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July 2016

Fosterella spectabilis photo: Ian Hook, 'Bromeliads in Australia' web.

- 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 our new member, Melissa Talbot, who joined at our May meeting. We wish you a long and happy association with our Society.


Sharyn Baraldi, Maadi McKenna, Loreen Whiddett, Carol Burgdorf
Freda Kennedy, Max Williams, June Casey, Laurie Dorfer
June Smith, Sylvia Clare, Michael Drury, Steven Dolbel
Maria Jakobsen, Steve Wain, Monica De Clouett, Vicki Joannou
Feb. 2017
Rhonda Patterson, Yvonne Perinotti, Bob Stephens, Beverley Irvine

Membership fees are due and payable by June 30th each year; however, anyone joining between April and June 2016 has membership until June 30, 2017.

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers of the Illawarra Bromeliad Society Inc. will be held on Saturday, August 6th. Nominations for office-bearers and members of the committee are to be lodged with the President who has the relevant forms available (from our July meeting).

A workshop dealing with preparing plants for Show and/or sale (among other things) is planned for Saturday, July 9th at Lorraine and Fred Mirande’s home at 66 Kenny Street, Wollongong (Phone: 0418 423 568). For the information of newer members, these workshops have been very popular in the past and it is an opportunity for you to bring along any plants that you may be having a problem with—or need an identity for—and also to meet and to chat with other members on a friendly, informal basis. The usual hours apply: from 10.00 am until 2.00 pm and anyone interested is invited to attend. Lorraine and Fred will supply sausages and bread for lunch—but salads and something for morning tea would be appreciated—tea and coffee will be supplied.

We have been looking into ordering T-shirts with our Society logo. If interested, take along a comfortably-fitting T-shirt to our July meeting to give an idea of the size to be ordered for you—or call Sharyn {02} 4296 2166 with details. Cost, depending on numbers ordered, will be around $30-35.

Vale - Brian Baldwin

I have recently learned that Brian Baldwin has died. Brian, and his wife, Muriel, and daughter, Coral, joined our Society in 2007 and were active members until Brian’s poor health led to their resignations in 2010. Our sympathy goes to Muriel, Coral and family.


July 16-17
CAMELLIAS ILLAWARRA INC. – ANNUAL SHOW – Saturday 1pm–5pm; Sunday 9am–3pm – TIGS (The Illawarra Grammar School)
August 13
2016 RETICULATA CAMELLIA SHOW – Bulli Uniting Church, Cnr Point St/Princes H’way
Sept 3
DAPTO A&H {Agricultural and Horticultural} SOCIETY SHOW – DAPTO SHOWGROUND
Sept 10-11
ILLAWARRA BROMELIAD SOCIETY – SPRING SHOW – Uniting Church Hall, Russell Street, Corrimal
Sept 24-25
KARIONG PLANT LOVERS FAIR – Kariong Mountains High School
Sept 24-25
Oct 1-9
LEURA GARDENS FESTIVAL: Open daily 9.30am to 4.30pm. All gardens $25/$5 indiv. – For further information: 0431 095 279
Oct 13-16
BERRY GARDENS FESTIVAL 10 am – 4 pm. $20 for 8 gardens (may be used over the 4 days)/$5 individual gardens. Free for children under 18.
2017 March 30 - April 2

July 2: Christmas in July
August 6: AGM + Max Williams - Ideas for Hanging Plants
September 3: Orthophytums – Ann Kennon
October 1: To be advised
November 5: Alcantareas – Noel Kennon


May 7, 2016: Plant Results

1st = John Toolan = Guzmania ‘Akbar’
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Vriesea carinata
2nd = John Toolan = Neoregelia ‘Alcatraz’
2nd = John Toolan = Vriesea ospinae var. gruberi
3rd = John Toolan = Vriesea ’Splendide’
3rd = Noel Kennon = Dyckia brevifolia

1st = Sandra Carnie = Vriesea
2nd = Michael Drury = Guzmania conifera
3rd = Pam Townsend = xNeophytum ‘Ralph Davis’
3rd = Pam Townsend = Billbergia

