Club News.

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July 2009

N. Miranda
Nidularium Miranda

Green pup = N. Madonna
Nidularium Miranda with green pup = N. Madonna
(Photograph by Jarka Rehak)

- 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.
- Under the provisions of the Privacy Act, use of names and references to private details, such as illness, holidays, birthdays and items of a similar nature, may only be published with the written permission of the person concerned.


A very warm welcome to Yvonne Perinotti who joined at our May meeting. We wish you a long and happy association with our Society.


Noel Kennon, Rhama Thompson, Robert McGuire, Phillip Robinson.
June Smith, Russell Dixon, Steve Wain, Maadi McKenna.
Dawn Climent, Laurie Dorfer, Jenny Nabbe, Graham Peters.
Jenny McKenzie, Brian Baldwin, Sharyn Baraldi, Christine Okoniowski.
While we have relaxed things to make it easier for our members who might not have large collections or plants that they can spare as raffle prizes, we would like to keep it in the spirit of things that plants that have the potential to take over a garden not be offered. This would include agapanthus, asparagus-type and fishbone ferns, etc. Bromeliads are, of course, first choice, but, as mentioned in our January Newslink, items such as potted herbs, succulents, garden tools, and spare fruits/vegetables from your garden are acceptable.

A reminder that membership fees are due and payable by June 30, 2009. The increase to $10 single membership and $15 for a family living at the same address will take effect then. However, for those who at this stage might already have paid up for the next financial year, there will be no increase.

Neville will present a talk at our June meeting entitled, “Bromeliads From Seed to Flower”, notes from which he has collated into a booklet and a copy of this he has kindly donated to our Library. It is a beautifully illustrated and recorded work, with photographs showing each step of growing bromeliads “from seed to flower” and I am sure that anyone interested in trying their hand at growing from seed will find this a most valuable aid.
Thank you very much Neville for putting together this wonderful little publication.

Yes, it’s time again to talk of our Spring Show which, for the information of newer members, is held in the Uniting Church Hall, Russell Street, Corrimal during the second weekend in September.

As there has been a significant increase in member numbers in the past year or so I would like to let you know how much your membership is appreciated and that if you have the time to help out at our Show this gives us all a very nice opportunity for getting to know each other better and to find out, perhaps, what your particular interest[s] in bromeliads might be.

There are all types of jobs going over the 3 days—from setting up the display and competition and sales tables (from 2.00 pm on the Friday) to packing up on the Sunday afternoon. As we provide tea/coffee/cakes/slices to visitors (plus lunch for workers and judges) on the Saturday, providing goodies and/or some time in the kitchen could be one way of helping or manning the information and raffle tables another. Sales plants are always welcomed—and could earn you a little extra pocket money.

We also need plants suitable for our display—and also, of course, plants for our competition tables. After seeing so many beautiful plants at our monthly meetings, I have to confess that I was a little disappointed that more of these were not entered into competition in the Novice Class last year. Please don’t be shy about entering—or, another thought, initially you might like to contribute to the display. Here, plants supplied by someone else can complement your plants, and not all plants have to be leaf perfect, as they can be displayed from a certain angle to hide any imperfections.

Visitors to our Show love to see all of the different varieties of bromeliads that we have in our collections—so come, be part of the team, and help to make this, our seventeenth Show, very special.


July 26
Webmaster's note...parking available in front of 6 Mary St, just around the corner, my house ! (Ian Hook, BSA)
Aug. 28 – 30
ABC Gardening Expo, Homebush Olympic Site.
Aug. 29
Wesley Hospital Garden Fair, 91 Hamilton St Ashfield, 8:30-1 LINK
Sep. 10 – 13
COLLECTORS’ PLANT FAIR, ‘WOODGREEN’, 27 Powells Road, BILPIN 9AM–4PM SATURDAY/9AM–3PM SUNDAY $10 Admission for the weekend/$8 Prepaid - Email:
Sep. 12 – 13
Sept. 27
HILLS DISTRICT ORCHIDS OPEN DAY – Spring – Including clivias in bloom/sale
Sept. 27
Oct 10-11
Oct 24-25
Nov. 21
HUNTER DISTRICT ANNUAL SHOW – Henderson Park Hall, Lockyer Street, ADAMSTOWN
Dec. 06
Feb. 28,2010
May 1-2,2010
Oct 9-10,2010

July 4, 2009: Christmas in July
August 1, 2009: Annual General Meeting with Election of Officers
. . . . . . . . Laurie Dorfer: Mounting Tillandsias September 5, 2009: Steve Morgan: Foliage Vrieseas
October 3, 2009: Laurie Dorfer: Keying Tillandsias For Identification

