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

1981-83: Eloise Beach, Nat DeLeon, Charles Dills, Edgar Smith, John F. Utley, Leslie Walker, Wilbur Wood, Robert P. Wright.

1982-84: Allen Edgar, Linda Harbert, Annie Navetta, Peter Peroz, Herbert Plever.

1983-85: David Benzing, Connie Johnson, Ron Lucibell, Valerie Steckler.

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, CA 95819


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

Copyright 1983 by the
Bromeliad Society, Inc.

The Bromeliad Vegetation of the Dominican Republic, Continued
  Werner Wauh143
Some New Tillandsias From Peru in The Herbarium of Leipzig
  Wilhelm Weber151
A New Species of Tillandsia from Peru
  Werner Rauh156
The Great American Bromeliad Movement
  James V. Elmore158
Chromosomes of Bromeliads
  G. Brown & A. J. Gilmartin171
Tillandsia complanata
  Peter R. Paroz173


x Neotanthus Mirage 'Return to Forever' (Neoregelia elmoreana 'Star of Brazil' x Cryptanthus zonatus var. zebrinus) See page 158 for article. Photo by James V. Elmore


Vriesea capituligera Photo by Werner Rauh. See page 143 for article.

The Bromeliad Vegetation of the Dominican Republic, continued


Fig. 10 Tillandsia jenmanii

On the way down to Bonao and at an elevation of 1000 to 700 m we found many examples of Tillandsia caribaea, Vriesea sanguinolenta, V. tuerckheimii, and V. didistichoides. We also found a remarkable bromeliad which Dr. Jiminez thought might be a new species of Catopsis. Since it was in flower, we were able to determine later that it was Tillandsia jenmanii of the Pseudocatopsis group (Coll. Nr. 58 576) Fig. 10. This was a very important discovery because on Hispaniola, T. jenmanii was known previously only from Haiti (Ekmann H-4359, June, 1925).

Fig. 11 Tillandsia baliophylla Fig. 12 Guzmania ekmanii

Fig. 13 Vriesea capituligera aff. var. aurea Steyermark Fig. 14 Tillandsia circinnata

A little later, Louis Ariza Julia and I drove from Puerto Plata to the capital, Santo Domingo, with its beautiful old Spanish buildings. On the way, near Bonao in the mountains, we saw people selling plants of Vriesea ringens, with beautiful banded leaves, and a remarkable form of Guzmania lingulata having pale yellow rather than bright red involucral bracts. Such a form is not listed in key to the varieties of G. lingulata in Flora Neotropica by L. B. Smith and R. J. Downs, Monograph No. 14, Part 2, 1977.

The next day, we went back on the main road up to Piedra Blanca and followed the road to Rancho Arriba on the river Nizao. We passed through a very pleasant mountain region, but here, as anywhere, the area was almost completely deforested. At an altitude of about 500 m, we found a small remnant of forest surviving. The old trees were covered with many epiphytes such as Aechmea nudicaulis, and Guzmania monostachia var. monostachia. The floral bracts of the latter species were not so beautifully colored as those of South American specimens. For the first time, we encountered Rhipsalis cassutha, hanging down in long dense bunches. At an altitude of about 800 m, we collected plants of the rare Tillandsia baliophylla which is known only from Hispaniola. Our plants differed a little from the type specimen (Ekman H 8308, Massiv du Nord Haiti) in the following characteristics (Coll. Nr. 58 610): the inflorescence is not densely, but laxly bipinnate, Fig. 11; the linear spikes are not erect, but divergent, the ecarinate floral bracts are not wholly concealing the rhachis at anthesis; they are not pale-glaucous, but grayish-brown with chestnut-brown spots, but we suppose that our plant is only a form of the type. It grew together with the epiphytic Guzmania ekmanii, which is known also only from Hispaniola. It is very rare in cultivation, although it is a very attractive plant with its thyrsiform, bipinnate, 50-80 cm long inflorescence. The yellow flowers it bears contrast brightly with the red axis, primary and floral bracts, Fig. 12.

At an altitude of about 1000 m there were small huts along the road where people were selling trunks of tree ferns and flower pots made from them. What a pity that the last tree ferns are being devastated in this way and that the government does nothing to stop it. In the tree fern pots, they had planted Vriesea ringens, V. sintenisii and V. capituligera, but not the normal form with bright-red primary bracts, back cover. These had lemon yellow, green-tipped primary bracts, Fig. 13. The floral bracts were also lemon yellow and the flowers, still not fully developed, appeared to be white. Recently, J. Steyermark discovered and described in the Journal of the Bromeliad Society, Vol. XXXII, p. 112, 1982, just such a yellow variety from Venezuela. Without directly comparing the two forms, it is not possible to decide whether or not they are identical. According to Louis Ariza Julia, the yellow form is predominant in the Dominican Republic.

