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April 2006

<I>Neoregelia pendula</I> hybrid
Neoregelia pendula hybrid

- Articles appearing in this issue of NEWSLINK are for information purposes only and are not necessarily endorsed by the Committee or the Illawarra Bromeliad Society.
- The Society is, by the holding of meetings, displays and competitions, to provide a forum for the people of the Illawarra region who are interested in the culture and collection of bromeliads.

We extend a very warm welcome to our two new members — Anne Turner and Lucas Morgan who joined in February. Lucas is Steve’s son, and a junior member, but four of the plants which he brought up for competition to our February meeting took out prizes, including a beautiful Vriesea fosteriana ‘Red Chestnut’ and a lovely Aechmea lueddemanniana ‘Alvarez’, which particularly caught my eye. Congratulations, Lucas!

It is with sadness that we report the death (on February 22) of Joyce Abernethy, who joined our Society in March 1994, and I remember her as such a willing helper, both at our meetings and at our Shows for many years. Her daughter, Elizabeth Peden, also so very willingly helped us out around Show times, giving us demonstrations and ideas for artistic arrangements and helping to set up our competition tables each year. Joyce will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with her family.


Dawn/David/Doreen Dunwoodie.

We will again be holding our now traditional “Christmas in July” in the Botanic Garden this year, with a start time of 11.00 AM. We plan just a very short meeting, followed by our usual plant competition, and then a chance to explore the Garden and to enjoy our usual great food. Chicken and barbecue meats, tea and coffee will be supplied but you are asked to bring a plate with a Christmas flair to help the festivities.

We still have available a few boxes of the Tillandsia cards which we ordered from Andrew Flower in New Zealand. The cost is $10 for a box of 10 cards. Great value!

Coming Events :

April 7 - 20 Bromeliad Society of New South Wales – Display and Competition at Royal Easter Show - Homebush.
April 22 - 23 Collectors Plant Fair, BILPIN - (02) 4567 2026
Web site:
April 29 - 30 Bromeliad Society of New South Wales – Autumn Show. Concord Senior Citizens Centre, 9-11 Wellbank Street, Concord.
May 6 - 7 Bromeliad Society of Australia - Autumn Show. Burwood RSL.
June 6 - 11 World Bromeliad Conference – San Diego, California.
Sep. 9 - 10 Illawarra Bromeliad Society - Spring Show – Uniting Church Hall, Russell Street, Corrimal.
Sep. 30 – Oct. 8 Leura Gardens Festival - Blue Mountains.
October 14 - 15 Bromeliad Society of Australia - Spring Show. Burwood RSL.
October 28 - 29 Bromeliad Society of New South Wales - Spring Show - Concord.


May 6: Foliage Vrieseas

June 3: ‘Spot the Difference’

July 1: Christmas in July – a party in the Gardens

August 5: Annual General Meeting
- Preparing Plants for Show

September 2: Aechmea recurvata – species/hybrids [presented by Graham Bevan]


PLANT RESULTS - February 4, 2006

1st Rena Wainwright xNeophytum Ralph Davis
2nd Alan Kirkby Neoregelia Blast
2nd Ted Clare Neoregelia carolinae forma tricolor
3rd Graham Bevan Neoregelia cruenta x olens Vulcan
3rd Ted Clare Neoregelia Empress Variegated
3rd Alan Kirkby Vriesea hybrid

1st Lucas Morgan Vriesea fosteriana Red Chestnut
2nd Rhonda Patterson Guzmania Moonlight
3rd Lucas Morgan Nidularium Ruby Lee
3rd Lucas Morgan Neoregelia meyendorffii Inferno
3rd Lucas Morgan Aechmea lueddemanniana Alvarez

1st Ted Clare Tillandsia straminea (Giant strain)
2nd Graham Bevan Tillandsia recurvifolia var. subsecundifolia
3rd Sue Burrows Tillandsia utriculata

PLANT RESULTS - March 4, 2006

1st Alan Kirkby Dyckia Warren
2nd Suzanne Burrows Canistropsis billbergioides Lemon
2nd Nina Rehak XGuzvriesea Jeannie
3rd Rena Wainwright Neoregelia Predator
3rd Alan Kirkby Neoregelia Predatress

1st Beth Churton Neoregelia Small World
2nd Beth Churton Neoregelia Garnish
3rd Rhonda Patterson Ananas lucidus —A lovely clump, with many small pups.
3rd Rhonda Patterson Neoregelia carolinae f. tricolor on log with Cryptanthus

1st Rena Wainwright Tillandsia tenuifolia
2nd Laurie Dorfer Tillandsia xerographica
3rd Laurie Dorfer Tillandsia streptophylla


Canistropsis billbergioides Lemon: Canistropsis is a fairly recently formed genus, once part of Nidularium, but now a genus in its own right. All the plants in this genus prefer heavy shade, originating as they do from the Atlantic coast forests of Brazil, where they grow mostly at or near ground level in areas heavily crisscrossed with rivers and streams. Their coastal environment results in Canistropsis having a fairly high degree of tolerance to salt laden coastal winds, and a reasonable tolerance to cold.

Canistropsis billbergioides spreads via short stolons and one plant will produce 1-3 pups/year. All of the ten or so cultivars of this species have been recently renamed and include: ‘Apricot’/’Blood Orange’/’Citron’/’Guava’/’Lemon’/’Mulberry’/’Persimmon’/ ’Amarillo’/ ‘Plum’ and ’Tutti Frutti’.*
{Steens, A. (2005) Canistropsis—excellent in shady gardens. Bromeliad Society of New Zealand’s journal, Bromeliad, September 2005, Vol. 45(9).}

Dyckia Warren: Alan took out first place at our March meeting with his beautifully grown clump of this plant. It is a cultivar made by Bill Baker around 1998 of Dyckia marnier-lapostollei x ‘Brittle Star’. It has wide silver leaves with large white spines and was named to honour the hybridizer’s father.

xNeophytum Ralph Davis: This is a bigeneric cross between Orthophytum navioides and Neoregelia Meyendorffii, made by Nat DeLeon around 1973. The Bromeliad Cultivar Registry tells us that it is a “Magnificent combination of the parents in an intense red flat rosette, with arching long thin leaves which taper to a point. The inflorescence is ball-like in the centre with whitish blooms.” Rena’s lovely plant (actually a clump of 3 lovely plants) was growing in a glazed orange pot which suited it beautifully. She grows it (situated next to a small fish pond) in the little wire netting enclosure next to her garage which faces roughly north, so that it would get some morning sun. I have also seen an exquisite, large red anthurium blooming in this little shade house over the years, and so I think that the light and humidity must be at optimum level for both of these beautiful plants.

The Bromeliad Cultivar Registry also referred to XNeophytum Galactic Warrior, that magnificent plant, which is a cultivar of XNeophytum Ralph Davis, and came about when in 1987 a Dr. Tom Montgomery gave James (Jimmy) Antle of Houston, Texas, a "Ralph Davis" with about one-quarter of its leaves showing variegation. Antle worked at pupping the variegated portion and ‘Galactic Warrior’ resulted, a perfect white margined cultivar blushing red at blooming time and carrying a red blush at all times in strong light.

