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 189
La Mirada, CA 90637

PresidentNat DeLeon
Vice PresidentEdgar Smith
Recording SecretaryConnie Johnson
TreasurerDavid Gardner
Corresponding Sec.Owana Jo Myers

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 DeLeon, Charles Dills, Edgar Smith, John F. Utley, Leslie Walker, Wilbur Wood, Robert P. Wright.

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

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
Advertising Editor
Chet Blackburn
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.

Brazil — 1982
  Jeffrey Kent143
A Tillandsia Greenhouse & Its Care
  Richard Oeser, M.D.150
Protozoan Exclusion in the Bromeliaceae
  Bob Germer154
Hechtia scariosa — A Chihuahuan Desert Bromeliad
  Mark W. Mohlenbrock156
Tillandsia prodigiosa, Or Is It?
  Chet Blackburn159
A New Variety of Tillandsia ionantha
  Bert T. Foster164
Another Aechmea orlandiana ‘Ensign’ Story
  Jimi Prinz165
Tillandsia crispa var. tustii
  Werner Rauh167
Some Like It Hot; I Like Them Cool
  Daniel Arcos170
Buckeye Bromeliaceae
  Spencer Stein173
Hohenbergia stellata188

PICTURE ON THE COVER Aechmea sphaerocephala. Photo by Jeffrey Kent, page 149.

Brazil — 1982


Maggie Kent with Vriesea biguassuensis

The charm of Rio de Janeiro, the friendliness of its people, and the beauty of its surroundings can never be expressed by the prose of travel brochures. Similarly, the uniqueness and diversity of its bromeliads, whether a striking vriesea in flower or a dense colony of neoregelias, can best be appreciated only be making a visit to this dramatic focal point of the bromeliad world.

Our trip to Brazil was made especially enjoyable by the many Brazilians who went out of their way to be hospitable. Our guide, Luiz Correia de Araujo, and his friend Joy Enete accompanied us on 3 separate collecting trips during our 3-week stay in Brazil. Elton Leme and Luiz Carlos Gurken were both very generous also in sharing their time and plants with us.

Our first collecting trip was made to the coastal restinga, or scrub forest. This dwarf forest parallels the shoreline and extends from the state of Bahia in the North of Brazil to the state of Rio in the South. After traveling about 150 km north of Rio de Janeiro, we arrived at Cabo Frio, where we marveled at the numerous trumpet trees, in the family bignoniaceae, laden with bromeliads; and many of them were growing in full sun. In the sand between and amongst the trees were thousands of plants of Neoregelia cruenta and another species of Neoregelia which resembled N. hatchbachii. Depending upon the exposure, N. cruenta was either all green or various shades of yellow and red. Nearby, also growing in the sand and in full sun, was Portea petropolitana var. extensa. Surprisingly, Vriesea neoglutinosa and V. procera were similarly basking in the hot tropical sun without any apparent ill effects. On the same stand of columnar cacti, plants of Tillandsia stricta, T. gardneri, and Vriesea procera were all sharing a common, supporting host. Along with the ubiquitous Aechmea nudicaulis, the true weed of the bromeliad family, we saw A. ramosa and A. triticina frequenting this harsh habitat.

Undescribed species of Vriesea

Throughout the area, the impact of human activity was evident. New condominiums and beach-front cottages were being constructed everywhere. Within 10 years, this unique environment will be providing second homes for the wealthy of Brazil. Joni Mitchell once said: "You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone."

Aechmea perforata

In a few remote places within the Cabo Frio area, the trees of the forest were much taller. The forest canopy in these areas helps to retain moisture in the space below and produces a niche in which more delicate members of the Bromeliaceae can grow. In this environment, plants of Cryptanthus sinuosus were thriving. A few inches above the sand and intertwined amongst slender branches, we collected specimens of Vriesea sucrei. Its jet-black foliage contrasts vividly with its tall, orange and yellow inflorescence. In the understory, we collected a new species of Neoregelia growing in the sand and propagating by stolons about 1½ ft. in length. The diversity of bromeliads in this area was most striking. One could choose to collect 8 ft. tall specimens of Aechmea sphaerocephala or 5 in. tall plants of Billbergia leptopoda. In addition, there were abundant giant examples of Streptocalyx floribundus and many representatives of the more modestly sized Neoregelia olens. The plants of N. olens were about 5 in. in diameter and had reddish-pink centers when in flower.

R. L. Frasier with Vriesea erythrodactylon

The following day was spent collecting with Elton Leme near Angra dos Reis, about 125 km south of Rio. Here, we collected bromeliads in a motor boat and hopped from island to island with great expectations of finding more exciting species of bromeliads. Along the shorelines of the more remote islands, we found a very large reddish colored species of Neoregelia with leaves 4 in. wide. In the cups of these 3 ft. wide giants we often found hermit crabs living in the brackish water in the cups. The apparent tolerance of the plants to salt water conditions came as a surprise. The region receives over 200 in. of rainfall annually, so perhaps this much fresh water is a moderating influence on the otherwise saline environment. Higher on the shore, and above the waterline, many plants of Aechmea pectinata, Quesnelia quesneliana, and Vriesea regina could be seen growing. Numerous examples of Tillandsia tenuifolia and Pitcairnia flammea were collected from the rocks and ferried back to the boat while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.

A trip to Brazil is not complete without a visit to the estate of Roberto Burle Marx. During our lunch and dinner with Mr. Marx, we discussed the eventual fate of the Brazilian flora. Historically and traditionally, the land has been considered so vast that wanton clear-cutting and burning without regard to the native flora and fauna has occurred. Mr. Marx has personally interceded to convince the Brazilian government of the need to preserve certain areas for future study. Unfortunately, this concern for conservation has not spread to the farmer who still continues to utilize his land for as long as the topsoil manages to support his crops.

Undescribed species of Orthophytum

The next day we drove south of Rio de Janiero once again, toward Ubatuba. As we proceeded past Angra dos Reis, the newly paved road brought us to areas of as yet uncut forest. In this area, the coastal rain forest abounds with vrieseas, nidulariums and neoregelias. Beneath the luxuriant forest canopy, carpets of nidulariums and wittrockias sometimes provided a nearly impenetrable barrier. In the trees, we frequently saw thousands of plants of Neoregelia macwilliamsii.

