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. 90041-0241

PresidentTim Lorman
Vice PresidentW. R. Paylen
Recording SecretaryJeanne Woodbury
TreasurerJoyce Lorenz
Corresponding Sec.Elmer J. Lorenz

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

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

1982-1984: Allen Edgar, Linda Harbert, Annie Navetta, Peter Paroz, Herbert Plever.

Adda Abendroth, Brazil; Luis Ariza Julia, Dominican Republic; Olwen Ferris, Australia; Marcel Lecoufle, France; Harold Martin, New Zealand; 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, USA; Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil; Victoria Padilla, USA.


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


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


Eloise Beach, David Benzing, Sue Gardner, Thomas Lineham, Robert Read, Edgar Smith and John Utley.

Copyright 1982 by the
Bromeliad Society, Inc.

The World Bromeliad Conference and Show
  Sally Thompson, et al47
Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?
  Dave Christian57
Book Review
  Victoria Padilla60
Tillandsia roland-gosselinii
  Sue Gardner61
Editor’s Notes63
A New Hybrid, Vriesea Mira
  O. Mekers and F. Thomas64
Beyond Belief
  Bert T. Foster67
Puya hromadnikii
  Werner Rauh69
Neoregelia smithii
  Wilhelm Weber72
Everglades Park Bromeliads Face Possible Danger
  David Benzing75
In Memory of Adda Abendroth
  Victoria Padilla79
Ronnbergia explodens92

PICTURE ON THE COVER — Tillandsia dyeriana. Photo by Werner Rauh.

The World Bromeliad Conference and Show Corpus Christi, Texas



CORPUS CHRISTI — The Corpus Christi Bromeliad Society welcomes you to Bromeliaceae Ole’ and our South Texas area. We are located in South Texas, on Corpus Christi Bay, near the Gulf of Mexico. We enjoy an average of 241 days of sunshine every year. Please visit our area when you are here for the World Bromeliad Conference, June 10 to 13, 1982.

Of the many relaxing things to do here, fishing seems to be a favorite of all. About 65 million pounds of edible fish are taken from the Texas Gulf Coast waters each year. You may fish for trout, redfish and drum in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Spanish mackerel, sailfish, marlin, tarpon, kingfish and other game fish can be found in the deep waters of the open Gulf.

Padre Island is a beachcomber’s delight. Many shells, including sand dollars and the large and fragile pen shell, can be found on the Island’s beaches. Perhaps you could find a bottle with a message inside, washed up on the shore from some faraway place!

It is about a 3 hour drive to the Mexican border and on your way there, you may wish to stop at the famous King Ranch for a tour. The Santa Gertrudis cattle were developed at the Ranch and it is also famous for raising quarterhorses. As for bromeliads, you can see many plants of Tillandsia baileyi throughout this area.

The border towns in Mexico offer good bargains, especially in leather goods, perfume, liquor and decorative pots. Do take time to stop at one of the excellent restaurants, to have a cabrito (kid) dinner, or other Mexican speciality, and a margarita. More information about tours into the interior of Mexico will be available at the Conference.

We are looking forward to meeting all of you next June. See you at Bromeliaceae Ole’!

CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES — The activities to be included in the Conference are varied and are designed to provide something of interest for everyone. Novices will be able to start a fine collection from the sales areas, and advanced horticulturists will be able to add even more to their store of knowledge.

Many beautiful South Texas gardens and greenhouses are waiting for you to tour during and after the Conference. The owners will personally greet you and discuss their plants with you. Maps of routes will be included in your registration packet.

The seminars will include artistic, horticultural, and scientific topics, and Werner Rauh from the University of Heidelberg will be a featured speaker. Other speakers will be David Benzing, Amy Jean Gilmartin, Harry Luther, Edward McWilliams, Tony Novak, Herb Plever, Lyman Smith, Valerie Steckler, John Utley, Lee Ward, and Ervin Wurthmann. Their topics range from taxonomy and morphology to a corsage demonstration workshop and current information on hybridizing.

The sales booths are eagerly awaited by all. Regular, full registrants will be allowed early entrance to the sales areas and we are expecting an unusually fine assortment of bromeliads to be for sale. Booths for commercial growers are still available at a fee of $200 and seven foot miscellaneous sales tables may be reserved for a fee of $100. Miscellaneous sales items are limited to those having a relationship with bromeliads and plants are excluded. In addition, there will be a members’ sales area, so bring your bromeliads and see how fast they will sell!

At the sneak preview party planned for registrants, a large mariachi band will perform and get you into the mood of the Show’s Tex-Mex theme. The following night there will be an auction for which growers have donated especially outstanding plants, with all proceeds going to the Selby Identification Center. The next evening of fun will bring us a Texas-style barbecue. The entertainment will be provided by a mystery group of dancers. If you would like to try to guess, “watch the center stage.” Get it? If not, come see and find out for yourself. A cash bar will be available each evening.

Of course the grandest event of all, is the Show itself. It will be held at the new Bayfront Plaza auditorium where everyone will have ample space for displays because the lower, display floor has an area of 84,000 sq. ft. Meetings will be held on the upper floor, and the entertainment will use both floors.

The members of the Corpus Christi Bromeliad Society are very excited about this opportunity to host the world. Reservations have come from as far away as South Africa, England, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Germany. Won’t you come too?

Stone sculpture, cycad and bromeliad plants in the Gardner’s garden.

The largest greenhouse in the Gardners’ garden, a plexiglas dome, and outside plantings.

Interior view of the Gardners’ plexiglas dome.