Neoregelia Inferno: Actually there are two ‘Inferno’ cultivars listed in the ‘Registry’—one by Grade Goode, made around 1982, using Neoregelia marmorata x ‘Royal Robe’ and the other by Nat DeLeon, made around 1987. As Lucas’ lovely plant was labeled ‘Meyendorffii’ ‘Inferno’, this would make it the DeLeon cultivar, being a cultivar of N. carolinae and described as “[a] stacked, layered and symmetrical rosette of dark green leaves with white-cream margins—some striating in leaf centres — crimson centre at blooming — difficult to grow commercially — very bright high contrast colouration.” See the article by Gerry Stansfield in this issue of Newslink.

Tillandsia utriculata: Sue brought this quite unusual plant (needing a name) to our February meeting. The inflorescence stood about 3 feet tall on a purplish stem, above long, soft, quite strappy, leaves — grey underneath and green on top. There were no flowers as yet, but in a reply Email from Derek Butcher he said that it should have white flowers, and is most probably monocarpic (does not produce pups). Sue and Fred have had this plant for around 15 years, but after putting it outside into the garden, it had decided to bloom and it was wonderful for us to be able to see!


Introduction :
I had a small shaded bench to house my son’s bonsai trees while he was overseas. When he returned and reclaimed his trees in 2000, what could I do with the empty bench? Would a bromeliad collection be the answer?

I knew bromeliads liked shade but that was all I knew so I visited the Illawarra Bromeliad Society Show of October 2000 to find out more. Their attractive foliage, beautiful flowers, many varieties and assurance from experts that most bromeliads were fairly easy to grow, were sufficient incentive for me to give them a try. I went home with a box filled with plants!
With more society shows, the Brom-A-Warra Conference of 2001, more sales tables, more boxes of plants, an enlarged shade bench, a second shade bench and some garden landscaping, my collection expanded rapidly. I became another Bromeliad Enthusiast.

I acquired examples of most commonly grown bromeliads. However, my intention, before I caught the Bromeliad Bug, was to confine the plants to the small area vacated by the bonsais, therefore small plants were the choice if I was to have a reasonable collection.

There is quite a large number of small bromeliads but I found the most readily available and attractive were the small neoregelias. Their range of colours and markings make a very attractive display and they formed a big part of my initial collection.

I live 20 km south of Sydney and experience a warm temperate eastern maritime climate, receiving an average monthly rainfall of 123 mm from January to June and 80 mm from July to December, and an average daily temperature range of 27C to 18C in January and 16C to 8C in July. However, cold winter nights and extremely hot summer days do occur and can mean damage or death to a plant if adequate precautions are not taken.

To encourage cultural perfection and good conformation most of my bromeliads are grown as single plants in plastic squat pots. They are grown on benches, under green 70% shade cloth or in shady positions in the garden. Except for light intensity, they grow under the same basic conditions of potting mix, watering and feeding.

The benches are constructed of galvanized steel pipe and have galvanized weld mesh shelves. They are double layer (1000mm wide) or three tier (300mm/525mm/775mm wide). The rear of the benches face south or west and back onto a fence or a wall, the ends are close to a wall, a fence or a shrub. The fronts of the benches face north or east, are open to provide access to the plants and have an extended 800mm wide awning of 70% shade cloth.

In general the nidulariums, guzmanias and vrieseas are placed on the lower level shelves, the other plants, aechmeas, billbergias and neoregelias are placed at higher levels or at the front of the lower levels. Tillandsias are attached to small pieces of wood with Shoe Goo TM and suspended above the other plants under the 70% shade cloth.

In the garden, empty pots are placed snugly into holes so that they are flush with the surface, then mature potted plants are placed into the empty pots wherever the location and light intensity suits them. The rims of the pots are concealed with garden mulch.

The plants are propagated, in spring or early autumn, when the pups are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant. I usually take the mother and pup out of the pot and remove some of the potting mix in order to see the mother/pup joint. The pups are separated from the mother with a sharp knife or a saw edged knife or secateurs, whichever is appropriate. Miniature neoregelia pups are the easiest to separate because most of them grow away from the mother plant on stems or stolons which can often be cut with secateurs without removing the mother plant from the pot. The cuts on the mother and on the pups are dusted with a garden fungicide( BayletonTM ). Mother and pups are immediately re-potted in plastic squat pots (125mm or 140mm diameter) with a growing medium of composted pine bark chunks (DebcoTM Cymbidium Orchid Mix, size 5-10mm or 8-18mm). When the potting mix is about 20mm from the top of the pot, a small quantity of Organic LifeTM slow release garden food pellets (NPK 4:3:2) is added then covered with more composted pine bark chunks. The plant and potting mix are then watered and the pot is labeled with the plant’s name and the date of potting. From then on, the plants and potting mix are watered twice weekly if they look dry. They are foliar fertilized twice monthly in Spring, Summer and Autumn with Phostrogen TM (NPK 14/4.4/22.5) or Manutec TM orchid food (NPK 17.7/7.9/16) at the rate of 1 teaspoonful per 10 litres of water. Mature plants are also fertilized at the beginning of each spring with a small quantity (1 teaspoonful per 140mm diameter pot) of balanced, slow release fertilizer (NPK 15/4.3/12.4) added to the surface of the potting mix. (Note: While Ted’s plants are lovely, articles by growers such as Olive Trevor and Grace Goode admonish that miniature neoregelias should be grown hard, and that foliar feeding is not recommended as it can cause plants to lose colour, and also result in their shape becoming asymmetrical in appearance.—Ed.)

Most of my bromeliads are grown as single plants in plastic squat pots, but in their natural environment many bromeliads grow on trees or rocks, so my approach to that has been to mount some plants on driftwood by attaching them with Shoe GooTM until the roots take hold. I grow aechmeas, neoregelias, tillandsias and vrieseas in this way but, as a feature on a bench or in the garden, I find mounted miniature neoregelias to be the most interesting and, due to their stoloniferous nature, they grow and multiply quite rapidly and form an everlasting feature if foliar fed and watered on a regular basis. Miniature neoregelias, as stoloniferous colonies, also make interesting features in baskets hanging from trees or fences and as borders in garden beds. They also work well as a collection of three or four plants each in one of three or four connected small pots (“strawberry pots” or “herb pots”).

Although it is possible to underfeed small neoregelias to make them miniature, and what may be a small growing neoregelia in one area of Australia may be a miniature growing neoregelia in another area, there are many neoregelias classified as truly miniature. Unfortunately, like all neoregelias there are only slight differences between many of them. Furthermore, the colours, markings, and shapes in addition to sizes of all neoregelias can change according to growing conditions. Even with a label you cannot be sure they have the correct identification and if the label is lost, identification can be very difficult indeed.

The names and parentage of some miniature neoregelias are given in the following list and it will be noticed that N. ampullacea, ‘Fireball’, punctatissima and sarmentosa frequently appear as parents. Descriptions and intricacies of identification are not included in the list, but some of that information may be sourced from the references. The plants marked with an asterisk are plants that I have grown as miniatures; they are just a few that are generally available and easy to grow. If you look out for them on Show Sales Tables they can usually be purchased at reasonable prices.

