The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, February 8th – 1:00a.m.

February, 2009

How Many More Weeks of Winter?

President Joan Campbell – 672-7382

Vice President – Jerry O’Keefe – 407/767-2442

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Eve Krauth – 763-2084


How did everyone fare in the recent freezing weather?

Every year it seems as though we see at least one or two days of freezing weather. The cold snap that passed through our area recently was a little worse than normal and dropped temperatures below freezing in Port Orange each evening for four days! I noted a morning low temperature of 28 degrees F on Wednesday (1/21/09), 24 degrees on Thursday, 28 degrees on Friday and 30 degrees on Saturday. Fortunately, the weather man on Channel 2 has a pretty good record for predicting temperatures and he saw this coming far enough in advance to warn us. I spent most of the weekend before the freeze covering my plants with frost blanket material and, generally I think they survived the cold quite well but, you know, there’s always that plant that you forgot to cover and in this case it was a very large Vriesea fosteriana. I didn’t realize this until I began uncovering plants when the weather warmed up. It’s too soon to tell if this plant survived or not, but I should be able to report on it at the next meeting. I can report that many of my plants in the landscape didn’t do so well and have turned white and/or collapsed.. Think this was bad? Don’t forget the Christmas freeze in the mid-80s when temperatures got so low for such a long period of time that pipes froze and many large tropical trees didn’t survive…and then there were the freezes in the 70s that were so bad that large numbers of fish were killed in Spruce Creek and all of the mangroves and Australian pine trees were killed. We’re overdue for another killer freeze, so it would be good for everyone to have a freeze protection plan for their bromeliads.

This Month’s Meeting

Now here’s something different for a program – everyone has taken pictures of their plants at some time, either in bloom or out of bloom. This month we will have a "photo contest". Bring in your favorite bromeliad photos and we’ll discuss the pictures, the plants, and finally judge our favorite picture. Our Vice President assures me that there will be some interesting prizes as well. It sounds like it should be a lot of fun and a great way to learn about bromeliads and photography at the same time!

Places to visit –

There really aren’t many places in the U.S. where you can see a variety of bromeliads growing in the wild. Sure, there are places like the Central Florida theme parks where a number of varieties of Tillandsias have been glued to artificial trees to give the appearance of a native setting and many botanical gardens have bromeliads strategically placed to give an overall tropical appearance. And of course there are always a number of varieties of Guzmanias and Neoregelias to be found in hotel lobbies and airport waiting areas, but these are certainly not native plants and they are pretty far removed from their natural habitat (of course, I’m not really sure what a natural habitat might be for a tissue-cultured hybrid anyway – would it be a laboratory?). Fortunately, for those who want to see truly wild bromeliads in natural settings there are quite a number of places that you can visit in Florida and they are all within a few hours drive from your home. You just have to know where to look. We recently spent a day in the Merrit Island National Wildlife Reserve in Brevard County and were able to view at least 6 species of Tillandsias (maybe 7, but it’s tough to tell a juvenile T. fasciculata from T. utriculata when it is on a tree limb 10ft. over your head)– all within the confines of the park’s Visitor’s Center.

Mangrove islands in the park give an "other-worldly" appearance

First of all, I have to confess that looking at bromeliads wasn’t the purpose of our trip (we were doing some post-Christmas fishing - there is some really good fishing within the park and we had pretty good luck that day, but that’s another story altogether), but it was lunch time and the Visitor’s Center looked especially inviting, so we decided to visit it.

Trying to decide if that is T. fasciculata or T. utriculata

Tillandsia utriculata at the visitor’s center

There is a large, well planned-out parking area with a few picnic benches provided for those who want to linger. Inside the building the clean restrooms were especially welcome after spending some time roaming the Reserve. Once inside the air-conditioned building (take note of this for those who might want to visit in the heat of the Summer) we were surprised to see park staff present to answer questions and a large gift shop area that included displays of plants and animals to be found within the park as well as a very wide selection of bird-watching books. For those of you who aren’t bird-watchers, this is apparantly a well known destination and people travel great distances to observe our fine feathered friends. We saw many visitors throughout the park participating in this activity. Outside of the Center there is an extensive series of well-maintained boardwalks that lead the visitor around several ponds (look out for the alligators!) and a stand of hardwoods.