1st = Lydia and Ian Chinnock = Tillandsia lindenii
2nd = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia cyanea ‘Paradise’
3rd = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia punctulata

1st = Lydia and Ian Chinnock = Dyckia ibiramensis
2nd = Ann and Noel Kennon = Orthophytum
3rd = Lydia and Ian Chinnock = Aechmea recurvata ‘Aztec Gold’

1st = Sandra Carnie = Aechmea weilbachii
2nd = Michael Drury = Guzmania conifera

1st = Steven Wain = Tillandsia stricta
1st = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia araujei
2nd = Lydia and Ian Chinnock = Tillandsia lindenii
3rd = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia fuchsii var. fuchsii forma gracilis

By Melanie Dearringer
(Reprinted Accessed June 11, 2016)

Fosterella is a relatively new genus of bromeliad. It was established in 1960 by L.B. Smith and is one of the sixteen genera of bromeliads found in the sub-family called I>Pitcairnioideae. Many of the species now classified in the Fosterella genus were classified in other genera at one time. Fosterella is a small genus with only 31 species. However, new species are still being discovered and classified. The most recent extensive work on the species was done in Germany in 2009 by Jule Peters who made Fosterella the focus of her doctorate work.

Mulford Foster
Fosterella is named for Mulford Foster, one of the most significant people in bromeliad collection and hybridization. Foster was a naturalist, artist, landscape designer and horticulturist who contributed immeasurably to the bromeliad enthusiast community. It is estimated that Foster found and collected between 170 and 200 new species of bromeliad from South America. He also hybridized numerous new cultivars, many of which also bear his name. Through his writing and teaching Foster was incredibly instrumental in popularizing bromeliads as both houseplants and landscaping plants in the United States.

Fosterellas are found primarily within the arid to semi-humid lowlands and foothills of the Andes in South America. Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina are the primary countries where they are found; a few exist in Brazil as well. There is one exception found outside of South America in southern Mexico. These plants are all terrestrial and live primarily on open forest floors.

Few fosterellas are exceptionally beautiful compared to other more popular species of bromeliad. Therefore, there are not many in cultivation for hobbyists and landscapers to collect. However, fosterellas produce pups generously and are easy to care for, making them ideal for quickly filling hanging baskets or containers.

Many fosterellas are characterized by their broad, flat leaves. They are often discolor, meaning they have one colour on the top of the leaf and a different colour on the bottom; fosterella leaves are usually bright green on the top side and purple or burgundy on the bottom side. Fosterella flowers grow on a stalk that rises above the plant. Some fosterella flower stalks grow quite tall. The flowers are usually white or yellow, and occasionally pink. They are typically small and bell-shaped, hanging down from the stalk.

Fosterellas require soil that is rich in organic material, yet well-draining. Unlike other bromeliads that are epiphytes, fosterellas take their nutrients and water from roots in the soil. As a result the plants require a nutrient-rich potting medium. However, they also require good drainage. Like many other bromeliads they can be prone to rot if they sit in water. Be sure to mix perlite or bark into the potting medium so that the soil does not become too dense; you do not want it to stay soggy. Also, make sure your container provides adequate drainage—place a few rocks at the bottom of the container so that it will drain easily.

Light and Water
Most fosterellas can handle a fair amount of sun, with some shade; full sun will likely damage the plants. Dappled shade is ideal. Because of their adaptation to arid or semi-arid climates, fosterellas do not require much water. Water more frequently in the spring and summer and rarely in the winter.

Watering every other week in the winter and once a week during the growing season, depending on how fast your container dries, should be enough for a fosterella. Fosterellas also do not require as much humidity as many other species of bromeliad. This makes them easier to raise in drier climates.

Like many bromeliads fosterellas will produce offshoots called pups. These pups can be removed and planted in new containers. A four-inch container {10 cm or a 100 mm pot} should provide enough space. The pup may be a bit top heavy until its roots mature so gently stake the plant until it can stay up on its own. Wait to remove the pup from the mother plant until it is at least a third of the size of the original plant; the larger the pup is when removed, the better start it will have. You can also allow clumps of pups to remain attached to the mother plant to form a clump in the container.

While fosterellas may be difficult to find at conventional garden centres and nurseries that carry bromeliads, there are several species that are popular among collectors. Some of these species are available from speciality bromeliad retailers. The following are descriptions of the more commonly grown fosterellas:

Fosterella villosula
This plant has bright green leaves with deep purple undersides. It produces a tall flower spike with small, white, bell-shaped flowers. It requires partial shade, little water and prefers higher temperatures.

Fosterella spectabilis
Unique to the Fosterella genus in that it has beautiful pink flowers. The stalk is somewhat pendent and the delicate flowers hang down from the pink inflorescence. It has broad, flat, bright green leaves that splay out to create a sort of flat rosette. Fosterella spectabilis grows up to a foot tall and two feet wide.

Fosterella elata
These produce broad, flat, dark green leaves that curve downward to create a beautiful rosette. The leaves are somewhat wavy at the margins, providing rich texture. The flower stalk rises up to four feet from the middle of the rosette. It has a burgundy inflorescence and delicate white flowers.

Fosterella latifolia
This plant produces very few leaves. The leaves are narrow and distinctly wavy around the entire margin. The tops of the leaves are green with dusty purple undersides. The plant produces a tall and slender flower spike with dainty bell-shaped flowers.

Fosterella weddelliana
This plant has leaves that are very slender and stand erect to form a tight, upright rosette. The leaves are a dusty, dark green, becoming deep purple at the base of the plant. Fosterella weddelliana is also covered with a fine silvery hair that is most apparent at the base of the plant.

Add Fosterellas to Your Collection
If you are a bromeliad collector, fosterellas can add a distinctive glimpse into an area of South America less commonly represented by bromeliads. Fosterellas are certainly unique and would be an excellent addition to any collection. They are also ideal to care for as they require little water and partial shade. With a little attention they will produce flowers and pup generously, creating full arrangements. You can expand the depth of your bromeliad collection by growing fosterellas.

(An Extract from an article: DD1209c Fosterella in Australia by Derek the Hybrid Detective, Derek Butcher, December 2009 - accessed June 11, 2016)

“For some reason Sydney seems the epicentre of Fosterella in Australia and it is the plants that have an old history that have caused me the most headaches. I have never been able to find out if they came to Australia by seed or plant. Perhaps if I go through the names I have encountered so far we can address possible identity problems.

F. albicans. This seems to have been around for some years without a name. Peter Franklin from Raymond Terrace, NSW in about 2000 identified it as this species. This was followed up by Ross Little of Pinegrove who wondered why there was so much discrepancy in size but we were assured by Pierre Ibisch that this could be the case.

F. elata. Introduced by seed from Harry Luther in the 1990s this has become widespread. The only thing to remember is that it is now considered to be a synonym of F. rusbyi.

F. latifolia. We have to look at this through the name F. villosula which was the name I was growing it under in the late 1990s. I could find no hairs on the flowers and with the help of Pierre Ibisch it was decided it was closer to F. latifolia. No sooner had the dust settled when Jule Peters decided that it was really within the broad F. penduliflora.

F. penduliflora. The most common one around even if under a different name on the label!

F. schidosperma. Could well be in Australia—remember, we are looking for petals that coil up tight.

F. spectabilis. Very popular because of the red flowers.

F. villosula. Not being grown in Australia—see above.

F. weddelliana. Name suspect. Plants under this name should be checked against the key.*

*For key, refer to the above-listed reference, or to; Ibisch, P.L., Read, R.W., and Peters, J. (2008) Key to the Species of the Genus Fosterella (Bromeliaceae) Selbyana 29(2).

A query to the BSI Cultivar Registrar Geoff Lawn (Excerpted from Far North Coast Bromeliad Study Group, New South Wales, Newsletter, July 2013), in turn reprinted from Bromeliad, J. Bromeliad Society New Zealand Inc. June 2016, Vol. 56(6)

Query: Shouldn’t the BSI cultivar list be called the BSI hybrid list; it seems to be hybrids not cultivars?