PLANT RESULTS - April 4, 2009

Neville Wood Vriesea elata
Rhonda Patterson Vriesea fosteriana Red Chestnut
Bruce Cluff xNeoregelia Super Grace (Unregistered)
Warwick Varley Vriesea platynema hybrid
Jørgen Jakobsen Aechmea gamosepala
Jørgen Jakobsen Vriesea ?
Rena Wainwright Tillandsia stricta
Sandra Southwell Tillandsia crocata
Warwick Varley Tillandsia cyanea
Sandra Southwell Tillandsia umbellata

PLANT RESULTS - May 2, 2009

Rhonda Patterson Billbergia Hallelujah
Rena Wainwright A bowl of beautiful cryptanthus
Rena Wainwright Aechmea calyculata (with about 8 inflorescences!)
Laurie Dorfer Cryptanthus Coffee Royal
Warwick Varley Aechmea David Barry
Jørgen Jakobsen Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii
Jørgen Jakobsen Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii
Laurie Dorfer Tillandsia tectorum
Graham Bevan Tillandsia lindenii (Huge basketful with 8 inflorescences)
Graham Bevan Tillandsia vernicosa


Vriesea elata: Neville brought his lovely plant to our April meeting. It is spectacular when in bloom and so I was a little surprised when I was unable to find very much written about it. However, ‘elata’ means tall, referring to the inflorescence and scape, which can reach to between 90cm and 120cm in height. The inflorescence has many short, bright red branches with small white flowers. The leaves—75cm to 90cm in length, and about 5cm wide—form a soft, mid-green rosette.

This elegant vriesea grows as an epiphyte in the rainforests of Colombia at elevations ranging from 1200m – 2100m. Vriesea elata was first named by Baker in 1888, who classified it as a tillandsia, but in 1955 it was transferred to the genus Vriesea by Lyman B. Smith.Journal of The Bromeliad Society (1978), Vol. 28(2) (At the recent Conference in Adelaide I heard that it is likely that it will be transferred to yet another genus, although to which one has yet to be decided!)

The fact that it pups from the centre (in its first few years), makes it difficult to remove these offsets without almost destroying the mother plant. Therefore, this species is fairly expensive and difficult to acquire (at least here in Sydney and the Illawarra region), but I have found that when the plant is about three to four years old it will also pup freely at the sides, making pup removal quite simple. Although the Baensch’s book says, “Cultivation: semi-shade, mesic [moist], not very easy,” it grows extremely well for me here in the coastal southern Sydney area.

Another of the wonderful things about this plant—making it one of my favourites-is that its glorious inflorescence will stay in colour for a very long time, and a new spike (usually coming from a new pup forming within the old ‘mother’ plant) will bloom within quite a short time so that there is colour for almost twelve months of the year.

Tillandsia umbellata: Sandra’s pretty little T. umbellata was one we seldom see at our meetings and is, in fact, threatened by habitat loss in its native Ecuador, where it has been found growing naturally only in two locations in the southern province of Loja. It grows at altitudes of between 2000m and 4000m in subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests and also in subtropical and tropical montanes [the lower vegetation belt on mountains] and seems to prefer shady, moist conditions in cultivation. (There was a comment made at the meeting that it is almost impossible to keep this species from being attacked by insects.)

It is one of the group of tillandsias having paddle-shaped inflorescences (which includes T. anceps, T. cyanea, T. lindenii, and T. pretiosa), also having the iris-like flower, and in the case of T. umbellata it has the brightest blue flower of almost any bromeliad (likened to a cornflower) with a white spot at the base of each petal, which gives the flower the appearance of having a triangular white eye. It has pinkish-green bracts and its narrow-triangular, recurved leaves are about 25cm long.

It was first collected in 1882 and named ‘umbellata’ because usually more than one flower is open at the same time, forming an umbel.

Tillandsia vernicosa: Graham brought his little plant along to our May meeting and, again, it is one that we do not see very often. It comes from Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay where it grows as an epiphyte on trees in dry areas. In cultivation it likes bright, sunny spots and requires very little watering. Rauh, W. (1973) Bromeliads for Home, Garden and Greenhouse, [Ed.] Peter Temple, Blandford Press, Poole Dorset.

It has very stiff, pointed leaves which grow in a 13cm to 20cm rosette. It is colourful, with dark greenish-bronze leaves and a beautiful, long-lasting multi-branched inflorescence with pinkish-red bracts and white flowers. Jacksbromeliads accessed 31 May, 2009

It was first collected in 1887 and the name ‘vernicosa’ means varnished, shiny, because of the shiny red floral bracts.

By Warwick Varley – from a talk given at our May, 2009 meeting.

First introduced into Europe in 1815 with the species Billbergia pyramidalis (common names: Summer Torch, Pineapple Lily, Olympic Torch), the genus soon became a favourite for collectors, due primarily to the ease of cultivation and adaptability; however it was the flower that won the public’s eye. Today they are one of the most popular plants within the Bromeliaceae family amongst collectors, and it is rare to see an old garden that hasn’t at least one species of billbergia. The common varieties often seen are B. pyramidalis and B. nutans, (Queens Tears, Tartan Flower, Friendship Plant). However, commercially, (i.e., within the nursery market) they don’t even rank. This may most likely be due to the short-lived inflorescence.

