Bromeliad Bird topiary at Epcot in Orlando

made of Cryptanthus and it revolves

Photo by Jim Boynton

September 2003 Newsletter

We have a real treat planned for the September meeting Terrie Bert from Sarasota will be our speaker. She is a past BSI director and a marine biologist. She spoke to FWCBS a year or so ago about Bromeliad plant diversity and did an excellent job. So we had to have her back by popular request. This time she will be speaking about Aechmeas.

Terrie will bring plants to sell, so we are requesting that members not bring their own plants to sell at this meeting.

Please do not forget that the meeting night is Tuesday, September 2nd. That is the first Tuesday of the month, at the Hope Presbyterian Church, 1698 S. Belcher Rd., Clearwater. The doors will open at 7:00 and the meeting will start at 7:30, hope to see you there.

Last Months Meeting

Rob Branch from Sarasota presented the program at last month's meeting. He spoke about landscaping with bromeliads and showed lots of slides from his own landscaping projects. Rob concentrated on plants that can take full sun in the landscape. His garden is truly a work of love and one that leaves people wondering if he has time to do anything else.

Bob brought a number of unusual plants to sell, and we want to thank him for all of his efforts on our behalf. We all went home with a renewed commitment to do more with our own landscape.


Ann Kavanaugh, the Boyntons, the Tarvers and others provided the refreshments for the August meeting.

The refreshments for the month of September will be Helen Dexter, Bob Dalzell, Fay O'Rourke, the Bankheads and Carol Schultz. The refreshment committee wants to thank them for signing up and looks forward to the goodies.

While you are at the meeting, please remember to stop by the front desk when you bring food to pick up your extra raffle ticket. You will also find the refreshment sign-up sheet at this desk for future months.

This year's extravaganza

This year’s Extravaganza, to be hosted by the Bromeliad Society of South Florida, will be held at the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center (500 SW 177 Avenue, Miami 33194) on November 15 and 16, with set up and registration on November 14. There will be both commercial and member sales; sellers will need an identification number. Email Ed Prince at edwardjprince@aol.com or send conventional mail to 11220 SW 107 Court, Miami, FL 33176-3902 (no phone calls please).

I am sure that we will hear more about this in the weeks to come. There will probably be special rates at the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. I believe that they have gambling at the reservation to provide extra entertainment to anyone so inclined. I have still not received any additional information about reservations on the reservation.


This month's newsletter seemingly slipped up on me. When the month starts on a Monday or a Tuesday, I have to get the newsletter out early, or so it seems. I hope that this gets to everyone on time. I rather casually looked at the calendar late on Sunday evening and panic set in. I have to get the newsletter out tomorrow. So a usually four day task will have to be compressed into one day. Because I have not even started and I will be working all day on Tuesday at a landscape nursery. And Tuesday is my target day for mailing. Hopefully everything will get done today and it can me mailed tomorrow which gives me one week lead time on the meeting. Don't let this month's meeting slip up on you too. It is going to be next Tuesday, September 2nd.

The following is an article that I found fascinating

This article appears on the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies website. Being into math and having taught some math (binary and hexidecimal) in computer courses, I found this very interesting. I hope that some others also find it interesting.


Believe It or Not

By: John Catlan

Look at any plant - tomato, strawberry or pineapple, count the number of petals, or the way the leaves are arranged. You will find them set out in pairs, threes, fives, eights or thirteens, but never fours. Plants don't like four.

Plants stick to numbers in the series 1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 where each number comes from adding the previous two together. The series is called The Fibonacci Sequence. Mathematicians love this string of numbers, as do plants. You will find these numbers in the five seed chambers you find when you cut across an apple, or the 34 or 55 spiral whorls in a sunflower head. We do not have four-leafed clover or a four-leafed anything else.


In the following, note how the Fibonacci Sequence seems to rule: the flowers of a pineapple and thus bromeliads have three petals.

When I seriously started to look at the shape of Neoregelias and what made the shape appealing and what was right for the plant, the work on pineapples was the bench mark to copy. Once you understand how leaf shape is formed you do not have to strip a plant, you can line up leaves and count, but I will explain in detail. The leaf phyllotaxy can be determined by removal of the leaves and marking the growth bud at the base of the leaf then noting the number of leaves which have to be removed before another leaf bud appears on a line on the stem extending vertically above the first number bud, and also noting the number of spirals that have been made around the stem. We find the leaf phyllotaxy is 5/13. The five is the number of spirals around the stem and thirteen the number of leaves removed in the five spirals until another bud, the fourteenth is found directly above bud number one.

When a pineapple is formed hormones change the phyllotaxy from 5/13 of the leaves to 8/21 of the fruit. In normal fruit the number of rows of each type of spiral is constant, there being eight of the long gently sloping rows and thirteen of short steep ones.

The fruit hormones cuts out and the phyllotaxy changes from 8/21 of the fruit to 5/13 of the leaves abnormalities in fruit and top development, such as double fruit, fan tops, multiple tops are the results of irregularities in these hormone driven phyllotaxis change.


Now wasn't that fascinating. My question is who took all of that time to figure out these mathematical relationships? I did know that almost all Bromeliad flowers have 3 petals and that is a characteristic of bromeliads.

After reading this article, I am going to be on the lookout for the number four in the plant nursery. I know that a four leafed clover is rare, but I did not know that anything with four leaves is rare. Just something to be on the lookout for, and if you have bromeliads in your collection that prove or disprove this theory, bring them to show and tell


  1. Invite guests to attend the FWCBS meetings
  2. Wear your nametags
  3. Bring plants for show and tell
  4. Bring plants for the raffle table
  5. Bring plants for the friendship table

Nominating committee looking for a few good men and women

The FWCBS nominating committee is looking for officers for next year. If you would like to be an officer for next year, please let someone on the board know. If you would consider being on the board, but do not want to be an officer, let us know also as there are some general board positions that also will probably be open.

Contact Fay or Ann and they will be glad to give you the details. I think that the committee reports in October and the elections are in November. The officers and board are installed at the December meeting and start their duties in January.



August 5 - FWCBS Meeting

September 2 - FWCBS Meeting

October 11-12 - USF Fall Plant Sale

November 8-9 - Caloosahatchee Show and Sale, Ft Myers

November 15-16 - FCBS Extravaganza

July 26 – August 2, 2004 World Conference, Chicago, IL


James Boynton, newsletter editor

Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society

994 Willowood Lane

Dunedin, Fl 34698