N. abendrothae x pauciflora 12
N. Alley Cat 5,10,12 *
N. ampullacea and its cultivars 1,4,10,13, 14,15,16 *
N. Black Beauty (cv of intraspecific cross [ampullacea x ampullacea Tigrina]) 4,10,13 , 14 *
N. ampullacea x pauciflora (Hendrix) x princeps x Fireball *
N. Aurora (cv of sarmentosa x [olens x compacta x Fireball] ) 10,13
N. Aussie Dream Red Glow (cv of Meyendorffii (variegated) x olens Marie) 13 *
N. Avalanche 10
N. Aztec 16 *
N. Bevvie Bee (carolinae x concentrica) x Fireball*
N. Bloomin Lovely *
N. Born of Fire (cv of chlorosticta x cyanea) 13
N. Break of Day (cv of Ruby Jean x sarmentosa) 5,13
N. Bright Spot (cv of olens x chlorosticta) 13 *
N. burle-marxii Small Form 7
N. carolinae x compacta x Fireball 6
N. carolinae x Vulcan 16
N. Cayenne (N. ampullacea Zebrina x Fireball) 1
N. Cheers (cv of olens x pauciflora) 10,13
N. Chilli Verde (cv of [carolinae x olens Marie] x [olens Marie x carolinae Shadowlawn]) 3,13
N. chlorosticta Rubra *
N. Close of Day (Ruby Jean x sarmentosa) 5,13
N. Clyde Wasley *
N. coimbrae 7
N. compacta x Fireball *
N. Coral Fire (punctatissima (rubra) x olens) 10,12,13
N. Domino (cv of chlorosticta x pauciflora) 13
N. dungsiana 7
N. Fall in Love (cv of Ruby Jean x sarmentosa) 13 *
N. Fireball 3,10,13,16 *
N. Fireball x ampullacea *
N. Fireball x chlorosticta *
N. Fireball x Fairy Paint 13 *(Fairy Paint, a Hummel hybrid of unknown parentage)
N. Fireball x Granada (cv of Fireball x [Fireball x princeps]) 13 *
N. Fireball x Morris Henry Hobbs (cv of Fireball x [cv of fosteriana x spectabalis] )13 *
N. Fireball x punctatissima Rubra 9
N. Fire Wheel (Perfecta Tricolor(?) x Fireball(?)) 3,13
N. Flicker (cv of olens x Marnier-Lapostolle) 13 *
N. Flirtation (punctatissima (rubra) x Meyendorffii)13*
N. Freckles (cv of ampullacea) 14
N. Furnace (Sweetheart x G. Anderson hybrid) 13 *
N. Gold Nugget (a Margaret Paterson cultivar using Gold Fever as seed parent) 10
N. Golden Grace (ampullacea x cyanea) 1,13
N. Golden Jewels (cv of cyanea x olens) 13 *
N. Granada (cv of Fireball x princeps) 13
N. Green Fire (Ruby Jean x sarmentosa) (F-2) 5,13
N. Guinea (Black Knight x olens Marie) 13 ,16 *
N. Heart’s Blood (olens x Strawberry Cup) 13 ,16 *
N. Hojo Rojo (A Hummel cv of unknown cross)13 ,16 *
N. Jodie (cv of ampullacea x chlorosticta) 1,13
N. Ladd’s Choice (Perfecta Tricolor x Fireball) 13
N. lilliputiana 1,10, 14
N. lilliputiana x Fireball 10 *
N. lilliputiana x Fireball x eltoniana 9
N. Little Jewel (cv of lilliputiana x olens Marie) 13
N. Little Joy (cv of Vulkan x carolinae hybrid) 3,13
N. Little Rosita ( cv of carolinae x Fireball) 13 *
N. Marble Throat (cv of chlorosticta) 13 *
N. Marnier-Lapostolle (cv of ampullacea x zonata) 4,13
N. Meyendorffii miniature (cv of carolinae ?) 13 ,15 *
N. Midget (cv of ampullacea Tigrina ?) 4,13,14
N. Night Spot (punctatissima ? x lilliputiana) 3,10
N. olens Marie 16
N. One and Only (cv of Ruby Jean x sarmentosa) 5,13
N. pauciflora 8,10,13,15 *
N. paucifolia 3
N. Pepper (ampullacea Midget x olens Vulcan) 1,13
N. Pheasant (?punctatissima x ?) 10
N. Pixie (cv of ampullacea) 14
N. punctatissima 1,3,4,10 , 14,15 *
N. punctatissima (rubra) 10, 14
N. ampullacea Purpurea (cv of punctatissima) 4,13, 14
N. Red Bird (Black Knight x ampullacea Midget) 1,13
N. Red Eye (olens Vulcan x tristis x ?) 2
N. Red Nugget 10
N. Red on Green x paucifolia (cv of [olens Marie x spectabalis] x paucifolia) 13 *
N. Red Waif (ampullacea Zebrina x Fireball) 4,10,13
N. Ritzy (A Przetocki cv, punctatissima ? x Fireball)10
N. roethii 7
N. rubrifolia 7
N. sarmentosa x Fireball *
N. Seeing Red (cv of Ruby Jean x sarmentosa) 5,13
N. Short and Sweet (cv of ampullacea x cyanea) 16
N. Small Wonder (Ruby Jean x sarmentosa)(F2) 5,13*
N. Small World (Ruby Jean x sarmentosa)(F-2) 5,,13*
N. Strawberry Cream ([(carolinae x concentrica) x Painted Lady] x Fireball]) 3
N. Strawberry Cup (cv of ampullacea Midget x sarmentosa) 13 *
N. Sugar ‘n Spice (cv of cyanea x chlorosticta) 10,13
N. Tess ([carolinae x Fireball] x Fireball) *
N. Tiger Cub (ampullacea x Tigrina) 1,10,13
N. Tigrina (cv of ampullacea) 1,3,4,13, 14 *
N. tigrina x Fireball 16
N. Truly (cv of San Francisco x olens) 16
N. Turbulent (cv of ampullacea x chlorosticta) 13
N. Turmoil (? punctatissima x)
N. Upshot (ampullacea x Meyendorffii) 1,13
N. Wee Willy (punctatissima ? x ?) 10,12
N. Wild Card (cv of Ruby Jean x sarmentosa) 5,13
N. Wild Tiger (punctatissima ? x ?) 5 *
N. Zebrina (cv of ampullacea) 4,11,13, 14
N. Zoe (cv of unknown Fireball hybrid origin, nicely variegated) 3,13

Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to Eileen Killingley for her assistance with the references.
1. Waters, Peter (2001) Neoregelia ampullacea and Cultivars, J. Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, Vol. 41 No. 4.
2. Cathcart, D. and Cathcart, L. (2001) From the Loading Dock, Tropiflora Cargo Report Vol. 11 No. 2. (August 2001)
3. Trevor, O. and Reilly, B. (2002) The Smaller Neoregelias, J. Bromeliad Society of Q’ld Bromeliaceae Vol. XXXV No. 1.
4. Herndon, A. (2003) Neoregelia ampullacea and its Neighbours, Bromeliad Society of South Florida newsletter, BromeliAdvisory, May 2003.
5. Stansfield, G. (2003) Small can be beautiful.... discover miniature neoregelias, J. Brom. Soc. of New Zealand, Bromeliad Vol. 43 No. 2.
6. Cathcart, D. and Cathcart, L. (2003) From the Loading Dock, Tropiflora Cargo Report, Vol. 13 No. 1 (March 2003)
7. Cathcart, D. and Cathcart, L. (2004) Neoregelia Species: An extraordinary selection for the collector, Part One, Tropiflora Cargo Report Vol.14 No. 1 (March 2004).
8. Cathcart, D. and Cathcart, L. (2004) Neoregelia Species, Tropiflora Cargo Report Vol. 14 No. 2 (June 2004).
9. Cathcart, D. and Cathcart, L. (2004) From the Loading Dock, Tropiflora Cargo Report 14(3).
10. Reilly, R. (2005) Some Miniature Neoregelias, J. Bromeliad Society of Queensland’s Bromeliaceae Vol. XXXIX(2).
11. Waters, P. (2005) Neoregelia ampullacea......there’s still a lot to learn about these attractive little plants, Journal of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, 45(8).
12. Stenhouse, R. (2005) Miniature Neos....Photo Feature, Journal of the Bromeliad Society of Queensland - Bromeliaceae Vol. XXXIX(5).
13. Beadle, D. A. (1998) In: The Bromeliad Cultivar Registry, The Bromeliad Society International.
14. Lawn, G. (1992) Neoregelia ampullacea Variants (1992) J. of The Bromeliad Society, Vol. 42 (5).
15. The Bromeliad Society of Australia Inc. (1990) In: Growing Bromeliads, Second Edition, Edited by Barry Williams, Kangaroo Press.
16. Steens, A. (2003) In: Bromeliads for the contemporary garden, Florilegium, Glebe, NSW, Australia.

. I received an E-mail from Derek Butcher letting me know that the name “Aechmea fulgens [variegated]” which I had attached to Nina’s plant in the September 3, 2005 Plant Results section is not a valid name as the plant is obviously of hybrid origin and so requires a cultivar name. (This is the one that Nina said kind of resurrects itself after the inflorescence starts to dull, coming back to give a second bright showing to the inflorescence.) It has fairly recently been registered as Aechmea Reginald -- See Derek’s article in The Journal of the Bromeliad Society (2004) Vol. 54 No. 1, and photograph on the fcbs site.

. After Steve’s talk on “Growing the Large Vrieseas from Seed”, and his handing out of some seed, Neville decided to give growing from seed a try and brought in the results for us to see at our February meeting. He had used 3 different growing methods:
1. Peat (from sphagnum)—sterilised by boiling for 20 minutes, and placed into a Chinese food take-away box (rectangular plastic), with lid.
2. Paper toweling — in bottom of Chinese food take-away box — and covered with lid.
3. Sterilised peat — as above — in round plastic take-away food pot, with a plastic freezer bag used as a cover.
He had planted the seed (on top of the mix/paper) between November 18 and December 12 and had, to date, had equal success with all 3 methods, with the seeds showing quite a thick mat of green. He had not used additional water on the seeds up to the beginning of February, as the peat (from the sterilization process) had retained enough moisture for them to survive and thrive.

With seeds from the Bromelioideae sub-family (berries) he had just squeezed the seeds direct from their covering onto the medium -- along with the accompanying “goop” — as he reasoned that this coating would help to keep the seeds reasonably sterile.

Neville now plans to experiment with other methods e.g., using coir peat and sterilizing the peat by putting it into a takeaway container — with the lid on fully — and microwaving it for 5 minutes. We look forward to hearing about/seeing the results. Thanks Neville!

... And more suggestions for successful germination from the Bromeliad Society of South Florida’s April 2006 newsletter, The BromeliAdvisory, Vol. 49, #4:
“Craig Morrell was welcomed back for another great program on growing from seed. He had a number of excellent suggestions for successful germination. Some of the things that stayed in mind: use clean plastic containers with lids; multiple pots lessen the risk of infection spreading throughout the crop; sterilize the potting mix; clean the seeds with hydrogen peroxide. Craig uses a potting mix made up of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite. He recommends using a fogging nozzle on your hose so the seeds aren’t dislodged. And how to sow seeds evenly over the surface? Lay a white paper towel on top of the mix and spread the seeds on the towel. The seeds will root through the towel. Don’t forget to label your seeds. Put a second label under the potting mix, where it cannot be lost or stolen by blue jays. Use a #2 pencil.”

(From a talk given by Gerry Stansfield at the June, 2001 meeting of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand and published in their journal of July 2001, Vol. 41(7))
In the bromeliad world as we know it today, Neoregelia carolinae and Neoregelia carolinae f. tricolor could be considered Regal plants. When I say bromeliad world, I mean all those people who are very much connected with the culture and the promoting of bromeliads — botanists, curators, hybridists, collectors and all the way down to you and me. The term ‘Regal’ has been loosely suggested to represent their contribution as parent plants. Mulford Foster and a number of others have considered them outstanding parents.

So let us take a look at what has been achieved with Neoregelia carolinae and f. tricolor. If we look at the BSI Cultivar Registry we can see that there are more than 100 cultivars attributed to these two plants and we must accept that there are probably just as many (or more) that have not been registered. That is more than any other bromeliad that we know — many times more than Neoregelia concentrica.

A cultivar may be created in two different ways. A shoot or pup that develops from the parent plant but is in some way different from the parent is called a sport. If that new plant grows on to become consistent through second and third generations, it can be given a name and become a cultivar.

So a sport can become a cultivar, but a cultivar is not necessarily a sport as the term cultivar also refers to individual plants, selected from seed batches, that are thought worthy of consideration as a new plant. The term grex refers to all the seedling plants resulting from a hybrid cross. If one includes hybrids then the numbers rise into the thousands.

The most unusual thing about these two plants is that, even today, cultivars and hybrids are still being produced from them.

Neoregelia carolinae
This plant was discovered by the Austrian botanist, Georg Beer, in 1856. (It grows as a terrestrial in the state of Rio de Janeiro at Teresopolis, Brazil from sea level to 1200 m.) Beer was the Director of the Berlin Botanical Gardens, with a great love of bromeliads, and he named the plant after Caroline Morren, the wife of his good friend and colleague, Professor Edouard Morren. At the time, Morren was the Director of the Botanical Gardens at Liège, Belgium, which had the largest collection of bromeliads in the world. Beer called the plant Bromelia carolinae. Subsequent botanists changed it to Billbergia, Guzmania, Nidularium (Lemaire 1889), Karatas, Regelia then Aregelia (Carl Mez 1934 after the German botanist Carl von Regel). It wasn’t until 1939 that Dr. Lyman B. Smith (Curator of the Smithsonian Institute) changed the name to Neoregelia to clarify any confusion with plants of an entirely different group, as there were a number credited to von Regel’s name.

There are a number of forms of Neoregelia carolinae. The most well known form has leaves approximately 4 cm wide, a brilliant cerise centre and the inflorescence and leaves are more rounded, forming a nice rosette. This is one of the strong genes in carolinae, along with its shiny leaves, making it such a good subject for hybridizing. Another has more pointed leaves and inflorescence and a somewhat darker red centre. Then there are the narrow leaf types that pup all the year round from all over the plant. There is also a cherry-red form which Avon Ryan has hybridized.