Swampy habitat of many neoregelias in the Rio area

Whenever we stopped, either near a running stream, or in a low swampy location, the large number of species which abounded in these locations was astonishing. Along a small stretch of road, we counted over 50 different bromeliad species. The high humidity and the dense shade produced by the tall trees are ideal for shade-loving bromeliads. Plants normally found at higher elevations also thrive here at elevations close to sea level. For example, in these locations stands of Vriesea hieroglyphica, V. gigantea, and V. erythrodactylon were found. These plants apparently became established when the cool downward movement of air during the winter months carried their seeds from locations at higher altitudes to these friendly micro-climates. The following wet and warm summer season allowed for germination in the protected cool and humid conditions alongside the many streams in this area. Another factor which added to the tremendous variety of forms here was the presence of many natural hybrids. These possible forerunners of natural species were seen as intermediate forms of already known and accepted species. For example, Vriesea erythrodactylon and V. ensiformis were both flowering at the same time. The inflated, recurved spikes typical of V. erythrodactylon were often seen on plants having all red inflorescences; the probable result of hybridization with V. ensiformis which typically has uniformly red spikes. Another species, V. biguassuensis, resembled the apparent natural hybrid between V. erythrodactylon and V. ensiformis except that the color of the bracts was yellow. Due to ideal growing conditions, a greater percentage of seedlings survive here than in most other areas. Not just the strongest survive here, but a large percentage of the total population succeeds, so that the possibilities of natural hybridization are considerably enhanced.

The highlight of this trip was our discovery of a small nidularium which possessed lilac bracts. Resembling Nidularium billbergioides, but keying out to N. burchelli, this charming gem should make a fine addition to anyone’s bromeliad collection. We also managed to collect what resembled N. fulgens, however, the serrated primary bracts of these plants were much larger than those considered typical of the species.

Wanting to add to our experiences, Lew (Luiz Correia de Araujo) recalled a rare plant, Fernseea bocainensis, which he collected almost 10 years ago from a habitat on top of a nearby mountain. Our journey took us up a winding road to the exact spot where the collection had been made. Amazingly, the plant was still growing epiphytically on top of the same fallen tree. This species is favored by a wet and humid environment and climbs by means of stout stolons. The specimen we relocated had grown through the decayed bark of the supporting tree. For the past year, I have been successfully growing another species, F. itatiaiae, in my neoregelia greenhouse, in anticipation of its striking puya-like flower. Also on this ridgetop, we collected plants of the dwarf Vriesea rubyae which propagates by stolons and has an attractive, arching, orange-yellow inflorescence.

Returning to Rio once again, we noted the paucity of tillandsias among our collections. Because of the heavy summer rainfall, many small vrieseas were able to inhabit the usual niches reserved for tillandsias in the windy, exposed areas of the forest. These vrieseas with channeled, narrow green leaves include Vriesea flammea, V. poenulata, V. lubbersii, and the newly described V. correia-araujoi. Located in the well-ventilated tree canopy, these vrieseas clump together to form mats which resemble hornets’ nests from a distance. Upon closer inspection, their red inflorescences betray their true nature.

Our time was rapidly running out, so we set out for yet another trip, this time to the state of Espirito Santo. Located about 12 hours by car north of Rio, the area we wished to visit has been extensively explored by Racine and the late Mulford Foster. Since the 1940’s, however, the area’s natural forest has been reduced tremendously in size. Our immediate destination was the town of Domingos Martins, and the home of Roberto Kautsky. Mr. Kautsky took us on a tour of his large botanical garden where he has established many endangered native species. The hillside adjoining his home and place of business, a bottling factory, contains literally tens of thousands of bromeliads, orchids, aroids, marantas, and begonias. These plants have been moved from places often many miles away. Whenever an area is about to be cut or cleared, Mr. Kautsky is informed in advance by the local people. We had the good fortune of being able to accompany him on a trip to such an area.

Lew was very excited to collect in this particular region because the ground is covered with what looks like salt rock, and many unusual bromeliads grow here. As we traveled for over 3 hours on a terrible dirt road, we passed mile upon mile of denuded hillsides. Interspersed with occasional patches of forest, the area resembled the arctic tundra in the summer. After cutting the forest and planting crops for about 3 years, the length of time the shallow top soil lasts, the local farmers then move to a new virgin area and repeat the cycle.

We finally reached a small isolated area near a stream. The ground beneath us consisted of pieces of badly eroded quartzite, varying in size from ¼ to ½ in. Providing excellent drainage, the ground was an ideal habitat for a neoregelia which resembled Neoregelia pineliana, except that the inner leaves were shiny, brilliant red, closely resembling N. carolinae. We did not hesitate to collect many specimens of this stoloniferous species because the native vegetation will soon be destroyed to make way for a manioc plantation. We also collected a vriesea with reddish leaves having a height of about 4 in. and whose yellow, branched inflorescence resembled that of Vriesea rodigasiana, except that the flowers were all pointing downward and were somewhat flattened in appearance. Nearby, we collected plants of the giant Aechmea perforata. Their white, cone-shaped inflorescences were dressed with sky-blue flowers. The area provided many other unfamiliar species, including Billbergia laxiflora and Vriesea languida; both have lax, pendulous flowers. I managed to find also 2 plants of what is apparently a natural hybrid between Vriesea lubbersii and V. languida. The spike looked something like a helicopter rotor blade with yellow berries attached to the tips.

Collecting in the quartzite deposits was quite difficult because the ground was covered with neoregelias, nidulariums and the ubiquitous Vriesea ruschii whose 3 ft. long stolons made walking a most difficult task.

We spent our final day in Brazil in a futile effort to top our previous 12 days of collecting. Although we found many additional species, they seemed quite unimpressive when compared with the many gems which we had collected previously. Not even a single massive clump of Neoregelia pauciflora containing over 100 plants could stir our hearts more than some of the beautiful specimens we had encountered earlier.

Although we were exhausted from our collecting, we returned to the United States with the satisfaction of being able to preserve a small part of Brazil’s natural heritage.

Vista, California

A Tillandsia Greenhouse and its Care


Atmospheric tillandsias are very modest in their demands. For the amateur grower they are a specially favored group of those plants known generally as bromeliads. In earlier times they were found only in botanical gardens where they were sheltered and cared for, though they seldom had a long life. The cause of the high mortality rate was their accommodation in warm unventilated greenhouses, where high temperature and humidity prevailed and little change of air was provided. The fact that most tillandsias came from mountainous country where temperature and humidity fluctuated by day and night and where the air was always in motion was overlooked. In fact, the night temperature of those hilly regions can actually fall to freezing point.

Tillandsia enthusiasts have also been fascinated by the growth of these plants on telephone wires, where neither humus nor a constant humidity has been at their disposal. I never imagined, as I devoted my interest to them, that these plants could germinate and develop fully from seed on wire in my own glasshouse. After this had happened, however, we can say that as the goal had been achieved quite accidentally, the accommodation and care of atmospheric tillandsias should be such that their seed should be able to germinate and the seedling develop to maturity on wire in our glasshouse. In a lesser way, Tillandsia usneoides should grow plentifully if hung in the air.

