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, 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.


Notes on Ecuadorean Bromeliads
  Harry E. Luther243
Bromeliad Growing and Changing Weather Conditions
  H. Alton Lee245
A Beautiful Form of Aechmea fulgens 248
An Early Essay by Poeppig on Epiphytism
  Wilhelm Weber249
Never Again!
  Spencer Stein255
Ecuador and Colombia 1981
  Jeffrey Kent257
Hybrid View
  W. W. G. Moir264
Tillandsia didisticha268
Organic Horticulture
  Vernon Stoutemyer269
Guzmania gracilior
  Werner Rauh272
Experiments in Seed Growing
  Bob McClurkin275
The Old Order Passes
  Victoria Padilla276
Tillandsia ponderosa288

PICTURE ON THE COVER Tillandsia concolor L.B. Smith. Photo by Prof. Dr. Werner Rauh, Heidelberg.

Notes on Ecuadorean Bromeliads


R. P. Wunderlin
Author holding plant of Mezobromelia lyman-smithii.
B. Hansen, USF, looking on, August 3, 1980

During the summer of 1980 the author spent several weeks in Ecuador with a group organized by the University of South Florida. The primary purpose of the trip was to gain a better knowledge of the flora of western Ecuador and to collect botanical specimens for later study. Several previously unknown species of bromeliads were collected both as dried and living material. One of these is described in a separate article. (See P. manabiana).

A number of 'old' species with ornamental qualities were also brought back to the Selby greenhouses for growing on and eventual distribution to bromeliad hobbyists. Among these were Tillandsia scaligera Mez & Sodiro, T. cornuta Mez & Sodiro, T. dodsonii L.B. Smith, T. hamaleana E. Morr., T. fraseri Bak., Pitcairnia nigra (Carr.) Andre, P. sodiroi Mez, and Guzmania lingulata (L.) Mez var. flammea L. B. Smith.

One plant that unfortunately did not make the transition to cultivation was the spectacular Mezobromelia lyman-smithii Rauh & Barthlott. This very large and brilliantly colored lithophytic bromeliad is one of the most conspicuous elements of the roadside vegetation for several kilometers along the new highway from Santo Domingo to Quito at an altitude of about 2100 m.

The genus Mezobromelia is apparently little known in cultivation in this country. The majority of the plants are large and their requirements for bright light and rather cool, moist conditions would be hard to meet, at least in Florida. Possibly growers on the west coast would have a better chance with them. For a full discussion of the species of Mezobromelia see 'The Genus Mezobromelia' by Dr. Werner Rauh, Journal of the Bromeliad Society, Vo. XXV, No. 4, 1975.

Director, BIC, Selby Botanical Gardens

BROMELIADS I CONFERENCE During Easter 1981 the Victorian Branch of the Bromeliad Society of Australia hosted the first Australian Bromeliad Conference held at the Melbourne Town House in Melbourne. This was a big step to take as there was no way of knowing how many would attend. However, the attendance at the Conference was more than anticipated and it was deemed a great success. The Conference was a two-day affair with a luncheon, dinner, seminars, and garden visitations. During the final session of the Conference it was voted that conferences be held biennially with each state taking turns as host. The 1983 Conference will be hosted by New South Wales and the 1985 one by Queensland Branch. The 1983 venue is most appropriate as that year will be the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Bromeliad Society of Australia.

Bromeliad Growing Amid Changing Weather Conditions


Understandably, plant-growers talk about the weather even more than the rest of the population. In recent times, there has been much speculation that weather patterns are changing all over the country. How such changes will affect the growing of plants, especially tropical plants, remains a large question.

Most non-natives regard Florida as one of the paradises for growing things such as bromeliads. That's still true, but changes seem to be on the horizon.

Persons with far more experience than I and longer residence in Florida tell me that the weather conditions here are changing dramatically. The winters are more severe with the freezes coming more frequently, and the summers are hotter and drier, many local gardeners contend. And growing some plants including certain kinds of bromeliads has become more of a gamble and trial.

Not surprisingly, the local weather statisticians dismiss such talk as "unscientific". They parade out a lot of records which they say prove that conditions in Florida are essentially the same. Florida is Florida and if you don't like the weather now, wait five minutes, etc., and other numbing cliches come regularly from our local weather prophets.

They and many others (including lots of bankers and developers) dismiss theories that overbuilding, concretizing every inch of land in sight, polluting the air, dredging rivers and mangroves and lowering water-tables may have something to do with weather changes.

To paraphrase Florida-resident John D. MacDonald in a recent Travis McGee novel, Free Fall in Crimson, even when the whole state of Florida has been asphalted, people will still come here searching for paradise, though finding the quality of life no different from what they found at home.

As a resident of the state for less than a decade, it has not escaped my attention that two of the worst freezes of the century have come in the last four years, as well as snow as far south as Miami in January, 1977, and record-breaking cold all over the state in January, 1981, plus one of the coldest winters since records have been kept.

On the day in July that this is written, the temperature is 98 (even officially); and we are in the midst of a drought and long standing water ban, despite the fact that we have had almost 5 inches of rain in the immediate area in the last 48 hours. This did not appear in the local weather statistics.

I have a lot of reservations about these much touted weather records anyway. I have long believed that the St. Petersburg official lows are taken in the furnace room of the Chamber of Commerce and the highs in some office refrigerator at the same locale.

Last January 13th when most horticultural friends were reporting record lows, the official St. Petersburg temperature given for that morning was 31. In my yard, which is slightly more than a mile from the Gulf, the temperature on all of my thermometers scattered in various places and at various levels registered between 20 and 22 at 6:30 a.m. Talks with dozens of other plant-growers throughout the Tampa Bay area from Clearwater to Sarasota and throughout St. Petersburg produced no one who verified a temperature above 26. Most had much lower. Inland, temperatures in the teens were common as was ten or below in the Orlando area, and 6 and below in the Gainesville area. So much for the "official" weather records. This kind of weather is a dramatic and sometimes costly way for one to learn about what plants can and cannot take.

A few observations which may be of use to some other bromeliad growers.

Early on, I learned that my favorite genus, the vrieseas, can take much more cold than is generally acknowledged. Only splendens has ever shown cold damage for me before. This year, V. 'Gnom', V. 'Komet' and V. glutinosa all showed damage despite covering. A seedling of V. ringens a wimpy little grower for me at best died. V. heliconioides also died, despite being covered and near (8 inches) water with a 56 degree temperature.

But the cold seemed to have spurred some vrieseas on to blooming. Some of the blooms were bigger on V. ensiformis, V. schwackeana and V. gigantea than ever before. Vrieseas which had not bloomed for me before also came into flower. Some of the plants seemed small to bloom, but had large spikes: V. 'Double Pleasure'; V. 'Rex', V. 'Vigeri; and V. tessalata 'Nova' V. 'Viminalis Rex'. Some of these are still in good color despite the scorching summer.

Neoregelias and nidulariums did pretty much what I expected and I had no problems at all with nidulariums. In neos, I lost mooreana, a 'Fireball' and eleutheropetala all in an area where the covers came off. A. Neoregelia kautskyi developed center rot, but produced pups.

I had no calamities with billbergias either except 'Muriel Waterman', also left uncovered. The plant was almost totally white the next morning and turned to mush in days.