GARDENS — The Garden of David and Sue Gardner

This young garden, started in the spring of 1979, is the product of many years of planning and collecting. The house and gardens cover just over ¾ of an acre. There are large planting areas, patios, two greenhouses, a lathhouse, additional lath-covered beds and no lawn. The plantings are mainly of tropicals and subtropicals, including one of the largest collections of palms and cycads in South Texas. The garden reveals the owners’ love of plants and includes many specimens that are field-collected by them in Mexico or South Texas. Numerous stone sculptures, most of which were carved in southern Mexico, add a bit of whimsy and a Mexican flavor to the garden.

Rock garden areas are shared by cacti, aloes, dyckias, hechtias, and other succulent plants. Epiphytic bromeliads are naturalized on trees and rocks or are grown in beds. Many tillandsias hang from lath structures and potted bromeliads occupy a small greenhouse and lathhouse along with a small collection of orchids. The largest greenhouse is a plexiglas dome that is 45 ft. in diameter. The dome is planted with tender palms and tropicals. Here too, bromeliads and orchids are naturalized on rocks and woody plants, while others are mounted on a cedar framework. A small waterfall is the focal point of this enclosed garden.

Many of the bromeliads in this collection are Mexican tillandsias that were collected by the Gardners over the past 12 years; some of them are new, soon-to-be-described species. The other major component of this bromeliad collection is a group of hybrid neoregelias which is planted in beds under a lath cover.

The Gardners look forward to your visiting their garden and talking with you about bromeliads.

David and Sue Gardner

Growing Bromeliads Outside in Corpus Christi

Like most growers in this area, I started growing my bromeliads on the patio and under the trees in the backyard. When our collection grew large enough, my husband built a house for them and covered its sides and top with bamboo fencing. Shortly after he finished it, we needed more room, so another shade house was built, ‘quonset-hut’ in shape and covered with 63% shade cloth. When a frost threatened, we would carry our plants into the utility room and garage, and eventually into the house, which soon became full also. At that point we decided to cover the shade houses with plastic in the winter time. This arrangement is quite satisfactory for us, but we still have the problem of always needing more growing space. One can keep a few, trade a few, and sell some, but still there seem to be too many of some varieties, so we started putting the extras in the ground under the trees, alongside the house and in our rock garden among the cacti and agaves.

Our weather here varies usually from the 50’s F. to the high 90’s F. with possibly 3 or 4 days below freezing during the winter. The main concerns are the humidity, which remains rather high, and the winds. Winds of 30 MPH are not uncommon, so we have planted hedges all around our garden as windbreaks. Our bromeliads provide dramatic accents in areas having other plants too, they clump readily, and their colors are fantastic. The occasional freezes we have do not seem to harm them much. If we have a ‘wet freeze’ it may cause some to rot and a ‘dry’ one will burn some leaves but the plants have always produced offshoots to replace the ones that die.

Most of the common bromeliads such as Neoregelia spectabilis, N. marmorata, Aechmea bromeliifolia, A. bracteata, A. Burgundy, A. ornata, Bromelia sp., Portea petropolitana, Hechtia sp. and many more, do well. Unfortunately, variegated bromeliads do less well. Despite this limitation, we have found that growing most species outside here in Corpus Christi provides a good solution to the problem of what to do with surplus plants.

Olive Saddler

Welcome to 3513 Aransas Street

Claud and Lee Ward specialize in growing bromeliads and orchids, but are also fond of anthuriums, ferns, cycads, and many other unusual plants. In their garden, a large ash tree is the center of a patio area where a large variety of tropical plants are grown and displayed 10 months of the year. A visit to the Ward’s will convince you that growing plants is a wonderful hobby, especially upon retirement.

Claud and Lee Ward

El Jardin

Lorena and Don Larkin have two greenhouses and an enclosed patio filled with an assortment of tropical plants. Although their first love was orchids, they found that bromeliads are easy to grow as companion plants and are attractive even when not in flower. They now grow a variety of bromeliads with neoregelias as their favorites.

Lorena and Don Larkin

Colorful Garden of Joy

General view of the lath area in the Meilleurs’ garden.

There is one thing about garden tours that all have in common: work! Joy arrives when the garden shapes up and becomes presentable for visitors. It would be nice if the garden could remain that way. Bromeliad growers, like all plant enthusiasts, place and replace plants to exhibit their best qualities, but somehow the garden never gets ‘just right!’

You may find a surprise when you visit the Meilleurs’ garden because a special effort will be made to make a trip to the Conference a memorable visit, and we will share in that effort.

Our garden consists of a large variety of plants with an emphasis on bromeliads. There are colorful crotons, lacy ferns, specimen palms, tender begonias, and hanging epiphytes. Sometimes we cannot see the trees for the forest. Our backyard is totally covered with 1 in. by 4 in. lath, allowing 60% sunlight to shine on our plants.

We are avid collectors, growers and hybridizers of bromeliads and take pride in our collection. Among other exciting plants, you will see natural hybrid tillandsias, the fruits of many years of collecting. We are especially proud of our neoregelias and the crosses made by Charlie 5 years ago.

We guarantee that you will not be disappointed when you visit us in June, and we are looking forward to seeing all of you in Corpus Christi.

Detailed view of plantings under lath in the Meilleurs’ garden.

Charlie and Rosa Meilleur

Plumbing and Plants

Now let’s see, the plumber will be here tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got to run the water line before I can finish the decking. I can’t water until the plumber finishes. I can’t move more plants in until I get the water connected. I’ve got to photograph the billbergia crosses as they bloom. I’ve got to work faster because in 6 short months I’ve invited the whole world to come see my new greenhouse.

How did I get into this? I seem to remember my friend Dr. Bryson presenting me with my first bromeliad on my birthday 5 years ago. I had been killing begonias and he thought his Aechmea Blackjack would survive my methods. Well, it did, and now my new 1400 sq. ft. house is being attached to my 1600 sq. ft. shadehouse which will be full of billbergias when I get them all moved in. Blackjack no longer lives here, but many billbergias do. In fact, a great many billbergias live here. I began to collect them several years ago and I have managed to help them produce about 400 different new ones. Oh boy! I can hear you all now! The world has been waiting for 400 new billbergias! Wonderful! Well, you can all relax. These are just my hobby which has gotten completely out-of-hand and very few show great promise. If you are curious about what so many billbergias look like, please plan to visit me in June.