Since my enthusiasts still have difficulties in raising tillandsias from seed, even when using my method of sowing on twig bundles, the following description will indicate how my glasshouse is cared for and what activities take place in it. The glasshouse is of a simple lean-to construction built on a south-facing wall with a floor space of 15 ft. x 25 ft. and interior heating only on the outer walls. Floor heating has been rejected. The heat is thermostatically controlled and varies between 54 °F. and 60 °F. In my case the heating only comes on in very cold nights.

Ventilating windows in the roof and side walls are always wide open in the warm season by day and are closed in the evening after watering the plants. I have never observed any ill effects arising from the high humidity prevailing until the morning ventilation.

On the cold dark days, watering is carried out every 2 or 3 days. One must note that with closed windows and circulating heat, the atmosphere in the glasshouse is generally less favorable, and those places that in summer have been found especially favorable are no longer so. The plants must therefore be re-arranged by trial and error, a fact that has already been stressed by others.

On the glasshouse floor, four raised beds of large funnel bromeliads have been constructed. These plants hold a great deal of water in their reservoirs and therefore contribute somewhat to the atmospheric humidity. From the beginning the purpose was to accommodate as many tillandsias as possible, and to that end coarse (2-inch) plastic-covered wire netting was hung under, and roughly parallel, to the glass roof. The netting is sold here for fences and is covered in yellow plastic. At intervals the wire mesh is allowed to sag away from the glass, forming folds whose lower edges fall with the line of the lean-to roof and are some 12 inches away from it. Through these “troughs” the sprayed water flows and thoroughly moistens the mesh and plants below.

The tillandsias hang close together under the wire mesh on twigs of vine and other suitable wood, and on my twig bundles. The dense colony creates a favorable microclimate and the plants partly shade one another which is also desirable.

These details are all significant for the success of tillandsia culture. A small tillandsia sowing in an otherwise empty greenhouse has small chance of success.

An essential preventative measure at the beginning of the warmer season (here at the beginning of March) is the provision of shading to protect the plants from burning. I use a plastic netting of the texture of very coarse sacking to allow adequate light to pass: this remains in position until September. The shading remains in place on wet and cloudy days as removal entails too much work. In any case this is less damaging than exposure to unexpected sunshine. (However, plants that are hung in the open air and have been acclimatized are never burned in our temperate climate.)

Essential care is given daily in summer: in winter every two to three days is sufficient. Water with a high calcium content is unsuitable, but as we have very soft water (a German hardness of 3 °) from the Black Forest, the house supply can be used without further thought. The plants are sprayed with a fine sprayer using warm water when the sun is low in the evening.

To feed the plants they may be dipped in a very dilute fertilizer solution. This is only done for those plants requiring special attention. Routine feeding is carried out in summer with a ½-gallon hand sprayer immediately after watering at intervals of about a week. The sprayer holds a fertilizer in the recommended concentration. Since the plants are wet before the application of fertilizer, this process is especially effective. Also, of course, such a hand sprayer can make the feeding rather more selective. I have not observed damage by this type of feeding but this frequent mild application of “air borne” fertilizer does ensure the abundant growth of the tillandsias which, without such feeding or the constant wind, rain and fog-borne nourishment of the natural state, seldom flourish.

After the evening watering, the ventilators are closed and the humidity remains quite high until the next morning. At this time the ventilators are opened and the humidity falls rapidly. In winter, the humidity in the heated glasshouse falls as water condenses on the glass and runs away. Of course, routine feeding and watering does have drawbacks. This activity causes a vigorous growth of algae on the glass which in summer serves as a supplementary filter for the sunlight but which must be removed each winter. I do this with the aid of a high pressure jet of water.

With the accommodation described above, and when the seed-bearing plants are not removed, the following will occur. The ripe seed capsules on tillandsias will spring open on warm days and the seeds will emerge, unfurl and float away before they can be captured. In this manner, seeds from Tillandsia aeranthos, T. schiedeana and T. caput-medusae have settled on the wire mesh, often in exposed places, then anchored themselves and germinated. When I detected these colonies of unplanned tillandsia seedlings in places where it was not easy to reach them, some were already 2-3 years old and in excellent condition. Of course they had profited from the care described above, but the most astounding thing was that they were unburnt although sometimes only 8 inches from the glass roof. At the same time, seedlings on twig bundles in sheltered places had occasionally been burnt by an unexpected bout of sunshine in March. The survival of these randomly sown unplanned seedlings on the wire, exposed to the full sun I can only try to explain.

If tillandsias are sown by accident or design on vine twigs to which adult tillandsias are fixed, they can germinate. But sooner or later on a warm day, perhaps with only a short spell of sunshine, these seedlings become a burnt sacrifice! So the case that dead wood may heat up sufficiently to burn small tillandsias is confirmed. That they can, under similar conditions, survive on the wire mesh, I have proved by deliberately placing seeds on the wire with my fingers and observing them. I have had no ill effects with the germinating seed, even seed hanging insecurely has shown the first green stage of germination and then hung for a year by the “parachute” but growing despite this. Even so, the growth is retarded in comparison to seedlings on twig bundles (where misfortunes through bacteria and fungus are not likely to occur). A sterile atmosphere also prevails on the wire which is not a suitable host for the lower plants.

I have no intention of advocating the sowing of tillandsia seeds on wire, my purpose is rather to show the extreme conditions under which these plants may be accommodated from germination to flowering. The experienced gardener has difficulty in accepting that tillandsias do not like conventional potting which is, of course, contrary to most accepted plant culture. One might, perhaps, think in terms of hydroculture. Here, however, tillandsia culture distinguishes itself in the predominant factors of light and air, and the fluctuating humidity requirements. Growth depends, without doubt, on the leaves (i.e. I suggest that the primary absorption of nutriment is via the leaves). What is less conclusive is that tillandsias, after reaching a certain stage in their growth, use dead leaves or captured organic material by absorption through the roots. Therefore one may successfully cultivate some tillandsias (notably T. lindenii, T. brachycaulos and T. caput-medusae) from a certain age as pot plants at the expense of losing their unique individuality. As pure air plants they are heaven and nearer to our hearts!

Furthermore, it has been shown by chance that smooth-leaved funnel bromeliads, whether as a tillandsia or vriesea, can behave thoroughly like atmospheric tillandsias, from germination to the completion of the initial small rosette of leaves perhaps an inch in diameter. Indeed they will even grow on wire in an emergency! But these early forms of growth do not resemble the mother plant. They have hair fine leaves and as yet possess no water reservoir. After the metamorphosis from atmospheric to funnel bromeliads, which I found to be about 3 years after sowing, a very swift growth sets in. In a mixed sowing the true funnel bromeliads outgrew their atmospheric brothers by a factor of 3 in 1-2 years.