Native to Mexico, through Central America, Venezuela, Brazil, the east coast of South America to Argentina and down the west coast to Peru, the species is predominately epiphytic.
Named after the Swedish botanist Gustav Johannes Billberg (1772-1844), there are over 60 species, 260 registered hybrids (in 2005), and over 1000 unregistered hybrids. Webmaster comment - if unregistered, how would you know ?

So what makes a Billbergia?
The botanical features that separate the genus from others are: 1) that the flowers are zygomorphic--that is they can be cut symmetrically through any plane; 2) the petals are recurved or rolled up; and 3) the inflorescence is pendulous, the bracts conspicuous and brightly coloured, yet short-lived. However, of interest is that the Aechmea and Quesnelia genera, which are both closely related, are distinct due only to the shape of the pollen grain.

Billbergias belong to the sub-family Bromelioideae (which happen to be mostly epiphytic, and pose the distinguishing features of berry-like fruit, and spines on the margins of their leaves).

Billbergias then divide into the subgenera:

- Billbergia: Where the inflorescence is compound or simple, and their axes (main stem) glabrous (smooth, glossy) to densely farinose (powdery)--(for example, Billbergia sanderiana)--and the petals loosely recurved, if at all, contorted afterward; and
- Helicodea: The inflorescence is simple, the axes densely farinose (powdery) except in cases of suspected hybrids. Petals are recoiled in a tight helicoid spiral (coiled several times like a watch spring) when the flower is fully open—for example, Billbergia rosea.

Generally speaking, the plant is composed of five to ten leaves forming a tubular or funnel-shaped vase. For this reason, they are easily recognizable from other genera. They range in height from 15cm to 1m. Many species, and even more cultivars, have brilliantly coloured leaves (foliage colours include shades of purple, blue, green, yellow, white, pink, and burgundy) with extraordinary variegation (dots, blotches and banding, alternate zones of heavy and light scales--i.e., trichomes). The inflorescences are exceptional in their colour combinations of the bracts and flowers (flower colours: purple, blue, yellow, green and white), with many offering a pendulous inflorescence. The inflorescence has only one drawback (unlike most other genera of the Bromeliaceae family) in that they are short-lived, with few lasting more than 2 weeks: hence the phrase often contributed to the genus as ‘10 day wonders’. It was this feature (and the fact that billbergias, being ‘photoperiod’ plants, require a long night situation and so generally are winter bloomers) that prompted John Catlan to offer this ode to billbergias:

Billbergias flower during Winter and Spring,
Blink and you’ll miss the whole blooming thing.

Billbergias are tolerant of most conditions, following the rule of thumb for most bromeliads: ‘The harder the leaf the hardier the plant to a large range of conditions.’

Virtually all billbergias are grown for their foliage, and for good plants very strong light is required: that is, in the top of the greenhouse under 50-70% shade cloth, glass or polythene. Stressing them to a small degree seems to bring out the best in them--that is, plants up high, close to the plastic ceiling. As a rule they definitely don’t like winter cold, and this is particularly pertinent for the species within the subgenus Helicodea. They like plenty of ventilation so hanging pots would generally be an ideal solution; however, their tall habit can make them difficult to suspend due to the plant interfering with the hanger. So perched within the crotches of trees is simple and offers the best vantage point for admiring the pendulous inflorescence. They can also look very good in colonies; however this can cut down on the air circulation and also restrict the colouring up of foliage if shadowed by other plants in the group. Optimum pot size (for a single specimen) is a 125mm to 140mm ‘squat’ pot; however the size of such a plant can cause the pot to topple easily, so either a terracotta pot, or a handful of blue metal dropped into the bottom of a pot, can help provide the necessary ballast.

Growing media
A mix typical for most epiphytic plants can be used—i.e., a medium to light mix, free-draining yet stable for plant support. Commercially, an orchid mix (Cymbidium) will suffice, otherwise combinations of composted pine bark, course river sand, peat moss (coco peat), perlite, and nut shell will also work well. An example of one mix is:

2 parts peat moss
1 part Perlite
1 part rice hulls
2 parts granulated bark

Billbergias are not generally prone to any specific pest; however, for those that do not have their plants sufficiently ventilated--or are kept indoors–scale insect may occur. When the conditions are remedied, however, the scale will disappear. Another common tenant of the genus is the Huntsman spider. They will not cause any detriment to your plants, and in fact are a benefit by preying on pests such as grasshoppers. Just be aware, when transplanting or cleaning your plants, they have a habit of suddenly appearing.

Over-watering reduces the colour and quality of the plant and causes rot. Billbergias like to be grown ‘hard’: not too much water, just an occasional light sprinkling is fine. (Don Beadle has said that it’s OK to give them a lot of water providing you then leave them for a time to dry out completely.)