The next day, Prof. Mercano and I drove westward via San Cristobal, Bani, Azua, Vicente Noble to the salt-lake, Enriquillo, situated 40 m below sea-level, near the border with Haiti. The trip was very interesting because we left the more humid regions of the Dominican Republic and entered the lower limestone regions having a typical xerophytic vegetation, a Prosopis-mesquite bush, rich in cacti. Between Bani and Azua, the vegetation changed completely; the xerophytic vegetation became dominant. Prominent among the plants here were Consolea moniliformis, an arborescent opuntioid, endemic to Hispaniola and the island Desecheo, Neoabottia paniculata, a much-branched arborescent cactus with articulated branches, also endemic to Hispaniloa, Ritterocereus bystrix, Cylindropuntia caribaea, which with its shrubby habit and long spines formed large thickets, Melocactus lamairei, endemic to the Dominican Republic, Mamillaria prolifera, Harrisia nashii, endemic to Hispaniola, and Pereskia purpurascifolia. The dominant, arborescent species Consolea moniliformis and Neoabottia paniculata formed a dense, nearly impenetrable bush. This region is not very rich in remarkable bromeliads, but we did see especially on Prosopis juliflora (Mimosaceae) trees many plants of Tillandsia recurvata, T. usneoides, T. festucoides, T. juncea, T. setacea, T. balbisiana and large clumps of T. circinnata in full flower, Fig. 14. Many agaves grow in the bush and we also found the subaphyllos Vanilla lindenii and a rare and remarkable leafless orchid: Polyrhiza sp. We spent the night in Jimani, near Lago Enriquillo. After a clear and hot night, we headed in the direction of Puerto Escondido, and from there we climbed up to El Toro, the highest point of our trip, 2200 m. At the lower elevations, in the limestone terrain, there is much of the cactus-bush, mixed with many agaves and mesquites and particularly with Prosopis juliflora, Cassia sp., Plumiera sp. and croton bushes. Between 400 and 500 m, the cactus-bush disappeared and we entered a destroyed tropical mountain forest with tree ferns, Bocconia frutescens and others. At an altitude of about 1300 m, the pine forest began, but it was in terrible condition, although tree ferns were present. From 1800 to 2100 m, a pure, nearly intact pine forest was present. On the ground, we found many agaves, large cushions of sphagnum, fuchsias and dense thickets of the eagle fern, Pteridium sp. and other plants. Long beards of Tillandsia usneoides hung down from the crowns of the pines and on the ground, especially along the roadsides, we saw many specimens of Vriesea sintenisii, Fig. 15. The trunks of the pine trees were covered with thick clumps of the red form of Tillandsia hotteana and of a bromeliad with thin, cylindric, hanging bipinnate inflorescences. We could not decide if they were a species of Vriesea or Tillandsia because they already had seedpods. Later, Louis Ariza Julia remembered that many years ago he had collected in the same area and that the plant turned out to be Tillandsia compacta var. compacta. The differences between our plant, Fig. 16, and the type specimen, Fig. 17, are the following: the inflorescence is much shorter, the scape is only a little curved, hidden in the rosette; the nutant (not hanging) inflorescence is not elongate, but ovoid-globose, dense, up to 8 cm long and 6 cm broad; the primary bracts are broadly-elliptic and equaling or shorter than the dense, 5-10 flowered spikes.

Fig. 15 Vriesea sintenisii, growing in a pure pine forest on the way to El Toro (2000 m)

Fig. 16 Tillandsia compacta

Fig. 17 Type plant of Tillandsia compacta
(Herb. Berlin)
Fig. 18 Tillandsia ariza-juliae

Fig. 19 Tillandsia capitata var. domingensis

Above 2100 m there was nothing of particular interest. We descended to Barahona, and on the way, we were able to collect a red flowering, probably undescribed species of Pitcairnia, Vriesea tuerckheimii, Tillandsia caribaea and T. valenzuelana.

Back in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata, and as we were preparing our plants for shipment to the Heidelberg Botanical Garden, it was apparent that we had collected most of the bromeliads of the Dominican Republic except for Tillandsia capitata and the very rare and interesting T. ariza-juliae, Fig. 18, discovered by Louis Ariza Julia growing on Pinus occidentalis, near the Hotel Montana, on the way from La Vega to Jarabacoa (elevation 500 m). Tillandsia ariza-juliae is a bulbous, dwarf species having a dense-ovoid pseudobulb, green tinged with purple near the base; the straight leaf-blades are 9 cm long, 2-3 mm in diameter and strongly subulate-involute. The inflorescence is simple, rarely branched; the spikes are lanceolate, acute, complanate 8 cm long, lax; the pale mauve floral bracts are erect, exceeding the sepals, imbricate, carinate towards the apex and covered with pale appressed scales; the flowers are tubular erect, purple, with exserted stamens. The type locality of this very interesting and rare dwarf will soon be profoundly altered because most of the pine trees in the vicinity of the Hotel have already been cut or burned.

One of the most attractive tillandsias of the Dominican Republic is Tillandsia capitata, known only from one locality, the limestone rock called El Penon, between Higuey and El Seibo in the southeastern part of the island. It differs in so many characters from the type that it should be described as a separate variety, T. capitata var. domingensis, nov. var. Rauh et Ariza Julia, Fig. 19. The plant is not stemless, but forms long stems and produces many offsets, so that it forms dense mats and big clusters. All rosette leaves, including the 3-4 cm long sheaths, are of a dark wine-red color, which does not fade in the winter in Europe; the inflorescence is shorter than the rosette leaves, is depauperate-compound or often pseudosimple and very short-ellipsoid, with few flowers.

In a relatively short time, we saw a large area of the Dominican Republic with its different types of landscape and vegetation and collected about 90% of all bromeliads found there. That aspect of the trip was a joy, but one becomes very sad upon seeing the enormous destruction of the primary vegetation, especially the beautiful forests.

University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

Some New Tillandsias From Peru in the Herbarium of Leipzig


The Peruvian collections belonging to the herbarium of Leipzig (LZ) were collected between 1971 and 1982. During this period, scientists of the Dept. of Taxonomy/Ecology and the Botanical Garden of the section Biowissenschaften of the Karl-Marx-University of Leipzig were guests of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, where they collected material for the herbarium SMF by order of the then director of the Botanical Institute of that University, Prof. Dr. Julio Lopez Guillen. Altogether the Peru-Herbarium contains about 10,000 numbers, the most essential samples of the herbarium are plants of the Loma vegetation of the coast and the Puna of the central parts of Peru as well as segetal and ruderal plants.

Through the kindness of the Director of the Leipzig Institute, Doc. Dr. rer.nat. Gerd Mueller, I recently had the opportunity to examine all specimens of Bromeliaceae; among them are some interesting novelties. A description of 3 new tillandsias follows: the Latin diagnosis will appear in Feddes Repertorium, Vol. 94 (Academie-Verlag Berlin).