Answer from Geoff: … a hybrid by definition is a cultivar but a cultivar is not necessarily a hybrid … there are unusual forms of particular species (such as variegated forms found in the wild) which if distinctive enough can be given cultivar names and registered. Botanists … ignore such forms as they are not a stable population which will reproduce true from seed—which defines a species.

Natural hybrids … do not generally get described by botanists, so they are better treated as cultivars and given names and are registered, such as … Tillandsia ‘Dura Flor’. By definition a hybrid is either: a species x a different species, or species x hybrid, or hybrid x hybrid. So cultivars do not fall into the category of hybrid.

It used to be that a cultivar was defined as having been man-made in cultivation only, but that definition now extends to include natural hybrids and distinctive species forms from the wild, such as Quesnelia marmorata ‘Rafael Oliveira’, so at least they get recorded in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register (BCR). To call it a Bromeliad Hybrid Register would be too restrictive.


When I first started growing broms, most of my bromeliad-growing friends grew their plants in shade houses on conventional-type benches, or in the garden protected by trees. So, obviously being a “learner”, I followed their example.

As my collection grew, like everyone else I eventually ran out of growing space on the benches in my modest shade house and to avoid overcrowding I had to find a more suitable way to accommodate the plants. Building another shade house wasn’t an option, so I decided to copy Mother Nature and “go vertical” instead, and started to hang plants from overhead roof timbers and from the pot immediately above.

Many of the experienced growers I knew told me this was a definite “No! No!” and I was told that this method of growing would eventually lead to the demise of my collection due to the spread of diseases such as various types of rot. I was told that if a suspended plant developed any sort of disease, this would be passed on via water dripping onto all the plants below it, and before I knew it I would have an epidemic on my hands. This then started me thinking: was this true or was it just that these other growers had never grown plants this way and were assuming this would happen?

I could, of course, continue with my idea and to counteract the risk of possible rot and other types of infections I could start out on a rigorous preventative spraying programme and bombard everything with fungicides on a regular basis; however, this went against my ideals of doing things naturally and avoiding the spraying of insecticides, fungicides and other toxins throughout my collection.

I reasoned that when these plants are in their natural habitat, there is no-one available to conduct a preventative spraying programme and although water drips from one plant to the other, whole colonies of plants aren’t systematically wiped out due to water dripping from the plants above. I asked myself why this doesn’t happen, and the only reason I could come up with was that it was the increased availability of circulating air around each of these plants growing “up off the ground“ in trees which never allowed them to remain wet for too long and therefore not providing the conditions required for the incubation of the fungal spores that cause rot. If this worked in nature, then why couldn’t it work on a much smaller scale in my own shade house? There was only one way to find out and that was to try it.

Apart from the plants too large to suspend (these are still grown on benches), I grow my smaller plants (10 cm and 13 cm plastic pot sizes) suspended from roof timbers above the benches using plastic pot hangers, of the type sold at our bromeliad society meetings. I have been doing this now in excess of ten years and can say that apart from there being a complete absence of rot (even during long periods of wet, cold weather ), the plants seem to love these conditions and are growing better than they ever did when on benches.

I must also say that although first impressions are of gross overcrowding, when you look more closely each plant has its own space with good air circulation, far better than could have been achieved on benches. If you have a space problem, I would advise you to give this method a try. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!


How many of us have had unprotected plants in the garden damaged by heat on exceptionally hot days? I expect we’ve all suffered the wrath of Mother Nature at one time or another. However, do you realise that even worse damage may occur when your plants are left in a closed up car on a hot day?

My first and only experience with this was when I grew orchids. I had taken a few plants to a friend’s place in Baulkham Hills some years ago on a reasonably hot day. On arrival I was told my friend wouldn’t be back for fifteen minutes and I was invited inside for a cool drink while I waited. Not thinking about the plants, I locked the car and accepted the invitation and went into the house to settle down for a cool drink and a chat. When my friend returned we chatted some more before proceeding out to the car to show him the plants I had brought him, only to be “stunned” by a box of badly damaged plants. Just in the space of about fifteen minutes or so they were severely cooked—I couldn’t believe my eyes!

