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 $15.00; Sustaining $20.00; Fellowship $30.00; and Life $750.00. 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
PresidentTim Lorman
Vice PresidentW. R. Paylen
Recording SecretaryJeanne Woodbury
TreasurerJoyce Lorenz
Corresponding Sec.Elmer J. Lorenz


1979-1981: Jeanne Woodbury, Ervin Wurthmann, Victoria Padilla, David H. Benzing, Louis Wilson, Joseph F. Carrone, Jr., Timothy A. Calamari, Jr., Roger Vandermeer.

1980-1982: Doris Curry, Morris Dexter, Sue Gardner, Tim Lorman, Valerie Steckler, Harold W. Wiedman, Dale Williams, Carl Bronson.

1981-1983: Eloise Beach, Nat De Leon, Charles Dills, Edgar Smith, John F. Utley, Leslie Walker, Wilbur Wood, Robert P. Wright


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; W.W.G. Moir, Hawaii.


Published six times a year: January, March, May, July, September, November. Free to members. Individual copies of the Journal $2.50


Victorial Padilla
647 S. Saltair Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90049.

Copyright 1981 by the Bromeliad Society, Inc.


Venezuela, A Naturalist's Paradise
  Richard D. Bartlett51
Two New Species of Bromeliads from Venezuela
  Clyde F. Reed & R. W. Read59
Thoughts on Hybrids
  Bernard Stonor62
Pitcairnia fusca, A New Species from Ecuador
  Harry E. Luther64
Making Bromeliads Pay Their Way
  Kathleen Odell66
Guzmania rubro-lutea Rauh
  Werner Rauh68
Introduction to the Taxonomy of the Bromeliaceae
  Wilhelm Weber70
Notes from Down Under
  Peter R. Paroz76
Tillandsia rupicola Baker77
Organic Horticulture
  Vernon Stoutemyer78
Dr. Edith Potter81
The Bromeliad Identification Center84
Collecting Highlights
  Glenna Simmons84
New Companions for Bromeliads85
Pitcairnia nigra96

PICTURE ON THE COVER Pitcairnia nigra. Photo by Dr. H. Hemker, Germany.

Venezuela, A Naturalist's Paradise


Rancho Grande

Part 1.) Introduction

As the Delta Air Lines DC8-61 circled ever lower, we could see beneath us a "tropical New York City". Apparent in their sometimes gaudy hues were skyscrapers, block after block of cement and stucco buildings, mazes of super highways, and untold thousands of recklessly speeding vehicles. Then the glide slope of the final approach carried us away from the City of Caracas and almost immediately patches of jungle became discernible, these being interspersed randomly in larger extents of open grasslands.

Closer and closer we came to the ground, a gentle bump, the roar of engines in reverse thrust, the seemingly never ending taxi back to the terminal building, and finally we were there. Venezuela, a land immortalized by such as William Beebe. A land of extremes, towering mountain ranges, rolling Banos, verdant forests, and unfortunately, ever burgeoning cities and meadows. A land which we all were excitedly anticipating.

For a number of months our close friends, Dennis and Daris Cathcart, and my wife Patti and I had been researching which country in tropical America we would care to visit on this vacation. Our main interests were vastly different, but broadly overlapping. Daris and Patti wanted an opportunity to observe and collect entomological specimens. Dennis, whose principal interest had recently been altered from herpetology to botany desired an opportunity to observe the former and field collect the latter, and I, with a long standing interest in herpetology and botany, with the emphasis being on the former of the two, hoped to be able to return with a few select specimens of both interests.

Our days off and most evenings found us poring over natural history tomes, comparing the virtues of various countries. It seems that from the first our interests had been piqued by references made by Beebe in his popular work entitled "High Jungle", and to this volume we found ourselves returning again and again. The area to which this work referred was located in the coastal mountains of northern Venezuela and had been christened "Rancho Grande". Further research showed areas of equal interest in the broad, flat Banos, the plains, of southern Venezuela. How natural, then, that the final decision was made in favor of this country, and our preparations were immediately begun. In this day and age permits are a necessity to legally transact nearly any phase of research in most countries. Neither is one permit sufficient, but rather a separate document must be obtained for each phase; thus began our rounds of letter writing. A collecting permit, we were to find, is just that, and is not the document necessary to export the specimens from the country of origin. For this act a permit of exportation is required. The permits that we sought to collect plants were entirely different from those that must be in our possession to collect reptiles, amphibians and insects, and were not, in fact, even handled by the same department. Finally, after a staggering amount of paper work, we were assured that all was in order, that we needed only to present ourselves at the proper offices upon arrival and the necessary documentation would be routinely issued. Soon we were to find how naive we actually were to believe that all was well.

Nine A.M. Monday morning found us at the offices of the Departamento de Fauna y Silvestre, where with total confidence we identified ourselves and displayed our credentials. "No", we were told," these papers are meaningless, but if you fill this application out and present it, there will be no problem". So we began again, from scratch! Finally we were done, but the persons from whom the final signatures were required had just left. No, they would not be returning today. But leave the papers, they would be on their desks when they came in in the morning. Tuesday, no permits but many excuses, Wednesday, the same. Finally partial success. Dennis' plant permits were finalized. We felt elated. Captives in this expensive city, our funds were dwindling much more rapidly than had been anticipated. Mount Avila beckoned from the distance, bidding us to climb and explore. I had nearly decided to forget the reptile permits and to get on with the expedition. Finally, we were told to go ahead and collect, a temporary collecting permit was made available for the reptiles and we were assured that the exportation permits would be ready upon our return some two weeks later.

Spirits buoyed, we rented our vehicle and bade Caracas adieu. Previous to our final departure, we had left the confines of this sprawling city only twice. The first time was to ride the "teleferico" to the top of Mt. Avila, where we were at times suspended high above the treetops and at others between closely converging walls of trees and rock. From this swaying vantage point we could see the clumps of bromeliads, orchids, aroids and ferns nestled snugly against the limbs of the host trees, silently proclaiming the good times yet to come. Cursory explorations at the mountain base disclosed a few Brassavolas, Anthuriums, Tillandsias and other genera, all of which we were to meet more intimately during the ensuing days. The second diversion from our unexpected captivity was a taxi trip to the newly acquired and still developing zoological gardens. Within the beautiful grounds of this we were given free rein by Dr. Pedro Trebbau, the Director General. While Patti and Daris were happily chasing rainbows, these in the form of multi-hued butterflies, Dennis and I ascended the wooded hills, soon meeting a number of different Aechmeas, Tillandsias, Scillas, and orchid species on a first hand basis. We soon located an "old friend", Aechmea bromeliifolia, as well as species which were to us entirely new. Of these, Tillandsia gardneri were the most prominent, their dusty appearing, silvery leaves contrasting prominently with the green of other species, most of which are still of questionable identity to us.

But now we had been freed. Permitation intact, secure in our vehicle, the countryside rolled away behind us. Visions of cloud forests bedraped with vining aroids and topped with a valance of bromels, orchids, ferns, and myriad other forms repeatedly returned to memory. These visions were directly attributable to the black and white plates and flowery prose of William Beebe, who when he penned the volume "High Jungle" in 1949, was the Director of the Department of Tropical Research of the New York Zoological Society. True, we stopped here and there to inspect likely looking areas en route, but always our examinations were rather cursory. After all, "Rancho Grande" was now less than two hours' driving time distant, and our impatience was urging us ever onward.

Nightfall found us in the little town of Maracay which nestles snugly in the shadow of Henri Pittier National Park, the home of Rancho Grande. We decided to find lodging, and then, even under the cover of darkness, proceed at least once through the park. It should be here mentioned that because of our atrocious Spanish, any requests or directions were painstaking and laborious. However, Dennis elected to find us the room, and with utmost confidence he proceeded to the clerk and requested a room with "dos mesas" (two tables), rather than "dos camas" (two beds). After the inevitable round of merriment, the decision was made that no rooms were available. Another hotel was sought and ultimately found and we were soon to find that we would, indeed, have been better off with the tables, for these beds sagged to badly that the centers almost dragged the floor. What hardships we will bear in pursuit of our hobbies!