Similarly to these funnel bromeliads, Tillandsia pruinosa undergoes a certain change. It also develops rather thin scaly leaves which become thicker and more succulent in the adult form, the transition occurring at 2-3 years of age. In other seedlings (e.g. Tillandsia caput-medusae) such a metamorphosis has not been observed.

These short notes should show that, in a well ventilated and cared-for glasshouse, new observations are constantly being made which in turn pose new questions. Our knowledge is standing only at the beginning. As more and more people become enthusiasts perhaps these lines, which result from the systematic relation of observations to the growing body of knowledge about bromeliads, will help them. These endeavors are never boring. They make the growing of these fascinating plants less random, insure greater possibility of success, and win new friends to our hobby.

Freiburg, West Germany
Translated by Dr. R. Deeming, Germany

This article by the late Richard Oeser was reprinted from Volume 24 No. 1.

Protozoan Exclusion in the Bromeliaceae


Research associates at the Organization for Tropical Studies, located in La Selva, Costa Rica, conducted a study on the habitation of Paramecium species in arboreal standing water. Their results suggest that Paramecium species are excluded from bromeliad reservoirs through the interaction of the existent, paramecium-free microcommunity.

Paramecia are acellular, microscopic protozoa that inhabit aquatic systems worldwide. In Costa Rica they are known to inhabit the floral bracts of Heliconia species, namely H. caribaea Lamarck, H. imbricata (Kuntze) Baker, H. latispatha Bentham, and H. wagneriana Peterson. The genus Heliconia is in the Musaceae (banana) family. Paramecia have also been noted in floral bracts of Calathea insignis Peterson, a species in the Marantaceae. Neither the paramecia nor the bromeliads used in this study were taxonomically treated.

The dispersal of paramecia from one floral bract to another is due to the movement of snails, hummingbirds, and insects. Individual organisms may also move from one bract to another through the washing of rainfall-induced overflow from bracts immediately above.

Although found in water within the bracts of Heliconia, paramecia have never been observed in the tanks of bromeliads. The watery habitat of bromeliads would appear capable of supporting vast colonies, but they don’t.

Tests were initiated to determine why paramecia refuse to inhabit bromeliad cups. Eighteen bromeliads were collected; nine were left in normal condition, i.e., the natural, aquatic, invertebrate community was left intact; the other nine were thoroughly washed with soapy water and refilled with river water. A vigorous culture of paramecia was injected into the tanks of the bromeliads in each group. Population studies were conducted three and seven days following the culture injection.

The results showed that washed bromeliads supported abundant colonies of paramecia following both incubation periods. The unwashed bromeliads failed to support colonies of paramecia through the third day; seventh day cultures were also dead. It is evident from this test that some system of biological interaction excludes these protozoans from the bromeliad community.

Two mechanisms of exclusion seem possible. Either the bromeliad produces a compound that builds up in the tank and renders a toxic effect on paramecia or there is an interaction between paramecia and the microfauna producing an exclusion factor working against paramecia.

A second approach can differentiate between these two methods of exclusion. Water was removed from several bromeliads, half of which was filtered to remove small protozoans and the remaining half left unfiltered. Active paramecium cultures derived from Heliconia bracts were introduced in to each water sample. A reference treatment of paramecia established in the filtered water from Heliconia bracts was run as a standard. Population density data were collected frequently after the initiation of the study, but it was not until the fourth day that a significant population density decline was observed. At this point, density data were collected at twelve hour intervals for twenty-four hours, yielding three sets of data.

The following results were noted: the densities of paramecia in the unfiltered bromeliad water were totally annihilated after twelve hours; those cultures in the filtered water from the bromeliad tanks and Heliconia bracts yielded a 50% and 33% density reduction, respectively, for the same period, and a 50% and 25% density reduction, respectively, during the final twelve hours, but nothing comparable to the change in the unfiltered culture.

The fact that population density changes did not appear until the fourth day rules out the possibility of toxic substances from the plant as a means of excluding paramecia habitation. It seems evident, then, that the biological interactions between paramecia and the microcommunity of bromeliads is the most likely cause for the exclusion of the genus Paramecium from bromeliad tanks.

It is not known whether inhibitory substances, severe competition, or some other unknown factor in the microcommunity is limiting the existence of paramecia.


Laellse, A. M. 1961. A micro-limnological study of Jamaican bromeliads. Ecology 42:499-517.

Vandermeer, John, J. Addicott, A. Anderson, J. Kitasako, D. Pearson, C. Schnell, and H. Wilbur. Observations of Paramecium occupying arboreal standing water in Costa Rica. Ecology 53:291-293.

Rhineland, Wisconsin

Hechtia scariosa — A Chihuahuan Desert Bromeliad


Photos by David E. Mueller
Fig. 1 Hechtia scariosa

The Bromeliaceae are represented in Texas by 2 genera: Hechtia and Tillandsia, having between them a total of 6 species. While on a research trip in Southwest Texas, I had the opportunity to observe one of these species, Hechtia scariosa L. B. Smith, in its native habitat.

Southwestern Texas is located in the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The landscape consists of desert and grassland, mountains, mesas, and plains. This area received 8-50 cm of rain annually, and has summer temperatures which commonly exceed 37°C (100 °F). The rugged desert in this region is the home of Hechtia scariosa.

H. scariosa is confined to Brewster County: the southern part of the county is the location of Big Bend National Park. In the northern and eastern sections of the park, the plants grow on gravelly plains, dry limestone slopes, and limestone ridges. The southwestern section of the park is of volcanic origin and no specimens were observed in this area. Since finding the plant in its native habitat may be a rugged and hot experience, it is easier to observe this species at the desert plant garden of the Judge Roy Bean Museum, Langtry, Texas, located 213 km (133 miles) east of Marathon, Texas, and 112 km (70 miles) west of Del Rio, Texas, on U.S. Route 90. The plant grown across the Rio Grande River in the Mexican states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Tamalipas.

Fig. 2 Hechtia scariosa

Hechtia scariosa is of Agave habit, forming clumps reaching 60-90 cm in diameter. It resembles especially Agave lecheguilla with which it grows (Fig. 1). The leaves, which are arranged in a dense basal rosette, are up to 30 cm long, rigid and slightly recurved. The leaf margins are coarsely serrate with curved spines. Reddish patches on the upper leaf surface develop in the areas around the spines (Fig. 2) when the plant is exposed to intense sunlight and especially toward autumn. While the upper leaf surface is light green, smooth, and glossy, the lower surface is covered by a dense layer of tiny silvery scales. The plant sends up an erect scape, 60-120 cm in height, which supports a loosely branched panicle of flowers. The inflorescence is more densely flowered on the lower than on the upper branches. The plants are dioecious (unisexual, the sexes on separate plants), the flowers have 3 white petals and 3 brownish sepals which have few nerves. The fruit is a dark brown, shiny, capsule, which is ovoid, acutely tipped, and about 1 cm long.