The real surprises (and, perhaps, lessons) were in aechmeas, tillandsias and guzmanias.

In aechmeas, there are plenty of tough plants, but there are a lot of very tender ones, too, especially hybrids. Some proved much more tender than has generally been conceded by Florida growers and sellers.

I always have trouble with Aechmea mertensii, which I still like. My latest plant rotted in the greenhouse and died within feet of a heater. The temperature was never less than 45 and only briefly that.

But a number of other aechmeas covered and near the aforementioned water sustained heavy damage some to the point of mortality. Aechmea magdalenae quadricolor, 'Coral Beads', 'Rather', 'Metero', pink chantinii (but not red right beside it), politii, pennockii, serrata, fulgens chantinii, angustifolia, contracta (a weak growing plant for me always), corymbosa 'Black Panther', and paniculigera.

Most of these plants pupped for me or put out new growth as the months passed. Some of these were the worst looking specimens in the days after the freeze. A few which looked reasonably likely to survive did not. Rot was a big problem here, despite treatment, a dry winter and very conservative watering.

I have never thought I had an especially large tillandsia collection till I started counting the dead and dying. The most exasperating problem here was the loss of some of the tillandsias regarded as difficult to grow in Florida in the summer. I had brought T. lampropoda, T. lucida, T viridiflora, T. tectorum, T. rothii, T. yunckeri and T. complanata through hot summers only to have them pack it in from the cold. All of these plants were in a sheltered area and were covered. T. xerographica rotted in the greenhouse.

The guzmanias are another favorite genus, and I have always accorded them as much greenhouse space as possible; but with the greenhouse crowding, multiple pups and general lack of space, some guzmania duplicates found their way on the patio.

Guzmania 'Insignis', G. 'Exodous', G. lingulata cardinalis and G. wittmackii all survived with only Wittmackii showing cold damage on the leaves. They were in the same area as some of the aforementioned aechmeas which died ('Rather', Coral Beads', etc.)

G. donnell smithii, which has never done well for me, died in the greenhouse. Guzmania 'Candy Corn' got center rot, but recovered and as of this date is growing.

The plant Quesmea 'Dart' rotted in the greenhouse and looked utterly dead. I saved it, and it produced two pups, one of which I have been able to remove and pot up. This is the only time I have ever had pups come on a plant stump which actually survived and grew. Often they come only to sit and winnow away over a long period of time.

I think anyone who grows a lot of bromeliads (and that seems to be the majority of us, despite contrary efforts) may find it valuable to keep some records on what plants can take what in extreme weather. A master list of where prized goodies are and which should come in first during a freeze has also been helpful for me.

Sharing one's experiences with bromeliads in weather extremes through the pages of the Journal should be useful, too.

It's just a little too casual to say that bromeliads are easy to grow and let it stop there, yes, if you give many of them exactly what they want. But it seems to me there is much to be learned about their heat and cold tolerances. If recent conditions in Florida are an indication, the future promises to offer a lot of occasions for comprehensive notetaking.

Gulfport, Florida

A Beautiful Form of Aechmea Fulgens


For sheer exuberance of growth, vitality, and ability to produce offsets, as well as brilliance in variegation, no member of the genus Aechmea can surpass the form of Aechmea fulgens pictured above. It is a spectacularly brilliant plant with its vivid striping on the upper side of the foliage and the solid reddish purple underneath. The inflorescence resembles that of the regular fulgens, but, unfortunately, cannot compare with the variety known as "Magnificent." The mature plant seems to offset continuously and no sooner produces one set of pups, then it has another, usually three at a time.

As this plant is highly variable, the would-be owner should see the actual plant he purchases to be sure he gets what he wants.

An Early Essay by Poeppig on "Epiphytism"


The only known picture of Eduard Poeppig which appeared in 1868 at the time of his death.

Just as today the people in Latin American countries designate epiphytes in general as "parasitos," the botanists at the beginning of the last century also did not distinguish precisely between epiphytes and true parasites. In old descriptions we frequently find the expression "parasitica in arboribus" or possibly "pseudoparasitica."

Even though epiphytes do not take nutrition from the host trees, in recent years scientists have noted a negative, destructive influence; through epiphytic growth moisture is retained thus establishing conditions for an attack from fungi dangerous to wood. The German botanist Eduard Poeppig first reported on this process in a speech given on the 19th of April, 1833, before the botanical society FLORA in the hall known as the "Zwinger" (the "Keep") in Dresden (Saxony). The manuscript for this speech was found in the papers left in his estate and was printed in 1887 in the reports of the Geographical Society in Leipzig under the title: "On two of the most prominent traits of tropical vegetation lianas and parasites." This report is still worth reading today and deserves to be brought back from the past. But let us first look briefly at Poeppig's biography.

Eduard Poeppig is best known to us bromeliad lovers by Streptocalyx poeppigii, discovered by him and named after him. He was born on the 16th of July, 1798, in Plauen (Saxony). His father represented one-third of the most important calico printing industry of its time in Plauen. But English competition led to his bankruptcy in 1800; the father turned to drink, went insane, and died in 1817. Poeppig's mother took her children and returned to her parents in Leipzig. Eduard, who was destined to become a merchant, attended the famous Thomas School in Leipzig and later went to the state school at Grimma, which he completed, thanks to his talent, in five years instead of the normal six. But Poeppig was more interested in the natural sciences and at the University of Leipzig studied medicine and natural science. Influenced by Seume (famous for his well known "Stroll to Syracuse") he took long hikes through Europe and climbed the Grossglockner, for example. At the beginning of 1822 Poeppig concluded his studies and graduated with an M.D. and a Ph.D. Inspired by Humboldt he decided to undertake a long natural science trip into the tropics. Funding came in the form of an advance for herbaria, prepared animals, and other nature items, because his own savings were not sufficient for such an expedition. On the 9th of May, 1822, he boarded ship in Hamburg and on the 1st of July landed in Havana, Cuba. In Cuba he collected until May, 1824, and sent the material to Leipzig. On the 22nd of May, 1824, he then traveled on to Baltimore and collected in Pennsylvania until November, 1826. In the spring of 1825, for example, he sent 12,000 dried plants to Leipzig, which where sold in lots of 200 at 18 Talers each. But his stipends were soon expended and he even had to sell his equipment and hire himself out as a tutor. Not until September, 1825, did he receive from his Leipzig friends letters of credit, so that he was able to board ship in Baltimore on 27 November; after a trip around Cape Horn he arrived in Valparaiso, Chile, on the 14th of March, 1827. His modus operandi led him to stay for a long time in Valparaiso and its surroundings; later he was in Concon and in the upper Acongagua valley and on to the Argentine border. Accompanied only by one servant he lived quite modestly, often staying overnight out doors and was untiring in his research of nature and humankind. At the end of 1828 he traveled into the Cordillera of Antuco in the upper Laja Valley. For over a year Poeppig stayed in the vicinity of the Bio-Bio river and made splendid accomplishments in researching it. In Chile, for example, he discovered Puya alpestris, Puya chilensis, and Puya coerulea.

The first picture (copper plate) of Aechmea angustifolia Poep. & Endl.
drawn by Poeppig.