Be very careful with fertilizer. If you overdo the nitrogen they can go green ‘overnight’. A small quantity of Sulphate of Potash, Blood and Bone, Dynamic Lifter, Nutricote or Osmocote can be placed within the medium--not the vase--of the plant. Foliar feeding is not considered viable for the genus. Symptoms of over-fertilising include the rapid loss of leaf colour and the production of long, lanky leaves (rather than the preferred compact ones). Generally the fertilizer should be applied at a rate of one-third of the manufacturer’s recommended dose when preparing potting mixtures.

As she has described below, Nina was the one who, after ten years of selective propagation, developed the plant now known as Nidularium ‘Miranda’. It was recognised as such in 1993.
I was prompted to ask Nina to recount her version of how Nidularium ‘Miranda’ came to be after reading a couple of articles in other Society’s journals which didn’t seem to correspond with what she had been telling me about her plant over the years.

Around 1982/83 (when there were very few different bromeliads on offer in Australia) Nina and Jarka Rehak visited a nursery on Sydney’s North Shore which was in the business of mass-producing (unnamed) plants sourced from seeds imported from Brazil. In a batch supplied by Alvim Seidel (who from his late teens had travelled more than 100,000km to dangerous and distant parts of Brazil to collect more than 100 species of orchids and bromeliads to supply the nursery begun by his father in 1906), out of the hundreds of unnamed, almost uniform, green nidulariums (now known as Nidularium ‘Madonna), Jarka found a plant which had some thin yellow stripes to it. Today, Nidularium ‘Miranda’ has wide yellow stripes (3-4 cm wide) running through the centre of the leaf, this yellow stripe is often broken by thin—or thicker—plain green stripes. The sturdy scape is about 15cm long, and, with the inflorescence, measures about 21cm. The flower bracts start out white in both N. ‘Madonna’ and N. ‘Miranda’ and gradually darken to a rich pink.

When I visited Nina recently I was surprised to see that some of her N. ‘Miranda’ plants carried the variegation into the inflorescence: one, still in its white-primary-bract stage, had green/pink stripes which made it look almost tartan, while another had a rich maroon variegation to the deep pink primary bracts.

Some further points made by Nina:

- Nidularium ‘Miranda’ was developed from a seedling and therefore is not a sport of N. ‘Madonna’, as suggested in the Bromeliad Cultivar Registry 1998.
- Nina has never noticed an overly long scape, as mentioned in the Bromeliad Cultivar Registry (“… the inflorescence [of ‘Madonna’] threatens to fall over because the scape is so long.”) although at around 15cm it is considerably longer than most other nidulariums.
- However, unlike most other nidulariums, N. ‘Miranda’ needs light to develop. It is not a shade plant!
- N. ‘Miranda’ needs feeding to do well and the broadness of the leaf is cultural.
- While N. ‘Madonna’ will form quite readily into nice largish clumps, N. ‘Miranda’ is more slow to pup and Nina suggests that any pups be allowed to grow up with the ‘Mother’ plant and then to later divide the plant.
- Although Nina has never sold any N. ‘Miranda’ plants she has given some away to friends and she distributed three offsets at the Brisbane Conference in 1993. Therefore she was quite surprised — during the 1999 Cairns Conference — to find a beautiful, fully-grown specimen at Kuranda when she visited a member’s garden.
- After the initial stage of development (when many green pups [N. ‘Madonna’] were produced) the variegation in N. ‘Miranda’ has remained very stable. So it was, again, quite a surprise for Nina to find — within the last couple of weeks - a plain green pup on a double N. ‘Miranda’ plant of hers — the first in sixteen years! (See front cover—refer website — Illawarra Society link — for a colour version).

By Nina Rehak

An ancestor of Nidularium ‘Miranda’ was found in a nursery which was growing bromeliads from seed imported from Brazil. Alvim Seidel was one of the suppliers at the time. There were several large groups of bromeliads of various genera and all without labels. Hoping to find something new and wonderful, we went through a group of what looked like, to me, nidulariums, being more than half-grown seedlings, fresh and all alike. When, with the hope to spot something different was fading, my husband stumbled on one with some thin yellow stripes. The person in charge was reluctant to part with it, but at the sight of $20 ready in hand, it did the trick. The time was 1982/3.

After the first flowering, we had five pups, all with some stripes. One went to Robert Larnach, another to Peter Waters in New Zealand, and the three remaining pups — and ten years of selective propagation — produced a very stable variegated plant which was registered as Nidularium ‘Miranda’, and named for the suburb of Sydney where we live.

The process of selection resulted in a large number of green plants, identical to the original group in the nursery. Some time later I came across the green ‘Miranda’s sibling [brought to a Bromeliad Society of New South Wales meeting in the early 1990s], which had been purchased from the same nursery, and was in flower, with the label ‘Madonna’. I do not think ‘Madonna’ was ever registered, at least not by us.