Meyendorffii —a smallish form but very lovely, with cherry-red all over even before flowering.
Princeps —the inflorescence at flowering is a vibrant, intense amethyst or deep violet.
Marechalii —a large plant (and one of my favourites) with very much wider leaves—not glossy—with an outstanding, brilliant red centre inflorescence.
Orange Glow —Needs very high light to bring out the orange in the foliage, with just a hint of red tips.
Cherry Red —similar to ‘Meyendorffii’ but the whole top of the plant colours up as well as the inflorescence at flowering.

Neoregelia carolinae forma tricolor
My research into this plant was both intriguing and somewhat amazing. After contacting Harry Luther at the Marie Selby Gardens and the Foster Identification Centre in Florida, no one could tell me just who grew the first sport of this plant. [At the Illawarra Society’s February 2001 meeting, Bob Larnach mentioned that Neoregelia carolinae forma tricolor is the original variegated Neoregelia found in the wild.—Ed.] However, it is thought that a number of seed raising growers such as Mulford B. Foster (USA), Marcel Lecoufle (France) and Walter Richter (Germany), among others, produced a variegated sport from seed and that all of these were the beginnings of the plant we know today.

In Smith & Downs the only reference is to an article by Foster in the BSI Journal 1953, number 3, page 29, in which Foster says that he had cultivated the plant in Orlando, Florida since 1944. It goes on to say that the plant, which had been known for several years in Europe and the United States, was listed as Nidularium tricolor. (We now know that if you grow Neo. carolinae in quantity from seed there is a high possibility that you will get a variegated plant.) The plant very quickly gained recognition both in collections and as a parent plant for hybridisers looking for that elusive variegated hybrid.

No doubt many of you have experienced your Neoregelia carolinae f. tricolor reverting and sending up plain green pups. Even Mulford Foster observed this skittish behaviour—“This variegated form does not come true from seed and therefore must be propagated from offshoots to continue its variegated colouration. Even then, one may occasionally find a perfectly green offshoot just as seedlings would be.”

Meyendorffii (variegated)—similar to tricolor but smaller and sometimes has a few more stripes than tricolor.
Meyendorffii (albomarginated)—where the white stripes are on the outside of the leaves.
Inferno —the whole top of the plant becomes inflamed like a large red fire.
Medallion —this is one of the fluting neoregelias, where the top few leaves rise above the plant to form what appears to be a second plant. All the outer leaves are brushed with deep red as if painted.
Orange Crush —a variegated form with somewhat wider leaves than tricolor and very flowing foliage that tends to hang down rather than straight out from the pup; the foliage takes on an orange to pink appearance.
Perfecta —another variegated form that at flowering time forms a red blushing over the whole plant. Outstanding.
Wango Tango —is a cultivar of ‘Perfecta’ and is similar, but the variegations are albomarginated.
Yellow King —this is a very striking plant with its variegations and all-over yellow appearance. It does tend to revert so it is necessary to keep only the very best of the variegated pups to continue the life of the plant.

During the talk, I had a number of very fine hybrids on display, including the following Chester Skotak hybrids (all unnamed, all using carolinae f. tricolor):
(carolinae x Painted Lady) x concentrica
(carolinae x Painted Lady) x olens Vulcan - (See article under the heading “Uncle Derek Says” at the fcbs Website: dealing with Neoregelia olens/olens ‘Vulcan’/olens ‘696’)
(carolinae x Painted Lady) x chlorosticta

By Peter Franklin, N.S.W.
(From The Bromeliad Society of Australia Inc.’s Bromeletter of January/February 1993, Vol. 31 No. 1.)
Have you ever wondered about the spelling and construction of the words that botanists use to name bromeliads? If so, this article may help you understand that the names are not just made up and that they do have some semblance of order and structure about them. Before we can start to gain an appreciation of the names, we need to have a short Latin lesson.

Why Latin?
Latin is still the preferred language for some scientific work even after it is no longer used as a written or spoken language in everyday life. Up until these most recent times of easy transportation and communication, scientists were much more isolated and needed a common language in which to communicate. Latin provided that means of communication since it was still relatively well understood in Europe throughout history and in fact formed the basis of most European languages.

Latin is still used today to apply names to plants and animals and, in the case of botany, it is used to write the ‘diagnosis’ for new species. The diagnosis is the one or two lines contained in a botanical description which formally details the difference between the species being described and those existing ones with which it bears a resemblance. These days even though the description itself is written in the native language of the author, botanical Latin adjectives are used throughout to accurately and consistently describe the attributes of the plant.

The Elements of Latin
Latin has all the same parts of speech that we are used to in English. It has nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns and prepositions. Nouns are used to name things, adjectives are descriptive words used with nouns, verbs are action words and adverbs further describe verbs. Sentence construction is familiar as well. A simple Latin sentence has a subject, an object, a verb, and perhaps an adjective or an adverb or two. In forming botanical names, though, we are only really interested in nouns and adjectives, but before we can move into plant names we need to understand the concepts of ‘case’ and ‘gender’ in Latin nouns and adjectives.

Some Latin Grammar

In the very simple English sentence,
- - - The girl praises Julius - - - (Puella Julium laudat)
we know that ‘the girl’ is the subject of the sentence and that ‘Julius’ is the object because of the placement of the words in the sentence. If we turn it around,
- - - Julius praises the girl - - - (Julius puellam laudat)
the meaning of the sentence changes because ‘Julius’ is now the subject and the ‘girl’ is now the object. But notice in the Latin that it is the spelling of the nouns that indicates which is the subject and which is the object of the sentence and not the order of the words in the sentence as was the case in English. In fact you can jumble the words in this Latin sentence and it retains the same meaning. This is an example of ‘case’. ‘Case’ indicates how the word is to be used in the sentence.

Subject and object are not the only cases however. There are 6 cases for each noun:
- - - nominative - - - puella - - - a girl, the girl (subject)
- - - vocative - - - - puella - - - girl! (when addressed in speech)
- - - accusative - - - puellam - - -a girl, the girl (object)
- - - genitive - - - - puellae - - -of a girl, of the girl, girl’s
- - - dative - - - - - puellae - - -to, or for a girl
- - - ablative - - - - puella - - - by, with, or from a girl

The word Julius has the same cases even though they are spelt differently to the puella ones:
- - - nominative - - -julius - - julius (subject)
- - - vocative - - - juli - - - julius! (when addressed in speech)
- - - accusative - - -julium - - julius (object)
- - - genitive - - - julii - - -of julius, julius’
- - - dative - - - - -julio - - -to, or for julius
- - - ablative - - - -julio - - -by, with, or from julius

Notice how these words can be divided into the root portion to convey the meaning, and an ending to convey the case. “But where is all this taking us?” I hear you thinking. Well, it is leading us somewhere—don’t give up yet—read on. Some observant people may have already seen some familiar species name constructions!

Every noun has a ‘gender’ associated with it—it is either masculine, feminine or neuter (neither masculine nor feminine). The last declension, of which puella is a typical example, is a grouping of mainly feminine nouns which all have the same construction. Similarly, the second declension is made up of mainly masculine nouns but there are neuter ones as well. Julius is typical of a second declension masculine noun.