Then Poeppig traveled to Peru; at the end of May, 1829, he came into Callao and continued his trip on a mule to Cerro de Pasco and from there into the Huallager valley, where he remained from July, 1829, to February, 1830. His next goal was the tropical forests of the Amazonian lowlands. He traveled over Chicoplaya, Uchiza, and Tocache, where he stayed until the 25th of June, 1830, into the Maynas area, which is already a part of the tropical lowlands. There he found Aechmea angustifolia, Bromelia poeppigii, Pitcairnia cassapensis, P. inermis, and P. straminea. In the middle of October, 1830, Poeppig arrived in Yurimaguas, where he discovered the beautiful Billbergia decora and Pitcairnia poeppigiana. He stayed there until 31 July, 1831, and then continued his trip accompanied by four Cocamilla Indians on a raft on the Maranon-Amazon. On the 4th of September he reached the mouth of the Teffe river, which he traveled to Ega, where he again made a long stay and found Streptocalyx poeppigii. On the 12th of March, 1832, he embarked for Para, where he again spent some time until a Belgian sailing vessel brought him back to Europe. In October, 1832, he finally arrived in Leipzig again.

His plant collections from Peru and Brazil comprised 2,300 species. Poeppig's most complete herbaria were in Leipzig and Berlin. In the second world war the herbarium in Leipzig was completely destroyed, the one in Berlin was mostly destroyed by bombs!

In Leipzig Poeppig now began to classify his collected material. On the 18th of October, 1833, he was named Extraordinary Professor of Natural Sciences. His main works are his travel descriptions, "Travels in Chile, Peru, and on the Amazon during the years 1827-1832," two volumes published in 1835/36 in Leipzig; the scientific description of the botanical material appeared in 1835, 1837, and 1845 in the 3 volumes "Nova Genera et Species Plantarum quas in Regno Chilensi, Peruviano et in Terra Amazonica annis 1827-1832 legit Eduardus Poeppig et cum Stephano Endlicher descripsit inconibusque illustravit. " Poeppig taught and lived in Leipzig, where he died on the 4th of September, 1868, after long, severe suffering from stomach cancer.

After this biographical overview let us let Poeppig himself speak to us about the life cycle of organic material, about birth and death in the tropical forest:

"...Parasitic growth is prevalent in all tropical areas, even at some distance outside the tropics, but they increase the closer you get to the equator. It is especially in the very thick sub-alpine forests, in which they are present in an over abundance and where they even appear in a ratio of 1:11 to the remaining phanerogams....They are almost more interesting than the growth on the ground. Their multiplicity is so great that in Peru alone it would take a life time to look at the species and determine the laws that govern their growth. Mere description can never give an idea of the appearance of a bombax tree whose giant branches are so laden with hundreds of parasites that its white bark is not visible anywhere. The parasites often are so dense on the tree trunks that neighboring plants prevent each other from spreading out, and so it happens that one layer of vegetation grows over the other even causing one parasite to seek root on top of another. It is a very one-sided viewpoint to consider parasitic plants as killers. There is no doubt, however, that a great many of the plants of this type can have a secondary effect on the destruction of a tree or even an entire forest. It is interesting for the lonely observer separated for many months from the world in the darkness of that forest observing nature and following its progress with ever greater involvement. I present to you some findings resulting from observations made by me on the behavior of parasitic vegetation.

"The first growth to establish itself on a tree trunk in the tropic forests never cause destruction and death, but are only the pioneers and predecessors of those plants whose role it is to destroy. The attack comes slowly, and we can say it comes with carefully conserved energy, because only after rot appears in the woody parts does the number of destructive plants increase. Thus the first generations of parasites are so constructed, so woody and so dry, that they must be satisfied to get their nutrition solely from the air. But it would not be appropriate to see the destruction of the tree as being so simplistic, because nature has so many aids that it can produce a great richness of growth, and on the other hand especially in the tropics it takes pleasure in keeping the activity of its workers entirely separate, precisely because thereby a far greater number can be put into action. The business of destroying the tree, while being undoubtedly what nature, as eternally reproductive as it is, has in mind, along with the other, eternal urge to provide for its own continuance, does not happen nearly as quickly as we usually assume. When its time comes, much beautiful growth must die before the ultimate purpose is reached. And there is hardly any plant which alone would be able to destroy woods that are so hard that only the hardened blade of an axe from Biscay's best factory can split it.

"Nature goes about the destruction of a tropical tree in approximately the following manner: No matter how smooth the surface of its trunk, soon slightly crust-like spots appear, then small, flat, reddish brown lichens followed by mosses, and the surface becomes uneven. Small tillandsias now root onto the surface and sit there for a long time without growing significantly, seemingly happy to have found a modest home. Gradually they form small turfs on which polypods and such soon begin to grow; the latter are much less modest as they send out their rooting stipites in all directions looking for a spot where they can divide and form a new colony. Then come the orchids and hanging cacti and form a veritable bed on which bromeliads and larger orchids can settle; they form thick protrusions with their mighty root masses and thus cause earth to collect. From the ground a large aroid has already been creeping stealthily upwards as the slick wood tries everywhere to reject it. It barely reaches the protrusions of the parasite group when it strikes root and impertinently sends out its broad leaves covering the work of the initial stages of destruction. Along with the aroid, invading loranths bore into the wood and send out their suckers in all directions. Then comes a woodpecker and makes a hole in the wood, which will perhaps be occupied later by a colorful ara bird, who will widen it with its stout beak into a comfortable nest. New groups of parasites arise close by until they join with the earlier ones and eventually a single, great mass arises, which completely covers the branch or surrounds the perpendicular stem like a ring. A lot of earth collects on it drawing moisture and probably storing rain water. Now rot of seriously attacks the whole spot and numerous insects further the decay and in turn attract more legions of woodpeckers. Only now does nature begin to show its powers, for soon sapping bushes appear as do fungi and large ferns and especially termites, which now occupy this hanging garden as their great activity in constructing their houses and in fetching materials for their survival speeds up the decay.

"After a few years have passed the demolition has progressed greatly. Numerous vines rising from the ground have enveloped the victim and hang on it or pull on it with the tension of their ropes. Finally a blast of wind breaks off the weakest branches, and soon the stem follows as its whole gigantic length falls, which a few years ago could have resisted the best axe. Far and wide the fertile ruins cover the naked ground; vines, twining grasses, nettles, tradescantias all take it over, then in a few months a thick layer of brown humus covers the formerly unproductive ground, and nature has completed its benevolent work."

Translated by Harvey L. Kendall

Never Again!


It was January 10th, 1981, sunny and 10 (-12 C), and we were moving bromeliads from our old apartment to our newly acquired house in the village of Fairfax, Ohio. At that time there were only about 150 plants to move but it was quite a task. We were moving the light stands and other equipment from the "Brom Room" I described (Journal of the Bromeliad Society, Vol. XXX, No. 5,), at the same time. I hired a young man with a van that could hold all of the plants and equipment as I just did not trust the broms to the moving company. With the help of the driver and that of my wife and good friend Bob Boutwell, who had moved up to a new home in Covington, Kentucky, a few months prior, the run through the cold was on.

The order of the day was to get the broms out of the cold...FAST! We had packed them, in their pots, in plastic garbage bags and tied the bags closed. To any neighbors who may have been watching it appeared we were taking our trash with us. The smaller plants were placed in cartons and then inside the bags for safety in transit. Fluorescent tubes were rolled up in newspaper and taped, while the fixtures were taped face to face for ease in handling.