Boardwalk in the visitor’s center

It was along this boardwalk that we observed an apparantly healthy population of bromeliads attached to the tree limbs and vines climbing those trees. Happily, there were no obvious signs of the Mexican weevil here. Fallen plants could be seen on the ground, but they were there because the limbs they were attached to had fallen.

Tillandsia setacea

A cursory scan of the trees also did not detect scars of plants that had fallen and left their roots behind – another sure sign of damage from the weevil. Bromeliads observed during our visit included: Tillandsia setacea, Tillandsia recurvata, Tillandsia usneoides, Tillandsia bartramii, Tillandsia xfloridana, Tillandsia utriculata and, possibly Tillandsia fasciculata.We took a break from our fishing, ate our picnic lunch and took a number of pictures before eventually continueing on our way. I’ve got to say that this was really an unexpected pleasure and made for wonderful day’s outing, so I pass this on to you: If you are looking to get away from civilization for a few hours and would like to see Florida as it used to be, pack yourself a lunch and head on over to the Merit Island National Wildlife Reserve. You’ll find that you can see a wide variety of native plants (including bromeliads) and animals…and maybe catch a fish or two along the way!

Tillandsia xfloridana – courtesy of FCBS

Presidents Corner

25 sheets and 6 blankets later the Bromeliads and I survived the first winter cold snap.  I really must  get in touch with Betsy McCrory for frost cloth next year.

This month we are having a Photo Contest meeting.  Our vice president Jerry

O Keefe outlined the rules for the contest at the last meeting describing the three categories that you will be judging.  Be sure your photos are no larger than 4x6.

Please remember to bring your entrys.  Prizes will be awarded.

      See you there.     Joan    

…and by the way

Don’t forget to bring plants in for Show and Tell. Everyone really enjoys this part of the meeting, so if you have a bromeliad in bloom or one that you would just like to talk about bring it with you for the Show and Tell portion of the meeting.

Dues for the New Year…

are now being received by the Treasurer. If you haven’t renewed, bring cash or a check to the meeting and Eve will be sure to mark you as a good citizen, paid in full FECBS member. Don’t let your membership lapse!

Upcoming Events:

Jan. 31, 2009 – Annual garage sale fundraiser for the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs at the Finney Garden Center 9 – 2pm. Please donate items that you think may sell-including plants.

Feb. 14-15, 2009 Tropical Ranch Botanical Gardens. 1 mile west of I-95 in Stuart. Mark Peters’ Talk and Walk: Rare & Unique Crotons. Free admission.

March 21-22, 2009 Spring Plant Sale at Leu Gardens in Orlando. Free Admission 9am-5pm

March 21 (9am-6pm) & 22 (10am-5pm), 2009 – 19th Annual Spring Garden Festival at Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville. 4700 SW 58th Dr. Free parking, shuttle buses. (note-the wrong date for this event was reported in last month’s newsletter).

April 4, 5, 2009

Broward County Bromeliad Society annual show and sale at the Plantations Women’s Club – more details to follow as they become available.

April 4, 2009

Volusia County Master Gardener’s Spring Sale. Half day only – at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. 8:30am-noon

Aprill 11, 2009

Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies quarterly meeting – to be hosted by the Central Florida Bromeliad Society at the site of this year’s Extravaganza.

April 25, 26, 2009

Sarasota Bromeliad Society show and sale at Selby Gardens in Sarasota


May 9,10, 2009

Central Florida Bromeliad Society annual Mother’s Day show and sale

…and looking even farther ahead:

November 13th – 15th

Bromeliad Extravaganza, hosted by the Central Fl. Bromeliad Society at the Orlando Renaissance Hotel.