In all, there are 5 different declensions into which the masculine, feminine and neuter nouns are placed and each declension has a different construction and uses different endings. But we need only be interested in the first two declensions, typified in our example by ‘puella’ and ‘Julius’.

We now need to have a quick look at adjectives.
In Latin there are groups of similar adjectives in the same way that there are groups of similar nouns. Adjectives are grouped into declensions in the same way that nouns are. Adjectives also have cases exactly like nouns and the ending of adjectives look in the most part exactly like nouns. The golden rule for adjectives is that they have to match their noun in ‘gender’ and in ‘case, so:-
- - - The good girl praises the good Julius - - - (Bona puella bonum Julium laudat)

Notice that bona (feminine and nominative) is used to describe puella (feminine and nominative) and bonum (masculine and accusative) is used to described Julium (masculine and accusative). The point to remember is that adjectives always match their noun in gender and in case.

Bonus (good) is an adjective typical of the first and second declension of adjectives. There is a third declension which has adjectives ending with –is, an example of which is humilis (humble).

How do you know whether a noun or adjective is masculine, feminine or neuter? Well, you don’t really unless you look it up in a Latin grammar book, but there are some clues in the spelling of words. Some observations which might help are:
o Nouns and adjectives ending in –a, -ia, -iae, or –ae are likely to be feminine
o Ones ending in –us, -ius, -ii, -er, or –i are likely to be masculine
o Ones ending in –ium, -um, -e, are likely to be neuter.

Using this as a guide, we can now guess that bromeliad genus names are mainly feminine—(for example Aechmea, Billbergia, Vriesea, Tillandsia, etc.). Nidularium, Canistrum and Orthophytum are neuter and Cryptanthus is masculine.

Catopsis is interesting because you can’t tell from the –is ending whether it is masculine or feminine, but a quick look at all the species names within Catopsis will show that almost all of them end in an –a, surely a strong indication that Catopsis is feminine.

The reason why so many genus names are feminine escapes me, particularly when so many are named after men (Tillands, de Vriese, Billberg, Bromelius, Foster, Pitcairn, etc.). Perhaps there is some botanical convention about the gender of genus names.

Well, that is it! You now know enough Latin to be dangerous and to give species names to Bromeliads!

Let’s have a go!

Specific Epithets Based on People’s Names
We wish to name this species Billbergia after a Mr. Smith. Smith is an English word so we need to ‘Latinize’ it. Since our Mr. Smith is masculine, we choose to place his name in the second declension with other masculine nouns. Smith then becomes Smithius and we now decline it like the word ‘Julius’.

Smith’s Billbergia - is therefore transformed into
The Billbergia of Smithius (the ‘of’ means that you use the genitive case) and translated as (Billbergia smithii) (refer back to the genitive case of Julius)

What if we were to name a species Tillandsia after our friend Elizabeth? Go through the same steps as for Smith. Elizabeth is placed in the first declension as the feminine Latin name Elizabetha (just like puella).
- - - Elizabeth’s Tillandsia - becomes
- - - The Tillandsia of Elizabetha - and then (Tillandsia elizabethae)

Some examples of specific names based on people’s names and using the genitive case are:
- - - fosteri - - - (‘of fosterus’ from the name Foster)
- - - correia-araujoi - - - (‘of correia-araujous’ from the name Correia-Araujo)
- - - - - - (Yes! araujoi now has an ‘o’ in it!)
- - - muhrii - - - (‘of muhrius’ - masculine - from the name Muhr)
- - - muhriae - - - (‘of muhria’ - feminine - from the name Muhr)
- - - - - - For the story on Tillandsia muhrii, T. muhrae and T. muhriae see the BSI Journal Vol. 40 p. 257
- - - lotteae - - - (‘of lottea’ from the name Lotte)
- - - robert-readii - - - (‘of robert-readius’ from the name Robert Read)

A shorthand way to remember this is:
Take the person’s name;
o If it ends in a vowel or an –er, then add an i for masculine
ae for feminine;
o If it ends in a consonant, then add ii for masculine
iae for feminine

There are many, many examples of this style of name. Harry Luther’s 1992 list has 426 specific names ending in –ii, another 219 ending in –i, 139 in –ae and 33 in –iae.

Specific Epithets Based on Latin Adjectives
The majority of species names are based on Latin adjectives which is what you would expect since adjectives are descriptive words and we need a descriptive word to distinguish one species from another. There are any number of Latin adjectives listed in ‘A Bromeliad Glossary’ published by the BSI. These are used in both the description of plants and in their specific name.
By way of example, let’s say that we have an Aechmea, a Cryptanthus and a Nidularium species that we wish to name simply as ‘white, i.e., ‘the white Aechmea’, ‘the white Cryptanthus’ and ‘the white Nidularium’. ‘White’ is our adjective and the Latin word for white is albus. Albus has many endings depending on the case and gender of the noun that it is describing. So, remembering that the adjective has to match the noun, the plants in our example would be named:
- - - Cryptanthus albus - - - (masculine)
- - - Aechmea alba - - - (feminine)
- - - Nidularium album - - - (neuter)

Albus is very typical of the first and second declension adjectives and the endings –us, -a, and -um appear many times in specific epithets.

There are other adjectives though which are a bit different. ‘Black’ is different in the masculine gender but still has the –a and –um for the feminine and neuter parts.

Say we had chosen ‘black’ as our adjective then the names would be:
- - - Cryptanthus niger - - - (masculine)
- - - Aechmea nigra - - - (feminine)
- - - Nidularium nigrum - - - (neuter)

Different again is the adjective ‘sad’.
Say we had chosen ‘sad’ as our adjective then the names would be:
- - - Cryptanthus tristis - - - (masculine)
- - - Aechmea tristis - - - (feminine)
- - - Nidularium triste - - - (neuter)

Common Constructions Used to Make Latin Adjectives
It appears very popular to use –ensis on the ends of words to turn them into adjectives meaning ‘from the place of’. Some examples found in Aechmea are:
aripensis, alegrensis, bocainensis, pariaensis, trinitensis, guarapariensis, leodiensis

Presumably there is a locality somewhere called Aripo (or Aripa or something similar) whose name has given rise to the Latinized adjective ‘aripensis’. Similarly with the others.

People’s names have also been turned into Latin adjectives by adding -ana or –iana. Examples are:
fosteriana, lueddemanniana, lorentziana, blanchetiana, andeana, drakeana

When placed with genus names of a different gender these become:
fosterianus (masculine), fosterianum (neuter), etc.

Place names have been treated similarly. Examples are:
bahiana, orlandiana, mexicana, peruviana, pernambucana, bahianus, colombianus, etc.

Once again they have to match the gender of their genus name. So if Foster had named a Cryptanthus (masculine) after the place where he lived it would have been Cryptanthus orlandianus, a masculine ending.

Another common construction is –oides, meaning ‘like’ or ‘resembling’ (-oides is actually Greek).
tillandsioides - - - like a Tillandsia
pitcairnioides - - - like a Pitcairnia
bambusoides - - - - -like a Bambusa (bamboo)
saundersioides - - - like a saundersii

Gender and Spelling Corrections
Some readers will have noticed that there are, amongst other changes, some spelling changes in Harry Luther’s binomial lists published by the BSI. Some of these are what are called orthographic corrections where Harry has taken the opportunity to correctly spell or to change the gender of some names.