H. scariosa is closely related to H. texensis Wats. which was described in 1885. The plant was collected “on limestone bluffs of the Great Bend of the Rio Grande,” Brewster County, Texas. To date, the type collection is the only record of this species and it appears in the listing of plants which are possibly extinct, in Endangered and Threatened Plants of the United States, Ayensu and DeFilipps (1978, p. 65). H. texensis differs from H. scariosa by having broader sepals and longer branches of the inflorescence. Further evaluation of this relationship necessitates additional material of H. texensis. The name H. texensis is occasionally used erroneously for H. scariosa in the botanical literature and in plant catalogs.

H. scariosa is available commercially and can be grown quite easily. Since H. scariosa is terrestrial, it can be grown in a potting mix suitable for cacti. A mix of 2 parts humus: 3 parts coarse sand: 1 part peat moss, has been used with success. In addition, a small amount of crushed limestone may be added to the potting mix. Pots should be 1/3 filled with gravel before adding the potting mix and plant. The plants prefer direct sunlight and can be grown easily with cacti and succulents. In direct light, the characteristic red patches on the leaves will develop, adding to its beauty as a cultivated plant. During the warmer months of the year, watering should be twice each week, while in winter, watering should be reduced to once each week. The plants will eventually form clusters and may then be divided. Rauh (1979) notes that the “mother rosette” of species of Hechtia does not die after blooming, but will flower repeatedly in addition to forming offshoots; this trait adds to its value for the bromeliad or succulent grower.

For those interested in acquiring this interesting species, I request help in conserving it by purchasing specimens which are propagated and not field collected.

Special thanks are due to the National Park Service, Big Bend National Park, for their cooperation.

Type: Pringle 72 (holotype, Gray Herbarium; isotypes, British Museum Nat. History, U.S. National Herbarium) Jimulco, Coahuila, Mexico, April 27, 1885.

Additional specimens examined: Cutler 967 (1937); Coahuila, Mexico: Purpus 1101 (1905), Eudlich 8 (1905), Stanford 88 (1948).

Carbondale, Illinois


Ayensu, Edward S. & Robert A. DeFilipps, Endangered and Threatened Plants of the United States. Smithsonian Institution and World Wildlife Fund, Inc., Washington, D.C. 1978.

Correll, Donovan S. & Marshall C. Johnston, Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Second printing. University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas. 1979.

Coulter, John M., Botany of Western Texas. Contributions from the U. S. National Herbarium. Vol. 2, Washington, D.C. 1894.

Key, Laura, “Where Rainbows Wait for Rain” The Chihuahuan Desert Discovery, No. 7, March 1980.

McDougall, W. B. & Omar E. Sperry, Plants of Big Bend National Park. National Park Service, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1951.

Rauh, Werner, Bromeliads for Home, Garden, Greenhouse. (English edition). Bladford Press, Poole, Dorset, England. 1979.

Smith, Lyman B., in Flora of Texas. Cyrus Lundell. Vol. 3 part IV. University Press in Dallas, Southern Methodist University. 1949.

Smith, Lyman B. & Robert J. Downs, Flora Neotropica. Monograph 14, Pitcairnioideae (Bromeliaceae). Hafner Press, New York, N.Y. 1974.

Warnock, Barton H., Wildflowers of the Big Bend Country Texas. Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas, 1970.

Tillandsia prodigiosa, Or is it?


What looks like Tillandsia prodigiosa, acts like Tillandsia prodigiosa, and is widely sold as Tillandsia prodigiosa? If your answer to that question is Tillandsia prodigiosa, you’re right…but only partly so, because Tillandsia eizii is equally correct. A significant number of plants in cultivation under the label of T. prodigiosa is actually the latter species.

The confusion between the two is as understandable as it is longstanding. Both are large, conspicuous epiphytes with long, spectacular, pendulous inflorescences. Both grow in the mountains of Southern Mexico and they do superficially resemble each other. Once the differences between them are noted, however, the blooming plants are readily distinguishable even from a distance.

The most conspicuous features of T. prodigiosa are the primary bracts which all but obscure the spikes. Conversely, in T. eizii the spikes themselves are the most prominent parts of the inflorescence.

A comparison of the primary bracts and spikes of Tillandsia eizii and Tillandsia prodigiosa.

Photos by Hal Wiedman



Top: Habitat of
Tillandsia prodigiosa.







Bottom: Habitat of
Tillandsia eizii.

Inflorescence of Tillandsia eizii

A comparison of the major differences between the two are as follows:

T. prodigiosaT. eizii
Primary Bracts Brightly rose-colored. Longer than the spike and covering it to the point of almost hiding it from view. Softer pink and usually extending over the spike for only about half its length, then flaring upward and curving sharply backwards.
Spikes Thin and elongated. Many times as long as wide. Almost hidden by the primary bracts. Fat, egg-shaped, and very prominent.
Flower Usually green Usually light purple
Inflorescence Overall rosy appearance. No cluster of "sterile" primary bracts towards the tip of the inflorescence. Overall bi-colored appearance with a striking contrast of pink and greenish-white. Just above the last spike is a cluster of reduced primary bracts with no accompanying spikes visible, as if the spike aborted.

Out of bloom the two species are not easily separated, but it can be done with a practiced eye. Most specimens of T. prodigiosa have a grayish-green cast to the foliage while T. eizii has darker green leaves. The color of the leaf sheath can be either brown or purple in both species, but it seems more noticeable in T. eizii and more often purple. The rosettes of either species consists of both spreading and ascending leaves. Still, T. prodigiosa seems to have a flatter looking rosette while T. eizii, which has more leaves, forms a dense rosette.

T. prodigiosa has been recorded from the states of Sinaloa, Durango, Jalisco, Vera Cruz, Puebla, Mexico, Michoacan, and Oaxaca in Mexico; and T. eizii has been found in the state of Chiapas, Mexico and the adjacent Guatemalan department of Huehuetenango.

Both are mountain inhabiting species. As such, it is likely that T. prodigiosa has not managed to extend its range southward across the hot, flat, Tehuantepec Isthmus. It is equally probably that T. eizii does not grow north of that barrier. If this is the case, then it puts the Mexican State of Chiapas in the curious position of having named T. prodigiosa as its official state flower without it even growing there.

Chiapas is not alone in its confusion between the two. A glance through many of the articles and photos in former Bromeliad Society Bulletins will indicate that the plant under discussion as T. prodigiosa is actually T. eizii.

In the sites in which I have seen it, my overall impression of T. eizii is that it grows in damper and shadier situations than does T. prodigiosa. It seems to occur in predominantly coniferous forests and is found clinging to the main trunk and the bases of the larger limbs on its host tree. It does not occur in large concentrations where it is found but instead is scattered sporadically around the forest.