Part II...Rancho Grande

Although darkness had overtaken us in Maracay, we could no more not traverse the single road through Henri Pittier Park than could we stop breathing. Too long had we planned and waited to be thwarted by this obstacle, which in fact was most conducive to the pursuit of my main interest, for it is after the sinking of the sun that the majority of the reptiles and amphibians become active. Although it would be next to impossible to determine the species of plant life on the roadsides, it was my hope to record and observe certain treefrog species that I knew to be found there. Too, I was hoping for a chance encounter with certain snake species, this latter to no avail.

As we reached the gates of the park, we all experienced a feeling of joy; we were at last at one of our two destinations. We could make out cliffs ascending steeply from the roadsides, sheer drops in other places, towering trees, which, even in the dim glare of the headlights, we could see to be laden with epiphytes. Looming darkly on one side of the road was a broken limb with a number of huge bromeliads still firmly attached, thus came our introduction to Vriesea bituminosa. Continuing onward through the park, we were able to make out the form of the huge building, stark and damp in the tropical moonlight, Rancho Grande itself. We took a few steps off of the roads along some small streams where I was able to record and photograph a tiny centrolenid frog, ghostly translucent green on its dorsum and so transparent on its venter as to render the internal organs clearly visible. These creatures were venting their tinkling calls from vegetation soaked by the overspray of a tiny waterfall. We were now certain that we had made no wrong decision, this could be nothing but an excellent trip.

Rancho Grande was begun in the 1930's by Venezuelan President Juan Vincente Gomez, and although intended as a luxury resort hotel, it served for years as the tropical research station of the New York Zoological Society. Today, still unfinished, it is utilized as a residence for visiting researchers and the Park Headquarters. Although originally given as the name of the hotel, the name "Rancho Grande" has now been coloquialized for a much larger area.

Rancho Grande

Periodically, from mid-afternoon throughout the night and late into the morning, the clouds roll through. Vision is obscured, sounds muted, and the tropical vegetation is inundated with life-giving moisture. If out, one is drenched as surely and thoroughly as if caught in a torrential downpour. During the day the area is bathed in tropical sunshine, fierce and undiluted by smog, pouring down on the crowns of the jungle giants, the Cecropias, Tibouchinas, and myriad others. It reaches the ground only along the roadways, paths, and temporary clearings made by falling trees. Limbs and trunks are hosts to the epiphytes, being festooned with incalculable numbers of ferns, aroids, orchids, and bromeliads. Lush mosses creep downward from these arboreal haunts and carpet the ground and rocks as well. Such diverse fauna as streamer-tailed hummingbirds, chachalacas, ocelots, sloths, tapir, and jaguar are seen regularly in more remote areas. Spider and howling monkeys sit confidently in trees bedecked with the pendulous nests of oropendolas and caciques, unperturbed by human presence. The verandas and unfinished rooms of the building itself are utilized as roosting and nesting places by a number of bat species, swifts, and marsupial treefrogs. Anoles and geckos abound in the gardens, pursuing the ever present insects, the former by day, the latter by night.

Within this park, this naturalist's paradise, we spent more than a week. By day the natural beauty of the park is stunning. One large dead tree sitting precariously on the very side of the road was covered with huge numbers of Guzmania lingulata, their inflorescences aflame in the dappled sunlight. We had been seeing a reddish colored bromeliad of moderate size scattered here and there throughout the forest on huge, unscalable, trees. When we finally found some in an accessible area we were delighted to identify Aechmea filicaulis and from a fallen tree, with numerous orchid species we gleaned Tillandsia anceps, these being beautifully patterned with maroon striations in the green leaves. One clump of Hohenbergia stellata, gathered from high in a swaying, spiny palm, when brought to earth disclosed a trio of a bromeliaceous salamanders, Bolitoglossa borburata. These four-inch long amphibians were resplendent in blacks, golds and reds. They are quite capable of sustaining all phases of the life process while residing high above ground in these aerial reservoirs. Certain treefrogs of the genera Hyla and Phyllomedusa are also frequent residents of epiphytic bromeliads.

To attempt even a mini-documentation of the species of bromeliads one may see within this rich and varied park would be futile. Not only are the epiphytic forms abundant, but closer to the seaward edge of the Henri Pittier reserve, huge quantities of terrestrial and saxicolous types are found. Liberally sprinkled among those forms well known to science, most certainly are some still to be described. How much better then, that I here merely attempt to arouse sufficient interest to induce you, the reader, to set off on an excursion of your own.

By day we more closely examined the small stream where I had the night before located the nearly transparent frogs. A well worn path induced us away from the road where we were soon treading upon a thick carpet of leaves. In one area, a slight depression between the buttressed roots of a giant tree, we happened upon a quietly coiled fer-de-lance, which, contrary to popular belief, sought only to avoid detection. Without disturbing him unduly, photographs were made and we continued onward. Ferns and mosses grew lushly along the banks and on the rocks in mid-stream. Upon these rocks and along the graveled banks two arrow-poison frogs of two widely separated families were abundant. One, conspicuous in metallic greens and blacks when removed from his chosen habitat, blended so well with the moisture laden mosses as to be nearly imperceptible. The second, more somberly colored in browns and light yellows was noteworthy due to breeding habits, the males bearing the tadpoles on their back until, in an advanced stage of development, these latter slide into quiet pools to complete their metamorphosis more traditionally.

This stream is only one of dozens that babble and burble down the mountain sides, raging in torrents over the rocks and boulders, angered at being impeded, even momentarily in their ultimate quest, the sea. Behind a fallen log they pool out slightly, carve out a new channel, and continue to cascade ever downward. Solid rock is relentlessly smoothed, eroded into long, gently sloping slides which become algae covered and nearly unnegotiable. It was up one of these slides that Dennis and I gingerly inched our way, intent on collecting a few of the gesneriads that were overhanging the banks. Dennis made it. I didn't! I was, in fact, doing remarkably well until I unwittingly jarred a hornet's nest. I'm certain that the end result needs no description, but I was quickly and unceremoniously deposited back from whence I began, Dennis' hearty chuckles resounding through the woodland.

Dennis Cathcart with Vriesea bituminosa

During all of these side trips we had been gathering a specimen or two of each of the different species found. Collecting bags were becoming unwieldy, and we decided to proceed onward towards the sea. On high sandy outcrops from which we were able to watch the beautiful waters of the Caribbean, we found numbers of the dwarf species, Bromelia humilis, and the viviparous form of Tillandsia flexuosa. A continued drive along this sea-edge road showed us a number of additional Tillandsia species, as well as myriad orchid forms, including a couple of mule-eared Oncidium species.

Part III ... The Llanos

But time was passing and as we still wished to proceed southward to the Llanos, we elected to leave. Soon we were out of the mountains, the flat plains stretching away before us. We stopped once to observe and photograph a troop of howling monkeys, again to peel the bark from some dead trees, collecting some interesting geckos in this manner. The plains were spotted here and there with stands of palms that appeared much like the cabbage palm with which I was familiar from Florida. Unlike Florida, though, was the presence of numbers of huge termite nests, constructed by the industrious insects from moist earth and now baked to an adobe hardness by the sun. These mounds were impervious to onslaughts of weather and most enemies, but soon gave way to the depredations of the lesser anteater, a formidable and unrelenting foe.