Speculation that Nidularium ‘Miranda’ is not a nidularium is not new. Bill Morris and Robert Larnach were of the opinion that our ‘Miranda’ was a canistrum — and that was close to 20 years ago!

In 1993, during the Brisbane Conference, I took the opportunity to show an inflorescence and a leaf to Elton Leme, with the simple question of “What is it?” He had a good, long look at it and said, “This is a nidularium.” However, the consultation was very short as too many people were bidding for his attention.

No information other than that the seed was from Seidel was available. Was it wild, cultivated or hybrid? Perhaps time will tell, but seeing such uniformity in three-quarter-grown seedlings—70-80 or even more of them--I could never think of them as being hybrids.

By Roger L. Hammer
{Reprinted from the October 2001 issue of Tillandsia Web, the Online Newsletter of the Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society [May 20, 2009]}

Of the thirteen species of bromeliads in the genus Tillandsia native to Florida, the one we call Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, is probably the most well known. It is the most non-bromeliad-looking bromeliad in the world but it has the distinction of having the widest global range of any species in its family. All bromeliads, except a single species in Africa, are indigenous to the New World, and T. usneoides is found from the southern United States through the West Indies and Mexico to Argentina and Chile in South America. It was first noted in the writings of Hernando d’Escalante Fontenada who, at the age of 13, was sailing from Colombia to Spain to be educated. The ship wrecked in 1545 on a Florida reef and young Fontenada was taken captive by Calusa Indians in southwest Florida. He noted that “These Indians have no gold, less silver and less clothing. They go naked, except only some breech cloths woven of palms, with which the men cover themselves; the women do the like with a certain grass that grows on trees. This grass looks like wool, although it is different from it.”

The genus Tillandsia honors the Swedish botanist, Elias Tillands (1640-1693), who catalogued the plants of Abo, Finland in 1673. The name usneoides refers to the similarity of Spanish moss to the lichen genus, Usnea. It is less common in southern Florida than it is in the rest of the state but it can occasionally be found draping from tree limbs in the Florida Keys. It flowers in early summer and the small, seldom-noticed, 3-petaled, green flowers emit a delightful fragrance. Anyone seeing a photo of a Spanish moss-laden live oak knows immediately that the scene depicts the southeastern United States.

Aside from its early use as clothing by modest Calusa women, it has been used for bedding, as a packing material, and to toss wet onto fires to keep mosquitoes at bay with the copious smoke. The soft, pliable, silvery stems are also a popular item used by birds in nest building. Although it is seldom thought of as a landscape plant, it is highly decorative and adds a bit of authenticity to any Florida landscape.

By John E. Laroche, North Miami Beach Florida
(Submitted by Jarka Rehak and reprinted from J. Cryptanthus Society, Vol. 3 No. 4, 1988)

Would you die for your plants? I hope not, but recently, I almost did. This past spring I awoke to a beautiful day. It seemed the perfect time to catch up with the potting. After gathering several hundred offsets, I sat down by the potting table and began working. About half way into the job, I started to feel sick. My chest was tight, my head was spinning and I felt nauseous. I went in to get a bite to eat, figuring I needed a bit of lunch to feel better. After a while I perked up and went back to work. This time I got really sick. Cindy, my wife, saw me potting and asked, "John dear, where are your gloves?" Suddenly it dawned on me, I was POISONING MYSELF!
I was lucky. I sustained only minor heart and liver damage which has healed itself. I had forgotten that I mixed a new granular insecticide into the media--it kills everything: bugs, nematodes, mites AND careless human beings. I won't be recommending it.

After this frightening experience with pesticide carelessness, I did some research on my chemical foe. It is classed as a Cholinesterase inhibitor. Cholinesterase regulates levels of acetylcholine in the nervous system. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter responsible for many functions which cause death when disrupted.

Many of the common agricultural pesticides are cholinesterase inhibitors, including the often abused organophosphates and carbamates. Organophosphates include; Diazinon, Malathion, Orthene, Meta-Systox·R, Dursban, and Cygon. Carbamates include; Temik, Oxymal, Mesurol and carbofuran. These chemicals can poison in two ways. Acute toxicity poisoning results from a large dosage of the chemical at one time and is associated with the immediate manifestation of symptoms, and possibly death. Chronic toxicity poisoning results from prolonged low level doses. The symptoms and damages resulting from such exposure may be totally different than acute poisoning. A comparison could be made with radiation poisoning. A large dosage of radiation will cause severe damage and almost immediate death, where low level doses over a period of years may manifest symptoms such as cancer.

The EPA [in the USA—Ed.] is proposing new commercial regulations regarding these chemicals. Although these regulations would not affect the hobby grower, everyone should consider following them. The proposed act requires that any worker who handles organophosphates for pay, on someone else's property, on three consecutive days, or on any six days in a twenty-one day period, be monitored for cholinesterase inhibition. This means a blood test (referred to as Cholinesterase Plasma) and I would recommend that anyone who sprays these chemicals check with their physician to arrange for this test before it is needed.