My experience with T. prodigiosa on the other hand is that it is found in brighter, drier, deciduous oak forests, and where it grows, it grows in abundance. Instead of being confined to the innermost portions of its host trees, T. prodigiosa grows on just about every branch old enough and strong enough to support it. These observations are my own and should not be takes as ecological gospel. They are based on the wild populations that I’ve seen and do not eliminate the possibility that other populations grow in different situations.

Both are highly ornamental plants and are much used by the local people as decoration in churches and private homes during the Christmas holidays. Of the two species, T. eizii is the larger and more spectacular on an individual basis, but en masse, few plants could compete with T. prodigiosa.

In April, 1981, Hal Wiedman, Dan Cook, and I came across such a mass display of T. prodigiosa in Oaxaca, and it was simply overwhelming. I doubt that any of us will ever think of T. prodigiosa again without the memory of that spectacle popping immediately to mind. The sight of literally hundreds upon hundreds of large, rosy inflorescences dangling in dappled sunlight in the midst of the bright green, newly-emerging, oak leaves is one not easily forgotten.

My notes record T. prodigiosa at several locations between 6800 and 7600 ft. It was found growing in association with T. bourgaei, T. dugesii, and T plumosa.

The notes record T. eizii at ranges from 5600 to 8500 ft. In the rich, wet forests near the lakes of Montebello, it was found with T. multicaulis, T. seleriana, T. standleyi, T. guatemalensis, T. punctulata, T. butzii, several Catopsis species, and Vriesea werckleana. Farther north in Chiapas, it was found at 6000 ft. growing along with Tillandsia butzii, T. magnusiana, T. seleriana, the ubiquitous T. schiedeana and T. rodrigueziana. We also found it at 8500 ft. along with T. ponderosa, T. politii, and T. guatemalensis.

Both plants are in cultivation but when found there they are inevitably both labeled as T. prodigiosa. Since most of the plants on the market in recent years have been shipped in by Guatemalan firms, most are probably T. eizii. Two plants I purchased from a Southern California wholesaler some time ago are in bloom at the moment and both are T. eizii, and both had their origin from Guatemalan suppliers.

Neither species is particularly difficult to grow but both are susceptible to scale insects. Unfortunately, neither species offsets after flowering. The inflorescence of a cultivated plant is impressive, but rarely reaches the length and the intensity-of color that it does in the wild. Even in wild plants, however, inflorescence length varies greatly. Furthermore, there also seem to be “vintage” years for T. prodigiosa when abnormally large numbers of plants are all in bloom at the same time. Does the variation in inflorescence length occur because these vintage years are caused by a set of conditions that trigger flowering of plants of different ages; or are the vintage years a reflection of a particularly favorable season for seedling survival a number of years previously, so that all blooming plants would be the same age and with inflorescence length determined primarily by heredity? For that matter, at what age do they flower? I could find no information on blooming age but it must take at least ten years from seedling to flower. Nine T. prodigiosa plants collected in January 1975 and maintained in my greenhouse since then have produced only 3 flowering plants so far, 1 in 1981 and 2 in 1982. I have no way of knowing how old the small plants were that were collected, but they were not seedling size. One also has to wonder what effect greenhouse cultivation has had on them.

Since neither T. prodigiosa nor T. eizii produces offsets and they are slow growing from seed, their future in cultivation seems limited in spite of their outstanding floral display. As Mexico and Guatemala continue to increase their restrictions on exporting native plants, the supply of them on the market will eventually all but disappear.

Auburn, California

A New Variety of Tillandsia ionantha


Photo by Grace Foster
Inflorescence of Tillandsia eizii

Tillandsia ionantha Planch. var. zebrina Bert Foster, var. nov. A var. ionantha foliorum laminis pulchre zonatis differt. This variety differs from the species in its beautifully banded leaf blades. Collected in Guatemala and cultivated by Bert Foster, 1975, Type US.

In 1975, we spent our Christmas vacation in Guatemala and had an interesting time, but I do not recommend visiting there in that season because Latin American countries seem to close down for at least 2 weeks at Christmas time. On one of our side trips, we drove to Rio Dulce. Approximately 75 miles beyond the outskirts of Guatemala City, we made a comfort stop along the road. While meditating behind a large cactus, I happened to look up and was pleased to see what Dr. Lyman Smith now calls Tillandsia ionantha var. zebrina. Despite the fact that we never intend to make any of our South or Central American visits bromeliad collecting trips, we always acquire a few plants. In this case too, collecting a few of these plants seemed the natural thing to do.

A short time after we left Guatemala, the great earthquake occurred, and these specimens of T. ionantha have been collected along the fault line involved with the earthquake. As far as I know, that area was totally destroyed.

In the ensuing 5 years, I have managed to increase the original 5 plants to 50 plants of varying sizes, however, I do not have any plants for sale at this time.

Orlando, Florida

Another Aechmea orlandiana ‘Ensign’ Story


About a year ago, in anticipation of the World Bromeliad Conference in Corpus Christi, Texas, I decided to plant an “Ensign” tree. While most bromeliad enthusiasts might be quite satisfied with several plants at the most, I thought that for the Conference, more than that was in order and in keeping with the notion that in Texas, big is good and biggest is best. As the accompanying photograph indicates, the offshoots that I used have cooperated wonderfully and have covered the branch which a friend dragged out of a river for me to use.

The original specimen came from a grower in Louisiana who did not like the particular clone represented by the specimen. His complaint was that it did not get big enough and according to his standards, pretty enough, to keep. For me, these were not disadvantages because I prefer compact plants; and furthermore, how can one really object to having extra offshoots of this variety? The clone has shown many leaf patterns, as can be seen from the illustration. Close examination will reveal that no two of the offshoots on the tree have precisely the same markings.

With regard to the culture techniques involved, it was necessary to try to compensate for the fact that the water here in South Texas is very alkaline. My method was to grow the plants in osmunda fiber rather than mounting them directly on the wood. I formed pockets of Saran shade cloth, stapled them to the tree branch, filled the pockets with osmunda fiber and inserted the rooted offshoots into the fiber. For the initial rooting of the offshoots, both Perlite and fiber seem to be equally effective. Before rooting, the cut ends of the offshoots are dipped in a rooting hormone such as Rootone. About every 2 months, a 20-20-20 formula fertilizer is used at one half the recommended strength.