Tillandsia gerd-muelleri Weber spec. nov.

PLANT: acaule, flowered to 40 cm high. LEAVES: many, rosulate, suberect to subsecund arcuate recurved, carnose, wrinkled nerved (dry), on both sides dense subappressed gray lepidote. SHEATHS: long-ovate, few distinct limited from the blades, to 6 cm long, 25 mm wide, at the base pale ferrugineous. BLADES: narrowly triangulate, long subulate-attenuate, to 20 cm long, above the sheaths to 15 mm wide, canaliculate. SCAPE: suberect, somewhat arcuate, 20 cm long, terete, subglabrous, nerved. SCAPE BRACTS: dense imbricate, ovate, exceeding the internodes, the lower 40 - 30 mm long, erect, with long foliaceous blades, at apex and the blades dense appressed lepidote, the higher rounded and minutely apiculate, glabrous, strongly nerved, purplish. INFLORESCENCE: simple, dense distichous about 15-flowered, linear-lanceolate, somewhat curved, subterete only few complanate. FLOWERS: very short and stout pedicellate, to 40 mm long. FLOWER BRACTS: suberect, ovate, rounded and minutely apiculate, 27 - 32 mm long, to 18 mm wide, glabrous, strongly nerved, coriaceous with bent membranaceous margins, mostly ecarinate or only at extreme apex very indistinct carinate, at base yellowish, at apex purplish-red, exceeding the sepals. SEPALS: lanceolate-acute, to 25 mm long, 8 mm wide, glabrous, posterior 6 mm high connate and strongly alate-carinate. PETALS: white (only fragments seen), stamens and style included.

HABITAT: Peru, Dpto. Cuzco, Urubamba, Urubamba valley on rocks alt. 2900 m., leg. G. Mueller & P. Gutte no. 9441; 16.6 1982.


The key in L.B. Smith's Flora Neotropica leads to Tillandsia chartacea L.B. Smith but T. gerd-muelleri is more closely related to T. micans L.B. Smith and to T. pseudomicans Rauh but differs mainly from the first by its broader yellow-purplish, not green, flower bracts and from the second by its much longer spikes, and white, not red petals.

Tillandsia gerd-muelleri Weber spec. nov. A, habit; B, flower bract; C, sepals; D, young fruit with style.

Tillandsia gutteana Weber spec. nov.

PLANT: acaule, flowered to 10 cm high, at base many innovations. LEAVES: rosulate, suberect to subsecund recurved, pale green, dense subappressed lepidote, nerved, about of equal length as the inflorescence or a little longer. SHEATHS: indistinct, triangular-ovate, to 30 mm long, 15 mm wide, at base pale ferrugineous and sulcate. BLADES: Narrow triangular, to 60 mm long, strongly canaliculate, long subulate-attenuate, obtuse-acute. SCAPE: very short, hidden by the leaves. SCAPE BRACTS: dense imbricate, foliaceous but shorter than the inflorescence. INFLORESCENCE: simple, subdense distichous 6-7 flowered, complanate, to 50 mm long, 18 mm wide, axis partially visible, angulate, faintly geniculate, nerved, subglabrous. FLOWERS: sessile, to 25 mm long. FLOWER BRACTS: suberect, lanceolate, subulate acuminate, 17-20 mm long, 9 mm wide, coriaceous, ecarinate, nerved, reddish, dense brown lepidote. PETALS: linear-lanceolate, acuminate, 30 mm long, base white and tubular erect, spices yellowish red and recurved, stamens and style visible but not exserted. FILAMENTS: 23 mm long, anthers 4 mm long, basifixed. OVARY: trogonate, longe oviform, acute, 4 mm long, style 13 mm long, stigmata very small, glandulous.

HABITAT: Peru, Dpto. Cajamarca, Cumbo Mayo, saxicol alt. 3700 msm. leg. P & G. Gutte no. 3948: 12.9 1974.

HOLOTYPE: LZ, ISOTYPE SMF. Tillandsia gutteana is closely related to T. macbrideana L.B. Smith but differs in the acaule habit, the inflorescence shorter than the leaves and the lepidote posterior much higher connate sepals.

Tillandsia gutteana Weber spec. nov. A, habit; B, spike; C, flower bract;
D, flower; E, sepals; F, petal with stamen; G, ovary with style.

Tillandsia zaratensis Weber spec. nov.

PLANT: acaule, flowered to 65 cm high. LEAVES: Many, rosulate about 40 cm in diameter, dense appressed lepidote. SHEATHS: ovate, subdistinct, to 10 cm long, 4 cm wide, pale ferrugineous. BLADES: narrowly triangular, long acuminate, to 40 cm long, over the sheaths to 25 mm wide, only few canaliculate. SCAPE: suberect, 40 cm long, terete, to 8 mm in diameter, glabrous, strongly nerved. SCAPE BRACTS: longe-ovate, erect, much exceeding the 50 - 25 mm long internodes, with long foliaceous blades, on both sides dense appressed lepidote, the higher inflated with reflexed blades, purplish. INFLORESCENCE: dense bipinnate, fusiform, 15 cm long, to 5 cm in diameter. PRIMARY BRACTS: SIMILAR TO THE UPPER scape bracts, inflated, 20- 40 mm long, the lower with long reflexed blades, exceeding the lateral spikes or nearly of equal length, at base yellowish, at apex purplish. SPIKES: lanceolate, to 65 mm long, 15 mm wide, subdense distichous 6-8-flowered, complanate. FLOWERS: sessile, to 23 mm long. FLOWER BRACTS: suberect, late-lanceolate, acute, coriaceous with hyaline margins, to 20 mm long, 10 mm wide, at apex carinate, faintly nerved, both sides dissite brownish lepidote. SEPALS: shorter than the flower bracts, free, lanceolate, to 17 mm long, 6 mm wide, coriaceous, glabrous, faintly nerved, posterior carinate. PETALS: lingulate, to 22 mm long, their blades longe-ovate, obtuse, to 4 mm wide, the reflexed apices lilac. STAMENS: and STYLE: included, filaments very thin, 13 mm long, anthers linear, acute, to 7 mm long, subbasifixed. OVARY: long coniform, to 7 mm high, style 8 mm long, stigmata few dilated, erect, 3 mm long.