Late afternoon found us on the ranch of Tomas Blohm, an obliging naturalist who offered facilities to researchers. Soon we were happily slogging through swamps observing nesting Caiman, recording additional frog species, and searching the trees for epiphytes. In comparison to the cloud forests of Rancho Grande, there was a paucity of these latter. Undaunted we decided to hike to one of the Orinoco tributaries which we were told was some three miles distant. A harder three miles we have seldom encountered. Through fields, pastures filled with hostile appearing Brahman hybrid range cattle, at times knee deep in viscid mud, again belt deep in flooded backwaters, and always with the sun beating down upon us, we continued. Finally the trees began, again orchids were in view, and in the distance the shade of the river bank forest. A colony of hoatzins, incredibly primitive birds known locally as "stinking chickens", squawked and clambered from branch to branch, taking wing only reluctantly and then only at what they considered the last possible minute. A huge tegu lizard was seen searching the forest floor for edibles, almost any smaller life forms falling prey to this active type. Although epiphytes remained sparse, we did find a huge stand of a large Bromelia species and were successful in obtaining a few small though wickedly toothed pups.

The days had passed, and reluctantly we admitted that it was necessary to prepare for our homeward journey. The return to Caracas was uneventful, but filled with reminiscing about the joys of the trip. Dennis was able to remain a few more days, and we all seized the opportunity of a few idle minutes to visit with Enrique Graf and tour his magnificent shade houses. With Enrique, Dennis made plans for a short trip to Guatopo where he continued his collecting. As Patti and I were returning through New Orleans, and Dennis and Daris through Miami, he agreed to shepherd the collection through the various inspections. Even after careful cleaning and preparation, but few were given a clean bill of health. Most were treated and many subsequently lost, remaining only as a memory of a most magnificent few days.

Fort Myers, Florida 33901

Two New Species of Bromeliads from Venezuela


Neoregelia cathcartii C. F. Reed & R. W. Read sp. nov.

Plantae epiphyticae, rosulis stoloniferis; laminae foliorum ligulatae, ad 60 cm. longae, vaginae pallidae; folia interiores ad maturitatem rosea; inflorescentia simplex; pedicellis 18-21 mm. longis, distinctis; sepala 20-27 mm. longa, integra, longe attenuata, breviter ad circa 2 mm. connata.

Plants stoloniferous. Leaves about 15 in number, ca. 60 cm. long by ca. 5 cm. wide; sheaths pale, elliptic to ovate, ca. 8-11 cm. wide, more conspicuously lepidote inside than out; blades more or less clear apple-green except at flowering time when suffused with rose, especially along the margins and apex; the innermost leaves becoming rose-colored during anthesis; all leaves laxly serrate with teeth ca. 1 mm. in length or less, rarely to 1.5 mm. immediately above the sheath.

Inflorescence simple, many-flowered (more than 75), ca. 6 cm. in diameter; outer bracts subtriangular, apically attenuated, entire.

Floral bracts 50 mm. long, narrowly lanceolate, exceeded by the sepals; pedicels distinct, 18-21 mm. long. Sepals glabrous, mostly free, connate ca. 2 mm., asymmetric, lanceolate, 20-27 mm. long, 7 mm. wide; petals suberect, palest lavender to whitish, (whether free or connate indiscernible on specimen); ovary ca. 11 mm. long, glabrous; ovules obtuse; immature fruits magenta.

Type: D. Cathcart 22 (holotype, US; isotypes, REED, VEN).

Known only from the type collection, cultivated by Dennis and Daris Cathcart of Bradenton, Florida. The original plant was collected in sterile condition as an epiphyte in September of 1977 at Rancho Grande, Venezuela at approximately 1067 m. (3500') elevation.

Note: This is an extremely peculiar find, in that this species resembles plants of the subgenus Neoregelia in the distinct pedicels making a sharp contrast with the base of the stout ovary, but it most closely resembles Neo. eleutheropetala of the subgenus Hylaeaicum in general habit. Neoregelia cathcartii differs from Neo. eleutheropetala primarily in the simple inflorescence, the long slender distinct pedicels, the character of the sepals, and pale leaf sheaths. This species can also be distinguished from other similar species by the leaf blades being inconspicuously lepidote beneath, the apex of the leaf not semicircular, and the inflorescence with many flowers.

D. Cathcart
Aechmea cathcartii

Aechmea cathcartii C. F. Reed & R. W. Read sp. nov.

Plantae epiphyticae, rosulatae; lamina supra vaginam angustata, subintegra, ad 55 cm. longa, 4 cm. lata; inflorescentia composita, laxa, lanato-lepidota; flores polystichi; bracteae flores minutae; sepala inermia, plerumque libera; petala cremeo-alba; ovula caudata.

Plants epiphytic, an open rosette; leaves to 5.5 dm. long, up to 4 cm. wide, narrowed above the sheath, long acute apically, subentire to minutely serrulate, serrulations especially noticeable immediately above the sheath; sheath quite distinct, ovate, pale lavender to purple (when dry) adaxially, variously obscurely lepidote.

Inflorescence compound, all parts except petals variously and noticeably (when dry) stellate-wooly lepidote, the indument mostly filamentous rather than squamiform; scape erect, quite evident, slender, ca. 30 cm. long, white lepidote; scape bracts entire, attenuated apically, not obscuring the scape, those toward the apex enlarged and showy, bright red to pink like the primary bracts; primary bracts similar to the upper scape bracts, and greatly exceeding the short branches; branches few, ca. 1 cm. long, each with 2-3 flowers, the main rachis to ca. 6 cm. long with numerous sessile flowers; floral bracts minute; flowers polystichous, to 15 mm. long; ovary strongly wrinkled or ribbed when dry (at anthesis), placentae apical; ovules caudate; epigynous tube ca. 1.5 mm. deep; sepals ca. 7-8 mm. long, strongly asymmetric, scarcely if at all conceivably mucronulate, virtually unarmed, very shortly connate; petals spathulate, ca. 12 mm. long, white-cream colored, each bearing two fimbriate appendages above the base; stamen filaments alternately completely free and adnate to the petal up to the level of the free portion of the petal appendages, dilated apically, dorsifixed, exceeding the stigma in length; ovules caudate.

Type D. Cathcart s. n. (holotype, sheet #132032, Reed Herbarium).

Known only from the type collection by Dennis and Daris Cathcart of Bradenton, Florida. The original plant was collected "on September 26, 1976 in Guatopo National Park, Estado Miranda, Venezuela. It was at 2300 feet of altitude, a few hundred yards off the main road through the park." The type specimen is preserved from a cultivated plant now in the collection of C. F. Reed at Cub Hill, Maryland.

In Smith and Downs' Flora Neotropica Monograph (No. 14, part 3 Bromelioideae) this species keys to subgenus 2. Lamprococcus, under which it keys to Ae. victoriana from which it is easily distinguished by the white rather than red ovary, and the greatly enlarged showy primary bracts and upper scape bracts.


*The Reed Herbarium, Harford Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21234, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. respectively.

CONTACTS SOUGHT From our Honorary Trustee in New Zealand, Harold Martin, 25 Cockayne Cres., Sunnynook, Auckland 10, New Zealand, comes this request: "Is there anyone in the States (or elsewhere) putting bromels into flasks, as do the orchid people? I have heard there is but so far have not located any one. The trouble we have importing plants is with us still, worse if anything, but flasks can come in with no bother at all, and they do not seem to be any trouble to grow on. Could we but get them in it would be putting a whole new face on bromeliad collecting for many of us in New Zealand.

Argentine scientists are studying the ecophysiology of Tillandsia species and initial results point toward production of allelopathic substances. The group desires contact with other researchers concerning this matter. Contact: F. K. Claver, director, Instituto de Fisiologia Vegetal, Univ. National de la Plata, Casilla de Correo 31, La Plata, Argentina.