My billbergias have had to be hardy to survive. They were orphaned at a tender age and spent their first 6 months under fluorescent lamps on a spare desk in my office. Most of my friends and clients chose to believe I was raising something other than bromeliads so I arranged to move them to a sympathetic commercial grower’s greenhouse. My 4 in. pots were lined up on the ground in shade under fern baskets which were being forced with a daily flood of some kind of bright blue solution. I don’t know what it was but within a month some of my billbergias were bright green and 6 ft. tall. In 6 months or so, I moved my giant seedlings to my friend Charlie Meilleur’s greenhouse where they suddenly got all the light they could stand. After toughening them up for 6 months, I am now moving them all to a new home which I hope they will all come to like. I have left the new greenhouse open, except for some latticework, to the southeasterly Texas breezes. Some of our local breezes reach a speed of 40 MPH which is a cause for some apprehension. I am going to leave the greenhouse open because I am convinced the plants will thrive. I have seen our closed-in greenhouses reach temperatures over 100 °F. in the summer no matter what is done to keep temperatures lower. I hope that with my arrangement, the temperature will go no higher than 90 °F. or so. Our Gulf Coast winters are usually mild and a little planning and the use of plastic covers should suffice.

My billbergias are arranged in hanging pots at all levels, from the ground, up to 25 ft. The upper level is cared for from an elevated walkway extending the length of the greenhouse from the balcony outside my second story bedroom. I will be spending my time until you come trying to get each plant where it grows best. I hope all of you come to visit to see how it all turned out. I will be looking for you.

Don Beadle

Fumigation of Herbarium Material by Freezing

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England recently announced that after exhaustive tests, and following the lead of several other herbaria, all herbarium material will be treated by freezing it at -18°C. for 48 hours rather than by fumigation with methyl bromide, as was done previously. The laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Slough, England, which deals with insect pests, has conducted an extensive series of experiments and trials which have shown that all the insects likely to cause damage to herbarium material are killed, at all stages of their life-cycle, by being subjected to -18 °C.” (p. 198 Taxon vol. 29 1980).

It should be noted that an ordinary home deep-freezer provides a sufficiently low temperature for this procedure. Without doubt, following this method will greatly facilitate treatment of dry specimens of bromeliads.

Amy Jean Gilmartin, Pullman, Washington

Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?


The Bromeliad Society has come a long way since Mulford Foster and his friends organized what we now have today. Thanks to the recent re-publication of the “Directory” one can make some significant comparisons between the Society of the mid 1970’s and today.

The Directory of Society members of 1975-76 indicates that there were at that time about 2300 members; while the Directory of 1980-81 shows an increase to about 2700.

In the United States, the most rapidly “growing” areas are the states adjoining or near the Gulf of Mexico, such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, and in addition to this region, Hawaii. Other states showing noteworthy gains are New Jersey and the District of Columbia in the East, and in the West, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Areas of greatest member loss were in general in the northern states, especially in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, with the exceptions noted above. Florida, Louisiana and Texas, three of the four largest states all gained a considerable number of members, while the largest area, California, showed a decrease.

Outside of the U.S., Australia, the Philippines and Switzerland showed the greatest membership gains.

The lack of membership growth in countries in which bromeliads are native is rather alarming. The combination of Costa Rica, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil, for example, showed a net gain of only one member in five years. Many authors of articles in this Journal have expounded on the destruction of the native habitat in these countries. Perhaps we should encourage more active participation in our Society in these endangered areas. A greater awareness of the importance of the environment might be generated, and tropical American countries might be influenced to reserve certain areas for plants when they begin agricultural development projects. While it is true that food production in many tropical countries receives of necessity the highest priority, it should not be at any cost. Concern for the integrity of the environment must receive some consideration. After all, there has been ample proof that the native vegetation and ecosystems of the tropics are indeed fragile and when once seriously disturbed, the environment suffers damage so great that even agriculture becomes impossible.

In summary, our Society is growing. I believe that the trend in the U.S. of an increasing movement toward the “sunbelt” states will continue, and much of the growth of the Society will undoubtedly follow the same population migration pattern. Within regional areas, membership shifts are most likely due to the influences of individuals and the Society’s affiliates. If present trends continue, we can expect a membership of over 3,100 by the year 1990, and perhaps close to 4,000 by the year 2000. I believe that continued growth can occur only if the members of the Society are actively supportive.

The data presented were obtained from the issues of the Directory as noted above and the author apologizes for any errors and inaccuracies.

Table I - Number of Members and Growth for the U.S.


New Hampshire413
New Jersey493910
New Mexico26-4
New York91117-26
North Carolina2227-5
North Dakota000
Puerto Rico972
Rhode Island06-6
South Carolina13112
South Dakota02-2
Virgin Islands330
West Virginia422

US Totals2,3802,096+284


Number of Members and Growth for all Countries


Costa Rica34-1
Dom. Republic404
Great Britain21174
New Zealand1011-1
El Salvador101
South Africa1192
West Indies101

Non U.S. Totals344214+132
+ U.S.23802096+284

Grand Total27242310+416

Book Review:
BROMELIEN by Werner Rauh


Written in collaboration with Herbert Lehmann of the Botanical Garden of the University of Heidelberg, Published in October, 1981 by Eugene Ulmer, Postfach 70 05 61, 7000 Stuttgart 70, Germany. Price 98 DM.

This is a revised edition of Dr. Rauh’s two-volume study, part one of which appeared in 1970 and part two in 1973. The two books have been combined into one extremely handsome volume of 410 pages, with 130 colored illustrations, 362 black and white photos, and 88 drawings.