HABITAT: Peru, Dpto. Lima, Prov. Huarochiri, San Bartolome, Bosque de Zarate, epiphytic on Escallonia resinosa. leg. G. Mueller & P. Gutte no. 9520; 29.6 1982.


The Key in L. B. Smith's Flora Neotropica leads to Tillandsia engleriana Wittm. but T. zaratensis is quite different and not related to this species. With this bipinnate fusiform inflorescence, T. zaratensis appeared to be more loosely related to some grey vriesea, but the petals are really eligulate.

Tillandsia zaratensis Weber spec. nov. A, habit; B, lateral spike with primary bract; C, flower bract;
D, flower; E, sepals; F, petal with stamen; G, ovary with style and stamen.

German Democratic Republic

A New Species of Tillandsia from Peru


Tillandsia kirschnekii Rauh & W. Till. sp. nov.

PLANTA: pulvinum formans, singulatim nana, caulescens, caulis 15-20 cm longus, pendulus, spice arcuato-adscendens vel erectus, radicans, a basi multum se ramificans. FOLIA: numerosa spiraliter disposita, congests, erecta, se mutue obtegentes, itaque caules cylindrici, usque ad 15 mm diametientes. VAGINAE: indistinctae, 2 mm altae axem amplectentes. LAMINA: erecta axem versus arcuate curvata, anguste triangulata, acuminata, usque ad 4 cm lata plerumque brevior, supra vaginam 4 mm lata, succulenta, utrimque dense albo-appresso-lepidota. INFLORESCENTIAE: breves floribus 1-2 conspicuis 18 mm diametientibus, subsessilibus, divergentibus. SCAPUS: brevis 1-2 cm longus foliis rosulae brevior phyllis 2-4 amplexicaulibus viridibus dense lepidotis. PHYLLA: basalia 1-2 subfoliata superiora elaminata. INFLORESCENTIA: ensiformis 1 cm longa, 3 mm lata 1 vel 2 flora. BRACTEAE FLORALES: phyllis superioribus scapi similes, anguste lanceolatae 10 mm longae ecarinatae uncinato-acuminatae 4 mm latae, limbo membranaceo, virides, lepidotae, sicco valde nervatae. FLORES: caeruleo-violacei centro excavato albo. SEPALA: 9 mm longa posteriora carinata acuminata viridia fere ad basim libera sicco valde nervata. PETALA: explanata late triangulata 12 mm lata, 10 mm longa acuminata basi in unguem album, 15 mm longum angustata. Stamina cum stylo profunde inclusa.

HOLOTYPUS: Kirschnek (Monachum) s. Nr.; Hort. Bot. Heid. Nr. 39 770 (Juni 1980) in herb. inst. bot. system. univ. heid. (Heid).

HABITAT ET DISTRIBUTIO: in parietibus rupium et apud pontem trans flumen Pachachaca inter Abancay et Andahuyalas, 2500 m.s.m. (Dptm. Apurimac).

Tillandsia kirschnekii Rauh & W. Till. New Species.

PLANT: forming big cushions on steep rockwalls; the single plant is long caulescent; stem ca. 3-5 mm thick, rooting pendulous, erect in the upper part, rich branching from the base. LEAVES: numerous, densely polystichous, erect; foliated stems cylindrical, up to 15 mm high. BLADE: erect, curved to the axis, narrow-triangular, acute, above the sheath 4 mm wide, somewhat succulent, densely white lepidote on both sides. Scales with a brown center. INFLORESCENCE: short, 1-2 flowering, with large (18 mm in diameter), divergent flowers. SCAPE: very short, 1-2 cm long, mostly hidden in the leaves, 1-2 cm long with 2-4 green, erect, densely-lepidote scape bracts, the basal ones subfoliate, the upper ones only acute, without blade. INFLORESCENCE: complanate, 1 cm long, 3 mm broad, with 1-2 flowers.

FLORAL BRACTS: similar to the upper scape bracts, 10 mm long, beaked, 4 mm wide, green, ecarinate lepidote (when dried, strongly nerved). FLOWERS: blue-violet, with a white eye. SEPALS: 9 mm long, the posterior carinate, acute, green, nearly free (when dried, strongly nerved). PETALS: spreading broad triangular, 10 mm long, 12 mm wide. Stamens with style deeply included.

HOLOTYPE: E. Kirschnek (Feldkirch near Munich) s.n.; B.G.H. Nr. 39 770 (June 1980) in the Herbarium of the Institute of Systematic Botany of the University of Heidelberg (Heid.)

LOCALITY & DISTRIBUTION: On rockwalls of the Tio Pachachaca, near the bridge between Abancay and Andahuaylas, 2500 m (Dept. Apurimac, South Peru).

Tillandsia kirschnekii

T. kirschnekii, named after E. Kirschnek who discovered the plant, is a remarkable, small species of Tillandsia with large, blue-violet flowers which resemble those of T. caerulea, T. streptocarpa, T. paleacea and T. arhiza, but these other species have no relationship with T. kirschnekii. The key in L.B. Smith's Flora Neotropica, No. 14, Part 2, Tillandsioideae, leads to T. caerulea on the basis of "flowers divergent" and it has a similar distribution: South Ecuador and northern Peru; but there is no relationship between the 2 species. So far, T. kirschnekii is known only from the type locality.

