The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, December 14th – 1:00p.m.

December, 2003

Christmas Party - 2003!

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


I hope everyone can make it to our annual Christmas party at the Finney Garden Center (our usual meeting place). This is always a lot of fun with plenty of good food (you all are excellent cooks!), and some great plants in the plant gift exchange. Please note that the time is one half hour earlier than normal – we begin at 1:00 p.m. instead of 1:30. We started this last year since some folks can get pretty hungry by 1:30. We’re asking each person to bring food. You can also expect to receive a phone call so that we can anticipate what you may be bringing – we don’t want everyone bringing the same food (there are just so many lima bean and liver casseroles we can tolerate).

Just like in past years, we will be having a Christmas Plant Exchange. These are always fun! Bring a nice bromeliad or some other plant that you think the other members will be interested in and wrap, box, or bag it so that prying eyes can’t tell what it is. We’ll line the gifts up on a table and everyone who brings a plant for the exchange will receive a ticket. Tickets will be drawn one at a time and the owner of that ticket number will get to select from the wrapped gift-plants on a table. He or she then unwraps the plant and tells the rest of the group what type of plant it is. Everyone who brings a gift will get to select a gift! Bring family, friends - maybe even potential new members. Plan on having a relaxing afternoon with some good food, good company and, of course, nice plants!

Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens

Last month we put in a work day at Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens in Port Orange and, although it was a dreary, rainy day we still had a nice turn-out. An unexpected pleasure was the chamber music carrying over from a wedding taking place in the gardens at the same time. Thank you everyone who helped out! The bromeliad section of the gardens is looking better and better and the Sugar Mill folks have been very appreciative of the work that we have done.

We didn’t have time to get the word out, but we were invited to have a table and sell plants at an informal tea at the gardens on the 23rd of last month. Despite the short notice, we had 6 members attend and sold over $50 worth of plants in just 2 hours – not bad! This was the first time the gardens had put on an event like this and it was very well received. I think we can expect to see a similar sale next year with more attendance by the public.

Tales from the Web:

Will the ‘real’ Billbergia pyramidalis please stand up!…

For those of us who enjoy learning about bromeliads (and I guess that includes just about everyone reading this newsletter), the Internet is a treasure trove of information. If you don’t have access to the Web yet, you really should give some thought to taking that plunge.

Recently an article by the Cultivar Registrar for the BSI - Derek Butcher of Australia, appeared on the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies web site ( concerning Billbergia pyramidalis. I think we all know this plant. For many of us this was the very first bromeliad that we encountered and one that provided the spark for a continued interest in bromeliads. A beautiful bloomer and just a great landscape plant for this area, B. pyramidalis has always been both a fascinating and enigmatic plant to me. For instance, one of my neighbors (the head of the county’s mosquito control department) swears that B. pyramidalis harbors more mosquitos than any of the other bromeliads in cultivation. Why is that? He feels that it’s more than just the fact that this is a tank-type bromeliad that holds a fair amount of water and is convinced that there’s something about the plant itself that causes it to be such a successful mosquito breeder. Maybe he’s on to something?

Then there’s that business of descriptions of a form of B. pyramidalis existing from the mid-1800’s that refer to totally red petals on the inflorescence. The next time your B. pyramidalis blooms, look closely at the inflorescence (be quick about it though – the bloom doesn’t last long!). Although it goes by the nickname of ‘Summer torch’ (a reference, no doubt to the red flowers and bracts) the tips of those flowers are always blue or violet – never entirely red. Mr. Butcher has been unable to find any plants matching the totally red flowered description and after an exhaustive search, has come to the conclusion that such a plant never existed!

Then there’s the variegated form of B. pyramidalis which had been known for years and years as B. pyramidalis var.striata. I’ve never understood the relationship between this and the green leaved form that we’re all familiar with. This variegated plant blooms in the winter, (does that make this ‘Winter Torch’?) and the bloom is quite different in color and appearance from the entirely green leaved form. Even the leaf texture and covering of trichomes is different in the striated form, so what’s going on here? In recognition of this, the Cultivar Registrar, has now proposed that this plant be renamed B. ‘Foster’s Striate’, since it may be linked to plants that Mulford Foster first grew from seed…or not... After all, Foster’s plant had white variegations, while the form seen commonly today is more of cream or yellowish color. When did the white variegations turn to cream? Hmmm… or are they even the same plant? My money is on this plant being a hybrid. Plants of the striated form in my yard came from a collector in New Smyrna Beach and have looked the same for at least the past 30 years, so I really don’t think that there is any sort of mutation going on.

And then, to further confuse the issue, every now and then B. ‘Foster’s Striate" (formerly B. pyramidalis var. striata ) produces a pup with no variegation. You would expect that this would mean that the plant would go back to a plain green-leaved form, but nooooo! It can’t be that simple. Instead, we get a plant with cream or yellowish colored leaves, blueish at the base that also blooms in the winter (did I mention that the bloom only vaguely resembles that of B. pyramidalis?). I’ve found that these plants show no trace of variegation and further generations rarely show any sign of the variegation returning. Butcher proposes calling this form B. ‘Gloria’.

Had enough yet? There’s more! We musn’t forget the albomarginated form B. ‘Kyoto’- widely grown and highly regarded, but of uncertain parentage (I’ve heard that said of some politicians as well), another albomarginated form traced to Julian Nally, and still another variegated form now to be known as B. ‘Julian Nally Beadle’. It’s a fascinating puzzle. I’m glad that Mr. Butcher has taken such an interest in solving it – and I have no doubt that he eventually will. Meanwhile, I look forward to following the progress on this and other bromeliad puzzles as reports are posted on the Internet. What’s that? You don’t have access to the web yet? Christmas is just around the corner and the time will never be better for making that computer purchase, so start making your list for Santa now!

Looking ahead:

1/10/04 – Quarterly meeting of the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies. This will be hosted by FECBS and will be at the Thurrott’s house in Port Orange. This is a luncheon meeting and we could use some help in getting the food together and in the clean-up.

1/11/04 January’s meeting – There was a typo in last month’s newletter – we didn’t really expect everyone to turn out on New Year’s Day for a meeting…although it would have been worth it to hear George Aldrich’s program on his most recent collecting trip to Peru. The meeting date is 1/11/04 (not 1/1/04 as previously reported). This will be an opportunity to 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!

1/12/04 – FECBS will be hosting the monthly meeting of the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs (guess where the leftover food from 1/10/04 is going?)

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!

August 11-14/04 – Bromeliad World Conference in Chicago


Below: Work-day at Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens in Port Orange: George and Irene Aldrich, Linda Stagnol, Wendy Hollingsworth and Barbara Fink


New member Jackie Harrington and Sugar Mill’s Jim Vanover


Some of the results of our labors: