or ten sitting around. The watering chore became a real burden and a hazard to carpets.

The plants did not appreciate their close confinement. The crowded conditions and lack of air movement caused a few to die and the loss of some leaves on others. The fine coloration they had when moved inside faded, but for the most part I have to say they did well considering the terribly crowded conditions. Needless to say, as soon as warm weather returned I had already built several plant tables and we moved the plants out to the sunroom, using electric heaters to keep the temperature about 45 degrees at night.

The plant response to the sunlight of the sunroom was very rapid, and quite a bit of trial and error movement of plant locations took place all summer in order to find the right amount of light for each plant. We wanted all the light they could use without burning the plants. In a few cases damage occurred before we realized it, but most of this was not serious. We use redwood plant tables with a lower level shelf for the low light plants. The plants requiring more light are placed on the top of tables and hung from the exposed 2" × 8" rafters.

From early spring to late fall the sunlight is very bright in Memphis. We have learned that we can grow lovely neoregelias here, almost as nice as are grown in New Orleans, if the sunlight can be handled properly. As hotter weather approached we found it necessary to cover the plastic roof of the sunroom with a commercial shade cloth to reduce the sunlight about 55%. This has worked out very well.

With the plants settled in their new quarters we began to make a new "want list" of plants we had seen at the last bromeliad show in New Orleans. When we learned the Greater New Orleans Bromeliad Society had scheduled a show for May 6, 1978 we made plans to be present. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the show, greatly extended our "want list" and came back to Memphis with another fifty fine new bromeliads.

Our sunroom provided what we had to have, a place to protect the bromeliads in winter, and excellent light conditions to retain good coloration. Unfortunately, Memphis gets terribly hot during the summer. The long days of intense sunlight and temperature in the mid to high 90 degree level every day began to be a problem for the plants. We were using large electric fans to circulate air in the room and to exhaust air from the room. As the temperature moved closer to 100 degrees it was necessary to move some of the hanging plants into the shaded area of the sunroom.

During the summer we constructed a 12' × 33' lath house just outside the sunroom, and covered it with shade cloth. We moved the sun loving neoregelias out to the lath house and hung them from the rafters where they would have good air movement. Needless to say, they colored up significantly.

At this writing all the bromeliads are back in the sunroom for the winter, with the shade cloth removed to take advantage of all the sun we can get here in February and March. Our natural gas heater with circulating fans keeps the temperature above 50 degrees at night and gives the plants good air movement.

I believe it is safe to say we are securely hooked on bromeliad growing....and we love it! We have a great deal to learn, but we are working at it.

Memphis, Tennessee

Aquarium Terrarium


About two years ago our oldest son decided that raising tropical fish, which had been his hobby, was just too much work. Thus suddenly we acquired a large assortment of aquariums, small to large. As an experiment I planted the largest, which is about 12 inches wide, 18 inches high, and 48 inches long with an assortment of cryptanthus.

I placed a large piece of tree fern across the back and used nothing but perlite for the planting mix. I used a few ceramics for decoration, and I laid a double 48-inch fluorescent tube across the top. I added a piece of safety plate '4-inch thick glass, 12 inches by 48 inches on top. I can adjust this for air circulation if it gets too steamy inside. The light tubes sit right on top of the glass.

Since cryptanthus are bog plants I add enough water at a time almost to float everything. I can tell when I add too much because my little figurines sink into the perlite.

As you can see by the illustration this terrarium aquarium is developing nicely. All plants bloom; most have pupped. The thing that seems strange to me is that the small "Pink Starlight" plants vary greatly in growth. As you can see, some are small and compact, others long, but all are highly colored. They are the only ones that have not yet pupped.

Fertilizer is ¼ strength and is included in the water when it is added. I use whatever fertilizer is available and also add some "Best Grow" for trace elements.

I have limited this growing area basically to cryptanthus, but a few orchids have vacationed in there also. I think one Haemaria has taken up permanent residence. It seems to like all the water, which is surprising.

The terrarium aquarium is right next to my bed, so its lights go on when I wake up and go off when I hit the sack. It's a very pleasant sight at either time.

So if you inherit any orphaned aquariums, this is one way to accomplish the adoption proceedings. Happy Growing!

Chula Orchids, Chula Vista, California

We have been informed that the Bromeliad Identification Center at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, is not being used as much as it could be. If you have a bromeliad that you wish to have identified please use the following procedure. If the bromeliad is small, send the entire plant; if this is not possible send an entire leaf plus the sheath, the inflorescence including a flower, and full description of the plant. Information about the habitat and the natural growing conditions is vital. A picture of the plant will help. Send check or money order for $5. per specimen made out to The Bromeliad Identification Center by separate mail. Address: The Bromeliad Identification Center, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 800 South Palm Ave., Sarasota, Florida 33577.