University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

The Great American Bromeliad Movement:
Where We Are, Where We Have Been, Where We are Going, and Why



Veiled in the elusive mists of time, uncounted and unrecorded millions of years before the appearance of the species Homo sapiens, the orange, blazing, primeval sun heralded the Dawn of Creation of the Bromeliaceae: the metamorphosis of various groups of lower plant cells into the ancestors of modern bromeliads. In their quest for self-preservation, evolving and mutating to the unmerciful formula of the Law Of The Survival Of The Fittest, they threw up a defense of piercing leaf spines against predators, adapted themselves to growing conditions hot and cold, high and low, wet and dry. But most importantly for their perpetuation into infinity, they developed characteristics of great and striking beauty: dramatic, symmetrical conformation, deep, glossy leaf textures, and brilliant, saturated colors all the hues of the rainbow.

Through the centuries they lured ants and insects to carry out the pollination essential to their reproductive cycle, and creeping, incredibly slow evolution. By the mid-1800's the bright red bracts and imperial purple cups attracted their ultimate pollinator and benefactor, man himself. In the relatively brief timespan, between then and now, they have become collected, protected, and, now in a genetic time warp, traveling at mach speed. New neoregelia crosses will yield more hybrids in this one year than all the Neoregelia species and natural hybrids in the sum total of recorded history. As hybrids reach the second, third, and fourth generation from the species, variation among siblings increases.


Bromeliads have become our pride and our passion, our ecstasy, and, occasionally, our agony; we are addicted to the intricacies of their kaleidoscopic patterns in the soft summer rain; to a serious collector they are both aphrodisiac and harlot, the gold coins in the King's counting house, the riffle of the kettle drums and the volley of the trumpets at the crescendo of a classical symphony. They are a form of entertainment as pure and complex as a Broadway musical; neoregelias, intrinsically, and in combination with the environment in which they are displayed, are a high art form, the pictures at an exhibition in the Louvre.

To the readers of The Journal Of The Bromeliad Society, they are happiness; they are pleasure, they are a warm surge of pride, and the contentment and fulfillment of a personal relationship with another living thing; an extension of ego and self. The Key, all-important, never-to-be-forgotten, carved-in-granite overriding principle of collecting bromeliads in the joie de vivre, the joy of life with the plants, of all the activities that surround the plants, and of everything that relates to the plants. It is to this principle that bromeliads, and in my case, neoregelias specifically, are meant to be enjoyed, that this series of articles, my years of hybridizing, and all my activities in the bromeliad world are devoted.


Bromeliads, in early years, were principally the esoteric acquisitions of the rich; few others could afford to patronize the grand collecting expeditions of the 1800's, and few bromeliads were available in any other manner. Somewhat like the stepsister left at home for the Royal Ball, bromeliads frequently had to take the back seat to their showier cousins, the orchids, in the Victorian greenhouses, which were generally collections of many different families of exotic plants. Subsequently, orchids were hybridized earlier, and in greater number, and with more publicity, than bromeliads. Indeed, my own hybridizing efforts concentrated on vanda orchids for five years, before I switched my botanical allegiance to neoregelias in 1975.

The unfortunate consequence of the rumble seat for bromeliads has been that while the orchid world soon had carefully written rules and meticulous hybridizers who were required to trace a hybrid's lineage all the way back in an unbroken line to the two original species, bromeliad hybridizers had little in the way of rules to follow and frequently ignored those that were available. So little was known about how bromeliads were hybridized, and, more importantly, successfully grown, that there developed what may be termed The Mystique Of The Hybridizer: the popularly held notion that hybridizers themselves were a cross between wizard and hermit, often eccentric at the very least, and perhaps downright crazy.

From the ivory tower of his carefully guarded and protected greenhouse, to which outsiders were rarely permitted access, new hybrids were occasionally gifted or sold to the privileged few, but in a very helter-skelter fashion; few accurate records were kept, and if they were, they were not necessarily revealed. Most cross names were without parentage. Often, similar plants with different names were suspected of being merely different siblings from the same cross, rather than the products of crosses made between different sets of parents. For example, among the neoregelias, Oh No, Luxurians, Fairy Paint, Magic Cup Of Paints, Painted Desert, and Pink Polka Dot are all beautiful, as were most of Hummel's hybrids; but are they the products of different crosses? Yet, he has the best track record of any early hybridizer.

Neoregelia Toucan 'Cloud Forest' (Neoregelia Green Apple Neoregelia Luxurians)

In addition, there have been many crosses made between known parents, but the offspring were never given a name of their own; a very demeaning treatment to give occasionally excellent plants. Very frequently small seedlings were distributed, and so it was impossible to tell which were the better cultivars, for they were never all in one place at one time. Furthermore, for economic reasons involving time, labor, and greenhouse space, a selection was made while the seedlings were still very small; and in many cases desirable characteristics, such as unusual cup coloration, do not appear until the plant is near, or at maturity. A case in point is the often repeated story of the full and beautiful Neoregelia Green Apple having come off of Ralph Davis' trash pile. Even to grow a seedling to flowering is not necessarily enough; offshoots of a hybrid will often have better color and conformation than the original seedling. This is generally due to the fact that small seedlings are potted in mixes with fair amounts of nitrogenous fertilizers to add vitality and spur their growth. There is just no way of telling for sure, except in the most time-and-space-consuming manner.


Great early collections were principally housed in Europe, particularly Germany, and two successive World Wars took their toll; much of what was collected in the 1800's was lost in the 1900's, and what was left was neither in great demand or easily available. It was the various collecting trips of Mulford Foster, and his lovely, and most devoted wife, Racine Foster, which really provided the foundation for our modern bromeliad craze.

