by Alan Herndon
for a Bromeliad clone preservation project
It has been
nearly 60 years since the Bromeliad Society International (BSI) was
formed and almost 50 years since the Bromeliad Society of South Florida (BSSF)
was organized as an
affiliate of the BSI. During this period, bromeliads have gone
American in local stores.
Along with the
shift from collectible to commodity, large numbers of species were
imported and huge numbers of hybrids were created to meet the demands of the
mass market. As newer hybrids took over an ever larger share of the market,
clones began to disappear from sight. Many examples can be cited by people
bromeliads 30-40 years ago. For example, we no longer have any idea where to
find Aechmea fulgens discolor ‘Magnificent’, if it still exists. Nor have we seen
pineliana minuta in recent years. The small form of Aechmea tillandsioides, that
commonly grown in southern Florida 30 years ago, now seems to be represented
by the albomarginate clone.
Note that the
term clone is used both to describe genetically distinct collections of
species and different hybrids. In general, a clone represents a group of
identical plants. These clones are commonly produced by asexual reproduction
(i.e., not grown from
seed). Each collection of a species in the wild almost always
represents a genetically distinct clone. In the same way, virtually every
produced by crossing distinct clones of a single species (Aechmea chantinii is a
example) represents the start of a new distinct clone. In practice, we are not
genotype plants, we will only recognize clones where the genetic difference
itself in the appearance of the plant. The same considerations apply to hybrid
We are only concerned with clones that differ in appearance.
Some of the old
clones have undoubtedly disappeared, but bromeliads are a
remarkably hardy group of plants, and many of the older plants may still exist
odd corners of small (or large) collections. As time passes, identification of
clones becomes harder as labels are lost in the normal course of events and
fade. There is also a slow but steady loss of plants in even the best maintained
collections. Natural disasters (windstorms and floods, in particular) can lead
catastrophic losses in both plants and the labels attached to the plants.
most serious risk of wholesale loss in older collections occur when the owners
move or become too ill to care for their plants.
In some cases, it
is important to have these older clones in hand. For instance, I have
not found plants comparable to the plants we used to call Neoregelia ampullacea
ampullacea and Neoregelia ampullacea tigrina. Without the plants, I cannot even
how they relate to the Neoregelia ampullacea complex as understood today.
We propose a
project to preserve these old bromeliad clones. The project will focus
on providing information on what clones are available and who is growing them.
Specific goals include developing a database of the different bromeliad clones
cultivation, create a list of individuals growing each clone, and provide a
for trading and selling these clones among interested growers. Clones most in
of being lost in cultivation will be identified in the database.
The database will
ultimately include all identifiable bromeliad clones, old or new.
Clones will be identified by comparison to old photos and descriptions whenever
possible. Older growers, such as Nat Deleon, will also be pressed into service
with the identification of these plants. The initial priority will be
older clones, since these are most likely to have dwindled in cultivation.
Societies will play a crucial role in this project. Many desirable
clones are probably waiting to be found in older collections where labels have
mixed and lost over the years. Knowledgeable local society members will be
to ferret out these plants and establish their true identities. Local societies
need to keep track of the individual growers in the database so all interested
persons can be notified when a collection rich in desirable older clones is about to be
dispersed. Finally, local Bromeliad Societies could help preserve the more
clones by including them in their plant distribution programs.
database should be open to all interested parties. Small commercial
growers who would be willing to grow a clone that sells five to ten plants a
find the database provides the necessary market. Collectors might find the
provides a way to exchange duplicates for money or other plants.
There should also
be a membership network of people most interested in growing
these plants. The primary aim is to have each clone established in more than one
collection to guard against loss. Membership would be open to anyone willing to
follow a few rules. Members would have to follow strict guidelines for labeling
and ensuring labels are not lost. The central database would include a unique
identifier for each clone that could be used in labeling so individual growers
not have to maintain the complete record associated with the clone. All members
would agree to provide a minimum number of free offsets (perhaps 5) yearly for
benefit of the project (other offsets may be traded or sold for the benefit of
member). Finally, in the event of a natural disaster befalling one member, other
members would be expected to help restock the collection of the affected member.
Benefits to members would include a ready source of information on all clones in
database and a directory of potential sources for desired plants. Members would
receive advance notice when another members collection (or a significant part
thereof) becomes available. Finally, members could expect assistance in
their collections from disasters.
preservation project goes statewide
At the 10 Jan
2009 meeting of the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies (FCBS)
representatives, Nat DeLeon urged extension of the clone preservation project
currently underway at BSSF to all areas of the state. The proposal was accepted
it is time to move forward.
daunting size of the overall project, we would like to start with a more
reasonable subproject. We will first attempt to locate and assess the abundance
of hybrids and species cultivars produced in the Miami area. This includes plants
produced by Ralph Davis, Bob & Catherine Wilson, Gary Hendrix, Bullis
and Nat DeLeon.
listing of the plants we are searching for (by hybridizer) was compiled
from the Bromeliad Cultivar Registry. We know there are errors and lots of
omissions in this list, but it provides a convenient starting point. If you have
corrections or additions to this list, please send them along.
Alegria, Big Harv*, Black, Blue Moon, Blue Tango*, Burning Bush*, Hacienda,
Jubilee, Little Harv*, Marcelino, Patricia, Peaches ‘N Cream*, Peggy, Pica, Pink
Banners, Pink Passion, Shining Light, Tropic Torch, Yellowstone
Guzmania Ice Cream, Ice Milk, Poinsettia, Van Horne, Yellow
Antigua, Bailey, Ballerina, Buckingham, Carmen, Carousel,
Chardonnay, First Prize,
Fairchild, Flamenco, Gespacho*, Isabel, Jeffrey Block*, Kiti,
Wenzel, Las Vegas,
Little Rose*, Lois Bullis, Mackaboy, Magic Palette, Marsala,
Maya, Medium Rare,
Mocha Mint, Mojave Beauty, Moonshine*, Patricia, Peggy
Bailey, Prince, Puerto
Rico, Purple Rain, Red Pepper, Rivera, Sparkle, Spots,
Super Fireball, Tossed Salad*,
Vriesea Bananas, Caramba, Herb, Mint Julep, Queen Mariae, Sensation.
Anonymous, Bill Hobbs, Dubiosa, Ignotus, Kashkiniana, Morris Henry
Neomea Memoria Ralph Davis, Ralph Davis, Whisky Street, Neoregelia All Red, Crown Prince, Cup of Flame, Davis’ Pink, Green Wine, Karen,
Little Punk, Mac Mar, Malibu, Pink Felt, Ralph Davis, Red Best, Rio Ochre,
Ruby, Ruby Lee, Spotted
Maroon, Takemura Grande, Takemura Princeps, Ti Di
Nidularium RaRu, Red Queen, Ruby Lee
Vriesea Bamboo Hybrids
Candy Stripe*, chantinii DeLeon*, Coppertone, David Barry*, Eileen,
Ananas Candy Stripe
Dyckia Yellow Glow
Guzmania Cherry Smash, Dubbonett, lingulata Superb, Shining Brightly, Spirit
Star Fire, Wild Cherry
Neophytum Gary Hendrix, Ralph Davis
Neoregelia Fraseana, Inferno, Orange, Purple Haze, Royal Prince,
Spiralis, Spots and
Dots, Stormy Weather, Super Fireball, Thunderclouds
Nidularium Sao Paulo*
Nidumea Midnight, Superstar
Vriesea Blaze, Eileen, Juno, Perfida, Stoplight
Guzmania Candy Corn
Neophytum Firecracker, Shiraz
Neoregelia Amethyst, Angel Face,* Ariel*, Aurora, Avila, Big Mac, Bob Read’s
Lad, Butterball, Cheers*, Clover, Domino*, Echo, Fiesta, Gemini,
Granada*, Grape, Green
Apple*, Joseph’s Coat, Medusa, P (yes, just P), Peppermint, Pinwheel,
Prince, Purple Haze, Red Clover, Red Waif*, Redneck, Sailor’s
Lee*, Shamrock, Tar Baby*, Tinta, Twinkle, Windemere, Yamamoto
Orthophytum Blaze, Copper Penny*
If you have any
of these plants, or think you have any of these plants. Please bring
to a monthly meeting if you think they are not commonly found in
known to be available commercially are noted with an *. Please let us
plants are available.)
Our lists are
clearly incomplete for Bullis Bromeliads and, especially, Nat DeLeon.
have hybrids not on the above list that you think came from either of