POINTS SCORE WINNERS FOR 2004: Congratulations to the points score winners for 2004, who were awarded their trophies at our Christmas party. Thanks also to those members who compete regularly throughout the year, sharing their beautiful plants with us.
OPEN: . . . . . . Alan Kirkby
NOVICE: . . . . . Rena Wainwright
TILLANDSIA: . . . Rena Wainwright
MONTHLY RAFFLE PRIZE ROSTER:
This year we will again use the roster system for providing prizes for our monthly raffles, and to make things as easy as possible for members, these prizes need not necessarily be bromeliads — potted herbs, cuttings, spare fruits/vegetables from your garden, gardening tools, etc. are acceptable.
If you are unable to attend the meeting—and/or are unable to supply a raffle prize when rostered, it would be appreciated if you would either ’work a swap’ or speak to Elizabeth about getting a fill-in for your month.
As our membership fees are kept very low, we rely on these raffles to help defray the costs involved in the running of our Society, and so your support is very necessary—and very much appreciated.
. . February . . . . . Rhonda/Fred/Pat M.
. . March. . . . . . . Val/Carolyn B./Meri
. . April. . . . . . . Eileen/Keith/Judith
. . May. . . . . . . . Sharyn/Ted/Doreen
. . June . . . . . . . Carmel/Phillip/Nina
. . July . . . . . . . Rena/Sylvia/David
. . August . . . . . . Beth/Sue/Elizabeth
. . September. . . . . Carol/Jarka/Russell
. . October. . . . . . Alan/Dulcie/Graham
. . November . . . . . John/Dawn/Rosetta
. . December . . . . . Vonda
THEME FOR THE YEAR:
This year we will feature Tillandsias and it is hoped that members will bring plants/problem plants/ideas/hints, etc. to our meetings relating to our theme.
An example of what might be happening in your garden, is that at the beginning of January, Nina commented to me that her Tillandsia mallemontii had bloomed for Christmas. This seems to be somewhat unusual here in Sydney as they are usually not in bloom until around the beginning of February. Little points of interest like this would be most welcome at our meetings.
Something that I have noticed in my garden in recent weeks is that tillandsias have been falling from their mounts, where the glue has obviously deteriorated. The weather? — or just time to re-mount?! Anyway, just something to watch for with the recent rains, as my plants had tumbled down into long, wet grass and ferns underneath the benches and I might have lost them had I not noticed the three or four empty wooden mounts!
OUR NEW WEB SITE:
The website—called Bromeliads in Australia--set up by the Bromeliad Society of Australia Inc., and which we have opted to be a part of, is now up and running. The address is: http://www.bromeliad.org.au and already contains a good deal of information and pictures, including a copy of our October 2004 Newslink in the Club News Section.
Some other web addresses are:
. . . . www.bromsocnsw.org.au . . . Bromeliad Society of New South Wales Inc.
. . . . www.bsq.org.au. . . . . . . . Bromeliad Society of Queensland
. . . . www.fcbs.org. . . . . . . . . . Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies
. . . . www.bsi.org . . . . . . . . . . Bromeliad Society International
There are links from these to some very interesting sites-----and see also articles on page 12 featuring Tropiflora at www.tropiflora.com
DISCLAIMER REGARDING THE TREATED PINE ARTICLE APPEARING IN OUR OCTOBER 2004 NEWSLINK:
In the October issue of Newslink, in an interesting footnote from Gerry Stansfield of the New Zealand Bromeliad Society, a reference was made to “copper cyanide treatment” of timber. It should be noted that “copper logs” are, in fact, not treated with cyanide, but with a mixture that includes copper, chromium, and arsenic. (This note put in at the insistence of my scientist husband, as he felt he had to set the record straight. However, it is included just for the record—and does not change the essence of the article-!)
|Removing Difficult Pups|
|March 18 - 31||Bromeliad Society of New South Wales – Display at The Royal Easter Show – Homebush|
|April 9 - 10||Bromeliad Society of New South Wales – Autumn Show|
Senior Citizens Centre, 9-11 Wellbank Street (Cnr Bent St) Concord
|April 30 – May 1||Bromeliad Society of Australia – Autumn Show|
Burwood RSL, Cnr Shaftesbury Road and Clifton Avenue
|June 11th, 8.00am - 4.30pm
June 12th, 9.00am - 3.00pm
Adults $3/Under 14 Free.