Neoregelia Michaelangelo 'Sistine Chapel' (Neoregelia concentrica 'Big Blue'
(Neoregelia Vulkan Neoregelia chlorosticta))

America, in the grip of the Great Depression of the 1930's, was more concerned with eating plants than collecting them, and when the Second World War pulled the country out of the doldrums, people were just too busy to devote much time to horticulture. There was, after all, a war to be won. It was in the late 1940's, the beginning of the era of leisure time and prosperity, the population shift from cities to suburbs with their crying-to-be-landscaped back yards, and the pioneer explorer spirit of Mulford & Racine, plus their enthusiasm and willingness to share their plants, which almost single-handedly, got the ball rolling. They helped found the BSI, edited the early issues of The Journal (then The Bulletin), did oil paintings and botanical drawings, entertained in the most hospitable style, hybridized, and promoted with a passion. Enough cannot be said for their significant contributions.


As their introductions were coupled to a slow stream of plants from the recovering European botanical gardens, and additional collecting trips by others, the backbone of the movement solidified, by the support of staunch, dedicated individuals, collectors always looking for a new species, the newness and freshness of their wanting one of everything, of having lots of space to still fill, adding some benches here, or a new wing to the shade house there, and a new hybrid now and then. Each new species discovered, named and published was a Christmas present. A new species of Neoregelia was better than a striped tie. Visiting a distant collector took on the spirit of an easter egg hunt, or panning for gold.

Throughout this period, The Golden Age of the Original American Bromeliad Movement, from the mid-1950's through the mid-1970's, the familiar pattern drifted on, the country prospered, everyone had a job, and there was enough extra money for plants. Society membership rosters grew. Shows were organized. A competitive nature began to take hold in certain areas; rivalries began to appear; cliques formed; collections became status symbols for many. The tingle of a new bromeliad pleasure was felt at each show; it was our version of the Kentucky Derby.

Bromeliad judges became celebrities, and soon plans for a national judging school were underway. The World Conference series, to which the faithful were drawn as to a magnet, was organized. Shows took on more importance, and more and more local societies began to stage an annual show. States formed their own Councils, to cooperate in putting on state-level shows and world conferences, and handling more important business. It was all very, very exciting. Everything was a-buzz.

A sprinkling of sports and exceptional cultivars began to appear, and were eagerly snapped up: Aechmea orlandiana 'Ensign' was available for $100, Aechmea lueddemanniana 'Mend' for $100, these 2 topped the list. My own purchase of Neoregelia meyendorfii 'Medallion' for slightly under $500, and the subsequent sale of an offshoot for a high price at the Ralph Quilhot benefit auction set lines ringing; good plant gossip was better than "Mary Hartman". Then the Australian clone of Neoregelia concentrica 'Variegata', 'Reverse Ensign', and many others followed.

Hybrids, particularly, were sought after. Joe Carrone opened his greenhouse for two days during the 1977 conference in New Orleans, and people stood in line for one of everything that was for sale. Howard Yamamoto's beautiful Neoregelia Painted Lady came into circulation, with a price tag of $75 per offshoot, and hard to get at that. Many serious collectors began their own hybridizing efforts, myself included. Everything was expanding, the future for bromeliads looked bright indeed.

By the late 1970's the Golden Age, like a good bull market on the stock exchange, was beginning to top out; serious collectors had expanded their collections almost to the limit that their time, finances, and greenhouse space would allow. Everybody had almost everything that was thought to be really desirable, and 'big' collectors were still looking for something new, but with a more critical eye. It was the 1980 Conference in Orlando, Florida that terminated the Golden Age. Sales and enthusiasm were good, but somehow there was a feeling in the air that things were about to change. Perhaps it was the high inflation rate; nothing definite, just vague intimation.

In the early 1980's the balloon burst, the bear came, and we entered The Period Of Retrenchment. Without doubt, the principal factor was the economy. Many people around the country were losing their jobs, prices were way up, and what you received was way down. Not that bromeliad people, basically a landed, middle-upper-class plantocracy, were suffering terribly, but one could just not be too sure where all this was headed, and after all, plants are a form of entertainment, and the kids didn't get to go to the movies quite so often either. Local societies, and the BSI, suffered dramatic losses in membership. Somehow, collecting bromeliads was just not quite so much fun anymore. However lovely, the good items had been around for many seasons now, and the excitement had become every so slightly dulled. Collectors with only a moderate interest often gave up. Really serious people held on, went to austerity, waiting for better economic times, and hopefully new plants. Only the strong persevere.


During this twilight period in the bromeliad world, many owners of extensive collections discovered a startling truth: quantity is not necessarily better than quality, especially when the plants keep making more and more offshoots, and after a while any given plant reaches a saturation point, at which time the market, and the price, begin to drop. Plants of Aechmea orlandiana 'Ensign' after being priced at $100 or better for many years, began a slow descent, depending on where you were and who you were buying from, to $75, $60, $50, and then $40, and now $25. Persons who had paid $100 for a plant of A. orlandiana 'Ensign' or $35 for a plant of Neoregelia kautskyi 5 or 7 years ago, began to bemoan the fact that after several years of growing cycles there were more of these plants around than buyers.

The fact is, as most experienced collectors now know, that the period of relative exclusivity of a particularly special cultivar depends on a number of factors: how many of that cultivar were released, to whom, and the pupping characteristics of the plant. Generally, a very desirable plant can be expected to hold near its original purchase price for the first 3 years or so, if the original release was fewer, let us say, than 20 plants, for the market is greater than that number, and it is not so much a matter of price alone, but being able to get the superior plant at any price.

Neoregelia elmoreana 'Star of Brazil' in flower left of center and all
plants around borders, surrounded by its hybrid offspring.


Realities being what they are, collectors are now realizing that it is very desirable to own items of very high or unusual quality early, for in most cases they will recover a $100 investment and make a profit on offshoots of a highly desirable plant, while enjoying the status of being the first owner of an exceptional plant. It is much more likely that a person who very early bought Aechmea orlandiana 'Ensign' at $100 or Neoregelia Painted Lady at $75 will have recouped and added to the original investment, while the plants were still in heavy demand, then the person who paid $25 and tried to resell the offshoots to a saturated market.