Thoughts on Hybrids


The International Checklist of Bromeliad Hybrids has given us a lot to think about and a lot of interesting information as well. The number of known hybrids is far larger than many of us would have believed, and it is natural to wonder where many of these hybrids are now. The best of them have of course survived and are well known to most growers, while numerous less attractive crosses must have fallen by the wayside. In the vrieseas, for instance, it is possible that a large number of seedlings were raised at the time the cross was made and that many of these seedlings died out, so that the cross would have to be repeated to keep the hybrid in cultivation.

With billbergias the problem would seem to be rather different. Many of the hybrids are almost indestructible and eventually labels were lost or mixed up so that we don't always know what we are growing or even whether the plant is a hybrid or a species. There are some queer plants among the helicoid billbergias, for instance, which do not quite conform to all the details of any species, so they might be hybrids. Some of the species in this group are very similar in any case, so their hybrids could be real problem plants.

The number of bigeneric hybrids is surprisingly large considering the difficulty of crossing any but closely related plants. A glance at the pollen will often reveal the difficulty of intergeneric crossing. The grains are extremely small and need to be highly magnified before their individual characteristics can be seen. In many genera the grains are rounded or oval, sometimes with several pores on the surface. Some also show an extremely fine honeycomb pattern on the surface. Billbergia pollen consists of long, narrow grains with a longitudinal fold. It would seem from this that crossing a billbergia with a member of another genus would be particularly difficult. This variation in the pollen also provides a useful guide to identification. Quesnelias, for example, seem to have more or less ovate grains resembling those of aechmeas and quite distinct from billbergia pollen.

Another point which does not seem to have received much publicity is the question of polyploids. I don't know whether this would have much bearing on the commercial production of hybrids, but it would be interesting at least to know whether tetraploid or triploid bromeliads are in any way superior to diploids. Now that it is possible to turn some diploid plants into tetraploids by chemical means one would imagine that this matter must have been investigated. There are many instances of hybrids being successfully crossed with other hybrids while other plants do not seem to produce any seed at all, whatever one does, so there is a lot to be learned about this problem if we are to make satisfactory progress.

The naming of hybrids is one of the most difficult problems to solve in a way that is satisfactory to all. Fortunately, the haphazard methods of naming plants which were once unavoidable do seem to be giving way to a more sensible system. There are still a large number of hybrids without official names and the parentage of most of these will never be known for certain. We can guess at the possible parents, but guesswork is just not good enough. Surely it is better to accept them as hybrids of unknown origin and leave it at that. There is nothing to stop a grower from repeating what he considers to be the cross and then naming the progeny of his cross. As I understand the rules, it is necessary for a description of a hybrid to be published in a responsible journal to make the hybrid name valid and applicable to that cross only. It would naturally not be necessary for the hybrid to be registered with the international authority, although such registration is most desirable and is a form of guarantee that the plant is of good quality. There does seem to be some confusion as to the requirements to be met before a hybrid is accepted for registration. I believe the original intention was that a plant would have to be of a high standard of excellence before being accepted for registration, but it is sometimes thought that any plant can be registered if the necessary details are supplied, irrespective of quality.

All the same, we now have a very large number of excellent hybrids available to add variety to our collections, and no doubt many more will follow. It is to be hoped that all such crosses will be clearly identified and labeled so that we may know just what they are.

Margaret River, West Australia

Pitcairnia fusca, A New Species from Western Ecuador


Pitcairnia fusca Luther, sp. nov.

Pitcairniae fosterianae L. B. Smith is systema Smithii proxima sed laminis foliorum spinosi-serratis, sepalis peranguste triangularis, acuminatis et petalis nudis differt.

Massive hemiepiphytic vine; stem over 4 m long, 3 cm in diameter, concealed by the leaf sheaths; leaf sheaths broadly triangular, castaneous, covered with a brown membrane of coalesced scales, densely serrate with dark, 5 mm long spines; leaves persistent, polymorphic, some reduced and bladeless, others green petiolate, 1.4 m long; petioles distinct, spinose-serrate; blades lanceolate, attenuate, to 10 cm wide, laxly spinose-serrate, pungent, sparsely flocculose below; scape ca. 1.8 m long, ascending, covered with spreading dark scales; scape bracts imbricate, spinose-serrate, flocculose below, the lower subfoliaceous, the upper acute and pungent; inflorescence densely flowered and cylindrical, ca. 60 cm long, 7 cm in diameter, the axis and bases of the flowers covered with dark brown, spreading scales; floral bracts densely imbricate, straight and erect, elliptic, acute, laxly serrate, much exceeding the sepals, thin but persistent, dark brown; pedicels slender, to 4 mm long, sepals very narrowly triangular, acuminate, slightly asymmetrical, to 5.5 cm long, only slightly carinate at the base; petals ca. 12 cm long, curved, naked, dull yellow; stamens about equaling to slightly exceeding the petals; anthers 2.5 cm long; ovary 2/3 superior; ovules long caudate.

TYPE: ECUADOR: Pichincha: Old road from Santo Domingo de los Colorados to Quito, 26 km east of Las Palmas, ca. 2000 m, 5 Aug. 1980, Luther, Wunderlin, Hansen, Sauleda, Ragen, Davenport & Wiersema 380 (HOLOTYPE: SEL).

Pitcairnia fusca keys to the vicinity of P. fosteriana L. B. Smith in the latest treatment of the genus (Smith & Downs, 1974) but can be separated from this species by its spinose-serrate leaf blades, much longer inflorescence, very narrowly triangular and acuminate sepals and naked petals. This new species also shows affinity to P. brunnescens L. B. Smith on account of its serrate scape bracts and floral bracts, narrowly triangular sepals and naked petals but its polymorphic foliage and strictly erect floral bracts give it an entirely different aspect.

The specific name refers to the dark, dull brown coloration of the floral bracts. The flowering of Pitcairnia fusca is apparently an uncommon occurrence. The type specimen was prepared from a very large unbranched plant that showed no evidence of prior blooming. A cursory search of the area revealed no other plants of this species.

Director Bromeliad Identification Center


Smith, Lyman B., and Robert J. Downs, 1974. Flora Neotropica Monograph No. 14 (Bromeliaceae). Part 1 (Pitcairnioideae), Pitcairnia: 244-437.

Illustrator: Barbara N. Culbertson
A. Habit; B. Sepal; C. Floral bract; D. Leaf blade

Making Bromeliads Pay Their Own Way


This may be your first article from Arkansas, as bromeliad enthusiasts here seem few and far between. I am a happy 5-year Arkansan and 4-year bromeliad grower. Many bromeliads love the natural humidity of Arkansas and thrive with minimal care. Normally, they stay outdoors at least six months under shade cloth (73%). They need protection from cold in the winter. However, last summer they suffered from the excessive heat and drought that plagued so much of the Midwest.

The only contribution I might make to the Journal is in the area of how successfully bromeliads may be used in plant leasings. I live in a small community where any type of plant leasing is a new idea, so it is a small but interesting part of my bromeliad hobby/business.

Bromeliads require less care than many other plants used for leasing purposes. I water them every ten days, but I check them a bit more frequently at change of seasons. Commercial buildings often have a poor lighting/cool temperature situation which seem to slow up the blooming process (advantage) and to cause loss of coloration (disadvantage) but appears to have no lasting harmful effects on the plants.

When planning a leasing arrangement, I use a container which holds an inserted potted plant for ease of changing the plants and the least disturbance to the plant itself. Also, I encourage the use of grouped bromeliads for greater showiness and beautiful effect of contrasting foliage. Not all plants in a grouping need to be in bloom nor does each plant have to be flawless to be effective.

In an executive's office I keep a single large plant on the floor. In a year and a half, I have been able always to have a good-looking specimen. First, a large blushing neoregelia, then an Aechmea fulgens discolor Aechmea ramosa which stayed beautiful for several months. When it passed its peak, I used a Hohenbergia stellata with a bloom barely visible down in the cup. That was the first of November 1979 and I almost gave up on the inflorescence appearing when it happened the first of January, 1980. The coolness and lack of light probably influenced the color of its bloom which was a lovely deep rose (instead of red) with bright blue petals. It remained in good shape until the first part of June, five full months of color.