Bob Reilly (07)3870-8029
|Bromeliad Society of Queensland Inc, and the Cactus and Succulent Society of Queensland Inc. combined show and plant sale|
Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens Auditorium
Bob Reilly, publicity officer for the above event, has contacted us, asking us to advertise details of their Show where over 1000 different varieties/hybrids of bromeliads, cacti, and other succulents will be offered for sale.
|June 30||Closing date for ‘Earlybird’ registration to Bromeliads XIII Conference|
|Sept 10 - 11||Illawarra Bromeliad Society Show|
Uniting Church Hall, Russell Street, Corrimal
|October 14 - 17||Bromeliads XIII Conference – Brisbane. www.bsq.org.au|
|Oct 29 - 30||Bromeliad Society of New South Wales – Spring Show|
|1st||Alan Kirkby||Guzmania Tristar|
|2nd||Nina Rehak||Billbergia Party Pink|
|2nd||Ted Clare||Aechmea Foster’s Favorite|
|3rd||Ted Clare||Neoregelia Predator|
|1st||Rena Wainwright||Aechmea pineliana var. minuta|
|1st||Rena Wainwright||Tillandsia bergeri|
|1st||Rena Wainwright||Tillandsia recurvifolia var. subsecundifolia|
|1st||Ailsa McDonald||Tillandsia bulbosa|
|2nd||Ailsa McDonald||Tillandsia recurvifolia var. subsecundifolia|
|2nd||Ted Clare||Tillandsia bergeri x aeranthos Bergos *|
|3rd||Graham Bevan||Tillandsia recurvifolia var. subsecundifolia|
|1st||Ailsa McDonald||Neoregelia Mon Petite|
|2nd||Nina Rehak||Billbergia Golden Joy|
|2nd||Graham Bevan||Stoloniferous Neoregelias growing in a strawberry pot—lovely!|
|3rd||Graham Bevan||Aechmea bromeliifolia var. rubra|
|1st||Rena Wainwright||Aechmea Mirlo|
|2nd||Rena Wainwright||XNeophytum Galactic Warrior|
|1st||Ailsa McDonald||Tillandsia bulbosa|
|2nd||Graham Bevan||Tillandsia albertiana|
|3rd||Graham Bevan||Tillandsia streptophylla|
Xeric (From the Random House Dictionary: Xeric = of, pertaining to, or adapted to a dry environment.) tillandsias have a fascinating, magical, and captivating quality. Their morphology (structure, texture, colour) and habit of growth are enchanting and bizarre. Another attractive aspect of ‘atmospherics’ is their small size and clumping nature, rapidly in some cases, making balls or strings of plants. There is no real need for heavy pots of soil to succeed in an attractive display.
The roots of xerophytic tillandsias are possibly exclusively anchoring devices, as they evolved to fix the plant securely to non-nutritive surfaces. In nature their seeds are blown from their pods and drift onto stable parts of trees, shrubs, cacti, or rocks. After germination, fixing or holding roots, greenish yellow in colour, emerge to hold the plant firmly in place. They dry into a wiry, immovable mass. The plants can grow in any direction, depending on where the seed lands. This means that under cultivation they are able to be mounted horizontally or upside down, enabling rot-inducing water to drain from the centre of the rosette.
The pale silver, grey colour of xeric tillandsias is the result of ‘wing’ cells covering the leaves, stems, and scapes. The individual wings raise and lower as the plant dries and then is watered. These cellular structures are attached to other cells which have evolved to open and close on the skin of the leaves and are called “trichomes”. When open, the transfer of water, gas and nutrients takes place. As well as facilitating feeding, the trichomes can act as reflectors of sunlight which could damage the leaves, and also aid in drying the epidermis after watering. In nature it has been found that nutrient-rich dust blows into the atmosphere from the deserts of Africa and crosses the Atlantic Ocean via the jet stream to South America, where it falls in rain, dew, and fog, etc., settling on bromeliads.