There are several other precautions it would be wise to take. Collect the labels for every pesticide you use and deliver them to your doctor to be placed in your medical records. Be sure to read and thoroughly understand the label as it is a legal document explaining the plants and pests it may legally be used on. It also contains medical information and methods for application. According to federal law, it is illegal to use an agricultural product in a manner inconsistent with its labelling. As an aside, read the label for Cygon-2E. It says nothing about bromeliads or Fly Speck Scale, and therefore is technically illegal for use on cryptanthus. (Bromeliads would rarely be listed on a label specifically. They would usually fall under another category such as "ornamental foliage”.)

My story illustrates just how easy it is to be careless with chemicals. It is most important to avoid exposure to all agrochemicals. Pesticides can enter the body in three ways: inhalation, skin and eye absorption and, of course, ingestion. Consider these facts: the lungs contain approximately 750 square feet of surface area which is a virtual open door to the blood stream and the skin has about 20 square feet of surface area. While both of these areas are highly vulnerable to chemical absorption, the eyes are our most vulnerable area as they contain very thin membranes and many blood vessels. Splashing one of these chemicals in the eyes not only causes eye damage, but affects the blood stream just as if you had ingested it by mouth.
When handling pesticides, wear protective gear and clothing. Use a pesticide rated respirator and eye goggles. Cover all clothing with a water repellent material. We use a plastic rainsuit, rubber gloves and rubber boots. Believe me, you'll be hot, look like a spaceman, and feel stupid but you will live to enjoy your plants.

Organic Alternatives to Insecticides

Though cryptanthus are relatively pest free, they may be susceptible to mealybugs and scale insects. Mealybugs look like tufts of cotton on the undersides of the leaves and are related to the hard-shelled scale insects. Both injure plants by sucking sap and by injecting toxic substances into plant tissues. The simplest control is a strong stream of water directed at the undersides of the foliage. Mealybugs can be killed by touching them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. The alcohol dissolves their protective waxy covering. Alcohol may be administered with an eye dropper. Soapy water (Safer's Insecticidal Soap) is effective. Natural enemies include the lacewing, ladybugs, and a ladybug look-alike Cryptolaemus montrouzieri.
Courtesy Chris Shirley, Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.


By Ray Nicholson
(Reprinted from Central Coast NSW Bromeliad Society Inc.’s ‘Bromelia Post’, February 2009 issue [in turn reprinted from Bromeliaceae, 2004, 44(1)]
Most of us are well aware of the many uses of plants in various types of display. But in Woodburn, NSW, they seem to have gone to the extreme. I recently spent a weekend in northern New South Wales during which I had a most enjoyable few hours with June, John and Shane Buchanan in their Pinegrove Nursery [now owned by Ross Little and Helen Clewett—Ed.] and their forest of bromeliads. The next day, I visited Peter Tristram who showed me around his Forest Drive Nursery and his own hybrids at Repton.

On the way home, I drove up the Pacific Highway which winds its way along the banks of the Richmond River. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I passed through the small town of Woodburn. There, on the nature strip, between the highway and the river, was the figure of a very large “man” standing near a half-grown “emu”—and both appeared to be vexed with Spanish moss! Some kilometres further on, I decided to make a U-turn and go back to inspect. No, my eyes were not deceiving me! But as well as a “man” and an “emu”, covered with Tillandsia usneoides, there were all manner of Australian birds on the tree branches. It was a very pleasant riverside spot beside the busy highway.

It was quite obvious these figures were the work of The Copper Gallery which was opposite. The proprietor, Will Ponweiser, told me he had built his impression of the mythical Kilcoy Yowie some years ago and, because he had quite a lot of Old Man’s Beard (as he called it) in his yard he decided to cover the Yowie with it.

The T. usneoides on the emu makes it especially lifelike and, if one can dare say it, the same applies to the Yowie! Will said he often has to replace the Spanish moss as it blows away with the wind and passing traffic. Woodburn’s Yowie is well worth a stop when next you visit NSW.

[I checked with The Copper Gallery today (June 2, 2009) and, yes, the Yowie man is still there, right on the Pacific Highway, along the river, at 72 River Street, Woodburn, which is between Grafton (1 hour’s drive) and Ballina (1/2 hour’s drive). Phone: (02) 6682 2477. Also on display at the gallery are copper, wood and metal statues, as well as aboriginal arts and crafts. Ed.]

376 Honeyeater Drive, WALLIGAN [HERVEY BAY] Phone: (07) 4128 6026
(Halfway between Maryborough and Hervey Bay)
5 acres/Big Shadehouses/Plant Sales - All welcome, but please call first!