It had been such a large, stately plant that I worried what could follow its act! I had nothing of comparable size so I found a low wood stool on which to set a N. concentrica. With its lovely color and shape it held its own very well.

A large pot of many billbergia pyramidalis variegata is held in reserve for the day I have nothing in bloom to take.

Another plant leasing in a small drive-in bank lobby is fashioned from plastic materials by my husband to look like a tree with 'branches' extending on either side, set in concrete in a large clay pot. We have Pot-Klips secured in the plastic on the branches so I hook matching pots. The arrangement holds 11 small to medium plants at a time, usually, at least a few are in bloom. This is my exception to using containers within containers. I have spray-painted, plastic pots with attachable trays and repot into them, as needed. Occasionally, a plant becomes unsteady, but usually I change into the same sized container and it presents no problem. The 'tree' makes an unusual and good-looking display.

About November-January, I panic and think all the plants are losing color and nothing is showy. However, in a few weeks a little aechmea will surprise me with a bloom and a neoregelia will start to color and my problems are solved for another year.

There are several advantages to the plant-leasing business. In this area where bromeliads are not well-known, it provides exposure to the public of these fascinating plants and a chance to display a lovely bloom. It also serves as a place to keep plants which helps my crowded greenhouse facility. It presents me with an artistic challenge to plan a decorative arrangement for a particular space and is an excuse to acquire a 'special' bromeliad to keep ahead with something showy at all seasons. I still need ideas for more late fall and winter blooms.

While my charges are minimal for this service, the income I receive pays the maintenance of my 14' 30' greenhouse plus the expense of those 'special' bromels. After the monthly lease money has reimbursed me for the original outlay for whatever containers or facilities I have needed, there is little expense involved except for my car used to maintain them.

I encourage others to try the leasing of bromeliads in selected locations as an exciting, interesting challenge. It requires only a small amount of time and no special facilities and, at least for me, the rewards are many.

My husband and I live in one of the truly lovely recreation areas in this part of the country, Heber Springs on Greers Ferry Lake. May I invite any bromeliad lovers who may be vacationing here to get in touch with me to visit about our favorite subject bromeliads!

Heber Springs, Arkansas

Guzmania rubro-lutea RAUH - A New Species from Ecuador1



On our trips to Ecuador in 1973 and 1975 we found a lot of new bromeliads, which are not yet all published. One of these new species is the magnificent Guzmania rubro-lutea. When flowering it has a size of about 1m; the numerous leaves form a big funnelform rosette up to 1 m in diameter. The sheaths are lanceolate-ovate, up to 15 cm long and 11 cm wide, inconspicuous, green-violet and strongly nerved as well as the 7-8 cm broad and 60-70 cm long blades. The inflorescence scape is longer than the leaves, erect at the base, but curved in the upper third part; it is up to 70 cm long, 1,5 cm in diameter, round, red-brown to bright-red and glabrous. The numerous scape bracts are subfoliate, erect and much longer than the internodes; the upper ones are red at the base, otherwise green and acute. The inflorescence is laxly to densely bipinnate, 10-20 cm long, 12 cm in diameter with 10-12 spikes. Primary bracts similar to the upper scape bracts; the basal ones longer, the upper ones shorter than the spikes, dark-red with a long-green tip. Inflorescence-axis angled, bright zinnober-red, many flowered, erect, spreading or lightly decurved. The terminal spike is horizontally orientated. Floral bracts polystichous, 2,3 cm long, 1,7 cm wide, ecarinate, verrucose at the base, glabrous, bright dark-red coloured, much shorter than the sepals; these up to 2,6 cm long, connate for 1 cm obtuse, membranous, ecarinate, yellow. Petals 2,9 cm long, yellow, with recurved, obtuse tips, connate for 1,5 cm. Stamens and style included.

Collection number: RAUH 37 628, August 1975. Locality: Mist forest at the waterfall of the Rio Coca in Central Ecuador (1300m) between Baeza and Lago Agrio.

The beauty of the flowering plant is caused by the color-contrast of the bright red primary and floral bracts with the yellow flowers.

University of Heidelberg


1) The Latin diagnosis has been published in "Bromelienstudien VIII, Tropische und Subtropische Pflanzenwelt, Heft 27, p. 438-441, 1979.

Introduction to the Taxonomy of the Bromeliaceae


(Continued from last issue)

The leaves of bromeliads are always undivided and only in a few species (e.g. some pitcairnias) are they equipped with a leaf stem (petiole). Each nodule of the shoot axis supports only one leaf. Each leaf is arranged at a certain angle to the preceding leaf. Thus they are positioned in a spiral around the shoot. An opposite (distichous) leaf arrangement exists when each successive leaf is at 180 to the previous one. Then leaf two stands opposite leaf one, etc. We have this leaf arrangement for example in Tillandsia myosura, Till. crocata, Till. gilliesii and in many others.

If the leaves are arranged at an angle of less than 180 then we have a more or less multi-lineal (polystichous) arrangement of leaves. A strictly one-sided (monostichous) arrangement, in which all leaves are at 360 from their predecessor and thus are located one directly above the other, is not known in bromeliads. The species with a so-called one-sided (secund) arrangement of leaves, which are commonly referred to as having a "claw" form, as in Tillandsia araujei or Till. tenuifolia var. saxicola, come about only secondarily because of a twisting of the leaf blades toward one direction. The bases of the leaves emerge polystichously from the nodes of the shoot axis. These forms are mostly dependent on their position in their habitat. They commonly grow on cliffs and there they turn their leaf blades toward the light. You can often see that import plants of such secund species soon lose this one-sided leaf arrangement as they are grown as epiphytes in the greenhouse with light coming from all sides. All new growth emerges polystichous. Also the secund position of the flower bracts and flowers of many vriesea species, for example, comes about only secondarily because of bending of the bract bases or the flower stem to one side. There is as of now no published material on whether this secund flower arrangement is induced by light as is the case in the so-called compass plants. Observations of large stands in the wilds would therefore be of great interest.

In the foliage of bromeliads we designate the basal, usually broader, and more or less oval part as the leaf sheath. Between the sheath and the tip is the leaf blade. In the vase-shaped bromeliads the leaf sheaths overlap each other tightly with their edges like shingles on a roof (imbricate) and thus form the actual water reservoir. In the so-called bulbous species, such as Tillandsia bulbosa, Till. butzii, Till. seleriana, etc., the leaf sheaths are extremely spoon-shaped (inflated) and form an egg-shaped pseudobulb. Frequently we note that the initial, exterior leaves consist almost solely of the sheath with a severely reduced blade. The transition from sheath to blade can be gradual or abrupt. In many pitcairnias there is even a leaf stem before the blade spreads out. Even in the other species, such as in many cryptanthus, the leaf narrows above the sheath more or less like a leaf stem and does not become wider until further up. Then the diagnoses use the expression "sub-petiolate," which means "almost like a leaf stem." Many nidulariums and even vrieseas have so-called sword-shaped (ensiforme) leaf blades. These are somewhat narrow above the sheaths, then become wider up to about the middle, and then narrow again and end in a sharp tip. In many bromeliads the leaf blades are tongue-shaped (lingulate), i.e. from the base to the usually rounded tip they are of almost the same width. So designated for example the leaves of many neoregelias which have at their ends a sharp tip (apiculum). Many tillandsias have narrow, triangular leaves that end in a sharp tip or even have a long thread-like tip.

Also important for characterization is the cross section of the leaf blade. They can be broadened out flat or they can be more or less bent into a trough (canaliculate). In extreme cases they are rolled into a tube, as for example, in Tillandsia bulbosa, Tillandsia setacea, Acanthostachys strobilacea, etc.