After the initial shock and disappointment, I started to analyse why this had happened so quickly and now have the following information to share with you all by way of explanation. According to statistics, it doesn’t matter whether it’s orchids, bromeliads, children or pets, because when left in a closed up car on a hot day they will all suffer a similar fate.

The following information relating to elevated temperatures in closed up vehicles is provided by the NRMA at:

On a typical Australian summer day the temperature inside a parked car can be 30-40C hotter than outside the car. That means that on a 30C day, the temperature inside the car could be as high as 70C, and 75% of the temperature increase occurs within five minutes of closing the car. Having the windows down 5 cm causes only a slight decrease in temperature; with an outside temperature of around 30C. Research shows that the inside of a car can reach 78C in a closed car and 70C in a car with open windows.

The temperature and humidity inside the car begin to increase while the airflow decreases. As the temperature increases inside the car, a child can begin to develop heat stress and start to dehydrate.

The same thing will happen to pets and plants and as the temperature increases the condition worsens, with the ultimate end result being death.

Be warned: it doesn’t take very long for this damage to occur, so don’t leave your plants in a closed up car while you go to do other things as you’ll SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES. But, more importantly, don’t leave your pets, children or grandchildren in a similar situation.

(Reprinted from The BSGC [Bromeliad Society of Greater Chicago] News, March/April 2016, in turn reprinted from the September/October 1962 Bromeliad Society Bulletin.)

It has been fairly well established that the amount of light affects the colour of the leaves of many bromeliads. For example, in the native habitat of the plants, you see a vast difference in the amount of colour in the foliage of plants separated only by a few feet because of a difference in the amount of light. But that isn’t the whole story, either, for the chemical composition of the moving air that surrounds the bromeliads has something to do with colour too. In certain tropical areas where there are inactive volcanos, fumes containing various chemicals are often arising. Poas Volcano (in Costa Rica), although inactive, is constantly smouldering, with plumes of vapour rising from the crater, and in the near vicinity of the crater are found the most beautiful red bromeliads of all. Why? Several miles away the same species will be almost entirely green with perhaps tiny red markings similar to the red type found near volcanic areas. - Morris Henry Hobbs, New Orleans, Louisiana.

In the January-February 1961 issue of the Bulletin, mention was made that plants brought from the highlands to sea level lost their colour. It is very likely that the hot days and cold nights of the mountains had a lot to do with good colour and the change to sea level a lot to do with the loss of same. It is said that bromeliads grown in glasshouses here at Mt Tomah (Australia), which is 3,000 feet above sea level and which has a great temperature fluctuation, are better than those grown at Sydney which is at sea level. Another likely cause of colour change is that mountain soil is rich and acid and water is also acid, a fact which intensifies colour.

Billbergia nutans is grown here in pure gristed tree fern, including the heart, which makes a rich compost with acid content of pH5. This produces lovely pink foliage with yellow spots, a change from the usual character of this billbergia which is usually all green. During the cold months the colour goes back to light green. Billbergia decora is another bromeliad in which I have noted a colour change. This plant, kept in the glass house the year round, has silver and green foliage in the winter and dark bronze and silver during the summer months. In summer the temperature may range from 40F at night to 100F during the day. In this instance it would seem the extremes in temperature are conducive to good colouring.

Proper conditions are rather difficult to maintain at all times and in all places, but some attempt could be made to simulate the temperature changes found at high altitudes. Cooling the greenhouse at night and forcing the heat during the day might bring about some rather interesting variations in colour. W.B. Charley, Mt Tomah, Australia.

A note in the Bulletin for January-February 1961 called attention to a colour change reversible with illumination level, shown by a plant suspected to be a hybrid or variety of Neoregelia carolinae. The plant has since bloomed and shows characteristics of both carolinae and farinosa and so is tentatively identified as a hybrid between these species. Mr. Foster made this cross and named it Neoregelia ‘Morrisoniana’; apparently the cross has also been made elsewhere as my plant is of European origin, and the question arises whether that name should apply in this instance.