The format of the original version has not been altered. Section I covers growth and culture, in which are discussed habitat, morphology, treatment of bromeliads in cultivation, and which species to collect. Section II consists of a detailed description of the genera and species, with major emphasis being placed on the genus Tillandsia.

Whereas the entire book has been updated to cover new discoveries in the field, Dr. Rauh has concentrated his attention on tillandsias, of which he is the world authority. Some 67 tillandsias have been added to his original listing, bringing the total to 205 species. Most of these are illustrated either in black and white, color, or in drawing. The color is superlative, the black and white photos are clear and well defined, many showing plants in habitat, and the drawings excellent.

Although the book is written in German, it is one that should be in everyone’s collection for it is not only beautiful but is written by one of the masters in the field of bromeliads.

Los Angeles


May 1 and 2
South Bay Bromeliad Associates Show and Plant Sale. South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula. Show Hours: May 1, noon to 4:30 PM; May 2, 9 AM to 4:30 PM.

May 7 to 9
Jacksonville Bromeliad Society Show and Plant Sale. Orange Park Mall, Jacksonville, Florida. Show Hours: May 7-8, 10 AM to 9 PM; May 9, 12:30 PM to 5:30 PM.

Tillandsia roland-gosselinii


Tillandsia roland-gosselinii in southwestern Mexico.

Tillandsia roland-gosselinii Mez was originally collected from near Colima in southwestern Mexico and described by Carl Mez in 1916. Since no type specimen has been located, only the description and locality of the collection was available to help determine what this species actually is. In the winter of 1980, we traveled through Colima and found that a species which we had known as T. maritima Matuda was a common inhabitant of the dry thickets which cover the rolling hills around the city. By comparing these plants with Mez’s published description, we found that the agreement between them was remarkable. It appears, then, that the names T. roland-gosselinii and T. maritima refer to the same plant. It is distributed over many miles of the southwestern coast of Mexico, ranging from southern Jalisco through Guererro but never occurring very far from the coast. This distribution pattern was the basis for Matuda’s use of the word maritima for the specific name, which means “growing by the sea.”

This species has also been known in the trade under the name ‘Coronado’, given to it by L. E. Guerra, a nurseryman and importer of Mexican plants in Mission, Texas. Since he did not know the name of the plant when he originally received it, and he needed a name in order to be able to sell it, ‘Coronado’ was chosen to describe the colorful foliage.

Whether you choose to call this species by the colorful name ‘Coronado’, or by its proper name T. roland-gosselinii, it is a rewarding species to grow. It offers much color and grace and demands little care and attention. Unfortunately, it does not reproduce rapidly since it typically produces one offset from near the center, replacing itself, but not providing any increase in the number of rosettes.

Corpus Christi, Texas

The Second Australian Bromeliad Conference

Planning for BROMELIADS II, the Second Australian Bromeliad Conference is under way under the direction of the Bromeliad Society of Australia. The Conference will be held in Sydney on the Easter weekend, 1st — 4th April, 1983.

Overseas visitors will be most welcome, particularly those who would be prepared to contribute to the technical program. Interested members are invited to contact: Mrs. A. Johnston, Convention Secretary, 50 Irvine St., Bankstown, Australia 2200.

Bromeliad Slide Library — Interesting programs for affiliated groups. For information and availability send stamped, self-addressed envelope to Owana Jo Myer, 14895 Gardenhill Drive, La Mirada, California 90638.

Formation of Affiliated Society — For information on organizing an Affiliated Society, write to Mr-. Robert Wright, Affiliate Chairman, The Bromeliad Society, P.O. Box 41261, Los Angeles, California 90041-0261.

Editors’ Notes:

The cost of color illustrations is escalating and yet everyone wants to see a maximum number of color plates in the Journal. In 1982, for example, the cost will be double what it was in 1981, therefore, the editors are seeking ideas concerning the creative financing of color work for the Journal. Please send us your suggestions.

Using a color print to make a color plate for the Journal is even more expensive than using an original transparency, so we are forced to accept from authors only color transparencies. The cost of a black and white plate is a fraction of that for color, so if authors will supply a black and white glossy print along with each color transparency, the editors will have some option in terms of balancing cost and suitability of illustrative material for each article. Please be aware that the black and white glossy print must be produced from black and white film and not from a color print.

There is a need for articles of all types; there is no backlog of articles waiting for publication. Articles and pictures are earnestly solicited. The articles should be in manuscript style — typed, using double space and a 65-70 stroke line.

We request that article manuscripts, notices of shows, and advertising copy reach us by the dates shown below:

For issueNo. 1 - Jan. - FebOct. 20
No. 2 - Mar.-AprDec. 20
No. 3 - May - JuneFeb. 20
No. 4 - July - AugApril 20
No. 5 - Sept. - OctJune 20
No. 6 - Nov. - DecAug. 20

All material should be sent to the Editorial Office, Dept. of Biological Sciences, California State University, 6000 J St., Sacramento, CA 95819.

A New Hybrid, Vriesea Mira


Vriesea Mira (V. malzinei × V. heliconioides var. polysticha)

This new hybrid is the result of a cross between Vriesea malzinei Morren (inflorescence with yellow bracts) and V. heliconioides var. polysticha L.B. Smith. It is one of the promising new hybrids developed and cultivated at the Institute of Ornamental Plant Growing at Melle, Belgium.