Have these plants evolved to take advantage of this specialized food source? It seems so, as epiphytic bromeliads are endemic to the Americas. However, in order to feed our exotic species, we must use liquid foliar food. To try to emulate their natural conditions, we must restrict our watering (feeding) to warm days and summertime and allow absorption of health-giving minerals as the plants dry and cool off. The movement of air around the plants provides them with the gases they need to survive and to help in drying. As their natural winter habitat is cool, but dry, we need to cease watering and provide shelter from the cold rains of our winter. A few species can survive light frosts, but it is best not to risk damage to the plants, as rot is more susceptible during the cold and wet months.
Tillandsias of the deserts, savannas, and mountains regions require a high amount of light. Therefore, it is best to protect our plants under plastic or Novalite-style roofing. This will keep off an unacceptable amount of water and frost, but allow bright, filtered light.
If you provide the four basic requirements of Tillandsias, you will have no problem growing healthy, showy plants.
· Firstly, a solid mounting, such as wood or rock, enables the plant to feel secured and growth will commence. Many species will exist with no mounting, but growth will usually be much slower.
· Secondly, dunking, or misting with rainwater containing liquid fertilizer, will feed your plants—daily in the summer or twice weekly is often more than necessary. If the leaves are curling tube-like, it means the plant is possibly stressed from lack of moisture.
· Bright, filtered light and air movement around the plant, with warmth and humidity during the day, round off the requirements for healthy growth. Xeric tillandsias will reward you with slow but attractive growth, and flowers of various colours, and sometimes scent. They are beautiful by day or night, when a flashlight illuminates them eerily.
There are always failures and disappointments, as it is extremely difficult to reproduce exactly the natural environment of each species. However, the successes and surprises of exceptional growth of these unbelievable plants will be a delight to you for many years.
Baensch, “Blooming Bromeliads”
Isley, Paul T. III, “Tillandsia”
“Growing Bromeliads”, Ed. B.E. Williams.
KEEPING SNAILS FROM YOUR PLANTS A tip from Pat Alton
Used coffee grounds spread around your garden plants will kill snails.
TILLANDSIA CULTURE: GROWING LARGE SPECIMENS
(From The Pan-Tropic Gazette (Good Green Fun, Tropical Marketplace)
http://www.tropicalmarketplace.com/till_cul.htm Accessed March 3, 1997, and reprinted from our April 1998 issue of Newslink.
Extracts from Tillandsia Culture: Growing Large Specimens by Mark A. Dimmitt, Journal of the Bromeliad Society, Volume 34, November-December 1984, pp 245-251.
Tillandsias have an undeserved reputation for being slow-growing and often difficult to cultivate at all. I think this results from a failure to recognize their differences from other bromeliads. There is no trick to growing them: if they are given their three main ingredients—light, humidity, and circulation--healthy plants are guaranteed. The growth rate is proportional to their nutrition: they respond to generous feeding. I fertilize every week with 20-20-20 plus micronutrients at one-half to one-fourth the recommended strength. Full strength doesn’t harm them, but I don’t think it does any more good.
(N.B. "20-20-20" - An American formula which would equate to an Australian formula of 20:8.6:16.4—(Calculate with N remaining the same, P multiplied by 0.43, K multiplied by 0.82))
The only significant problem I have had with this forcing program is that during dark or damp weather the plants may become covered with algae. If noticed early it is easily controlled with a copper Bordeaux spray (without oil); the copper doesn’t harm even tiny seedlings. Recurrence can be prevented by cutting back on watering. If you delay treatment until the algae spreads, the plants will be marred because the clinging dead algae is as ugly as live algae.
