The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, November 9, 2003 – Sugar Mill Gardens

November, 2003

Winter is fast approaching!

President Mike Fink – 386/673-5450

Vice President – Linda Stagnol – 386/760-6842

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


There’s a definite hint of winter in the air! The days are noticeably shorter now and the humidity is much lower than what we have seen this summer. Will we have a cold winter or a mild one? No one can say for certain, so you should be planning for the worst!

This month’s meeting:

Sugar Mill Gardens:

Sugar Mill Gardens was so pleased with the work that we did in the Spring on the bromeliad beds in the Gardens that they offered to install a plaque recognizing our work. Like most garden projects, there is always more work to do, so this month we are asking everyone to pitch in. Wear your old cloths, bring some gloves and let’s go to work on making another one of the bromeliad beds more presentable! Our president got the ball rolling on this and I think that we all would like to continue with this worthwhile community effort. We’ll provide refreshments. There’s plenty of work for everyone (don’t fight now!) and the more members who help out, the faster and easier it will be. See you there!

Directions to Sugar Mill Gardens:


When traveling from I-95, take the Port Orange exit ramp (exit 85), go east on Route 421 (Dunlawton )to Nova Rd.(Route 5-A). Turn to the left (north) on Nova Rd, turn right (east) on Herbert Street at the traffic light, this road will fork to the left and becomes Old Mill Road. Follow the signs to the gardens.
When traveling on U.S. 1, go west on Herbert Street, which is one block north of Dunlawton Bridge, and following the signs to the gardens.

Extravaganza plans cancelled for this year

Through no fault of the South Fl. Bromeliad Society, this year’s Extravaganza will be not be held in November as previously reported. It seems that there is too much competition for rooms on the date that had been selected and the hotel/casino would not honor a previous commitment. An option that was examined was to postpone the event until mid to late January, but that began to conflict with plans for the ’05 Extravaganza that are already well underway. The Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies put the issue to a vote at their October meeting in Boca Raton and, after considerable discussion, the majority of member societies represented decided that it would be best to cancel the Extravaganza for this year. Next year’s event will be hosted by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society and will coincide with their 50th anniversary. FWCBS is the oldest active bromeliad society in the state. We’ll pass along the details as they become available.

Bromeliads from A to Z:

This month the plan was to discuss genera beginning with the letter ‘C’ since in previous issues we have reviewed the A’s and the B’s. It wasn’t long after beginning to pull material together for this article that I began to think that this would have to be a multi-part article since there are so many bromeliad genera beginning with this letter. I think it will fit though – we just won’t mention the more obscure genera that you probably won’t come across anyway! Let’s start with Canistrum. The derivation of the name is a little clouded since this genus has variously been described as originating from the Greek kanos which means basket or the Latin canistra for little basket. In either event, the reference is to the cluster of bracts and flowers on the end of the inflorescence - somewhat resembling a basket of flowers. For many of the plants in this group a more apt description would probably be to say that the inflorescence looks rather like a tulip or lily rising from the rosette of spiny leaves.

This is a small group (10 listed species per J. Boardman-Brom. Society of Central Fl. newsletter V.23, No.8) of generally quite large plants, not often seen in cultivation. Several of the smaller species are very attractive(Canistrum fosteriana and Canistrum triangulare immediatley come to mind), however the large diameter of the others with their rosettes of long leaves heavily edged in teeth make most of this group of bromeliads unsuitable for hobbyists. All but one of these plants are native to Brazil (one is found in Trinidad). Cultural requirements are generally similar to those of the Neoregelias and Nidulariums, ie. shady, warm, moist conditions but these plants are not quite as cold-hardy. Like Nidularium, these are slow growers and of limited interest to commercial operations.

Continuing through the ‘C’s we come to Catopsis. This is an interesting group of plants that have never seemed to generate much of a fan club – probably because they are rather unobtrusive. They’re not large and spiny like some bromeliads and they generally don’t have a brightly colored bloom, but there is something about this genus that makes most of us want to have at least one representative species in our collections. Catopsis plants are usually recognized by their soft, spineless and waxy-green leaves. Flowers are typically borne on a branched inflorescence and are white, yellow or something in between. Florida has several native Catopsis species – including Catopsis floribunda, Catopsis nutans and the relatively large Catopsis berteroniana, but it is far more likely that you will encounter non-Florida species in plant sales and auctions.

…And still another genus beginning with ‘C’ – Cryptanthus. The origins of names have always interested me. I couldn’t find with any certainty whether Canistrum was from a Greek or Latin origin and now we have a group with a composite name – half Greek, half Latin! In this case we take the Latin word for ‘hidden’ (crypt) add it to the Greek word for ‘flower’ (anthos) and, Voila!… (why not include a little French as well?) we have Cryptanthus, an interesting group of mostly small, terrestrial bromeliads native to the eastern portions of Brazil. The name isn’t entirely appropriate since the flowers really aren’t ‘hidden’ and are usually found in the center of the rosette. It’s probably more accurate to say that flowers in this group of plants are "easily overlooked" but the Greek and Latin forms of these words don’t sound quite as nice as Cryptanthus. When Padilla published her book ‘Bromeliads’ in 1973 she noted 48 species and varieties belonging to this genus. Many more species of Cryptanthus have been discovered since that time and there are numerous Cryptanthus hybrids and cultivars now registered.

Plants in this group have a very characteristic low rosette of leaves that are usually colored or banded in interesting patterns. The low form and symmetry of many species of Cryptanthus gives rise to the nickname ‘Earth Stars’. Surprisingly, however it is a lack of symmetry in some varieties (often a mature plant appears oblong when viewed from above) that can confuse flower show judges unfamiliar with these bromeliads. Also surprising to many is the extensive root systems that can form on these plants. Clearly not an epiphyte, Cryptanthus plants are not usually recommended for mounting on driftwood but should instead be given plenty of room in a pot for good root develoment.

Recently the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies was made aware of a report of the Mexican weevil attacking Cryptanthus. While certainly not welcome news, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since we would expect that the thick, fleshy, almost succulent leaves of a Cryptanthus should provide a tempting repast for a hungry weevil looking for a good meal!

Looking ahead:

December’s meeting – 12/14/03 will be our annual Christmas party and plant exchange. Look for details in the next newsletter.

January’s meeting – 1/1/04 will be a program on George Aldrich’s most recent collecting trip to Peru. See slides of bromeliads in their native habitat. George will also be bringing plants for sale, so mark your calendar now and don’t miss this one!

March 11-14/2004 – Everybody’s Flower Show

at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center. We won’t have a sales booth, but everyone should enter a bromeliad or more in the judged flower show. We also will be putting together an educational display on bromeliads, so please volunteer to help – we can always use another hand!


The following is an "unofficial" summary of the material discussed at the last Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies meeting – We are grateful to Karen Andreas for providing this information.

Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies

Meeting Summary

October 11, 2003

The meeting was hosted by the Boca Raton Bromeliad Society and was held at the home of Joel Meisner.

Dr. Howard Frank gave a report on the Mexican bromeliad weevil project. The flies are reproducing in Honduras; there is now difficulty in getting them into this country because of the airport security provisions of the Homeland Security Act. Dr. Frank explained that this constraint affects all agricultural research programs, not only the weevil project, and the University of Florida is working to find a solution. After his report to the Council, Dr. Frank went to Osceola County where he found evidence of the weevil in the native bromeliad population. The weevil is now moving northward through the interior of the state.

Polly Pascal announced that there will be a Bromeliad Judges Symposium after the first of the year, probably in January. Judges are required to attend a symposium at least once every three years to keep current with judging standards and other issues that affect judges’ work.

The membership survey printed in the last newsletter was inadvertently truncated. It was also printed on the inside back cover, with the members’ name and address on the mailing label on the other side, thus defeating the privacy feature of the survey. Representatives decided to publish the survey one more time in the next newsletter, on a page that can be removed without losing any newsletter content. Representatives are asked to encourage their members to look for the survey and to respond.

After much discussion, the annual Extravaganza, to be hosted by the Bromeliad Society of South Florida, has been cancelled for 2003. Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society will host the 2004 Extravaganza in conjunction with the society’s fiftieth anniversary. There was a suggestion that the idea of holding the Extravaganza only in years when there is no BSI World Conference be discussed at the FCBS member society meetings. That will be a topic of discussion at the next FCBS meeting in January, so please raise this issue with your members and get their feedback.

The dates for the next World Bromeliad Conference in Chicago have been changed. The new dates are August 13-15 with some events (such as the Taxonomic Seminar and the BSI Board of Directors meeting) to be held earlier in the week.

Karen Andreas is writing a series of articles about the Florida Council web site, its contents and how to use it. If your newsletter editors want to use those articles, they can contact her at

Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society will host the next Council meeting (this will be on the second Saturday of January ’04 – JCT).