The first cross, using V. malzinei as the seed parent, was made in 1975. The unripe seeds that formed were harvested in November and sown “in vitro”. Culture under aseptic conditions was continued for about one year when the small plantlets that had formed were ready for transplantation and placement in the greenhouse. Further growth continued satisfactorily and some plants were induced to flower by the use of Ethephon in January, 1979. The first occurrence of spontaneous flowering was observed in May, 1979. Under winter conditions, the time interval between chemical floral induction and the opening of the first flower was 125 days; but in spring, this interval was reduced to 90 days. Flowering continued for one month and the color of the bracts remained satisfactory for three months. After flowering, the retention of the leaves was very good, even better than both parent species, and offshoots were produced with ease.

Left, Vriesea heliconioides var. polysticha.
Right, Vriesea malzinei.

In most of its characteristics, the hybrid is in an intermediate position between the two parent species. Its growth habit, however, resembles mainly the seed parent. In the accompanying table, the most distinctive features of the parents and hybrid are compared. As is true for the parent species, the natural flowering of the hybrid occurs after a period of dim or low light and short day exposure. Long days can prevent early flowering and thus the hybrid plants can be cultivated for a longer period of time in order to obtain larger plants and to increase proportionately the number of leaves, inflorescence height, number of flowers, etc.

In our opinion, this hybrid offers many advantages for cultivation. Its ornamental and commercial value are greater than those of either parent species.

Although the first generation population of seedling-plants exhibited a relatively good degree of uniformity, we intend to vegetatively propagate some selected plants by means of tissue culture.


Comparison of the most important characteristics of flowering plants of:

Vriesea malzineiV. Mira
(average 10 plants)
V. heliconioides
var. polysticha

Number of adult leavesto 2213 to 17max 12
Length of longest line46 cm39 cm34 cm
Width of leaf4.5 cm3.5 to 4.5 cm3 cm
max. total height55 cm34 to 55 cm31 cm
length flowering part20 cm20 to 31 cm22 cm
scape length35 cm14 to 24 cm9 cm
bracts - length2.6 cm3.2 cm4 cm
    width2.6 cm3.5 cm5 cm
    color (R.H.S.C.C.)(*)basal: yellow 15Abasal: red 45Cbasal: red 45A
top: green 144Atop green-yellow 144top: green-yellow 144

flowers: lengthpetals 7 cm7 cm6.2 cm
sepals 3 cm3.5 cm3 cm
number10 to max. 2410 to 247 to 18
color petalsgreen-yellow 1Dgreen-yellow 1Dgreen-yellow 4D

(*) R.H.S.C.C.: according to the Royal Horticultural Society Color Chart.

Institute of Ornamental Plant Growing — Melle, Belgium

Beyond Belief

Photo by Grace Foster
Aechmea chantinii showing dwarf flowering offshoots.

People who have seen a lot of bromeliads say they have never seen anything like it! Imagine a plant of Aechmea chantinii one-fourth normal size producing very small offshoots which in turn produce a full-size inflorescence!

In trying to determine if we had done something to cause this phenomenon, I reviewed the procedures used in the operation of our greenhouse. There had been a bad infestation of root mealy bugs in the plants of A. chantinii, and not knowing exactly what to use to treat them, or what strength to use, at someone’s suggestion I tried 1½ teaspoons of Spectracide (which contains Diazinon) added to a gallon of water. After drenching half of the pots (approximately 100), something told me that I was doing the wrong thing, so I stopped using Spectracide and switched to Cygon which I used on the remaining plants. Ten days later, I drenched all of the plants with Cygon instead of Spectracide. This drenching procedure forced all of the plants into bloom and caused 60% of them to be unsaleable because of the formation of what looked like “blood blisters” on the leaf surfaces. In addition, the plants were apparently forced into an elongated pattern of leaf growth.

The plant shown in the accompanying photograph was a freak. Within two months after the chemical treatment described above, the plant did not grow or develop “blood blisters” but produced three offshoots, two rather small ones having surprisingly stiff leaves, and one normal offshoot with tender leaves. The two stiff-leaved offshoots, which were about 3 inches long and not more than 2 months old, each soon produced a normal-sized inflorescence! All the other chemically treated plants produced blooms in the center as normal plants of A. chantinii always do.

What happened? How can such a phenomenon be explained? Out of 200 plants that were treated, only one went amuck! We kept that one and discarded 100 of the most abnormal plants. The remaining 100 plants, although damaged, we kept for stock and they are all providing normal, healthy offshoots, so the effect of the chemicals has apparently dissipated.

When the inflorescence of the freak is examined, it is apparent that it is almost normal in size. Only the scape is shorter than normal and it holds one salmon-colored bract and one green bract edged with salmon. The leaves of this plant have a more pronounced banding pattern than normal and the edges of the banding are irregular; but then, it is true that there is much variation in the banding patterns in this species. I can report further that there was nothing unusual about the potting medium used: 2 parts Peace River peat, 1 part Perlite, 1 part builders sand, and 1 part pine bark. On top of this mixture, and after the plant has been potted, I distribute teaspoon of Osmocote.

In addition to drenching the pots of A. chantinii, we soil-drenched approximately 100,000 other bromeliads, mostly neoregelias, with no unusual results. The only other comparable bad effect were some brown leaf tips and “blood blisters” on the leaves of plants of Billbergia venezuelana, but these plants were treated with Cygon only. Despite some of these unusual results, I am happy to report that during the past 6 months we have not found a live mealy bug in the entire greenhouse, for which we are very grateful.

Orlando, Florida

Puya hromadnikii Rauh nov. spec.1
A New Dwarf Puya from Bolivia


Flowers of Puya hromadnikii.

L. and H. Hromadnik, enthusiastic bromeliad collectors from Austria, collected a dwarf species of Puya in Bolivia which has now flowered in the Heidelberg Botanical Garden and which we consider to be a new species. It shall be named after its discoverers.