The leaf edges of the Bromelioideae and also of many Pitcairnioideae are armed with saw-like spines (serrate), while the leaf edges of the Tillandsioideae are always smooth (entire).

In the description of a bromeliad, one must also describe the position of the leaves in regard to the axis of the main shoot. They can be upright, slightly flared, flared, or recurved. The coloration of the leaves can be uniform through the sheath and the blade (concolor). But often the sheaths are darker than the blades. Also the upper side can be of a different color than the underside. An important characteristic is the density of the scale of the foliage and of the other leaf organs and of the main axis. The trichome scales are a distinctive feature of bromeliads, and the degree of scaling is an indication of the climatic conditions in their native habitat. Frequently the upper side and the underside of the leaves have a different density of scaling. We also distinguish between tightly adpressed scaling and more or less feathery scaling. Compare, for example, Tillandsia geminiflora with Till. gardneri or Till. tectorum.

Leaf organs connected with the inflorescence
As mentioned above, the upper part of the main axis of most bromeliads elongates at the beginning of flower development; the internodes stretch out, and the inflorescence pushes out of the rosette. When the plant is in full bloom we recognize more clearly the actual inflorescence (the part that bears the actual flowers) and the shaft of the inflorescence.

Even on the inflorescence each node produces a leaf, but unlike the foliage leaves, the leaves on the inflorescence are called bracts. We must also distinguish between the scape bracts and the flower bracts, from whose axes the flowers appear. In compound (branched) inflorescences the bracts from whose axes the lateral branches emerge are called primary bracts of first order. If the lateral branches are even further branched, then these branches appear from the axes of primary bracts of second, third, or even higher order. One then calls the inflorescence bipinnate, tripinnate, or even quadripinnate. The primary bracts are considerably different in form and in color from the foliage leaves. Frequently the scape bracts become successively smaller toward the tip so that in the upper part nearly all that is left is the sheath of the scape bract, and the blade is reduced to an apiculum. But in the basal part they still have a foliage-like blade. That can be seen easily for example in Tillandsia stricta or Till. gardneri. But in other species the transition from foliage leaves to scape bracts is abrupt, i.e. even at the base of the inflorescence the bracts are sharply reduced in comparison to the foliage leaves, and almost all that is present is the sheath, that usually surrounds the scape.

Important to the description of the species is the relationship of the length of the scape bracts to the length of the internodes, that is, whether the scape is still partially visible or covered by the bracts.

The nodes of the actual inflorescence produce the flower bracts and in many species the form of these leaf organs varies accordingly. This change in form is especially noticeable in bromeliads with the so-called sword-shape inflorescences, as we can observe especially well in Vriesea splendens. Here the scape bracts are arranged closely together and they are polystichous; the flower bracts, on the other hand, are further apart and are distichous.

Also important is whether or not the flower bracts have a keel. Keeled flower bracts are folded sharply together in the middle. This causes the inflorescence to be more or less pressed flatly together. If the edges of the flower bracts overlap in an imbricate fashion, then we get a dense inflorescence; the rhachis is covered. If, on the other hand, the flower bracts are further apart and the rhachis is visible, then we call such an inflorescence loose.

In the description of a species we must also indicate whether the flower bracts are longer or shorter than the sepals.

Especially in the sword-shaped inflorescences we can often note that from the lowest flower bracts no flower develops; we call these sterile.

In many aechmeas and especially in billbergia species the flower bracts are reduced to small, scale-like remnants; they can also be completely aborted at times. The actual display is here accomplished by the lower, usually large and colorful scape bracts. The novice is apt to confuse the scape bracts with flower bracts in such species. In order to recognize the differences the novice should observe closely an individual flower of Aechmea nudicaulis or Billbergia nutans and seek the flower bracts.

The flower parts
Differing most from the normal leaves are the flower parts. The typical bromeliad flower is constructed in tripartite circles of three sepals, three petals, two circles each of three stamens and three fused carpels.

These sepals are shaped differently and are also colored differently than the petals. They are also usually stiffer (leathery) in texture. Bromeliads also have distinctive petals (heterochlamydeic). An example of homeochlamydeic flower is the tulip flower, whose sepals and petals display the same form and color. Such identical sepals and petals are called tepals.

The carpels are fused and consist of the ovary with its three chambers, which in its inner parts houses the placenta and the ovules. Also part of the carpels are the pistils, at whose tips are located the pollen pads or stigma. These stigmata may be tightly spiral or more or less spread and are usually ciliated.

Important for distinguishing among the sub-families of bromeliads is the position of the point at which the sepals and petals are connected with the ovary. In the subgenus Bromelioideae they are at the tip of the ovary; the ovary is thus inferior. After pollination and maturity a more or less juicy berry develops, in which are the seeds. They are eaten by birds or other animals. The individual seed grains pass unharmed through the digestive tract and are distributed through droppings. Usually in this sub-family the upper rim of the ovary, near the sepals, is extended into a funnel or cup and thus forms a so-called epigynous tube, easily seen in longitudinal section, in which the septal glands emit the nectar.

In the Tillandsioideae, on the other hand, the sepals and petals are always fused at the base of the ovary; the ovary is thus superior. The fruit here is a dry, elongated capsule, and the seeds have a parachute-like tassel of hair, which assures distribution on the wind.

The Pitcairnioideae have a more or less semi-inferior ovary and also have a dry, but shorter, capsule. Here the seed are without the tassel of hair; only tail-like appendages or dry, papery edges are formed. They usually grow terrestrially.

The sepals are usually an elongated oval to a lancet shape, and especially in the aechmeas, neoregelias, and other Bromelioideae they frequently have an overlapping, asymmetrical, skin-like edge. They can be alike and free to the base or they may be keeled and may be fused to any height.

Also the petals can be free or fused rather high into a tube (e.g. Guzmania).

An important trait is the so-called ligula found in some genera or species at the inner base of the petals; it is the only distinguishing characteristic between Vriesea (with ligula) and Tillandsia (without ligula). Additionally many species have inside the petals two thick, longitudinal welts, whose taxonomic significance is not firmly established.

The stems of the stamens (filaments) in cross section can be round or flat; they are often partially fused to the petals. In the sub-genus Anoplophytum of the genus Tillandsia they are folded cross-wise.

At the tip of the filaments are the pollen pads (anthers). Also important for identification is the relative length of the stamens and the pistil to the petals. One must always indicate whether these protrude from the flower or whether they remain concealed.

Thus we have mentioned the most essential traits for the description or diagnosis of a bromeliad. The beginner should memorize these traits and especially have a look at the individual parts when he or she has a bromeliad in bloom. He or she should also pluck a single flower and with the aid of a dissecting needle and a razor blade separate it into its individual parts. You can get to know the subject especially well if you will try to draw it to scale. Even if you do not create a work of art, you will learn better to observe and to pay attention to important details. Frequently specialists are presented with such drawings of bromeliads with the request to give the plant in the drawing a name.

From the material at hand it is clear that one can not determine for sure a bromeliad species from a photograph; you must also have an exact description of all the features.

Translated by Harvey Kendall

Notes from Down Under Raising Tillandsias from Seed


My experience in raising atmospheric tillandsias from seed indicates that Dr. Oeser's "bundle of sticks" method suits my conditions and the local climate. Another reliable method uses two or three layers of coir rope wound around a stick, a system that was pioneered many years ago by the late Nez Misso. Unfortunately, coir rope (coconut-husk fiber) is difficult to come by and a number of growers have looked at coconut fiber from old bed mattresses as an alternative.

Coconut fiber does not support fungus or algal growth even after continued fertilizing. It holds little water, and this is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is almost impossible to overwater it, but it dries out very quickly. The "sandwich" described below was developed to overcome this disadvantage.