New Publications

BROMELIADS — FOR HOME, GARDEN AND GREENHOUSE by Werner Rauh, English translation by Harvey L. Kendall, California, and Peter Temple, England. Edited by Peter Temple. Published by Blandford Press, Ltd., Poole, Dorset, England. Distributed in the United States by Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10016. Price — $45.00.

This is a faithful translation of the magnificent two-volume BROMELIEN by Prof. Rauh, which was published in Germany in 1970 and 1973. In one volume, it is a large book, indeed, consisting of 560 pages, containing all the original illustrations — 445 photos (130 in color) and 90 line drawings.

The book is valuable because it covers the entire field of bromeliads — botany, acclimatizing, seed sowing, propagation, and collecting in the field — as well as detailed descriptions of the plants themselves. In this respect, it is without a peer. Especially fine is the section dealing with tillandsias, for no one knows this genus as well as Dr. Rauh. Unfortunately, Dr. Rauh was not consulted in the editing of this translation, so that a few errors slipped into the latter half of the book — much to Dr. Rauh's chagrin. However, it still remains a great work and one that no bromeliad enthusiast should be without.


INTERNATIONAL CHECKLIST OF BROMELIAD HYBRIDS, a publication of the Bromeliad Society, Inc., 1979, price $3.00.

Of interest chiefly to growers and hybridizers of bromeliads, this book contains the names and parentage of all known bromeliad hybrids to December 31, 1978. Its setup follows that published by the Orchid Society — each named cross having three entries.

Needless to say, with the chaos that has existed in the naming of bromeliad hybrids, this work contains countless omissions and errors. Hybridists have been loath to have the names of their crosses published — this is true both in the United States and Europe, with the consequence there is much duplication and confusion. It is to be hoped that many growers will come forward with corrections, so these can be published in the addendum.

This is the first attempt at such a listing, and it was made with the expectation that the hybridization of bromeliads could be made in a more orderly manner and that all legitimate crosses be properly registered with the Bromeliad Society.

Tillandsia benthamiana Klotzch

J. Padilla

Tillandsia benthamiana (named after an English botanist) is an attractive, easy-to-grow species, well suited to the beginner who is desirous of having a free-blooming plant.

It is perfectly hardy, coming from the mountainous regions of Central Mexico, where it is both epiphytic and saxicolous at elevations of 5000 to 8000 feet.

Its narrow, silvery, velvetlike leaves, 6 to 8 inches long, form an exceedingly graceful plant. The lax inflorescence measures from 3 to 6 inches in length and retains its pinkish coloration for a considerable period of time.

T. benthamiana has been in cultivation for over a century, being listed by Beer in 1857.

Comments on Aechmea zebrina & Similar Species


Aechmea zebrina

Over the past five years, I have taken a special interest in growing Aechmea zebrina and A. chantinii from seed. Noting the growing list of references in recent and older issues of the JOURNAL OF THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY, many believe that the variability of foliage characteristics is such that both species, as well as A. tessmannii, should be considered synonymous. Similar comments are sometimes heard from colleagues here in Florida. Based on personal experiences, I disagree and believe that the current systematic status of these species can be substantiated and each can be separated by the taxonomic characters used in the original descriptions. Nevertheless, events are taking place that will tend further to confuse their status as valid species in the "public view". Of particular concern is the hybridizing of zebrina and chantinii with each other in recent years. Some of these plants are now in circulation in Florida and perhaps elsewhere. I offer the following observations for some additional perspective as these hybrids appear and labels get lost or misplaced.

In the search for specimens of A. zebrina, I have obtained plants collected in southern Colombia and Ecuador. I have been told that A. zebrina has also been found in northern Peru and north-western Brazil, but I have not seen such material.

Some collectors have experienced problems in introducing the species to the United States. One colleague reports the survival of only one of twenty collected in Ecuador. Another reports total mortality of 100 imported plants. Several have commented on the difficulty of rooting specimens that were taken from epiphytic habitats. Others have had better luck, however, and the species cannot truly be considered very rare in U.S. collections.