Compiled by Alan J. Thomson
(Reprinted from Bromeliad, J. Bromeliad Society of New Zealand Inc., March 2009 issue, Vol. 49 No. 3)
Fans of The Da Vinci Code, mathematicians, technical analysts, believers in the supernatural, even some bee-keepers and rabbit-breeders—they know their Fibonacci numbers. This is an almost-magical sequence of numbers first described in ancient Sanskrit mathematics and introduced to the West by Leonardo of Pisa, aka Fibonacci.

What gives this sequence its perceived ‘magical’ power is that the pattern repeatedly appears throughout nature, for example in the branching of trees, the arrangement of leaves on a stem, even in the spirals of florets on a sunflower. Pine cones, artichoke flowers, the family trees of honeybees—all show Fibonacci patterns in their arrangement together with pineapple fruitlets.

How the Fibonacci sequence works
Each number in the Fibonacci sequence is the sum of the previous two numbers. That means the first 20 Fibonacci numbers are:
0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 377 610 987 1597 2584 4181 6765

Each number in the sequence is roughly 1.618 times greater than the previous numbers. And if you divide one number in the sequence by the number that comes after it, the ratio is consistently about 61.8%.
For example, 8/13 = 0.6153, or 21/34 = 0.617.

This ratio, 61.8%, is known as ‘the golden mean’. Other key ratios are 38.2% (found by dividing a number in the series by the number two places to the right) and 23.6% (found by dividing one number in the series by the number three places to the right).

Fibonacci in the pineapple
The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant and is native to Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay. The plant is a short (1-1.5 m) herbaceous perennial with 30 or more trough-shaped and pointed leaves 30-100 cm long, surrounding a thick stem.

Much of the appeal of the pineapple lies in the peculiarity of its physical makeup. The plant itself grows from a terminal bud surrounded by a thick rosette of concave leaves close to the soil surface. These leaves allow the plant to collect water in the rosette where it can be absorbed by the aerial roots that grow along the stem or through the epidermis of their sheath.

Many of you will remember getting a pineapple and cutting off the crown at the top and growing that on to create a new plant? Alas, in New Zealand since 2004 this has gone the way of the dinosaur with all crowns now cut off during importation to reduce the chance of foreign insect introduction.

The fruitlets of a pineapple are arranged in two interlocking spirals: eight spirals in one direction, thirteen in the other; each being a Fibonacci number.

The stem eventually bears flowers, each of which ripens into a fruitlet. A fruitlet contains all of the parts of a complete flower including sepals, petals, stamens and a pistil with a stigmatic surface where pollination takes place, as well as an ovary where the fruitlets’ seeds develop. On most bromeliads each fruitlet survives independently, but on the pineapple and its close relatives they are fused together to produce a single fruit. The biological term for this sort of fusion, in which a single fleshy fruit is made up of a crowd of flowers, is a sorosis. It derives from the Greek word soros, meaning a heap, and there is a certain romance in the idea that the pineapple is really just a heap of flowers dressed up to look like some kind of tough guy.

Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the pineapple’s physical makeup lies in its mathematical proportions. It forms one of the most perfect examples in nature of a phenomenon known as Divine Proportion. In the ancient world, great importance was attached to this concept, which was also known as the Golden Mean: it affected the layout of building, the composition of art and even literary structure. The basis is a constant called phi (1.6180339). Discovered by the Greek mathematician Euclid, phi emerges from a geometrical theorem that generates a series of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5,8, 13, 21, and so on. It was later named the Fibonacci series in honour of the great thirteenth-century Italian thinker Leonardo Fibonacci.


In the 1820s it was discovered that, amazingly, the Fibonacci series frequently occurs in nature, illustrated particularly clearly in the pineapple. The fruitlets are arranged in curving rows: one set goes one way from base to top, the other crosses the first row at an oblique angle. The number of rows of each always conforms to two consecutive numbers from the Fibonacci series: usually 5 and 8 or 8 and 13, depending on the variety. Every single fruit is the same in this respect. In practical terms, this minimises the amount of mechanical stress exerted on it during growth. But it also means that it fulfils the properties of Divine Proportion—it is, mathematically, perfect.

So next time you grab that pineapple from the supermarket do a quick inspection and calculation to ensure that its fruitlets arrangement comply with numbers from the Fibonacci series!
References for this article:
- Believe It or Not’ by John Catlan
- Fibonacci Numbers in Nature’ by Jill Briton
- The Golden Number and Fibonacci Line, Humans and Nature’ by Stefan Anitei
- Entries from the Wikipedia website on Fibonacci and pineapples.