Author’s Personal Correspondence 2/12/97: Dear Manny, PLEASE make a correction about the control of algae. I have since found that copper-containing pesticides DO INDEED damage and kill bromeliads. I do not have a control for algae; prevention by not overwatering is the only solution.
If you want to grow large clumps, it is necessary to do it fast. The old, original stems which hold the clump together eventually decay, and the clump falls apart. Of course there is an upper limit—if you water and feed so heavily that the centre of the clump stays wet, decay is accelerated. There is also natural variation in this trait within and between species.
In the noncaulescent species most of the growth occurs in the first three to five years, starting with a single mature plant. A healthy Tillandsia after flowering typically produces three to five pups which flower the next year and also multiply three-to-five-fold. As the clump becomes crowded, the number of pups decreases to one or two, and some of these get smothered by adjacent growth. Tillandsia caput-medusae, for example, reaches its maximum size in six or seven years under optimum conditions. After that the clump becomes denser as more and ever smaller plants crowd the centre of the clump, but the clump diameter does not increase. I have a 15-year-old clump which is now strangling itself and breaking apart.
Caulescent species such as T. duratii and T. aeranthos don’t ever slow down because the pups remain well spaced and do not compete. These species enlarge until the centre rots or they break apart under their own weight.
(Caulescent = having an obvious stem rising above the ground.)
It is difficult to provide specific details on cultural conditions because they vary among species and with the grower’s climate. Light is the trickiest to quantify. Give them as much light as they can take without burning; one must learn the limits from experience. In the U.S., outside the arid Southwest, about 50% of full sun is good. On the immediate coast and in very humid areas many species enjoy full sun. The higher the humidity, the more light and heat they can withstand. Beware of the exceptions such as T. butzii which requires rather shady conditions.
Humidity should be maintained above 50%. Few tillandsias will grow well if it is chronically less than this, especially at high temperatures. Air circulation should be provided by fans kept on 24 hours a day. At the minimum the air circulation plus humidity should be such that when plants are watered in the morning, they are dry by mid-afternoon. I have enough fans in my greenhouse to create a breeze that keeps leaf tips in constant motion.
I did not mention temperature among the major requirements because it is rather irrelevant. While cloud forest species such as T. macdougallii cannot tolerate temperatures above 90F (32C), most tillandsias can take 100F or more if the humidity is also high. The same species grow well at daytime temperatures in the 60s. Night temperatures are less important, except that most species cannot tolerate frost. I am growing tillandsias in a heated greenhouse at 55F minimum and in an unheated one with winter lows in the 30 F’s; there is no noticeable difference in growth rates in the two houses. Presumably a 20F to 30F degree day-night differential is desirable, since tillandsias are CAM plants.
(CAM (Crassulacean acid metabolism) a method of photosynthesis which means that, opposite to other plants, xeric Tillandsias take in carbon dioxide at night, a method of helping them survive in harsh conditions.)
Some of the Argentine tillandsias are another exception to the indifference to temperature. Tillandsia aeranthos and T. duratii rarely bloom in my heated greenhouse; they apparently require a cool winter to trigger flowering.
The first three of the following tables summarizes my observations and opinions respecting the suitability of various species for being grown as clumps or as single specimens, and their appearance when blooming. The fourth table lists species recommended for cloudy climates. Plant names labeled with a “P” make particularly beautiful large clumps; those marked with a “B” are deemed to be spectacular in mass bloom.
Table 1: Species Which make Large Specimen Clumps Quickly
Table 2: Slower Growing, But Also Make Large Clumps
Table 3: Best Grown as Single Plants or Small Clumps of 3 to 5
Table 4: These Xerophytic Tillandsias do well under darker, moister conditions
than most other species, and are recommended for cloudy climates.
This article was originally prepared by Dr. Dimmitt as part of his talk given at the 1984 World Bromeliad Conference. Dr. Dimmitt resides in Tucson, Arizona, and for many years has been a significant contributor to The Journal and the BSI.
TERMINOLOGY . . . DID YOU KNOW ?