This trend is making itself felt more and more these days. Note the example of the rare plant auctions. The most highly sought after bromeliad commodity in 1983 is the very superior or unusual plant with some guarantee of exclusivity. Neoregelia meyendorfii 'Medallion' took care of its own exclusivity by simply not producing very many offshoots. My original single plant has produced in 7 years only 9 offshoots, of which I have sold 2, given away 3 to very special friends, and have the rest. By treating her matured gift N. meyendorfii 'Medallion' heavily with chemicals, about 2 years ago, Hazel Quilhot succeeded in causing the stubborn-to-bloom plant to come into flower, and she graciously traded the treated plant back to me for my hybridizing efforts, and took an offshoot in the 'color-up-and-quill' state. I have never been able to grow N. meyendorfii 'Medallion' into a large and full plant or to its full potential, have never entered it in any show, and yet I feel more than compensated for the price I paid.

In the auction at the Corpus Christi World Conference, Herb Hill's fabulous albomarginate hybrid of Vriesea ensiformis eclipsed Neoregelia meyendorfii 'Medallion' as the highest priced bromeliad sold, by bringing a winning bid of $600. This, I am sure, sounds like wild or unjustified spending to many people who put an arbitrary cap on what they will spend on a plant. Ten years down the line, however, I will bet you the equivalent of your best variegated Neoregelia concentrica, that the owner will have gotten his $600 back, and then some; not to mention the pride of ownership, and the happy little tingle when a total stranger comes up and asks, "Say, aren't you the guy who bought that plant at Corpus Christi"?


Up to now, I have matured and registered the results of 171 neoregelia crosses, amounting to several thousand seedlings. Neoregelia 'Great Oz' is undoubtedly the finest neoregelia of the entire lot. It ranks as a significant milestone in the hybridization of the genus; it is the classic combination every hybridizer hopes to achieve: the best characteristics of each parent, combined in a new plant which surpasses and transcends both. In this hybrid the brilliant diamond patterning of the German N. chlorosticta hybrid has been enlarged and intensified many times into a very large, very broad-leafed plant with the size characteristics of the N. cruenta 'Rubra' seed parent. The widest leaf is over 3 in., and the overall leafspan is over 18 in.; the leaves shine with a heavy, waxy texture. The brilliance, contrast, and color saturation of the plant make it stand out in the middle of a group of neoregelias when viewed from across the greenhouse.

There are over 25 seedlings from this particular cross, all of them good, pleasing plants, but no other seedling held the combination of characteristics of the cv 'Great Oz'. This, then, is a primary example of "The Emergence Of The Single-Solitary SuperClone", of which I will write in detail at a later date. All other clones of N. Emerald City shall be destroyed, not because they were not good plants, but because this one clone is so superior, and we do not wish it to be confused with any clone which is less so. In terms of overall size, conformation, and markings it is unique. Even its seed pods are a matching red, with white spots.

I am in the process of applying for a patent for this exceptional plant, not for the purpose of restraining private collectors from selling or trading offshoots, (collectors usually ignore plant patents anyway for example, in the case of Cryptanthus 'Elaine'), but to prevent its commercial propagation or meristeming by wholesale growers. I plan to keep this plant for hybridizing for several years, and may release it for general sale at the 1986 World Conference in New Orleans. I have released one plant, however, prior to 1986 and did so on the condition that it would not be meristemed, used for hybridizing, or that neither the plant or any parts thereof (offshoots or pollen) would leave the owners' possession, other than bromeliad shows, until its release in 1986.


As for the future, I predict several things for bromeliads in this country in the next several years: 1. slow increase in local society membership and BSI membership as the economy improves, with marked increases in 1984, and 1985, if the economy remains strong; 2. more and more local shows, and of larger size and superior quality, complemented by an increasingly larger number of certified judges. 3. greater attention by growers and judges to botanical rarity, and superior clones. 4. the weeding out of older or less desirable bromeliads replaced by newer, superior, or more exotic items. 5. an emphasis on quality, rather than quantity, and much more sophistication on the part of the collector, including much greater knowledge of parentage and genetic factors. 6. new concepts in the growing and display of bromeliads, and the manner and style in which they are collected. 7. the emergence of 'designer' hybridizers with 'special lines', much like Bill Blass, Sergio Valenti, etc. in the clothing world: Yamamoto, Carrone, DeLeon, Kent, Hendrix, Georgusis, Hill, and many other new hybridizers whose plants are becoming known. 8. a system of awarded, recognized cultivars in the bromeliad world, similar to that in the orchid world.

Neoregelia Emerald City 'Great Oz' (Neoregelia cruenta 'Rubra'
Neoregelia chlorosticta
hybrid from Germany)

Neoregelia Ruby Slippers (Neoregelia macrosepala hybrid #510 Neoregelia concentrica #1)

In the next issue of The Journal, I will discuss bromeliads as art, in all of its various forms: the plants themselves, in displays or shows, incorporated into artwork or photography, and other expressions. Following articles will discuss specific hybridizing ethics, genetics, records, etc. followed by a thorough examination of existing awarded clone systems in other plant societies, and a detailed proposal, with accompanying illustrations and guidelines, for the bromeliad world.

Bradenton, Florida

Chromosomes of Bromeliads


In our undertaking a survey of the chromosomes within the family Bromeliaceae, we invite members of the Society to participate by providing samples of plant material. At this time we solicit letters from any persons who might be interested in this survey. In response, we will let you know exactly what is involved and make arrangements to send you vials and fixative for the floral buds, as well as detailed instructions for collection.

Information concerning the chromosome number, as well as the characteristic size and shape of individual chromosomes for a species (the karyotype), represent a valuable resource for taxonomic information. When this chromosomal information is combined with evidence from morphology, anatomy, hybridization, and chemical studies it often provides insight into taxonomic relationships that are not otherwise possible. We anticipate that our concentrated chromosomal survey of the Bromeliaceae will contribute significantly to a clarified understanding of intergeneric relationships and groupings, and subsequent improvements concerning the taxonomy of the family.