An opportunity arose to try some plants in a greenhouse, and this was one chosen. Under the more intense illumination an orange-red flush developed more or less over the whole plant and it is interesting to note that this colour also, at the higher illumination level, proved to be likewise labile. It has come and nearly disappeared several times during the course of the summer, as the prevailing weather for a week or so has been predominantly sunny or overcast. Both parent species can colour up in bright light, and the characteristic seems to be intensified in the hybrid.

Another plant has been found to show a similar behaviour in following variations of light intensity. Vriesea imperialis (now Alcantarea imperialis), green when received, turned red when exposed outdoors in a location where it received sunlight for about half of the day. At the approach of cold weather it was brought indoors and the red faded, but is now returning under the light received in a greenhouse.

A striking example of the effect of light on colour, but whether or not reversible I do not know, is encountered with Aechmea ‘Foster’s Favorite’. The foliage colour may be green, deep mahogany, light red or straw coloured, according to the amount of light it receives.

Blooming, too, has its effect on colour. On the one hand there is often the development of colour when flowering is imminent; on the other, changes may ensue when the process is complete. There is nothing surprising in the fading of bracts of, say, billbergias and aechmeas as they wither; but changes may also take place in parts that are still sound. The pink disappears completely from the blooming head of Tillandsia lindenii; the bright red rosette of Nidularium fulgens fades to flesh-colour; the foliage of ‘discolor’ plants may change to green on the old part that has stopped growing, so that it contrasts sharply with the developing offsets. - Roger K. Taylor, Baltimore, Maryland


Just two months to our Show in September and it’s perhaps time to start thinking about the plants you might like to enter into competition. I do hope that our newer members won’t be frightened off at the idea of competing because there have been some absolutely gorgeous plants entered into our monthly competitions in the Novice Section and I know that the public would love to see them! We will be holding a workshop geared toward helping you in this regard—at Lorraine and Fred Mirande’s home on Saturday, July 9—and also please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have at our meetings before our show date.

However, there is a difference between our monthly plant competitions and our September show, the main difference being that at our monthly meetings the placegetters are usually chosen on their “WOW” factor whereas at our annual Show they are judged more on Bromeliad Society International (BSI) considerations which are based more on cultural perfection. Some examples include: plant must be free of disease (scale, mealybug, etc.); plant should be centred in pot; pot must be clean (free of salt residue, moss and old stickers, etc.); any brown or dead leaves should be trimmed carefully with sharp scissors and be trimmed to the natural shape of the leaf, not just cut off; remove any debris (dead leaves, spider webs, etc.) from leaves and centre of plant; wipe leaves carefully with a damp cloth—do not use commercial leaf shine, milk, etc. (using Clensel in the water is a great help); if the plant is in flower remove any spent flowers carefully (tweezers if necessary). In other words, show that your plants have been given “Tender Loving Care” and not just pulled out of the garden direct onto the competition table.

Again, for our newer members, I feel that show time is a very good opportunity for our members to get to know each other better and there are all types of jobs going over the 3 days—from setting up the display and competition and sales tables (from 9.30 am 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 welcome—and could earn you a little extra pocket money—and we also need plants suitable for the display area. It goes without saying that we also need your lovely plants entered into competition as visitors love to see all of the different varieties and artistic arrangements using bromeliads—so, please, don’t be shy about bringing your plants for either competition or display, to help make this year’s Show very special!

A list of the different classes we will be using is printed on the back of this issue of Newslink and there will also be available at our next three meetings—and at our workshop in July—copies of the 4-page schedule, which again gives a list of the various classes, etc. and other details regarding our Show.

The workshop would also be a very good time for you to bring along any plants that you might have but are not quite sure whether or not they might be worthy to enter in the show, for at these workshops I have seen many a ‘sow’s ear’ turned into a ‘silk purse’!

Click HERE for Competition Schedule.

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Updated 08/10/16