The van was loaded and ready to roll in about 45 minutes and the driver had the heat on as soon as the loading door was closed. My wife Syl rode with the broms and I with Bob on a twenty-minute race across Cincinnati to the house, where we formed a 'bucket brigade' to unload the van's precious lading into the basement. The cargo was in the basement in short time and the van was on its way leaving Bob and me to set up the stands and equipment while my wife went for a take-out lunch for us.

I had special wiring set up in the basement for my greenhouse light garden as the house needed expanded wiring anyway, so there would be no trouble with overloading any of the circuits with the additional stands and fixtures to be added. There are now six 3-tier stands giving me 108 square feet of pot space. With the overall height of each stand at seven feet I can now allow for shelves for large broms up to five feet tall. The stands were together in a short time and ready to receive their tenants.

With the stub of a cigar held tight in his teeth, Bob spoke not a word but went straight to his work and opened the first bag. One by one the packs were opened and the broms removed, cleaned, misted and cups were re-filled. Water mats are now being used for humidity since the large new area is too much for small humidifier output and those brought from the apartment were stored. Fans were put in place and turned on and the timers were set. At sunset we slowly headed west to return a week later with the household goods and furniture on the final move.

With Bob moving up from Bush, Louisiana, and another Society member, Mike Stamper of Loveland, Ohio, I have been learning more and doing quite well with my ever expanding collection, which is now at about 250 plants of 23 genera. Bob has shown slides of his collecting trips in Mexico and given us some tricks for the better cultivation of our plants. I am baby sitting a few of Bob's broms while he gets set up at his new home to house his collection. We have also been able to interest other people in bromeliads and contact other members through the use of the 1981 Society Directory, which was done very well. Maybe, some day, we can form an affiliate.

The basement greenhouse I now have is much better than the Brom Room. The humidity stays between 50 and 85%, with the aid of water matting and the fans run 24 hours a day. Temperature in the winter ranges from 57 to 68 during the day and the summer range is 70 at night to under 90 with only a few days causing it to go higher. I have been able, with added space, to set up areas for xerophytes, and special wall hangings for Tillandsias, which are mounted on cork oak and placed on screening against a wall with a two tube 40 watt fixture overhead.

I have also replaced the orchids in my collection as those I had some time ago were sold to make room for more bromeliads, but they are now only allowed one shelf so I can maintain room for more broms.

Other changes have been in fertilization with the use of a time release type, 14-14-14, in the pots but I continue to use Peters Blossom Booster 10-30-20, at teaspoon per gallon in foliage feeding, done twice per month and cup feeding every other week. Being able now to catch rain in tubs, I use it or distilled water only. The pot watering is done from the tap. Too many chemicals from our local water leave residue on the leaves if it is used for spraying or cup feeding.

The final tally on the move was the loss of only one bromeliad, Streptocalyx poeppigii which has since been replaced. The others rewarded us with blooms and pups responding to their new home.

I vow this is our last move!! We worried about our "Little People" making it and now there are just too many. We would need a tractor-trailer.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Ecuador and Colombia 1981


Guzmania wittmackii, G. andreana, and Vriesea capituligera in habitat.

After landing in Quito, Ecuador, about seven hours behind schedule, our ragged group's spirits returned. Once again we could enjoy the sublime climate of emerald green Quito!

The next morning, we left at about 6:30 A.M. to collect plants. We headed toward Mindo, a remote village in western Ecuador, with Alexander Hirtz, our guide. After ascending the Andean crest, we did most of our collecting between 800 and 1500 meters. The forest in this region is extremely lush an ideal setting for spectacular guzmanias.

We managed to collect two forms of Guzmania scherzeriana, one with red and yellow bracts and another with pink and white bracts. Growing alongside one another, they regularly bloom six months apart depending on the climatic influences which prevail.

Our journey in this region was to collect Guzmania xanthobractea. However, not until dusk did we manage to locate its hiding place, and we were elated when we saw the golden bracts from a considerable distance. The intensely saturated red and yellow of nature's pallet would make many human artists envious.

In the final moments before sunset, Alex discovered the piece de resistance the lilac-colored Guz. wittmackii with a gorgeous purple-pink stepladder-like inflorescence. The unusual shape of the flower will no doubt be very useful in creating many fine hybrids in the future.

After a day's layover and many fruitless attempts at catching trout in a nearby stream, we proceeded northward toward Colombia. Arriving at the border town of Rumichaca on New Year's Eve, we were able to enjoy the local customs. The young children dress up as the widow of the old year to beg for money. Meanwhile, an effigy of the local police chief (or other public servant) is burned to release the frustrations of the previous year!

The next morning, we entered Ipiales, Colombia, and then headed westward towards the coastal town of Tumaco. We climbed to about 3,000 meters through rich farmland, and then descended towards the Pacific Ocean. After six tortuous hours of driving, we reached Altaqure, a primitive, yet typical town of the Andes.

In this region, we collected a striking orange-bracted form of G. wittmackii. We were once again in a hydrophilous forest at about 1200 meters. All around we saw many two-meter tall torches of Vriesea capituligera. Sunlight and a lack of humidity apparently triggers blooming in the wild, as most of the plants were found in the fringes of open fields. Red and yellow spikes of G. andreana were also commonly seen. Of medium size (1 meter in height), the nice compact habit of the foliage is dwarfed by the size of the flowering spike.

Pushing onward, we followed an oil pipeline towards the coastal refining station which Texaco maintains in this area. After twelve hours of driving, our disheveled crew entered the dimly lit town of Tumaco. Six weeks earlier, a Tsunami (tidal wave) had devastated the area following an 8.0 earthquake offshore. Electricity had only recently been reconnected and freshwater was found only in buckets which had been trucked in!

Awakening early, we hastily left Tumaco. Before we traveled 25 miles, however, our gas tank dislodged from the Jeep's chassis. We managed to refasten it to the Jeep with barb wire, determination, and good luck.

Our next collecting stop yielded the ubiquitous Tillandsia bulbosa and Aechmea angustifolia (Aechmea leucocarpa). In the heat of the coastal plane, we also collected T. subulifera. A host for ants (as are many tillandsias with inflated bases), we became aware of their presence several days later while cleaning the plants.

Traveling into the cooler foothill region, we were able to find many specimens of G. musaica and G. dissitiflora. Both species prefer dark and wet habitats in which to flourish. In this same elevation (500 meters), we were able to secure a few plants of the unusual Vriesea monstrum. The one-meter-long feather of a pinkish hue is a sight to behold!

As we increased our elevation, the forest became more luxuriant. Guzmania graminifolia, a grass-like vining species was found nearly everywhere twisting up and around tree branches. In the wet understory, many species of the genus Ronnbergia could be found. R. morreniana, a large spoon-shaped plant with mottled leaves is by far the most interesting. The leaves remind me of a chartreuse leopard!

A little higher up, we discovered the "lost" Guzmania sanguinea 'Erecta'. Although first described by Andre over 100 years earlier, Dr. Smith placed this species into the "doubtful and excluded taxa" category for lack of herbarium material. The form 'Erecta' possesses a brilliant red tassel which protrudes above the foliage at flowering. The brilliant coloration is certain to attract any humming-bird within 100 yards.