Little is known about the chromosomes in the 2,000 plus members of the bromeliad family. McWilliams (1974) summarized what is known about their chromosomes and listed the results of 137 counts mostly by Marchant (1967) and Lindschau (1933). Sharma and Gosh (1969) reported 15 counts from cultivated and naturalized plants in India. Unfortunately many earlier counts cannot be verified because the plants from which sample were taken are of unknown origin and no permanent voucher specimens were prepared. Thus it is impossible to examine the specimen, nor can we return to the living population where it was originally collected.

During January and February of this year, with the cooperation of Harry Luther, Director, Bromeliad Identification Center and General Loving, Director of the Selby Botanical Garden, (Luther and Gilmartin 1983), we were able to obtain bud samples for nearly two dozen mostly field collected species being cultivated by Luther. These results encouraged us to undertake the survey.

A chromosome count for Tillandsia umbellata Andre is presented as an example of some of our preliminary results with studies of bromeliad chromosomes. This chromosome number report is significant because it is the first known report of T. umbellata, a member of subgenus Phytarrhiza. The meiotic count of n = 18 (Figure 1) is striking in that all previous meiotic reports for Tillandsia species are N = 25 (Marchant 1967). This runs contrary to Marchant's (1967) proposal that the Tillandsioideae have a uniform chromosome number n = 25.

Fig. 1 Drawing of a microsporocyte chromosome set of Tillandsia umbellata at late metaphase I.
(Hirtz 10723 (SEL)).

We believe that given a three-year time span, that we will be able to sample one or more populations for each of the major groups of species, including all the members of Tillandsia subg. Phytarrhiza; some species of all six genera in the subfamily Tillandsioideae, (some 816 species); as well as a broad representation of the subf. Bromelioideae and Pitcairnioideae. Our efforts with the latter subfamily will be aided by the work of graduate student G. S. Varadarajan who will be in South America from September 1983 to April 1984 collecting members of the Pitcairnioideae as part of his historical dissertation research at WSU.


Lindschau, M. 1933. Beitrage zur Zytologie der Bromeliaceae. Planta 20: 506-530.

Luther, H. and A.J. Gilmartin. 1983. Bromeliads of Ecuador. Journal Brom. Soc. 33: 95-96.

McWilliams, E. 1974. Chromosome number and evolution. In Flora Neotropica Monograph No. 14: 33-39. L. B. Smith and R.J. Downs. Hafner Press, New York.

Marchant, C.J. 1967. Chromosome evolution in the Bromeliaceae. Kew Bull. 21: 161-168.

Sharma, A.K. and I. Ghosh. 1971. Cytotaxonomy of the Bromeliaceae. Cytologia 36: 237-247.

Washington State University, Pullman, Washington

Tillandsia complanata


Continued observation of the cultural requirements of this species has confirmed that it is less prone to root rot when kept dry around the roots. It is best when mounted where the roots can dry quickly, but if potted, the potting material should be very coarse and the pot should have holes in the walls to allow extra ventilation.

During the growing season, watering is varied to maintain a little water in the leaf axils. In winter the leaf axils are allowed to dry out, and watering reduced to a light misting of the leaves twice a week. Fertilizing is weakly and weekly.

Further experimentation with T. complanata seed has shown that they prefer a much drier condition than that suggested by the mature plant. On growing media which was continually moist, germination was good but losses of small seedlings was high. I have changed to pads of coconut fibre and follow Oeser's wet and dry watering procedure (usually used for the extreme epiphytic tillandsias). I maintain good air movement around the seed, and try to keep the relative humidity around 60% during the 'dry' period. Since changing to this procedure, germination has been excellent and losses of tiny seedlings minimal.

Brisbane, Australia


The Third Australian Bromeliad Conference will be held in Brisbane on the Easter weekend, 1985. The organizing committee is interested in hearing from overseas growers who may be in the area at that time, especially those willing to contribute to the lecture program.

Inquiries to:
The Conference Co-Ordinator
Bromeliad Society of Queensland
P.O. Box 565, Fortitude Valley
Brisbane, Australia 4006

HYBRID REGISTRATION: To register your hybrids, send for application blanks and rules to Harry Luther, Hybrid Registration Chairman, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 800 South Palm Ave., Sarasota, Florida 33578.

SEED FUND: Seeds for sale and exchange. For information and seed list, send stamped, self-addressed envelope to Diana E. Pippin, P.O. Box 2352, Riverside, California 92516.

BROMELIAD SLIDE LIBRARY: Interesting programs for affiliated groups. For information and availability, send stamped, self-addressed envelope to Owana Jo Myers, 14895 Gardenhill Drive, La Mirada, California 90638.

ATTENTION AFFILIATES: If you have not received the Affiliate Newsletter, contact the chairperson for the Affiliates of the Society, Mrs. Mary Jane Lincoln, 1201 Waltham St., Metairie, Louisiana 70001.

Vriesea capituligera, the normal red form from Ecuador


July 23-24 La Ballona Valley Bromeliad Society Annual Show. Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Culver Blvd. at Overland, Culver City, California 10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.

August 6-7 South Bay Bromeliad Associates All Bromeliad Show and Plant Sale. South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 South Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula, California. August 6 - noon to 5:00 p.m. August 7 - 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

September 2-5 Sarasota Bromeliad Society Show and Festival. Marie Selby Botanical Garden, 800 South Palm Ave., Sarasota, Florida.

September 17-18 Southwest Bromeliad Guild Show and Sale. Houston Garden Center, Hermann Park, Houston, Texas. September 17 - 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. September 18 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Send comments, corrections and suggestions to:
© 1951-2012 Bromeliad Society International, All Rights Reserved.
All images copyrighted BSI.