Seventeenth ANNUAL SHOW
September 12 and 13, 2009


Aechmea - Individual specimen plant
Billbergia - Individual or multiple permitted
Neoregelia - Individual specimen plant
Neoregelia - miniature – Individual specimen
Tillandsia - Individual/Multiple permitted
Vriesea/Guzmania - Individual specimen plant
Bromeliad not listed above - Individual or Multiple permitted
Established colony: Aechmea/Vriesea. Minimum of 3 plants
Stoloniferous Colony: Neoregelia. Minimum of 3 plants


Aechmea - Individual specimen plant
Neoregelia - Individual specimen plant
Tillandsia - Individual or multiple permitted - May be potted or mounted
Vriesea/Guzmania - Individual specimen plant
Bromeliad not listed above - Individual or multiple permitted


Mounted Tillandsias – minimum of three (3) established plants which may be the same or different.
Mounted Bromeliad(s) other than Tillandsias – Established plants which may be the same or different
Basket or Decorative Container – minimum of three (3) plants which may be the same or different – no embellishments
Bromeliad Garden – Any Container – Embellishments may be used
Artistic Arrangement – to consist of predominantly bromeliad material – Embellishments may be used

- - - In classes covering “Individual Specimen Plants”, pups are permissible on the adult plant only if they are so small that their removal might jeopardize their survival.

- - - When allowing for multiple plants the key word is “interconnected”—i.e., they must all originate from a single plant.

34 Hauton Road, MORAYFIELD 4506
Huge selection of Aechmeas, Vrieseas, Guzmanias, Neoregelias, Nidulariums and Tillandsias, together with a variety of rarer species and hybrids.
BARBARA AND LORRAINE. Phone:(07) 5433 0303

232 Canvey Road, FERNY GROVE 4053
Specialising in Hybrid Vrieseas, Aechmeas, Variegated Neoregelias, Skotak Hybrids, ‘Aussie Dream’ and varieties,And other quality bromeliads.
LEN AND OLIVE TREVOR. Phone:(07) 3351 1203

Suppliers of fine Tissue-cultured bromeliads -
Phone:(07) 5471 6036. Postal Address: 7 Thougla Place, BUDERIM, QLD 4556
Lab: 99 West Coolum Road, MOUNT COOLUM, QLD 4573

{New owners: Andy and Sue Lancaster}
421 Hunchy Road, PALMWOODS 4555
An extensive range of bromeliads including many first-release Neoregelia hybrids.
For enquiries phone Sue on:(07) 5445 0441 -

1560 Yandina-Coolum Road YANDINA, QLD 4561
Alcantareas, Foliage Vrieseas, Neoregelias and Other Genera.
CHERYL BASIC. Phone:(07) 5472 8827, Mob:0403 193 069,

THE POCKET 2483 (Near Mullumbimby)
Large range of bromeliads. Agents for Deroose Exotic Plants of Belgium, and Andrew Maly’s KIWI COLLECTION OF VRIESEAS.
Phone:(02) 6684 5374 Fax:(02) 6684 5168. -

— a large colourful range of bromeliads, both species and hybrids of many genera. Includes a very large range of tillandsias.
A mail order list of tillandsias is available upon request. We also specialise in orchids, cacti, succulents, hoyas, bonsai and carnivorous plants. PLUS gems, fossils, natural history, books and much MORE!
810 Springvale Road, Keysborough 3195. Ph: 03 9798 5485, FAX 03 9706 3339 -
Open 9 am – 5 pm 7 days a week

Located at REPTON (a few miles south of Coffs Harbour)
Specialising in SPECIES and VARIEGATES from mostly imported stock.
Beautiful Tillandsias, Vrieseas (including ‘silver’ species), Guzmanias, Aechmeas, Neoregelias, etc.
Send S.A.E. for MAIL ORDER list of quality plants.
Proprietor: Peter Tristram C/- P.O. Box 2, BONVILLE, NSW 2441

M.J. PATERSON (Margaret)
212 Sandy Creek Road GYMPIE, QLD 4570
Large range of Bromeliads for sale, especially our own hybrid Neoregelias and Tillandsias
Do call in if you are up this way, but please phone first.
Phone/Fax: (07) 5482 3308

Ross Little and Helen Clewett
Aechmea, Alcantarea, Guzmania, Vriesea, Tillandsia, Neoregelia and many more
114 Pine Street, Wardell. P.O. Box 385, WARDELL, NSW 2477
Phone/Fax: (02) 6683 4188

Specialist Grower of Tillandsia Seedlings and other Genera
Hard grown to suit all Australian conditions
Wholesale and Mail Order only
P.O. Box 612, HURSTBRIDGE, VIC. 3099
Phone: (03) 9718 2887 Fax: (03) 9718 2760

BROMELIADS AUSTRALIA The Larnach Family – Robert, Gleness, Jamie and Jennifer
Supplier of quality Bromeliads with 35 years’ experience! Home of “Aussie Dream Series” and other Australian Hybrids!
Collectors’ plants are available in a wide range of genera
We welcome wholesale and retail customers by appointment. Please contact us.
Mail Order also available! Phone/Fax: 02 4359 3356 Mobile: 0418 471 754

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Updated 18/06/09