The "foam sandwich" consists of a support of polystyrene foam 25-40 mm thick, a layer of coconut fiber, a layer of the fibrous part of peat moss (premoistened) and a second layer of coconut fiber with the seed planted on top. The sandwich is compressed and tied tightly. An overall cover of an open (6mm) plastic mesh is an advantage in preventing seed movement but is not essential. Other supports, i.e. wood, can be used, but foam is light, readily available, and easy to use.

The purpose of the peat moss fiber layers is to maintain a humid microenvironment without the seeds being kept continually wet. The sandwich is hung in an area of diffused sunlight with good air movement. The seeds are fogged 2 to 3 times a day in summer and once a day in winter. Floors are kept moist to try to maintain a general humidity in the area of 60 to 70 percent.

Results to date have been most encouraging with good germination of fresh seed and minimal losses of small plants.

Bromeliad Society of Queensland

Tillandsia Rupicola Baker

This attractive little tillandsia (when in bloom measuring not more than four inches in length) is native to southern Ecuador where it is found at 8,000-foot elevations growing as a terrestrial and forming dense mats. Some 30 to 40 leaves are crowded on a stem an inch long, arising from a dilated base and densely clothed all over with large spreading glittering linear scales. The leaves are two inches long.

T. rupicola was first described by J. G. Baker in 1888, who believed the species to be closely allied to T. plumosa.

The photograph is by Dr. H. Hemker of West Germany.

Organic Horticulture Origin of the Modern Movement


Many of the basic ideas of the organic movement in agriculture go back to quite ancient times, both in the Greco-Roman World and in East Asia. We shall attempt to trace the origin and rise of some of the ideas of the present day. In a large measure, the basic principles were formulated by a number of pioneering leaders in several countries. One of the most important of these, at least for the English-speaking countries and also for some of the large tropical countries of the former British Empire, was Sir Albert Howard. He was a mycologist who was appointed as Imperial Botanist to the British government in India in 1905. He was active in research for about the two following decades. He was interested in practical agriculture and soil building. He noticed that the farmers of India recycled all biodegradable wastes to the soil. He was astonished to notice that the plants which these supposedly primitive farmers grew were remarkably free from pests and diseases. He also came to believe that the animals fed on grains from this type of agriculture were resistant to certain infectious diseases. He stressed the importance of certain fungi in composting and in the maintenance of soil fertility. He followed Charles Darwin in pointing out the great importance of earthworms in soil building. Since strong chemical fertilizers destroy these he favored the use of the generally more expensive organic fertilizers. Actually, ammonium sulfate and similar chemical fertilizers have been used to exterminate earthworms on golf putting greens. Worm population tend to increase rapidly in soils provided with a high percentage of humus.

Sir Albert Howard was unquestionably ahead of his time. He called attention to some experimental errors in the famous Rothamstead soil fertility plots. His advocacy of a large use of organic fertilizers and composts seemed to threaten the fertilizer manufacturing industries of the day and understandably some opposition arose to his ideas. This is probably the source of a certain alienation of the organic movement from the agricultural establishment which has persisted to this day. The chemical fertilizer industry was naturally antagonistic to a movement which threatened to diminish their sales. However, the ideas of Sir Howard were widely adopted especially in the tropics, particularly the famous Indore system of composting. Lady Eve Balfour was an influential disciple who adopted the new organic methods of composting and plant growing on her own estate. She claimed that the health of her farm animals was greatly improved and also attributed an amelioration of her own health problems to the improved quality of food grown on her lands.

This movement attracted little attention in the USA until the Rodales, father and son, established the magazine, Organic Farming and Gardening, which soon grew rapidly. They also established an experimental farm to try and apply these new ideas. This organization has recently started another magazine, The New Farm, devoted to subsistence and small-scale farming. A human health care journal, Prevention, which they publish is said to be the fastest growing magazine in the USA. All of these publications carry on the traditions of agriculture and nutrition which stem from Sir Albert Howard. The Rodale Press is located at Emmaus PA 18049 and, in addition to these journals, has published books on various agricultural subjects, including composting, and on human nutrition and cookery.

Most of the schools of organic agriculture emphasize composting, but some do not and merely recycle organic matter including animal manure and crop residues directly to the field soils. The incorporation of excessive organic matter to the soil can sometimes cause nitrogen starvation because of the large bacterial activity. The soil microflora and climatic factors such as moisture and temperature can determine how rapidly the organic matter will decompose to form humus.

The conservation of nitrogen released from decaying organic matter is one objective of composting. The great reduction in volume of material to be handled is another objective. Many articles and books have been written on the subject. Many of these use frames, pits or drums which are adaptable to small-scale operations, but in some areas as in the cotton growing areas of the American South, some systems have been devised which use sophisticated equipment on a large scale.

We shall make no attempts to outline more than a few basic principles of composting. When large amounts of organic materials low in nitrogen such as straw are added to soils or to a compost heap, the processes of decay and of the growth of lower organisms may cause a temporary depletion of nitrogen. This should be compensated for by the addition of extra nitrogen in some form. The addition of a nitrogenous or, better yet, a complete fertilizer will speed up the process of composting. If the materials are acid in reaction, the addition of lime or limestone will be quite beneficial. Ground dolomitic limestone is particularly recommended because of the considerable content of magnesium, an element very important, since it is a chemical constituent of chlorophyll.

Compost piles are usually long and not over 4 feet in width to allow internal aeration which will promote aerobic fermentation. This is less likely to cause bad odors than anaerobic processes. The material should be kept moist but not too wet, which will reduce the available oxygen. Layers of soil are often placed in the material to furnish microorganisms for the process and also to absorb nitrogen which might be released. Sometimes cultured organisms are added to furnish desirable species and to speed the process of decay either with or in place of the soil.

The compost pile may take as long as a year to become usable. However, there are rapid processes which will reduce many materials to compost in a relatively few weeks or months.

One important factor in rapid composting is to have the material in as small pieces as possible. Special compost grinders are available. Turning the material over at intervals with a spade or pitchfork is often used in rapid composting methods but it does require some labor. Rotating drums are available for use in rapid composting. Another factor in rapid composting is the nature of the material. Herbaceous materials can be composted very quickly. Those with much lignin as is usual with woods, decay more slowly. Special compost starters may be helpful with these. I have sometimes obtained pieces of decaying wood or old stumps to furnish an inoculum of lignin destroying organisms which may not be plentiful in some soils.

Some municipalities prohibit or regulate composting. Some materials and methods may breed insects. Some composting pits or boxes have screens to prevent the breeding of insects. Rapid methods can avoid odors. Some authorities claim that the method of composting has a great deal to do with the value of the final product. The amount of loss of nitrogen probably is one of the main differences but also the microbial composition of the final compost is also probably important. Magazines devoted to gardening advertise various pieces of equipment designed to facilitate composting.

Composting is desirable regardless of the method used. The catalog of one California iris grower stresses the outstanding results which can be obtained with irises by the use of composts. Deep spading of areas to be planted together with the placing of abundant compost on the lower levels often produces outstanding results with tree crops and with herbaceous plants of all kinds.

The brightest splash of color among my bromels comes from specimen clusters of Billbergia leptopoda (The Permanent Wave Plant). This cheerful little species is a must in every collection and never fails to flower. If the parent plant is carefully cut away and the suckers left undisturbed, the oldest one or two will flower in early autumn, while the majority will flower in winter. B. leptopoda looks best cascading its stolons over a piece of cork or in a hanging basket. It is very liberal with suckers, and the few flowered, orange red bracted, blue tipped flowers make a very cheerful display on dull winter days. This plant has been used freely as a parent for hybrids. The leaf curl has been passed on to most progeny along with the few flowered inflorescence. An odd plant carries the flower characteristics of the other parent and is worth keeping, Bromeletter, Australia.