PLANT: stemless, branching from the base and forming dense clumps, flowering up to 25 cm high. Single rosette with numerous leaves, up to 15 cm high and 20 cm in diameter. LEAF SHEATHS: forming an onion-like bulb, somewhat succulent, 2.5 cm wide, 1 cm high, white above, castaneous-brown beneath. LEAF BLADES: 13 to 25 cm long, very narrow-triangular, only 4 to 6 mm wide, attenuate, canaliculate at the base with small, light brown teeth at the margin, beneath densely, above less white-lepidote. INFLORESCENCE SCAPE: more or less 10 cm long, slender, erect, greenish at the base, brownish-rose above, white-floccose; BASAL SCAPE BRACTS: subfoliate, the upper ones without blades, only acute, up to 2 cm long, rose-greenish, densely white-floccose. FLORAL BRACTS: ovate-triangular, acute; the basal ones up to 18 mm long, exceeding the pedicels, but shorter than the sepals. Flowers 20 mm long, spreading to hanging, with a 7 to 8 cm long pedicel. SEPALS: 1 cm long, 5 mm wide, acute, ecarinate, greenish with a hyaline margin, white-floccose. PETALS: 15 mm long, 7 mm wide, eligulate, emerald-green, white at the base; with rounded, nearly erect tips; after anthesis dark wine-red and merely twisted. STAMENS & STYLE: both included, about 10 mm long; style shorter than the stamens. OVARY: epigynous, 5 mm long, 3 mm thick.

LOCALITY: Bolivia, between Tarija and Sta. Anna, 2700 m, rocky and grassy slopes.

HOLOTYPE: Hromadnik Number 5128 = B.G.H. 50833, in the herbarium of the Institute of Systematic Botany of the University of Heidelberg.

P. hromadnikii is related to P. tuberosa Mez and P. minima L.B. Smith, two other dwarf puyas with narrow leaves from the Bolivian highlands. Both, however, according to their descriptions, seem to grow in single rosettes, while P. hromadnikii forms dense clusters. P. tuberosa is bigger than our plant and the inflorescence mostly banded. P. minima is a very small plant with a short, few-flowered inflorescence having bright red floral bracts. The color of the petals of P. tuberosa is blue-violet; in P. minima the petal color is not mentioned. In any case, this new small species of Puya with its pure white leaves is a beautiful plant which can be grown under the same conditions as cacti.

Dr. Hromadnik collected two other dwarf species of Puya in the same region, which have also flowered in the Heidelberg Garden, and which have many-branched bipinnate inflorescences. They differ from each other and are not identical with P. tuberosa; they will be described in a later issue of the Journal.

Heidelberg, Germany


1 The Latin diagnosis will follow in “Bromelienstudien XI,” in Tropische und Subtropische Pflanzenwelt. Akad. d. Wiss. u.d. Lit. Mainz.

An Attractive New Neoregelia from Brazil
Neoregelia smithii Weber1


In the fall of 1977, I received from Mrs. Amanda Bleher of “Lotus Osiris” in Brazil, a piece of bark with 8 young bromeliads each about 10 cm tall growing with the little epiphytic fern: Polypodium yaccinifolium. I was fascinated by the very attractive, dense, purplish-red spotting of the leaves of the bromeliads. I fastened the piece of bark with some peat moss to a larger piece of bark and hung it on a wire in the moderate temperature section of the greenhouse. Care of the plant consisted only of fogging it with water and occasionally dipping it in a weak solution of fertilizer. By the end of May, 1979, I noticed that one specimen was developing an inflorescence, and by July, it produced flowers. Remarkably, the inner leaves lost their green color at the time of flowering so that the other coloration became more prominent and no longer was somewhat muted in its intensity because of the presence of chlorophyll. The bright, purplish-red color of the center leaves is especially attractive when light is transmitted through them. Examination of the floral organs revealed that this was a hitherto undescribed species. Using L.B. Smith’s key, I discovered that its closest relative appears to be Neoregelia tigrina (Ruschi) Ruschi 1954, but it differs from that species in having symmetrical and longer floral bracts and in having sepals with awl-like tips which are bent into almost a complete circle. The complete description of the new species is as follows:

Flower analysis of Neoregelia smithii, life size.

PLANT: 30 cm tall, offshoots without stolons and lying close to the base. LEAVES: about 15, forming a rosette — 30 to 40 cm in diameter, the inner leaf surfaces almost without scales, the outer ones with adpressed grey scales, leaf color is yellowish-green, with dense, irregular purple spots. LEAF SHEATHS: broadly oval, 8 to 10 cm long, 7 to 8 cm wide, inner surfaces with dense brown scales, outer ones with brown scales only at the base, edges without spines. LEAF BLADES: ligulate, tip rounded and apiculate, 15 to 20 cm long, 30 to 42 mm side, slightly rolled, the edges with small, remote, brown spines, the inner leaves bright purple at anthesis. SHAFT OF THE INFLORESCENCE: 4 cm long, 10 mm in diameter, white with scattered brown scales, internodes up to 10 mm long. SCAPE BRACTS: about as long as the internodes, broadly oval, whitish with greenish, awl-like apiculum, spineless. INFLORESCENCE: simple, dense, oval, head-shaped, 40 mm long, 25 mm in diameter, with about 25 flowers, nestled in the rosette. FLOWERS: 35 mm long, with a pedicel 10 mm long, white, with scattered brown scales. FLORAL BRACTS: 22 mm long, 4 mm wide, with a transparent epidermis, whitish, becoming greenish at the tip, linear-lanceolate and finely apiculate, with scattered brown scales. OVARY: longitudinally egg-shaped, 9 mm long, 4 mm in diameter, white, smooth, seed position apical. SEPALS: 18 mm long, 5 mm wide, symmetrical, lanceolate, with skin-like edges and with a long, awl-like tip bending hook-like into a half circle. PETALS: 23 mm long, 4 mm wide at the base, fused into a tube for 6 mm, inner surface with 2 longitudinal ridges, plates longitudinally oval and with a long tip, 11 x 6 mm, light violet, flared. STAMENS: 11 mm long, fused to the petals for 10 mm, white, anthers triangular, 2.5 mm long, joined at the base, yellowish-white. PISTIL: 10 mm long, white, stigmatic lobes twisted into a spiral and with fine cilia.