(From Bromeliad Society of New Zealand Journal of February 2003, Vol. 43 No. 2)
New members (and some older ones) hear others talking about ‘cultivars’, ‘sports’, etc. and often wonder what they mean. Here’s a little explanation that may help.
‘Sport’ The plant will vary markedly from the normal type. It will show bud variation (a bud is a swelling or projection on a plant which develops the off-shoot) and will produce the same variegations as the parent plant. Sports are usually attributable to mutation (see below). Examples of a sport would be Cryptanthus ‘It’ or Aechmea orlandiana cv. ‘Ensign’, or Vriesea ‘Eden Glade’.
‘Mutant’ A plant with inheritable characteristics that differs from those of the parent. It has undergone sudden mutation. An example would be a plant suddenly producing an offset with one or more characteristics completely different from the original plant and this, in turn, being able to reproduce itself in succeeding generations. When a variegated off-shoot formed on Aechmea Foster’s Favorite (Aechmea Foster’s Favorite Favorite) or among seedlings of Aechmea orlandiana cv. ‘Ensign’, these were mutants or sports.
(Ed: So was Neoregelia ‘Fosperior Perfection’.)
‘Mutation’ is an abrupt and relatively permanent change in the somatic cell that is (usually) transmitted only to the female cells and (in these cases) can be inherited only by plants that reproduce asexually.
‘Cultivar’ A plant that has originated and continues in cultivation and has developed over several generations: e.g. Aechmea ‘Silver King’. It is usually produced by taking one of the best ‘clones’ of the group and continuing to pick the best from the ensuing generations. Another example, the various varieties of Vriesea splendens.
‘Variant’ The plant is different in some way from the others of the same kind. This could apply to either a sport or a cultivar.
‘Clone’ A group of plants, all descended from a single individual plant. That is why, especially in hybrids, we have so many ‘clones’ of the same thing that may not be alike. Two hundred plants may be the result of one cross, but each plant and its descendants are a clone within themselves. (Reprinted by permission South Florida Bromeliad Society.)
‘Grex’ A grex is the group of plants resulting from the hybridizing of two bromeliads. If the two parent plants are both species plants, the grex consists of virtually identical plants with some characteristics of both parents. They usually look and behave very much alike. If, however, one or both of the parent plants is a hybrid itself, the grex will include plants of widely variable appearance due to the genetic contributions from all the parents. When the hybridizer named the grex, each plant in the grex carried the same name even though they were of different appearance and different genetic makeup. Further, a grex name applies to ALL plants with the same parentage, not just to a particular batch of seedlings.
(Information obtained from an item appearing in Bromeliaceae Vol. XXXii(2) OF March/April, 1999, but edited considerably (with permission from author, Jeff Bartley) to fit within our pages. Acknowledgements: WA Brom. Soc. Bromeliad Newslink, Nov/Dec, 1998, Don Beadle’s report from BSI Round Robin List (Internet); Hunter District Bromeliad Society Newsletter, extract from an article by Peter Franklin.
Rhonda Symonds by Jan Townsend
This article, on one of our new members, Rhonda Symonds, was written by Jan Townsend, Editor of The Hunter District Bromeliad Society Inc.’s newsletter, and appeared—as part of her Townsend’s Trek series of articles in their August 2003 issue.
Rhonda, and her husband, Mal, were introduced to us by Maureen Wheeler, who met them while planning her move to Bundaberg, and when I phoned Rhonda for permission to reprint this article, we had a lovely conversation. Mal is now retired and they are currently very busy working with shade houses, etc.
RHONDA SYMONDS – Maryborough Street, Bundaberg – Qld
Situated near the outskirts of Bundaberg lives gracious and very friendly, Rhonda Symonds. Her grandfather grew nursery ferns and imported some of his plants from Rarer Plant Company in Sydney, which also contained some bromeliads. Rhonda inherited 4 pups from him: Vriesea carinata, Neoregelia spectabilis, Billbergia vittata, and, of course, Billbergia pyramidalis, over 40 years ago when they were called brom-e-laids. She also collected ferns and African Violets, and, while involved with family day care, found that after 4 years, most had died through lack of attention, except her bromeliads. She then started collecting in earnest and visited Grace Goode, Olive Trevor, and Clyde and Flo Walsley, amongst others. She credits Clyde — also known as Mr. Billbergia - with a head full of valuable knowledge and has been friends with both he and Flo ever since.