We once again returned to Quito to dry out (and do our laundry) before returning to Colombia for the next part of our adventure. This time we would proceed eastward from Ipiales towards the Amazon basin.

Our first collecting stop was near the largest lake in Colombia, Laguna la Cocha. An alpine delight, the lake is about 22 kilometers in length and about 3 kilometers in width. Today, little of the native forest is preserved in this area. Eucalyptus abound, yet we saw few epiphytes growing in their boughs. Not until we proceeded more than 20 km from the nearest sign of man did the true "native" forest begin. It is a shame that man has not learned to live in harmony with his surroundings.

Throughout the Andes of Colombia, the guzmania is king of the High Country, the most spectacular, perhaps, being G. sibundoyorum. Found as dense thickets beneath small trees, the red and yellow flaming bracts brilliantly lit the misty surroundings. Another guzmania with a red inflorescence to rival any rose fancier is Guzmania squarrosa. Unfortunately, the cool evening requirements which these two fine specimens demand are difficult to reproduce in the southern United States.

Guzmania sanguinea var. erecta

The next morning, after driving for over eight hours since La Cocha, we finally caught our first glimpse of the Amazon Basin. The infinite checkerboard of green and the thousands of bromeliads awaiting us, spurned us onward.

Collecting was difficult as we descended the serpentine roadway. The sheer cliffs allowed only brief possibilities of snatching an epiphyte or two. We carried a rope to which a weight (bean bag) was attached. We would toss this over a desirable plant and then proceed to saw it from its lofty perch. The rope contained metal beads in its midpoint to serve as a sawing device.

Guzmania sprucei

As we entered the flatlands of the Amazon Basin, a herd of Brahman cattle blocked the roadway. Oilfields and cattle suggested the countryside of Texas, and in the distance burning flames of natural gas could be seen. The native forest was cleared for over 2 km in both directions from the roadway. The swampy condition of the fields made cross-country travel impractical. We proceeded to drive for great distances to come upon trees from which we could collect bromeliads. Additionally, the immense size of the trees precluded most efforts at climbing or lassoing our plants. The first plants often began at 25 meters which was longer than our rope!

Ron Callison with the inflorescence of Vriesea capituligera

We did manage to collect the beautiful Aechmea romeroi. A member of the "chantinii complex", the orange and rose branches of the inflorescence are considerably larger than that of Aechmea chantinii or of Aechmea zebrina. This plant grows epiphytically by entwining trees with huge woody stolons. In the same tree, we often found the beautiful striped Aechmea zebrina. Its orange bracts frequently graced the treetops for all to see. Another large 2-meter specimen is Aechmea servitensis. The conspicuous 1 meter long pink banners which draped the sides of the flowering spike could be seen from 100 meters away! We did not collect the 2-meter tall Aechmea longicuspis. Not only is the foliage well armored with thick black spines, but the inflorescence is likewise protected by hundreds of needle-like spines.

Maggie Kent holding the rare Ronnbergia morreniana

Time was short and we unfortunately had to return to Quito. After two days of driving on dirt roads, we crossed the border into Ecuador. We found ourselves confronted, however, by a roadblock and a huge crowd of angry people. We soon discovered that there was a nationwide strike of taxi drivers. The truck drivers were sympathetic to our cause and were letting the air out of the tires of anyone trying to pass into Quito. We quickly retreated to Rumichaca and made plans to fly into Quito. The airport was overbooked, and in desperation, we began planning our escape via Colombia. The next morning, however, the strike was over, and this story could have a happy ending.

Vista, California

Hybrid Vigor


Around the beginning of the 20th century a Russian scientist, interested in plants, most particularly grain crops, began to publish his observations on how plants varied in relation to environment. In each of the grain crops he found similar variants selected by environments. In the early 1920's his article in the Annals of Botany discussed these and proposed a pattern on how plants varied. This wonderful observer of nature was Nikolae Vavilov. A recent article by Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard in Natural History magazine for April, 1981, covers his viewpoints or opinions of Vavilov's work. It has taken a long, long time to have present day scientists realize the value of Vavilov's work of 80 to 100 years ago. We hear so little about it in relation to plants today.

I had been interested in variants in those same years and made a lot of my own observations that had closely agreed with what had been written by Vavilov, so the reading of the article in the early 1920's made a great impression on me. I had just been separated from my first job, after finishing college, because of the difference in opinion on clonal selection in sugarcane that was being undertaken by the sugar industry of Hawaii. This undertaking was based on the work done in the citrus industry of southern California. In an article of mine published in those early years in "Facts About Sugar", an international publication of sugarcane, I reviewed these projects in citrus, potatoes and in sugarcane. I had been connected with the sugarcane work from its inception. In sugarcane these series of variants are very marked. Even the old timer Hawaiian patriarchs were so aware of these variants that they showed me how to find even more variants than I had dreamed were happening. One sugar plantation extended, in a very few years, the four or five superior variants of the leading hybrid then grown to cover the entire plantation and got the biggest crop they had ever had.

But sugarcane has a number of serious diseases that can wipe it out and so hybridizing for disease resistance had to be a more important undertaking. The research, however, ended up with a better consideration of the planting material and this was very profitable.

In the pineapple industry similar selection of clones made for greater progress. Finally by sheer luck a very superior clone was found in an area far from Hawaii and was brought here and expanded by the industry to the entire acreage. Remember these selections or variants are entirely by clonal division without hybridization being involved.

Yes, variants in plants can be created in multiplication of cells in the plants. In the citrus the gain was from removing unproductive variant branches and top working them over to better forms. In both sugarcane and pineapples the plant is divided for expansion making use of the 'eyes' or buds on the stalk. Surely in these rapid processes of expansion new variants arose and these had to be watched for. Many of these were a degenerative form and had to be eliminated in time.

In a few years I looked for a bit of land to build a house and very carefully studied how I could make use of the air movement over the chosen location before buying it. I found a valuable place where no one could block the wind, nor would there be water runoff of other land on to it. Fortunately, it was a pie-shaped lot with the narrowest point facing the prevalent wind, northeast. It was grass land that once raised a crop of pineapples but very poorly. I had not realized how sticky a soil I got until I began to grow a garden. The most important thing to do was plant a vegetative barrier to slow down the wind and filter it through the garden. I gathered all my hibiscus hybrids I had made from age 12 to 18 and thought I might go on with them, but they took up too much space and I was finding so many other interesting plants to work with in the epiphytes.

At first, I did not expand the garden very much as I did considerable traveling between the islands for my work. When I married May, a kindred plant lover, a whole new approach to gardening was undertaken. We planted a walled-in garden with paved courtyards so as not to have to care for grass lawns. The landscaping was with epiphytic plants established on tree fern stumps, on rocks and trees. Our principal interest involved orchid plants with a few bromeliads, which we had always had in a garden tucked in as filler plants. Eventually, it became difficult to care for all the orchids because of new orchid pests that were very damaging.