HABITAT: Brazil, without exact location, collected by Amanda and Michael Bleher in 1977, flowered in the Weber horticultural collection on July 3, 1979, Holotype: WEB 121.

This species is dedicated to our most important taxonomic authority for the bromeliads: Lyman B. Smith. In the summer of 1980, 2 plants flowered at the same time and I was able to obtain viable seed. In May, 1981, the seeds matured, were sown, and the young plants produced assure the further distribution of this very attractive new species.

Waldsteinberg, The German Democratic Republic
Translated by Harvey Kendall


1 The Latin description can be found in: Fedde Repertorium, V1. 93.

Ridomil — A New Systemic Fungicide

Ridomil is a new systemic fungicide from the Ciba-Geigy organization showing great promise for the control of root and heart rot in ornamental bromeliads. It has already shown excellent results in the control of heart rot (due to Phytophthora sp.) in commercial pineapple plantations. A very limited trial on one plant of Vriesea philippocoburgii with advanced rot in the leaf sheaths, showed that it was equally effective in halting this infection. In the case of heart rot, the best one can hope for is to arrest the decay and save the base of the plant for offset production.

This fungicide is apparently transported upward within the plant so the method of application is by drenching the potting mixture. The recommended procedure is to saturate the potting mixture with a suspension of one gram per liter of 25% wettable powder.

Toxicity data show an L.D. 50 to 670 mg per kg for an oral dose and greater than 3000 mg per kg for dermal application. This indicates that Ridomil is a relatively safe fungicide, approximately comparable to malathion; however, the normal precautions used in handling agricultural chemicals should be observed for this one as well.

Peter R. Parozi
Bromeliad Society of Queensland

Everglades Park Bromeliads Face Possible Danger


A major battle has been taking place in Florida and Washington, D.C. over the past few months; its outcome should be known very soon. Principals in the fray are environmentalists, state and federal officials, power utility lobbyists and representatives of the Florida Power and Light Company. At stake are higher electric bills for hundreds of thousands of power consumers and possibly the fate of bromeliads and other epiphyte populations in the Everglades National Park. At the center of this controversy is the request by Florida Power and Light for permission to burn cheaper, higher sulfur fuel in its Dade County electric power generating facility. You might wonder why the Interior Department scientists and conservationists are so concerned about the kind of oil a utilities company wishes to burn in its generators.

All fossil fuels contain at least small amounts of sulfur. Low grades of petroleum and soft coal are the worst offenders. When combusted under the right conditions, the sulfur they contain is converted to volatile sulfur oxides. One of these, sulfur trioxide, reacts with water in the atmosphere to create sulfuric acid, an extremely corrosive chemical. Acid rain is the result. In extreme cases, precipitation acidified with sulfur emissions can register pH values well below 3.0. Uncontaminated rainwater on the other hand, owing to its carbon dioxide content, is only slightly acidic, remaining about pH 5.5. Extensive areas downwind from major industrial complexes in northern Europe and the northeastern United States and Canada are beginning to show the effects of acid fallout. So-called oligotrophic lakes provide the most telling evidence of acid rain’s toxic nature. Unprotected by high alkalinity, waters in these bodies quickly take on the qualities of local precipitation. Some have become so acidic that biologists consider them dead — dead in the sense that many life forms that once thrived there have died off.

Effects on soil and rooted vegetation are more subtle, but nonetheless real. Acid precipitation accelerates the leaching of nutrients from wetted leaf surfaces. It also increases the solubility of potentially toxic metals in soils. Over the long term, acid precipitation could create problems that would make today’s lake death seem little more than a nuisance in comparison.

Fig. 1 The surface of a Tillandsia circinnata leaf showing some of the many absorbing trichomes located there. Each trichome cap is about 200µ across its broadest dimension.

Air quality standards prevailing over most of the United States at present are too lax to deal effectively with the acid rain situation. The Everglades National Park is another matter. Special air quality criteria supposedly apply over all national parks, and for good reason. Among the rarest and most endangered plants in North America are Guzmania monostachia, the three Catopsis species in South Florida and about a dozen canopy-dwelling orchids. Up to now about the only safe refugia left for these organisms have been the mangroves and inland wet forests within park boundaries.

Unlike terrestrial plants whose roots are insulated by soil, epiphytes have exposed absorbing organs — roots in the case of orchids and specialized leaves for the bromeliads. Positioned in the crown of a tree, an epiphyte’s contact with rain is immediate, not secondary (i.e., any toxic moisture has not been moderated by percolation through soil). Arborists have capitalized on this vulnerability for years by employing relatively weak solutions of lead arsenate to selectively eliminate what some people consider to be harmful air plants on shade trees and orchard plantings. One application is usually sufficient to kill all infesting bromeliads within a few weeks. The foliage of the support plants shows no sign of damage after the same treatment.

Dependent as they are on very dilute and transient sources of mineral nutrients in the form of rainwater and washings off leaf and bark surfaces, nonimpounding atmospheric bromeliads such as Spanish moss have evolved elaborate foliar trichomes (Fig. 1) which show very high and apparently somewhat nondiscriminative avidities for dissolved substances in contact with their leaf surfaces. Even required trace nutrients such as copper and zinc cause severe damage or death if regularly provided in fertilizer sprays at concentrations much over about 0.1 parts per million. Nonvascular epiphytes, most notably lichens, seem to parallel air plants in their responses to toxic aerosols and, in fact, have been used as indices of air pollution for quite a few years. Metropolitan areas with heavy automobile traffic, for instance, often feature reduced lichen populations.