I hope that those of you who saw my “Ensign” tree enjoy the sight as much as I have enjoyed watching it gradually develop into the lavish bromeliad extravaganza that it eventually became.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Tillandsia crispa var. tustii1
A New Bromeliad from Colombia


Last year, Mr. P. Tust of Steinan, West Germany, a collector of species of Tillandsia, received from Colombia a very interesting dwarf species of Tillandsia. He sent some of his plants to the Botanical Garden here in Heidelberg where they grow well and have already flowered several times. Later, more plants were received from F. G. Gruber of Fusagasuga, Colombia. All of them have the same growth form and our observations indicate that the plant does not change its character in cultivation. It is classified in the subgenus Pseudocatopsis. When using a key to the species of Tillandsia, one is lead to T. crispa Mez as a consequence of the strongly undulate leaf-blades which the newly collected dwarf plants possess. Yet, they show remarkable differences in growth form from T. crispa. Taking these differences into consideration, it appeared at first that a new species name should be provided. Further study of T. crispa, however, reveals that the latter species has a very wide distribution extending from Panama to northern Peru and that it is a very variable species. Attesting to its variability is the fact that L. B. Smith has combined T. undulifolia Mez from Ecuador and T. plicatifolia Ule from northern Peru with T. crispa. The best course of action appears to be to name the new dwarf as a variety of T. crispa. The characteristics of the new variety are as follows:

PLANT: stemless, producing many offshoots at the base, flowering when only 10-15 cm high, seldom higher. LEAVES: many, densely rosulate in a sub-bulbous rosette of up to 3 cm in diameter. LEAF SHEATHS: large, spoonlike, distinct, up to 3 cm long and 1.5 cm wide, dark, leather-brown, with dark wine-red spots on the upper part, both sides densely lepidote. LEAF BLADES: 5-10 cm long, 3-5 mm wide, narrow, involute, with strongly undulate margins, tapering into a subulate, recurved tip, dark green to dark-reddish brown, with wine-red markings or stripes, both sides lepidote, shorter or as long as the inflorescence. INFLORESCENCE SCAPE: very slender, erect or slightly curved. SCAPE BRACTS: imbricate, subfoliate, the basal ones with a long blade, the upper ones transform gradually into the floral bracts, olive-green to brownish, sparsely lepidote. INFLORESCENCE: mostly simple, horizontally oriented to slightly decurved, up to 4 cm long, 2-2.5 cm wide, at anthesis, truncate at the apex (shape of the inflorescence rectangular, see illustration). RHACHIS: visible, slender, somewhat geniculate, flattened, brown-lepidote, internodes about 3 cm long. FLORAL BRACTS: horizontally spreading to recurved, boat-shaped, somewhat inflated, 1-1.2 cm long, 0.5 cm wide at the base (with the base covering the rhachis), lemon-yellow or orange-red, densely and finely brown or white lepidote on both sides. FLOWERS: divergent, visible. SEPALS: 5-7 mm long, asymmetric, ecarinate, coriaceous, acute, even sparsely lepidote. PETALS: exceeding the sepals with broad-rounded, strongly recurved, orange petals. STAMENS & PISTIL: deeply included.

Top: Inflorescence of Tillandsia crispa var. tustii

Bottom: Inflorescence of Tillandsia crispa var. crispa

HOLOTYPE: No. 47 646, in the herbarium of the Institute of Systemic Botany of the University of Heidelberg.

DISTRIBUTION: Epiphytic in a humid mist-forest at an altitude of about 1800 m, near Altaquer, Dept. Narino, in the southern part of Colombia.

The plant is also cultivated in the Botanical Garden of the University of Heidelberg under the number 52 043, collected in the same region of Colombia by F. Gruber, Fusagasuga, Colombia.

T. crispa var. tustii is a very attractive, dwarf variety characterized by its narrow, strongly undulating dark-green to dark-brown colored leaves (the color does not fade in the winter), the rectangular, truncate, horizontally oriented, simple inflorescence, and by the spreading to recurved floral bracts and yellow flowers. T crispa var. crispa is a much larger variety having a larger pseudobulb, leaf blades that are green, longer and broader, an inflorescence that is mostly branched. The spikes are not truncate at the apex (see illustration), the floral bracts are more erect and more imbricate, and the flowers are white to greenish-white. Undoubtedly more varieties of T. crispa could be described. For example, in southern Ecuador a form with very long spikes up to 25 cm long (see the cover photograph of The Journal of the Bromeliad Society, Vol. XXIX, Nr. 3, 1979) was collected. Also in southern Ecuador, near Cuenca a form with long, narrow, hanging leaves and a laxly bipinnate inflorescence with spreading, long ovoid, petiolated spikes was collected.

T. crispa var tustii gives the impression of being difficult to grow. In fact, the contrary is true. Our plants have been successfully grown for more than a year. It must be cultivated as an epiphyte in a cool, damp, dark atmosphere. We grow T. crispa under the same conditions and have no losses. Victoria Padilla wrote in the issue of the Journal cited above, however, that T. crispa “is a touchy subject at best” and that all specimens received in California died within a short time.

Heidelberg, Germany


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

Some Like It Hot; I Like Them Cool


Tillandsia eizii growing in San Francisco

Interest in the weather, especially among plant lovers, runs high all over the country. When we telephone friends and relatives in distant places, questions about the local weather conditions are always part of the conversation. In San Francisco, we call our neighbors over the hill and say, “Is it sunny there? It’s been foggy here since Tuesday.” The San Francisco fogs are famous for keeping the city cool even in July, although certain neighborhoods sheltered by the hills, receive sun and warmth for the major part of the day. The city is located on the tip of a coastal peninsula, with a cold Pacific current on the west and a sheltered heat-retaining bay on the east. The famous hills block the clouds and fog from some areas, while keeping other areas shrouded in fogs that are often quite dense. In the summer, a Pacific high pressure system causes the accumulation of fog just off the coast during the day, but allows it to move inland at night, often cooling the interior San Joaquin Valley by way of the Sacramento River Delta. The winters are mild most of the time with an occasional frost and freak snowfall that send the growers of tender plants searching for newspapers and old sheets. Most of the year, however, the city’s temperatures are cool, and the extremes of both heat and cold are absent.

In this climatic setting, there is a thriving group of alpine aficionados in San Francisco growing high altitude flowering plants at nearly sea level, or at most, at an elevation of a few hundred feet, but still near the sea. The alpines I prefer to grow in this environment are high altitude bromeliads, namely certain species of Tillandsia and Vriesea. These species, most often found in nature in cloud and pine forests, thrive in San Francisco, flower easily, and with sufficient sun or bright light, attain the rich and lustrous colors of their wild siblings.

Werner Rauh’s description of Veracruz exemplifies the native habitat of many of these species found growing in cool conditions. The moist air from the coast covers the foothills and the mountains of eastern Mexico, cooling the tropical climate and supplying the atmosphere with abundant moisture. The days are warm and the nights are cool.