For example, Aechmea emmerichii has been changed to Aechmea emmerichiae, that is, to change the specific part, emmerich, from masculine (-ii) to feminine (-iae) to more accurately reflect the gender of the lady after whom the plant was named. Gender changes are:
- - - gilmartinii - - - to - - - gilmartiniae
- - - emmerichii - - - -to - - - emmerichiae
- - - strobelii - - - - to - - - strobeliae
- - - barbieae - - - - to - - - barbiei

There still may be a problem with naundorffii as it occurs in this masculine form as well as in the feminine form naundorffiae. Perhaps the plants are named after Mr. and Mrs. Naundorff respectively.

Harry has corrected roberto-anselmi to roberto-anselmoi to correctly spell the man’s name, as he has done with correia-arauji —changed to correia-araujoi.

Hyphenated Names
Other orthographic changes in Harry’s list are related to hyphenated names. The current scheme used by Harry for the use of hyphens in specific names is:
Where the name is a proper noun—i.e., the name of a person or a place — then use a hyphen in the name, but where the name is just two or more Latin adjectives, run them together to form one word without a hyphen.

Some examples are:
- - - Proper names
- - - - - - donnell-smithii - - - formerly donnellsmithii
- - - - - - lyman-smithiana - - - formerly lymansmithiana
- - - - - - sierra-juarezensis - -formerly sierrajuarezensis
- - - - - - jalisco-monticola - - formerly jaliscomonticola

- - - Multiple adjectives
- - - - - - recurvobractreata - - formerly recurvo-bracteata
- - - - - - purpureorosea - - - -formerly purpurea-rosea
- - - - - - rubrolutea - - - - - -formerly rubro-lutea
- - - - - - basilateralis - - - - formerly basi-lateralis

If you thought that the name was hyphenated, double check Harry’s most recent list.

Latin Pronunciation
Pronunciation of Latin words is often a problem for many people but it needn’t be. Paul Isley, in his book ‘Tillandsia’, has a very good section on Latin pronunciation (page 172) and you should read that. I think the two key elements to remember are that you should break the word up into syllables (rather than try to get your mouth around the whole word in one go) and that most vowels make separate syllables and are pronounced individually.
For example: - - - purpureorosea = pur-pur-e-o-ros(e)-e-a
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - = purr purr ee oh rose ee ah
- - - - - - - - - -streptocalycoides = strep-to-cal-(l)y-co-i-des
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -= strep toe cal lis so eye dez

And if you remember that –ae is pronounced as ‘eye’, then you are most of the way there!
- - - edithae = e-dith-ae
- - - - - - - = ee dith eye

Perhaps the other thing worth mentioning is that when the name has its origin in a language other than Latin, then you pronounce the foreign part as it would have been pronounced in that language.
For example:
- - - muhriae - - - - - - the muhr part pronounced as in German(?)
- - - andreana - - - - - -the andre part pronounced as in French
- - - quitensis - - - - - the quit (Quito) part pronounced as in Spanish
- - - lyman-smithiana - - the lyman-smith part pronounced as in English

How do you know which are names, which are Latin adjectives and which are words from other languages? Experience, observation, intuition and a good memory.

I hope that this short article has given the casual reader some background information on the nature of Latin names and that it spurs them on to reading other publications such as the ‘Glossary’. ‘Tillandsia’ and Stearn’s ‘Botanical Latin’. I am not a Latin scholar however, so I trust that my recollections of schoolboy Latin from 30 years ago are not too far removed from the truth and that I have not managed to upset too many Latin specialists.

-----And, just to finish up, some more examples from Paul Isley’s book, Tillandsia! (Ed.)
. A generic (species) name is formed by giving the Latin nominative case, feminine singular ending, to the adopted name. The genus, Tillandsia, was named by Linnaeus in 1753 after a Finnish botanist, Elias Tillands.

The first letter of a generic name is always capitalized and either underlined or written in italics. The species name and varietal name, if there is one, are written entirely in lower case. They must be either underlined or written in italics: Tillandsia xiphioides v. tafiensis. Xiphioides is a compound word. Xiph- is a Greek base that means “sword”, and –ides is a Greek suffix which means “like” or “similar to.” Together they mean “sword like” in reference to the shape of the inflorescence.
. Man-made hybrid grexes described after 1959 must be in modern languages, are always capitalized, and are not placed in double or single quotes. Since most of the hybridization in this country has been with Neoregelia, and because grex seedlings of this genus are so variable in size and colouring (creating a high demand for new cultivars), it will be used to illustrate the system. A hypothetical example would be a cross between two species such as Neoregelia concentrica X Neoregelia compacta. The plants of the resulting hybrid grex could then be given an epithet such as Neoregelia Brazilian Pride [another example, Bob Larnach’s Neoregelia Aussie Dream hybrid grex]. A superior plant from the grex might then have been given a cultivar name such as Neoregelia Brazilian Pride cv. Betty’s Bonanza. Its future pups through the generations would be clones as well as cultivars, and the epithets would be written Neoregelia Brazilian Pride ‘Betty’s Bonanza’ [or Neoregelia Aussie Dream ‘Glorious’].


By Don Beadle
(From Journal of The Bromeliad Society, January-February 1992, Volume 42 No. 1—Reprinted from Star to Star newsletter, 1983 Corpus Christi, TX with the author’s corrections.

Early in collecting and raising billbergias it seemed reasonable to me that most of the hybrid Bills were from marriages of convenience and occurred when bloom periods naturally coincided in the hybridizer’s greenhouse. My observations and records of bloom period over several years have confirmed this most of the time.

My early efforts were limited to crossing and reverse-crossing whatever was ready each morning. This process resulted in a lot of cousins that carried strong family resemblances, but few beauty contest winners. Bills seem to bloom in an orderly and predictable fashion throughout the year with few in bloom in August or September and with the majority in bloom December through March [northern hemisphere—Ed.].

The hybrids seem more erratic and variable. However, Claude Ward’s Muriel Waterman is usually blooming for the annual flower show while most of my clones are bloomed out two to three weeks earlier. The desire to cross Muriel Waterman as a pollen plant to one of the late spring bloomers resulted in my reading up on pollen preservation.

That didn’t take long. The only references I found said it wouldn’t work. I therefore put on my bifocals and began collecting ripe pollen in zip-loc plastic bags labeled with the donor plant’s identity and date. The bags were stored in a corner of the refrigerator. Within a few days, mildew or mould had destroyed most of the materials so I moved the bags up to the freezer.

This apparently worked fine because the mother Bills never suspected they were being artificially impregnated and placidly accepted the chilly pollen. There seemed to be no problem with obtaining crosses with pollen up to 90 days old. The acceptance rate seemed to drop off after 60 days, but crosses have been made successfully with pollen frozen for 18 months.

If any unusual genetic deficiency or weakness occurred in the hybrids from these crosses, it has not yet become apparent. It also seemed to make no difference whether the pollen was allowed to thaw out first.

Frozen pollen seems to become dry, fine and hard to handle with toothpicks, pencil tips or other solid pollinating tools. I’ve regularly used a small artist’s brush for years with no trouble. In fact, some of my hybrids have incontestably demonstrated that I’ve transferred a little too much pollen. On these rare and embarrassing occasions, the value of thorough record keeping is obvious. One at least knows where to start looking for the papa plant’s proper identity.