Rhonda grows mainly for herself and unloads her duplicate broms at trash markets in Bundaberg. She is a member of both the Gold Coast and Brisbane Bromeliad Societies and has been going to Brisbane shows for many years, but does feel isolated from other Societies due to distance and finds it hard to get to meetings. She just loves to talk broms and is eager to answer questions and give helpful information to new collectors. Husband Mal, whilst still working (for the next little while), is a big help. She has now started into hybridizing and will have some new neos coming in a few years. [The front page of the August 2003 issue of the Hunter District newsletter features Rhonda and her very precious Neoregelia ‘Shell Dance’, which is very difficult to come by.]
The yard is scattered with various fabricated shaded areas. She tends to grow under biscuit shade cloth and has had to double up some areas to around 90% as the summer days can be quite hard and cause bleaching. Her brom mix consists of 2 grades of bark, plus polystyrene, charcoal and recycled orchid mix, and she uses a more water-retaining, heavier mix for terrestrials, orthophytums and cryptanthus.
Rhonda is currently experimenting with hybridizing and has a rather large collection of cryptanthus. She suggests using a layer of newspaper to cover cryptanthus to keep them warm during winter nights, but says to remember to remove it daily.
Rhonda does not have a favourite genus and has a large variety of quality plants which reaffirms that she grows bromeliads because she likes them all. Her philosophy in collecting is to often collect a piece of the person’s history with a brom and she discussed many plant names with us which have a history behind them. She had an interesting tale to tell of Aechmea fosteriana that did not seem to want to throw pups. She used to ask it, “When are you going to throw me a pup?”. Then, one day, whilst talking to a friend and discussing the plant still displaying its old inflorescence, she picked some of the pods which she squeezed, and, lo and behold, inside the seed case was a small, live pup. She has written an article on the same and when she digs it up, will forward it on.
If you are up in the area, please give her a call and I am sure she will be only too obliging to show you around and allow you to pick out some really great broms. But be prepared to spend some time, as she herself is a wealth of knowledge, time just seems to fly by and you just don’t want to leave.
VRIESEA HIEROGLYPHICA AND I by John Catlan
(Article taken from Journal of The Bromeliad Society, May-June, 1993 Vol. 43 No. 3)
By 1963 I had a collection of bromeliads and on a trip to Sydney I added a few much-sought-after V. hieroglyphica seedlings. Home in subtropical Brisbane, these tropical plants were given pride of place in a heated glasshouse. So begins my love-hate relationship with this plant. The next 25 years seemed to be ‘grow a leaf, lose a leaf’. More V. hieroglyphica were bought and added to the collection, and likewise I lost a few. The problem seemed to originate at the base of the older leaves, a brown mottling effect that in the end destroyed so much tissue that the leaf collapsed.
By the 70s I knew that V. hieroglyphica did not need a heated glasshouse, and when moved to a fernery with 70% shade cloth cover, the plants did better but the problem was still there. At about this time, on one of my collecting trips, I came across a dairy farmer who had the two most perfect V. hieroglyphica specimens I had ever seen, growing on a bench about two metres off the ground in an old, wooden slat bush house shaded by bananas. It was probably darker than 80% shade cloth. To the question, “What do you do to grow such beautiful plants?” came the answer, “Nuthin.” Back home, the V. hieroglyphica plants were moved to the darkest area of the fernery and an extra piece of cloth was wired on the roof. The plants improved, yet again the problem remained.
Enter Vriesea fosteriana cv. Red Chestnut and another problem. Noel Chopping, who lived around the corner, on a trip to Sydney brought back a couple of plants; they were very good clones. [His] problem with Red Chestnut was that one plant disintegrated, a flower on another aborted, but threw a pup. The theme throughout the epic was: one plant, one pup, which, associated with losses, means eventually you would wind up with no plants. At no stage could a pupping program give you plants to exchange.