At an altitude of over 6,000 ft. in Costa Rica, I recorded a daytime temperature of 50 °F during a heavy rain. There, the trees were covered with vrieseas. On Mexico’s high plateau, silver-leaved tillandsias are found more commonly than the soft, green-leaved varieties of the eastern slopes. On the plateau, the weather is often arid, less tropical and more temperate; even snow occurs. Tillandsia juncea grows abundantly in Mexico at mid-elevations and often near rivers in jungle areas. In Costa Rica, I saw it in the Central Valley at an altitude of about 4,000 ft. These areas are usually warmer and more humid than San Francisco is considered to be, and it seems to enjoy shade as well. It grows very well in San Francisco, flowering annually in early summer after forming the inflorescence during the winter. In full or partial sun, its grassy leaves turn crimson and complement the red scape and its bracts.

Tillandsia viridiflora is found near T. juncea in Veracruz and at higher elevations. Its leaves turn maroon in the summer sun and it thrives on the winter rain. It has no problem in flowering in San Francisco. Tillandsia eizii, often confused with T prodigiosa, is from Mexico’s wettest state, Chiapas. Naturally, it does well in the winter here also. One particular specimen, in good light, began to develop its spike in October, reached its full length of 3 ft. in February, and turned a vivid pink color in its primary bracts that spring, and flowered in June. No seed was set, but the inflorescence retained its color throughout the next winter and summer and did not become dry until almost Christmas. That is a span of time of over 2 years from start to finish; an excellent record for a plant that does not produce offshoots.

Vriesea cylindrica is from the arid deciduous forests of northern Peru. It produces a beautiful rosette more than a foot in diameter. Silver green in color, it sends up branched, rose-colored inflorescence with pale yellow flowers, having crenulated petal margins that are blue-bordered; the whole is strikingly attractive to bromeliad enthusiasts. I have always grown it successfully outdoors here and planted it in bark in which it roots well.

I have between 200 and 300 bromeliads of all types growing outdoors in San Francisco. Some adapt more easily than others, and of course some suffer. When certain species offer resistance to my growing conditions, I find better homes for them and look for more species of Tillandsia and Vriesea that like it cool.

San Francisco, California


August 6-8
Annual Show and Sale of the Atlantic Bromeliad Society. South DeKalb Shopping Mall, located at I-20 and Candler Roads, Decatur, Georgia. For more information, call 404-971-8467.

August 7-8
The Oregon Bromeliad Society’s Sixth Annual Show and Sale. Washington Square Mall, Portland, Oregon. August 7: 9 A.M.-6 P.M.; August 8: 12-5 P.M.

August 7-8
The San Fernando Valley Bromeliad Society’s Annual Show and Sale. Valley Plaza Recreation Center, 12240 Archwood St., North Hollywood, California. August 7: 12-6 P.M.; August 8: 10 A.M.-5 P.M.

Buckeye Bromeliaceae


One day last winter, many people sat at their television sets watching the football play-off game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers. The wind-chill factor that afternoon at River Front Stadium here in Cincinnati was -58 °F., but even so, bromeliads were growing in Ohio that day.

Considering our long and cold winters and a warm season that extends from mid-May through September, we Ohio growers have a long hard battle to raise beautiful bromeliads. That we succeed, is a tribute to perseverance and ingenuity. Our methods are very varied. Greenhouse growing requires steady nerves particularly on those nights when below zero temperatures occur. One needs to be prepared for an emergency "house call" in the middle of the night should the low temperature alarm sound in the greenhouse. In addition, a very good heating system is a requirement and one needs to be steeled against the steep spiral of the winter utility bills. Most of the days are overcast in winter and the sun appears on occasion seemingly only long enough to give reassurance that it has not disappeared forever. During this period, bromeliads lose some color but not a great deal, surprisingly.

Some growers use fluorescent lamps during the winter months and others use them all year. Leaf color is thus maintained but the markings on such plants as Quesnelia marmorata are lost. Flowering occurs just as it does with greenhouse-grown plants, but usually a little later; in some cases the difference in timing can be as much as a month.

Other growers use window ledges and solariums for their plants. All of these methods are very close to those used at lower latitudes with the exception that inside protection in the winter is a requirement for Ohioans. To be sure, some of our prize plants are lost during this time of year, but they are very few in number unless sudden heater failure or some other equally devastating disaster strikes. By maintaining constant air movement, some amount of warmth and humidity, at least the more tolerant species survive.

When spring arrives, the time for great activity comes with it. Since we can have night temperatures of 57°F. on Monday and 25 °F. on Tuesday, those of us who move our plants outdoors for the summer, spend many evenings running in and out with armloads of plants. As April nears its end, we can leave them out in the sun for a few days at a time before the weather forces us to return to our former activity. By mid-May, and certainly by the first of June, all of the plants can remain outdoors.

Summer is a blessing for bromeliads. The temperature often reaches the 90 °F. level and even higher during the day and drops to no lower than 70°F. at night. There is always a breeze and the relative humidity is no lower than 60% and usually much higher, 90% or more on many days. With such comparatively wonderful conditions, color intensifies and the markings of species such as Quesnelia marmorata return. The species of Tillandsia more than those of any other genus have the most noticeably favorable reaction to being placed outdoors.

By the end of September, winter quarters must be prepared. New plants, purchased over the summer, offshoots removed as they mature, contribute to the inevitable increase in the bromeliad population noticeable at this time; and particularly so as the number of trips from outside to inside brings on exhaustion. Some may wish at this time that they had small collections, but undoubtedly they are not really serious. Those who keep their plants in a greenhouse and those who keep their plants under fluorescent lamps all year, miss the biannual marathon.

I think that you will agree that a salute to the bromeliad growers in Ohio and all of the northern states is in order. More and more people are becoming interested in growing bromeliads, and in the years to come, a greater number will be joining the winter vigil, the spring and fall "run," and enjoying the resulting glorious summer efflorescence of bromeliad beauty.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Aechmea sphaerocephala

This, "not for the small greenhouse" terrestrial can be found growing in open spaces along the coast in the Rio de Janeiro area of Brazil. It forms an imposing rosette with leaves from three feet to nine feet in length. The inflorescence is globular at first (6 in. or more in diameter) and then cylindric as it elongates during the eighteen month flowering period. This giant plant propagates by short rhizomes.

Hohenbergia stellata Schultes f.

Photo by Robert Read

This most widely cultivated species of the genus Hohenbergia grows as an epiphyte or terrestrial in cloud and rain forests at an elevation from 200 ft. to 4000 ft. It is found in Trinidad, Tobago, Venezuela and N.E. Brazil. The many broad leaves form a rosette to three feet. The inflorescence rising to three feet, bears an arrangement of compact spikes, composed of vivid red to purple floral bracts and flowers with purple petals.

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