Species Bill pollen is apparently stronger than the more exotic hybrids and is viable over a long period of time. I’ve had great difficulty setting seed on Bills like Fascinator, ‘Manda’s Othello’, Fantasia, Muriel Waterman, Gerda, etc. In contrast, pyramidalis, nutans and similar Bills are willing to mate with almost anything.

Repeated reference to the ease of hybridizing Bills is made in most of the bromeliad literature. My records indicate I get seed to set in about 20 percent of my attempts and when I attempt selfing, my success rate drops to under 10 percent (even dealing with species Bills) and, believe me, I try hard. I’ll concede that the private parts are perhaps a bit handier on Bills, but they are as delicate, stubborn, difficult and cranky as any of the other genera.

Well, now that you know how to preserve pollen, go out and build your own bromeliad!

By Michael Romanowski

(From Central Coast NSW ‘Bromelia Post’ , November 2003, which in turn was reprinted with acknowledgement to Victorian Bromeliad Society’s Bromeliad Newsletter, August/September 2003)

When one considers what attracts most enthusiasts to bromeliads we readily arrive at an expression of colour. The presence of colour within bromeliads has numerous functions which all combine to produce a plant of stunning visual capability. The reasons for colours in bromeliads falls into three categories. These are: pollination, water retention and solar radiation compensation in various forms.

We have all been dazzled by the splendid colour of bromeliads in flower. The shape and colour of the inflorescence may well be described as the world’s best advertising ploy. Employed in this purest form of advertising are sepal and petal segments designed to produce colour, texture and form to lure the viewer to its side. Comparison to the packaging in many of our retail outlets is not out of context. A complex evolutionary game of chance has produced various colours, shapes, textures and scent that is geared to capture the desires of the right pollinator, in much the same manner as commercial bright packaging catches our attention to arouse interest, with the end result being to pollinate the plant in question.

Substantial research has been undertaken as to what substances contribute to the colours that we see. The topic is somewhat complex and all is not yet known. However, the reason why we are able to see colour revolves around the nature of light. Light can only have an effect in the colour of flowers and plants if it has been absorbed by various chemical substances within the plant. Of the many substances which carry out the functions within the plant some will have what is known as a ‘characteristic absorption spectrum’, which identifies which of the light colour bands are absorbed or reflected, thus giving us the colours we see. These substances are commonly referred to as pigments.

Basically, four different groups of compounds are responsible for the colours we see around us. The first group is recognized more for what it does not do, rather than what it does. Where there is no absorption of light in the visible part of the light spectrum, all the light is reflected and the object will appear to be white. The next three groups of pigments do absorb light, but only in particular spectral bands or colours. The first of the three which we will discuss here is chlorophyll. Apart from its function in photosynthesis, the light it reflects gives plants the appearance of being green. The second group are the carotenoids. These pigments are largely responsible for the many forms of yellow that we see in various plants. Carotenoids are frequently found in chromoplasts, structures in the cell which brightly colour fruits and flowers. The bright yellow of Vriesea ospinae and V. maxoniana are but two examples. It is also why lemons and bananas appear vivid yellow. The final group are known as anthocyanins and are responsible for the palest pink, reds, blues and flamboyant purples. The presence of these compounds singularly, or in combination with each other or with other compounds, gives us the wide range of colours that we see in many bromeliads.

The brilliant display of floral bracts and flowers, however, is not the only source of colour within bromeliads. Quite often many bromeliads are grown for their colourful foliage. Foliar colour is directly related to pigment distribution and function. Very often we may determine climatic conditions from the colour we find in bromeliad foliage. We can all bear testament to the fact that many bromeliads vary immensely in colour and form. From this Rauh suggests that we can “deduce the exact climatic conditions under which various species exist.” For example, tillandsias, of which the vast majority appear silver-white or grey, do so due to heavy concentrations of absorbent scales whose function is to “hold air between them and cause a total reflection of light.” The colour of the pigmentation of these plants may help reflect excessive solar radiation, thus helping to conserve valuable moisture. From these facts, we may deduce that both Tillandsia tectorum and T. cacticola would reside in a much drier habitat than T. polystachia. T. polystachia we would assume as being indigenous to an area with protection from direct light coupled with higher rainfall.

Rauh goes on to explain that “banding and diagonal striping on various species such as Aechmea fasciata and Billbergia zebrina occur due to alternative zones of both heavy and light areas of scale development. Plants with what is termed ‘discolored leaves’—i.e., a green surface and red underneath—for example Aechmea fulgens var. discolor, are so designed as to trap the maximum amount of light so that photosynthesis may occur most effectively. This occurs in this situation because of the increase in light that results from reflecting back light that is not used the first time through. That is, light that is not effectively utilized by the surface of the plant is reflected back by red pigment, enabling the bromeliad to photosynthesise in areas that would be considered to be rather low on light. Striped or variegated plants such as Neoregelia carolinae forma tricolor appear so because alternate stripes of tissue contain chloroplast or are chloroplast free. Fenestrations, as shown in Vriesea hieroglyphica, V. fenestralis, and V. fosteriana are designed as a type of window, allowing light not used on one level of the leaves to penetrate to lower leaves that may be excluded from direct sunlight, thus increasing the ability of the bromeliad once again to photosynthesize more effectively. In these cases, chloroplast-bearing tissue covers leaf veins while other tissue surrounding the area has less chloroplast. The windows (grid pattern) are thus a faithful map of leaf veins. Many bromeliads which are often quite green in appearance and not flowering, quite often develop colour which corresponds with direct light intensity. For example, Neoregelia carolinae forma tricolor, or even N. carolinae, may develop a red tinge to the foliage in direct sunlight. N. ‘Red of Rio’ will appear green in low light, but develop a vivid red colouration when grown in very bright light or direct sunlight.

An explanation offered for this phenomenon revolves around the fact that, as with humans, these plants are producing a form of solar UV protection. In our own species, humans produce a pigment known as melanin to protect their skin in situations of high UV. Plants produce the pigment anthocyanin along with some carotenoids as their equivalent to melanin. Various plants’ ability to regulate their concentration of screening pigments is adaptive. Factors which determine the intensity of colouration in these situations can vary with seasonal factors, i.e., plants will produce greater amounts of pigment in the summer months compared to the winter because of the stronger UV in summer months. The position of plants may also determine the amount of pigment produced by a plant. Generally, plants situated in more exposed positions will be more intensely coloured than those of the same species in more shaded areas on the same tree.


1 cup dates, chopped
2 tsp. orange zest (not rounded—if too much is used, will be bitter)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp. honey

4 oz butter
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups Self-Raising flour
3 Tablespoons milk
Sifted icing sugar

Put first 4 ingredients into small saucepan, stir over gentle heat until thickened, put aside and when cool add honey.

Cream butter and sugar, remaining orange zest. When creamed add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, fold in sifted flour alternately with milk. If too dry add enough milk for proper consistency.

Spoon three-quarters of mixture into prepared loaf tin. Spread date mixture over and cover with rest of cake mix. Bake in moderate oven approximately 1 hour.
Dust with icing sugar.

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Updated 11/06/06