Tank bromeliads may be even more vulnerable to acid rain than are their non-impounding counterparts. Like those oligotrophic lakes, the interfoliar chambers deep in the rosettes of these plants contain soft water with little neutralizing capacity. Should these fluids become overly acidic (they have a fairly low pH to begin with), delicate, immature leaf tissue could be damaged. Hard water can cause similar effects and does so in many greenhouses. Should the analogy with lakes prove very faithful, tank acidification could disrupt microbial activity and kill those aquatic invertebrates bromeliads rely on to process impounded debris and release plant nutrients for the epiphyte’s use. In effect, even if an impounding bromeliad manages to survive the direct chemical effects of overly acid tank fluids, it could starve over the longer term.

No one can predict what will happen to southeastern Florida’s bromeliads if the power company is granted permission to burn high sulfur fuel, or for that matter, how further encroachments of all kinds of human activity to the north and east will affect park wildlife. In the former case, damage could be limited to areas immediately adjacent to the power plant. Possibly, sulfurous emissions will dissipate rapidly, adding one more increment to a more pervasive acid rain problem which already has multiple sources in the greater Miami area. But how can one be sure that vegetation is being injured before the damage is irreversible? In any case, how can the bromeliad populations be monitored if the acid rain problem does intensify in South Florida?

Contingency plans are being drawn up to establish field stations across the eastern edge of the Everglades Park. Each monitoring site will be a hammock or open cypress or pine stand. Bromeliads, both tank and atmospheric types, will be secured to trees in configurations which will expose each epiphyte to rainfall and fluids that wash over overhanging foliage during storms. Subjects will be Tillandsia circinnata and either Tillandsia fasciculata or Guzmania monostachia. This third species has especially soft leaves; damage will show up more clearly on these than on the more heavily trichomed types. Regular visits to each site will be made to measure pH values in tanks for comparison with data from control specimens located many miles to the northwest near Copeland, Florida. Every test plant will also be examined for indications of damage or disease. Specimens exhibiting signs of toxic reaction will be subjected to further more rigorous analysis. Foliar tissues will be assayed for mineral content to determine whether any normal constituents including sulfur are present in abnormally high or low concentrations. If deemed necessary, photosynthetic competence may be measured in the laboratory since this process is a good index of general plant health. Seeds of Tillandsia circinnata artificially affixed by their coma hairs to the same trees will be checked yearly for germination. Early seedling stages are often more susceptible to environmental stress than are adults.

Hopefully, this monitoring system will prove to be sufficiently sensitive to detect both extreme and low-level, chronic reactions to acid rain. Extreme responses will be dramatic and impossible to ignore. More insidious in the sense that they will be less persuasive to nonbiologists are the sublethal cumulative impairments. Reduce a plant’s vigor such that its seed production falls by an average twenty percent, for example, and the effect won’t be very impressive. Plants may seem quite normal at a glance. Prolong that performance among all individuals long enough and the population is likely to become extinct. Let’s hope for the sake of future generations of bromeliad enthusiasts who would like to see a variety of their favorite plants in the wild that increased acidification of Floridian precipitation either has profound immediate effects on these organisms or none at all.

Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio

In Memory of Adda Abendroth


It was with a sense of personal loss that I learned of the death of Adda Abendroth in Rio de Janeiro on November 23, 1981. Although she had been inactive in the Society because of the infirmities of age since 1973, for over twenty years she had been one of the staunchest members of the Society and a regular contributor to the Journal. For many years she was a source of inspiration for me with her constant flow of fascinating letters. When I lamented the fact that contributions to the Journal were pitifully few, she doubled the number of articles which she wrote and translated Walter Richter’s bromeliad book to help fill the pages.

She was fortunate to have lived in the beautiful town of Teresopolis, situated in the Organ Mountains, Brazil, the home of many bromeliads. Thus she could study her favorite plants at close range and make many important observations as to their growth habits. Like the late Muriel Waterman of New Zealand, she was a warm, generous person who loved her plants for themselves not for the glory they would bring to her.

Her daughter has written that her mother was buried under an old tree, full of little tillandsias where small birds come to sing. Sweet dreams, dear Adda.

Los Angeles


Tillandsia dyeriana was named for M.T. Dyer, director of the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew by Andre in 1888. This species is an Ecuadorian native found along the coast in thick forests at elevations less than 100 meters. At flowering, the plant reaches a height of 12 to 24 in or 3 to 60 dm. and the inflorescence is usually branched with 2 to 4 spikes; each spike can be nearly 20 cm. in length. In addition, unbranched inflorescences are known to occur, but rarely. The floral bracts are bright red, petals are white and spreading up to a distance of 6 mm. and the fragrance of the flowers is both intense and pleasant. The leaves resemble those of many species of Vriesea, are 8 in. or 20 cm. in length, and are dark green with purple spots. Under some environmental conditions the spots may appear to be black rather than purple, a circumstance probably dependent on the intensity of the green chlorophyll present. When the plant flowers, the spots may disappear and indeed, with the gradual reduction in the amount of chlorophyll present as indicated by the yellowing of the leaves, the color of the spots, if still present, may be red.

Ronnbergia explodens L.B. Smith

Photo by Werner Rauh

The genus Ronnbergia consists of 8 species, including R. explodens, which are either epiphytic or terrestrial and grow in the humid forests of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Peru. Five of the species have been described since 1955, so only the remaining 3 have been known for a longer period of time. In 1874, the genus was named in honor of M. Ronnberg who was director of agriculture and horticulture in Belgium. In addition, at least 5 species can be found today in specialized collections. All are small to medium-sized stoloniferous plants and have simple inflorescences with white, lavender or blue flowers. The plant illustrated was collected at Cerro Jefe, Panama at an elevation of about 2400 ft.

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