Dr. Edith Potter

Dr. Edith Potter (Mrs. Frank D. Deats) is well known in her home town of Fort Myers, Florida, for her avid interest in subtropical horticulture, her beautiful garden, and her boundless enthusiasm for bromeliads. Few of her neighbors know, however, of the distinguished role she has played in the medical community. Dr. Potter was one of the first women to graduate from the University of Minnesota Medical School. Not satisfied with her medical degree, she also received her bachelor and master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees from the university. She is a world-renowned figure in the field of infant pathology and is recognized as the originator of perinatolgy, which is the study of the human infant in the weeks before and after birth. She has received numerous awards for her work in helping to reduce perinatal mortality. She served on the staff of the University of Chicago until her retirement in 1967, at which time she decided to move to Florida and devote her time to horticulture.

However, Dr. Potter has not forgotten her alma mater and in May, 1980, donated to the University of Minnesota's Arboretum at Chaska, Minnesota, a conservatory to be used as an educational facility for displaying plants that are commonly grown in homes and in indoor public places. Special emphasis will be given to bromeliads, and some 122 different cultivars were provided by Dr. Potter from her own collection for the opening of this most attractive conservatory. She plans to see to it that the conservatory is always well stocked with bromels, as she is eager to have these plants become better known in this area. It is her hope that this assortment of fine plants will form the nucleus for which will eventually be one of the most extensive and educational collections in the United States. She has set up a trust fund to provide for the maintenance of the displays.

The conservatory known as the Myer-Deats Conservatory is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Potter's former husband, the late Alvin Meyer, world-famous sculptor, and to her present husband Frank D. Deats, architect and watercolor artist.

Meyer-Deats Conservatory

Entrance view of part of the conservatory.

The Bromeliad Identification Center

If you have an unidentified species in your bromeliad collection, the next time it blooms send a complete inflorescence, along with a leaf and a description of the plant and of the habitat (if possible) to the Bromeliad Identification Center, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 800 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida 33577. The Bromeliad Identification Center will identify your bromeliad species for the nominal charge of $5.00 for each sample.

The Bromeliad Identification Center was established two years ago with the help of a special fund raised as a memorial to Mulford B. Foster. It seemed appropriate to choose the Selby Botanical Gardens as the center for bromeliad research and study, as this institution is devoted almost entirely to the study of epiphytic plants. Also, it was already the Identification Center for the American Orchid Society, and it was suggested that the Bromeliad Society more or less follow the procedures used by the Orchid Society, which had proved to be most successful.

The American Orchid Identification Center is financed largely by special auctions and sales held yearly by the various member societies throughout the United States. When the Bromeliad Identification was set up, it was with the understanding that like the various orchid groups, the Bromeliad Society affiliates would hold a special sale, auction, or raffle each year, the proceeds to go to the maintenance of the Center. Unfortunately, the many affiliates scattered throughout the country have failed to do this.

Originally it was the hope that sufficient funds could be raised to support a botanist specializing in bromeliads on a full-time basis. At the present time, the director of the Center, Mr. Harry Luther, a most knowledgeable botanist and bromeliad enthusiast, is engaged only eight hours a week. This is certainly not enough time to take care of the great amount of study and research needed for a better understanding of the Bromeliaceae.

Individual contributions to the Bromeliad Identification Center would be most acceptable. Either send it to the Bromeliad Society, Inc., P.O. Box 41261, Los Angeles, California 90041, or to the Mulford B. Foster Bromeliad Identification Center, at the Selby Botanical Gardens.

Collecting Highlights


My husband and I rented a car in Antigua, Guatemala, and headed north toward the Caribbean Sea. We passed through forested mountains where we could see bromeliads high in the trees. Once we stopped and gaped up at some lovely feathery silver rosettes, too high to collect. Our driver broke off a nearby branch and cleverly cut a slit in the end to reach up and get us one Tillandsia magnusiana. Closer to the ground we found a silvery dark grey plant that looked like Tillandsia schiedeana, but was bigger than those I'd collected in the past. When it bloomed the flowers were white and the bracts a bright chartreuse yellow. Along here we saw an occasional flamboyant and African tulip tree in bloom, usually near huts. There were many shrubs in the woods with a bottle-brush like bloom, half-red, half-white.

After leaving more populated areas on the outskirts of Guatemala City and going through a tollgate, we found ourselves in more arid mountains. We began to see cactus and fields of red pineapple plants, Agave sisalanas, and furcraeas, occasionally there was a calabash tree. These often harbor bromeliads but we did not stop. As we wound up and down we saw more and more tree cereus, bigger opuntias and some type of old man cactus covered with white beards.

In all the ravines where there was more moisture, the trees and shrubs were green and we noticed large masses of Hechtia guatemalensis. The one to two-foot rosettes were dark green in the shade and a nice pinkish purple in more open spots. Since this was July, they were not in bloom, but the larger plants had four to five foot many branched dry seed stalks, quite different from other hechtia seed I've seen, and were quite attractive with tiny brown bells all along the branchlets. They are apparently everlasting as I still have some. I found no actual seeds though. Since the plants were very thorny we searched until we found a few very small ones to take with us.

Only a few miles beyond there were taller cactus trees nearby were patches of a groundcover with yellow flowers so we stopped to investigate. Much to our surprise, the first big cactus we looked at had several good-sized Tillandsia xerographica on it they were not visible from the road. We took one that was so curly I thought at first it was Tillandsia streptophylla. We also got a two-inch baby. On further searching we found large type Tillandsia ionantha scaposa on other cactus.

This was excitement enough for one day, so we turned around and stopped under a small shade tree to eat our picnic lunch and to admire the Oropendula nest hanging from the electric wire overhead. We never did reach the coast. On the way back we had a flat tire near the tollgate where we found an interesting dull green, no silver scales, Tillandsia with an unusual tall seed stalk. It is still unidentified.

Mount Dora, Florida

New Companions for your Bromeliads

When one thinks of rhododendrons he generally envisions the lovely large specimen shrubs that enhance the gardens of the North. There is, however, a kind, known as the Vireya, that should be of special interest to gardeners in warmer regions, and bromeliad growers in particular. Like bromeliads they are epiphytes living in trees in mountain forests, especially the cloud forests of middle to high elevations. These rhododendrons are usually called Malaysians, being native to Malaya, Borneo, Java, New Guinea, and other East Indian islands.

They do not grow too large or out of bound; hence make fine container specimens. In warm, frost-free climates they will thrive year-round outside if given filtered sunlight, such as one gives his bromeliads. They also do very well in the greenhouse and indoors under fluorescent lights. Their potting mixture should be light and very porous the same as for bromeliads, as they, too, are mostly air plants.

When in flower, there are no more glorious plants than the Malaysian rhododendrons. They bloom when very small, so that one does not have to wait too long to enjoy the beauty of their flowers. The blooms are truly breath-taking, their coloration varying from red, pink, yellow, vibrant orange, white, and many subtle pastel shades. The white-flowered species also produce an intense fragrance. The large trusses of flowers are surprisingly long-lasting, and their color often deepens as they age over a period of several weeks. The plants often flower more than once a year and can flower at any season. The foliage is dark green, the leaf small, making a pleasing contrast to the brilliant blooms.

The Malaysian rhododendrons are still comparatively rare in horticulture, with greatest interest at present being centered in California. The best source of these highly desirable exotics is through the local rhododendron societies.

Pitcairnia nigra (Carriere) Andre


H. Hemker
Closeup of Inflorescence

This highly attractive pitcairnia species is native to western Ecuador and western Colombia, where it grows as a scandent epiphyte on trees and on grass slopes at elevations of 1,000 to 6,500 feet. It is one of the species whose leaves take on more than, one form. Its outer leaves are short, narrow and spined; the inner ones with long stalks are about a foot or more in length and 2 to 3 inches broad in the middle and spineless. The inflorescence, a foot long and up to 3 inches in diameter, is a brilliant red. (See front cover.)

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