I recognize three forms, possibly clones, of A. zebrina that can be characterized as follows:

A1 Silver-banded, open rosette
B1 Green-banded, open rosette
B2 Green-banded, erect rosette
The A1 form is portrayed on the jacket cover and frontispiece of Victoria Padilla's BROMELIADS. The leaf color is dominated by the silver banding. The B1 form is similar in shape with an open, spreading rosette; however, the banding is more evenly divided between green and silver. Also, the green is several shades lighter. The B2 form is banded and colored in a way similar to B1 except the leaves are erect, forming a more tubular shape. The B2 forms are portrayed in the JOURNAL OF THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY article on Selby Gardens (Volume XXVII, No. 3, p. 130). A1 and B1 A. zebrina have flowered in Key Biscayne, Florida, during mid-May to mid-June for the past three years. Both forms have flowered elsewhere in south Florida during the same time frame. The B2 form flowers in west Florida at the same time. I have only recently acquired specimens of this form and have not seen it elsewhere in the Miami area. In bloom, there is some variation in the color of the floral bracts that does not trend to a particular clone. I have noted the extremes from an overall light yellow to reddish infusion over the lower part of the bract. The petals just barely emerge from within the bract. They are yellow, edged with white in all forms. To pollinate, it is sometimes necessary to pull the bract open (down) and then open the petals to get at the anthers. One can then see the concealed sepals which are exposed in chantinii. They are greenish-yellow with white tips. The stigma emerges just barely from the petals or might be hidden just under the white edges.

'Pink Banners'

The berries mature in approximately three months in south Florida. Like the flowers, they are completely covered by the floral bracts and it is necessary to do a lot of peeking to keep up with ripening. Most of the ripened berries are a deep-blue but one plant has produced only white fruit and another had both blue and white ripe berries!

From a purely naturalistic viewpoint, the difference in the relative size of floral bracts to flowers and berries and the pollination circumstances easily distinguish A. zebrina from A. chantinii. A. chantinii pollination is simple; a fully-exposed and open flower with anthers and stigma readily available for easy pollination. One can watch the berry maturation process with no problem.

Adding to the A. chantinii — zebrina identification problem is the recent introduction of another species locally being called A. zebrina. The original specimen was collected by Fred Fuchs in the Tena area of Ecuador, and at least five growers in the Miami area now have plants.

The distinctive characteristics of this rather spectacular species, which I believe will prove to be undescribed as of now, are found in the size of the plant, size and shape of the scape bracts, and inflorescence features. The plant is much larger than either chantinii or zebrina and the rosette is more open. The leaves display more laxity as well, not just owing to their greater size. A well-grown plant can have leaves exceeding 1.6 meters in length and 7 cm wide. The rather irregular banding carries over on the top of the leaf noticeably more than in the other species. The leaf is dominantly green and more similar to zebrina forms B1 and B2 than to A1.

The scape bracts are spectacularly large, averaging 19 cm in length as compared to 7 to 9 cm for all of the clones and cultivars I could find for both chantinii and zebrina. They are pastel pink and laxly hang like pennants. I use the name, "A. 'Pink Banners'", in labeling offsets. Largest scape bracts on two plants that bloomed last year (1978) were 22 cm in length!

The inflorescence is distinctive. It is proportionately equal in size to zebrina but with very different floral bracts, flowers, and berry shape. The bracts are small compared to zebrina. The yellow flowers are large and well exposed. The berries form in an elongate tear-drop shape so that each branch of the mature inflorescence looks like a very coarse toothed saw-blade. The species is self-sterile but sister offsets will take each other's pollen.

The extreme variability of A. chantinii does not appear in A. zebrina. This might be due to the extensive crossing that has been done with chantinii. I have made numerous chantinii crosses myself and have been fascinated with the genetic persistence of the basic features of the plant. When used as the seed parent, it seems to take a bi-generic cross to seriously distort the shape of the rosette or general features of the inflorescence. It seems likely to me that a great many of the A. chantinii cultivars that are now available have a lot more than chantinii in their family tree.

Perhaps the foregoing will do little to change minds convinced that the Aechmea complex of chantinii — tessmannii — zebrina — 'Pink Banners' represent a single variable species. For those who believe they have A. zebrina, these observations can be used as some basis for comparison.

Key Biscayne, Florida

Aechmea veitchii

Aechmea veitchii (Morren) Baker 1878 was named to honor Messrs. Veitch, famed English nurserymen of that period, who were responsible for many notable plant expeditions into the tropics. The plant is native to Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Peru, where it is to be found in dense high rain forests, usually at altitudes of 4,000 to 6,500 feet, although it has been found at sea level in Colombia.

This aechmea is a stoloniferous plant, growing to about 3 feet in height, its 12 to 17 leaves forming a loose, vase-shaped rosette. The inflorescence, from 4 to 5 inches long, is borne on a stout, erect scape that rises well above the leaves.

This plant is closely allied to Aechmea germinyana, with which it could be easily confused. It is a rare plant in cultivation but is listed in the better catalogues.

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