Click here to see enlargement of front cover GROWING BROMELIADS
The Bromeliad Society of Australia Inc
Edited by Barry E. Williams
Second Edition, Kangaroo Press Pty Ltd
ISBN 0-86417-336-9

"The aim has been to provide an insight into bromeliads from the viewpoint of the practical horticulturist, and whilst it is a modest attempt at being a text book on some aspects of bromeliads and their culture, it is not intended to be a scientific publication."

The above is from the introduction of this 112 page book. There are 95 color plates, several black and white photographs and numerous line drawings.

This book starts out with a brief discussion of origin, distribution and ecology. Nothing new here really, but does make the point of the rapid destruction of habitat. The second chapter goes into a brief history of the introduction of bromeliads into horticulture. There is an interesting section on the introduction of bromeliads into Australia and New Zealand towards the end of the chapter. The last section is a brief mention of some of the major hybridizers in Australia and New Zealand.

The next chapter goes into the bromeliad family as a whole. It breaks down each subfamily into its respective genera. A very nice feature here as well as throughout the book, is that there is phonetic pronunciation next to each name. This is very useful for those who struggle with the Latin names.

Where to Grow Bromeliads is the next chapter. This is a good discussion on just that, where to grow bromeliads. It covers both indoor and outdoor cultivation as well that of shade houses and green houses. It presents several ideas on alternative houses for bromeliad culture.

From there the book goes into each of the main genera. This is done in alphabetical order. Each chapter starts with a brief discussion of the genera, including cultural notes and habitat information. This is followed by examples of species in the genera. The species lists are a bit short, covering the most common species found in cultivation. The discussions of each species listed is very well done, giving specific habitat and appearance information. I only wish more species were listed.

Chapter 15 deals with lesser known genera. The person who has been even moderately interested in bromeliads may argue that what is listed here should be considered lesser known. For example Catopsis, Orthophytum, Pitcairnia and Hohenbergia I would consider pretty common. This could be attributed to the fact that a lot has changed in the 10 years since the first publishing of this book.

The next chapter covers propagation. This is a very worth while chapter. It covers vegetative propagation, seed propagation and hybridizing. The information on seed propagation is very good and from it, the novice can get enough information to start seed themselves.

Chapter 17 concerns the biology of bromeliads. This chapter has good basic information on bromeliad biology. It covers how bromeliads have been able to adapt so well to some really harsh environmental conditions.

The following chapter, Variegation in Bromeliads, is most interesting. It discusses the causes of variegation, types of variegation and how to propagate for variegation. It also stresses the difficulty in producing and maintaining variegated plants and how they are much sought after by collectors.

Click here to see enlargement of back cover The last two chapters deal with pest and diseases of bromeliads. This is very useful information. Included are various means of combating these problems and how to avoid them in the first place.

The appendices are very good as well, though they are biased towards Australia/New Zealand. There are list of bromeliad societies and nurseries found down under. I don't know how many of these still exist today. These are followed by a bibliography. Then comes a nice list of bigeneric hybrids followed by a list of genera and a glossary.

This book will make a fine addition to any bromeliad enthusiasts library. While not complete, it contains much information for the bromeliad horticulturist. For the beginner, this book has just about everything you need to know to get started. Since the classification of genera and species is still in such a state of flux, there is out-dated information in here as well, but if the reader is aware of these changes, then there should be no problems. The Australian Bromeliad Society should be very proud of this effort. It is a very well done book, and the best part is that the book is still in print.

Rusty Luthe
Telescope System Specialist, James Clerk Maxwell Telescope
Mauna Kea Hawaii
"If it's not one thing it's another......"