It was almost impossible to control them in the massed growth of plants. Infected orchids were eliminated and bromeliads took their place in part of the garden. Belonging to the Bromeliad Society from its inception, I received bromeliad seeds which May grew, not knowing what they would look like someday. At that time almost nothing was written about this plant family. As seedlings grew and we traded plants with a few other growers we soon had quite a collection. As most bromeliads are epiphytic we tried to plan good air movement. Part of this plan had already been worked out for the orchids. It was a very interesting process of seeing how air could be moved about the place with ups and down of plants of various size and on tree fern logs. We soon discovered how a single species could look different when grown under different conditions of light, air and moisture. We looked for variants that were more than just leaf changes due to the location. We found them by creating areas for plants that were different from what they were used to growing in. Sometimes we were defeated and had to move plants to save them but mostly we were successful. We have written about these in other bromeliad articles and specifically mentioned the variants of Aechmea chantinii and Nidularium innocentii, the first with all its variants described as separate species and the latter with all as varieties of the species. This was because different taxonomists had studied them and the ones covering the nidularium knew more about variants and how nature worked. Maybe they were aware of Vavilov's writings.

Now if bromeliads were as easy to hybridize as orchids we would have undertaken the crossing of the wider variants of these and hopefully gotten superior new variants of the same species. This is what happens in nature and how superior variants are created. This process is how the biggest steps in evolution take place. Why do we not have more recognition of this fact and that hybridization is by far the most important part of evolution?

But how is the variant creation controlled in nature? The plant has an inborn directive to make variants and environment decides which lives or dies in the resulting progeny. There is no plant family the equal of bromeliads to respond to environment. This makes the finding of permanent variants, looking just like the temporary ones, very hard to find. This also makes it easy for people to sell the temporary variants at higher prices and then when you grow the plants in another location they quickly revert to the type for the new location. When someone gives us a plant that looks a little different from those we are growing we always put the new one alongside the plants we already have to see what will happen. In many cases the new plant will soon begin to look just like the others, that is, if the plant was only a temporary variant due to location of growing. If you can create many microclimates in your garden you can experiment with plants to see how they will change in different environments. I would really need a huge garden and an army of workers to accomplish what I want to do with plants. Maybe it is just as well that I am physically unable to do all this. Maybe others can do this work even if only on a small scale to study them.

From inside the house I can look out on the bromeliad garden and see plants that were put out all about the same time but in different locations and point out those in more favorable locations than others that are larger or of better color. When you have extra shade, or loss of it from the leaves falling off the shade trees it is interesting to see the responses in epiphytic growing below them. If you observe these happenings you fully realize how things progress in nature. How unfortunate most colleges and people in general are when they cannot enjoy epiphytes all year round in a natural setting. How fortunate we were to be born in the islands where we have a proper place to do this experimenting and can easily see the results. There is no question that plants respond to environment and environment controls everything, but that is not all there is to evolution; we need hybridization.

There are many questions that we do not get answers for in the process of observation. Why do these plants choose to all bloom together one year and the next year they bloom in a different order? Why is it some months and some years you can breed with them and get results and other years nothing happens when using the same plants. My wife has compiled a diary of when plants bloom. These observations were made over a two years' span and it was surprising how different one year's blooming was to the other. She is very aware of the time of blooming not only for this manuscript but for the plants as material she uses at the Honolulu Academy of Arts every week of the year for flower arrangements, and has done so for 30 years.

People worry about endangered species when they should be out cross pollinating them to increase their vigor to survive the harder environments. Nature tries to do this regularly but cannot compete with slash and burn of native peoples and collectors who take away nature's greatest achievements and imprison them in greenhouses instead of leaving them in their native habitats. I'm sure those plants we have acclimatized in our garden, Lipolani (Tropical Heaven) have enjoyed their spot. Many of these seed and germinate their plants in our garden. As I sit here writing I can look out my balcony at the branches of the big plumeria tree covered with epiphytes that have seeded themselves there, some over many generations. Yes, they take a beating when the plumeria drops its leaves yearly but they do that in their home area also. In a high branch way out of reach, there is a phalaenopsis that grew there from seed blown up there and it blooms when the plumeria is without leaves. We all think of this orchid as having to have considerable shade, but there it is. It was not our plan to have bromeliads on the plumeria tree but the seed blew over the house roof and germinated in high branches of the plumeria which is two stories tall. Under the tree are a great variety of plants; one orchid from a cloud forest in Honduras has been growing there for 25 years and is much more robust than those of its kind in Honduras. (Arpophyllum spicatum)

It is great to let plants do what comes naturally to them, but there does come a time when control is necessary. Some plants are more robust and rampant and must be cut back to give others their share of light and air movement. Trees must be trimmed back to let in light and air for the undergrowth. Good gardening takes discipline but should look natural in the process.

With 40 years of orchid breeding and other plant hybridizing I still have many questions unanswered. The biggest question is how some variants can arise that are so superior to others? How do variants arise in hybrids that have the ability to breed good offspring while others in the same cross do not? Maybe we should give awards for performance rather than beauty.

Recently I transferred all the data in several separate notebooks into the larger books of hybridizing records of some 36,000 crosses. One just cannot avoid seeing how the same plants react one day, one month, one year, or at one location versus another time or location. In making crosses one can go along for as many as 40 failures, one after another then have 10 takes which produce pods, germinate and grow to flowering plants. There is no rhyme nor reason to it.

Why, why, why? I then go out and repeat the crosses I feel are the difficult ones and get them through the process to flowering in maybe a bit longer time than usual. After seeing and trying this for all these years I definitely conclude that there is some control somewhere in the plant that lets off a chemical reaction that says yea or nay. This is in spite of all the peculiarities of some genera and species taken into account and avoided, where some prefer to be male and others to be female, and avoiding crosses that must have the same 'blood' on both sides of the cross are considered. There are definitely minutes, hours, days and phases of the moon that permit or not permit pollinating. In addition there are very definitely benefits from which plant is the female parent; the female is far more powerful than the male.

Qualities of the species that are dominant in breeding are the most important information to know if you breed plants, also how two dominants may combine. Then the order in adding either species, genera or other intergenerics not only determines fertility of offspring but the usefulness of the final product. It is a very thought-provoking process and nature has a lot to tell you that books do not record. Of course people do not believe you unless you have enough data to support your claims. But one person's data at one location may not work for another person at a different location.

The exciting breeding in bromeliads is still far in the future in the tropical areas where these plants have evolved or in areas quite similar to those in other continents. Future breeders should avoid the endless making of similar crosses done with material the present breeders know little about. There is too much just hoping the "Jack Pot" will arrive if he crosses two fairly good looking plants. If you are in the right environment the best may just come your way.

All evolution in nature made use of hybridization to accomplish the adaptation to an environment but only the environment decides what variants are to live. Don't forget there are the chemical controls and a big factor in it is called hybrid vigor. Without variant hybridizing no great steps would be made in nature on in man's mixing them up too, yet you read article after article or book after book and very little is said about hybridization within a species. It does not matter if the brush is dirty or clean, nature controls what happens in the end. Maybe if the people who describe plants saw a bit more of how nature works we would not have as many names for plants.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Tillandsia didisticha (E. Morren) Baker


T. didisticha is a South American species that never fails to bring pleasure to its owner. It is adaptable to almost any situation and is a reliable bloomer the lovely inflorescence lasting for several months.

Organic Horticulture The Integrated Approach


We have discussed the eclectic approach to organic agriculture in which ideas from various traditions are combined into a viable system. Doubtless, the ideal would be a completely integrated system in which all of the soil and environmental factors affecting growth are controlled and kept as close to the optimum as possible. A representative of a firm manufacturing microbial preparations has told me that as a result of experience he wishes to market his product only to those who are willing to provide needed soil amendments and give adequate culture.

Increases of growth are objectives of both conventional and organic agriculture. However, the results desired are often quite varied. A greater production of leaves and stems may be desired. On the other hand, we may want primarily increased yields of flowers, fruits or seeds. Roots or tubers may be the primary end product. Cytokinins may be used to increase the number of growing points or buds, if propagation is the end in view. Gibberellins are applied to stems to increase linear growth. The buds of camellias are sometimes treated with this substance to produce super sized flowers. The B vitamins, particularly thiamine, can produce increases in root growth and proprietary solutions containing thiamine are often applied to plants after transplanting. A number of commercial hydroponic type soluble fertilizers widely sold in retail outlets contain small amounts of thiamine.

Aside from fertilizers, a fair number of substances or treatments have been reported to increase plant growth. Sometimes these results cannot be repeated easily at other times or at other locations. Probably these inconsistencies are explainable by the law of the minimum or, in other words, the law of limiting factors. This law was first developed in early studies with chemical fertilizers in which it was found that abundant applications of fertilizer containing some essential element would produce little or no increase if some other essential element was deficient. Often the so-called minor or trace elements are present as impurities in the salts used to make commercial fertilizers, but sometimes they are not present in adequate amounts and can be limiting. The same law also applies to various environmental factors as well as to soils. Thus soil may have adequate supplies to nitrogen which is nevertheless unavailable because of too low temperatures at the roots. Also, poor soil aeration may create an oxygen deficiency which can prevent normal root function and nutrient uptake.

The very common deficiencies of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium have been greatly over-emphasized to the neglect of the very important trace elements such as iron, zinc, manganese, copper, boron and molybdenum. Magnesium is often missing in commercial fertilizers and sometimes the use of epsom salts or of dolomitic limestone is helpful. The trace elements are often components of enzyme systems in plants or are essential in some metabolic process. The more sophisticated soluble hydroponic type fertilizers sold in retail outlets to gardeners now usually have a complete set of these essential trace elements, in some cases almost to an excess. Unfortunately, statements on the trace elements have been eliminated from the containers of some brands sold nationally because of the varied regulations of the Department of Agriculture in many of the states. Fertilizers which are derived from fish cannery wastes or from seaweeds are highly favored by organic gardeners, since they have a very wide range of these elements in a safe balance and do not cause injuries if applied at reasonable rates. They probably contain some unidentified growth factors as well. Except in some maritime regions they tend to be somewhat expensive for routine use in large scale commercial farming. Some horticulturists use them occasionally to provide trace elements often as foliar sprays. The writer often uses a fish emulsion containing some added phosphorus on cymbidiums, bromeliads, fuchsias and other plants. This product is odorless and results have invariably been excellent. However, a friend who specializes in rare and difficult plants is convinced that deodorants added to fish fertilizers are very toxic to his plants.

There may be an exception to the need for maintaining all growth factors as close to the optimum as possible in the case of TRIA (triacontanol), the recently discovered growth promoting factor. Dr. Stanley K. Ries, the discoverer, in a personal communication to the author has stated: "The response is greater at lower than optimum temperature, light, nutrition and shorter photoperiods. However severely stressed plants will not respond either."

There are a number of enzyme and amino acid preparations available from commercial laboratories which have been claimed to give striking increase of plant growth. No information on the preparation or the composition of these materials is currently available. Usually these are applied to plants as foliar sprays and those who have reported favorable results have generally used them concurrently with seaweed preparations.

A preparation of this type is sold to large scale users by Cytozyme Laboratory, Inc., 134 South 700 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104. Small packages suitable for gardeners are obtainable by mail order from Dr. Bargyla Rateaver, Pauma Valley, CA 92061.

Considerable amateur experimentation with home made preparations of this type has been in progress for several years in a number of plant societies in the Los Angeles area devoted to gesneriads, begonias or orchids. There have been some enthusiastic reports of the results of using these preparations. We must admit that the largest and finest cymbidium orchid plant we have ever seen was grown with the use of one of these preparations.

In one case, faded begonia flowers are used as a basis of the material, but usually fruits such as bananas or avocados are macerated and added to an equal amount of rain water or distilled water. Yeast is added and the mixture is incubated for one or two years. The fluid is applied to plants in low dilutions with water, even to grass lawns.

A recent research report from Japan by Kobayashi, Torigai and Takahashi (1980) lends some plausibility to such treatments. These investigators cultured yeast for three days and then autolyzed by growing at 35 to 37 C. This starts a process of self digestion which releases the yeast growth factors to the nutrient solution. Very small amounts of the yeast autolysate were applied to garden peas (0.1 ppm). The treated peas flowered 10 days earlier and the yield was 80 per cent greater than the control plants which received only mineral fertilization. Yeast is rich not only in the B vitamins but also in other important growth factors such as inositol and biotin. Autolyzed yeast has long been added to culture media for bacteria in which it promotes a remarkable rate of growth.

Trace element fertilizers, vitamins or soil microbial cultures appear to be particularly effective when supplied to very young plants or sprouting seeds. A good start in life seems to be very important.

Unfortunately, much of the literature of the organic movement is anecdotal and journalistic in nature. There is a regrettable lack of well controlled experimentation, which we believe will be corrected in the course of time. The gardener, unlike the commercial grower, can afford to experiment. We suggest the keeping of careful records. Try to establish valid controls. Believe and use only that which works under your own conditions.


Kobayashi, Michiharu, et al. 1980. Effect of Yeast Extracts on Higher Plant and Soil 57:41-47.

Guzmania gracilior (Andre) Mez

A dwarf Guzmania new to Peru



In July 1980 we found on our trip in northern Peru along the new road from Pomacochas to Rioja-Moyobamba (Dptm. San Martin) on the eastern slopes of the Andes a remarkable dwarf guzmania with yellow bracts and white flowers, not higher than 40 cm. We assumed that it could be a new species, for we had never seen a similar plant in Peru before. But the classification with help of the Guzmania key of L.B. Smith led easy to G. gracilior, and the comparison with the isotype-material (LEHMANN 3660, U.S. Herbarium) confirmed our determination. But G. gracilior is only listed for Colombia (Prov,. Antioquia, Huilacaqueta, Cauca and Narino). It grows there terrestrial and saxicolous on open crests and slopes in an altitude from 700 to 2400 m. In northern Peru we found now G. gracilior growing as a terrestrial in 2200 m in a dense, dark, moss forest in association with Guzmania victoriae RAUH (s. Bromeliad Society Journal Vol. XXX 2) as well as saxicolous in 800 m on very steep and wet sand limestone rock walls, in association with some species of not yet determined Eriocaulaceae.

Contrary to G. victoriae, which is easy in cultivation, G. gracilior seems to be a little difficult: it needs moisture and cool temperatures. We were only successful, when we put the plants in pure Sphagnum and kept them cool.

G. gracilior is like other dwarf Guzmanias, a caulescent species. The stems are single, but mostly branched from the base and below the inflorescences. The erect or ascending 10-20 cm long stems are covered with the old leaf sheaths and bear a rosette of short-triangular, recurved leaves; their sheathes are elliptic, 5-6 cm long, densely lepidote, dark castaneous at the base and finely purple-red striped above. The spreading to recurved blades are up to 15 cm long, 2 cm wide at the base, densely cinereous lepidote above and glabrous beneath. The slender erect inflorescence scape is 15-20 cm long and covered with subfoliate scape bracts, yellow at the base and green in the upper half. The inflorescence is laxly bipinnate with more or less 10 horizontally spread spikes; the lower ones are exceeded by the green tipped primary bracts, the upper primary bracts are shorter than the spikes and uniform yellow. The spikes themselves are laxly 3-6 flowered and distinctly stipitated (2-4 cm long). The yellow floral bracts are broadly elliptic, obtuse and shorter than the yellow sepals. These are about 8 mm long, half connate, broadly rounded and emarginated at the tip. The white petals, drying off brownish after anthesis, are up to 16 mm long. Stamens and style are included. Collection numbers: RAUH 53 634 and 53 845 a, July 1980. Locality: Road from Pomacochas to Rioja, 800-2200 m, km 400 to 322.

This interesting dwarf Guzmania is known in Peru (up to date) only from this locality.

Institute of Systematic Botany University of Heidelberg

Nematodes can be a problem for growing bromeliads in garden soil. Members have dug up plants of Aechmea orlandiana and other bromeliads growing in a garden bed and found that nematodes had destroyed the feeding roots.

Experiments in Seed Growing


Since the writer had never before grown any of the epiphytic bromeliads from seed, and having had on hand a large quantity of seeds of Vriesea fosteriana, he felt justified in making some experiments in their culture. Presently the seedlings are some nine to twelve months old, the exact planting date being lost to memory. The largest of the seedlings are approximately four inches across, so something must have been done right.

Various substrates were used. They are listed below with comments:
Haapu chunk Best
Oak bark chunk Very good
Peat moss-perlite mixture (2-1) Good
Facial tissue Not especially satisfactory
Two other substrates were tried:
Ground bark Something inhibiting present
Green florist moss Algae smothered seedlings
The chunks were placed in containers of water to about half their thickness. This kept their surfaces quite moist. The peat moss-perlite mix and facial tissue were kept wet but not covered with water. At first the containers were covered with a pane of glass. Seeds were sprinkled on surface of substrate. After germination the glasses were slid partly off to admit some air but at same time keep up humidity miniature terrariums. These conditions have been maintained throughout experiment.

From time to time very dilute fish emulsion about one teaspoon to quart was sprinkled over plants. The plants have been given good but well-diffused light and were kept in house at more-or-less room temperatures through winter. No disease or insect problems have been encountered.

The seeds used were very fresh, which may account for some of the success achieved. Whatever the reasons, we are very happy with our results. Several hundred seedlings attest to the satisfactory outcome.

The Old Order Passes


As I bring to a close my long association with the Bromeliad Society, I deem it appropriate to pause and remember those who throughout the years have been loyal contributors to this Journal.

In the beginning there were Racine and Mulford Foster, who steered both the Journal and the Society for the first ten years of its existence. Then there was the stalwart treasurer Frank Overton, who took over the Journal for the year when no one wanted the job. There were many contributors in those halcyon days Dr. Lyman B. Smith of the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Richard Oeser and Walter Richter of Germany, Mrs. Muriel Waterman of New Zealand, Mrs. Adda Abendroth and Padre Raulino Reitz of Brazil, to name just a few.

When I finally took over the editorship in 1960, both Jeanne Woodbury and James Giridlian were of great assistance in seeing that the journals reached the membership. In those days, unlike the present, members seemed eager to help. George Kalmbacher and Dr. George Milstein of New York City wrote many articles. Morris Henry Hobbs, noted artist from New Orleans, lent his artistic talents to the cover from 1959 to 1964. David Barry, Jr., Julian Marnier Lapostolle, Marcel Lecoufle, Charles Wiley, and others aided in many ways.

In more recent years when interest seemed to be dwindling because members were more interested in the little bulletins issued by their respective affiliates, Dr. Werner Rauh, with his superlative photos and authoritative articles, was unfailing in his efforts to raise the standard of the Journal. Goodale Moir, Bernard Stonor, Wilhelm Weber, Vernon Stoutemyer and the Reverend David R. Kinish all provided me with material when it was so badly needed. Not to be overlooked are Elmer Lorenz, who provided the index, and Gary Ezzo, our fine printer, who is always on time with a splendid Journal. To these steadfast friends I give my heartfelt thanks for all they have done.

The Society has undergone a drastic change in the past year and 1982 will see almost none of the old faces among the directors. The new Board will be comprised of many members who are new to the Society and unfamiliar with its background. It is to be hoped that these members will contribute as much to the Society and its Journal as did the first directors who worked so assiduously for the betterment of the entire group.

Readers will be happy to learn that this publication will have not only one but two editors. They are men who because of their education, background, and experience will be able to produce a highly satisfactory journal, being professors of botany who have traveled extensively and have long been interested in bromeliads. I hope that those of you who were not disposed to write for the Journal in the past will deluge them with articles. The editorship is a purely voluntary undertaking with no remuneration of any kind, so please, please help them. From now on send all communications to:

Hal Wiedman and Lee Kavaljian
Dept. of Biological Sciences
California State University
Sacramento, California 95819

Odds and Ends

CUMULATIVE INDEX TO THE BULLETIN AND JOURNAL OF THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY Volumes I XXX by Clyde F. Reed. A contribution of the Reed Herbarium No. XXIX, Baltimore, Maryland, 1981. All those who read the Journal will realize what an important contribution this is to the study of bromeliads. We have to thank Dr. Reed who did such a complete and flawless job. Copies may be secured from Dr. Clyde F. Reed 10105 Harford Rd., Baltimore, Maryland 21234. Check should be made out to him for $4.00 plus 75 for postage and handling.

ROUND ROBIN MEMBERS WANTED! JoAnn English, 1405 Roma Ave., N.W. Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104 and Nancy B. Greenfield, P.O. Box 233, Naples, Florida 33939 are eager to have a Round Robin. If interested, please get in touch with either of these members and start a Robin flying. They are both highly informative and lots of fun!

PLANT PARENTHOOD For those recalcitrant bromeliads which beget too few offshoots or none at all, try giving them the pill. It is very simple. Dissolve one birth control pill in a quart of water and put in cup and around the base of a bromeliad and just wait. In no time at all, pups should appear. Orchid growers have used the pill for some time with outstanding success.

THE BROMELIAD IDENTIFICATION CENTER at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 800 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida 33578, thanks the following for their generous contributions:

Cecil and Georgia Waggoner
N.E. Oklahoma Bromeliad Society
Ann and Jim Mann
Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay
Bromeliad Society of South Florida
Hazel H. Quilhot
Sarasota Bromeliad Society

All donations to the Center are earnestly solicited so that the work in the identification of bromeliad species may be carried on.

Tillandsia ponderosa L.B. Smith


Tillandsia ponderosa is a majestic plant when in flower, and when seen in habitat in the cloud forests of Guatemala it is an imposing sight. A well-grown plant will reach a height of over 3 feet, the brilliant inflorescence itself measuring 18 inches. The inflorescence may be a vivid rose or a brilliant gold. The flower petals are purple. The foliage is a silvery green. This species takes long to mature and flower, but when it finally blooms, its color lasts for several months.

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