In 1988, I moved to Jacob’s Well and under far more primitive conditions I now grow large, lush V. hieroglyphica and all the previously mentioned plants are doing well, throwing two or more pups. I now can collect the hybrids and cultivars from this group knowing they will survive and multiply.
The problem seems to result from water quality. The Brisbane Valley has a significant lime content, resulting in water from its catchment area being very hard, 200-300 ppm, with a pH of 7.5 plus. Culture conditions can then aggravate the problem. Growing under a solid roof means the water in the cups is never flushed out by soft rain water. Conditions that require constant watering (such as bright, hot areas) can lead to concentrations of hardness caused by evaporation. This problem can be limited by heavy watering weekly.
During extreme drought conditions, the hardness of Brisbane Valley water may increase to 400 ppm, plus a pH of 8 to 9, and no rain to flush out the plants. When growing under these conditions, liquid feeding will aggravate the problems. Compare this to the Pine River catchment area north of Brisbane which supplies water with a hardness of 8 - 8.5 ppm, which seems to remain constant come flood or drought.
You could never describe Jacob’s Well as the French poodle belt of Australia, but when it comes to water supply it’s quality. The underground water is at a depth of 2 to 3 metres and is filtered through layers of peat. During the wet season it has a pH of 6.5 and in the dry this falls to pH 5.5. It is the colour of very weak tea, with a noticeable sulphur content, and the hardness is 5 ppm.
John & Genny Catlan. Mango Mansion, Queensland 4208.
BROMELIADS AND THE INTERNET (Part Three) by Michael Romanowski
(Item taken from the newsletter of the Bromeliad Society of Victoria, Inc.)
Tropiflora Online: www.tropiflora.com
Tropiflora Online is the first commercial site we will explore here. Dennis Cathcart (owner) is a leading figure within the Bromeliad world, and his exploits with the likes of Wally Berg and Chester Skotak are the stuff of legend.
This site has many individual facets; however, my favourite window is the ‘Cargo Report’. The ‘Cargo Report’ itself has a number of windows which are all worthwhile exploring. However, once again, there are two sections which stand out. These are: “A Funny Thing Happened …..’, which consists of many funny and interesting experiences while collecting bromeliads in habitat (always interesting reading); and ‘From The Loading Dock’, which consists of a list of plants that the nursery offers for sale. Remember the prices are in US Dollars, so you can basically double the prices to get the Australian equivalent. As well as interesting pictures of rare and unusual plants, the section has detailed valid descriptions which are quite valuable in identifying or confirming plants in your own collection.
This is a great site with more to offer than I can tell you about here, so get online and check it out.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO …
El Valle, Panama, where Chester Skotak, Wally Berg and I climbed high into the cloud forest of Cero Negro searching for bromeliads among the moss-covered trees. On our drive up the mountain we passed a small village where children were celebrating Semana Santa by throwing water on passers by, a local custom considered charming by some. As we passed, we rolled our windows up in anticipation of the onslaught and when the water splashed on our windows, we rolled them down and threw handfuls of candy.
Some hours later, on our return trip, we were preoccupied in search of Aechmea haltonii, which lived in the trees along the rough, rocky roadway. Driving, my attention was at least occasionally on the road, and I noticed the small village where the children with the water had ambushed us, not far ahead. I quietly got Wally’s attention and we carefully rolled up our windows and then began to point to the trees where Chester had his attention focused. We approached the children and I slowed a little, Chester was straining to see what we were pointing at in the trees, with his head partially out the window. In an instant, the children struck with their watery assault, and one had a homemade water cannon fashioned from a piece of pipe. The expert marksmen caught Chester unawares, suddenly blasting him full in the face, drenching him and splashing us all. As Chester gasped and sputtered, I almost lost control of the truck from laughing so hard and had to pull over. Ah yes, those were the days, collecting, enjoying local culture and losing the trust of a lifelong friend all in the same day!