Bromeliad icons in old publications, part 4.
Article Type: Essay
Subject: Bromeliaceae (Research)
Bromeliaceae (Portrayals)
Scholarly periodicals (Research)
Botanical research
Author: Dijkgraaf, Leo
Pub Date: 05/01/2009
Publication: Name: Journal of the Bromeliad Society Publisher: Bromeliad Society International Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Bromeliad Society International ISSN: 0090-8738
Issue: Date: May-June, 2009 Source Volume: 59 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Germany Geographic Code: 4EUGE Germany
Accession Number: 219822501
Full Text: Continuing my quest for drawings of bromeliads in 19th century Germany I came across several botanists having "Friedrich" as one of their first names. Professor of philosophy, botany and zoology in Leipzig was Eduard Friedrich Poeppig who traveled between 1827 and 1832 in Chile, Peru and Amazonian Brazil from where he send thousands of plants to the herbaria of Leipzig, Berlin and Vienna. Descriptions and illustrations of the plants were published at Leipzig by Poeppig and Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher in 1835, 1838 and 1845 in a work titled Nova Genera ac Species Vlantarum, 3 volumes with 100 copper engravings each. The drawings were made by Poeppig and among the plates were 4 bromeliads, including several new species. There are monochrome and coloured copies of it. One plate has been printed in this Journal illustrating an article with the biography of Poeppig (Weber 1981).

Heinrich Friedrich Link, Friedrich Klotzsch and Friedrich Otto were the authors of a very attractive work in 8 parts, bound in 2 volumes dated 1841 and 1844 and published in Berlin: Icones Vlantarum Rariorum Horti Regii Botanici Berolinensis. Link was the successor of Karl Ludwig Willdenow as professor of botany in Berlin. Klotzsch and Otto were also botanists from Berlin. This publication contained 48 handcoloured lithographed plates of high quality--drawing and lithography by Carl Friedrich Schmidt--from rare plants in the royal botanic garden of Berlin. That garden was situated in the Potsdamer Strasse and had at the time with 14000 plant species the biggest collection in Europe.

Vuya altensteinii (Figure 1) was a newly described bromeliad collected by M. Moritz and named after secretary of state von Altenstein; Charles Lemaire later made the new combination Vitcairnia altensteinii. This species is endemic to northern central Venezuela where it grows terrestrially in moist cloud forests at altitudes from 1000-1900 m. Large quantities of this plant can be found at some point along the road from Maracay to Choroni in National Park Henri Pittier. The larger variety Vuya altensteinii var. gigantea described by W Hooker some years later is known only from the type collection and is probably a luxuriant cultivar according to Lyman Smith (Smith & Downs 1974), who described in 1966 a variety with an inflorescence smaller in size: Vitcairnia altensteinii var. minor.

The other bromeliads in Icones Vlantarum Rariorum were Vitcairnia ringens, also a new species, Acanthostachys strobilacea and Tillandsia vitellina (Figure 2), the latter a plant imported from Venezuela by E. Otto (not the same as Friedrich Otto) in 1840. The colour of the flower of this Tillandsia was described as that resembling the marsh marigold, the latin word "vitellinus" meaning egg-yolk yellow (Stearn 2004). As so often happened, the new species bit the dust; it turned out to be the same as Tillandsia nutans Swartz from 1788 and is currently known as Catopsis nutans (Swartz) Grisebach..



A very ambitious publication came from David Nathanael Friedrich Dietrich, who because of his high graphic productivity was called the "polygraph of Jena". From 1831-1854 he made text and plates for the 15 volumes of Flora Universalis in colorierten Abbildungen. It contained 4760 plates (some bromeliads) and was followed in 1849 and 1861 by two more series with 110 plates.


Of greater importance is the treatment of the Bromeliaceae by Carl Mez in Flora Brasiiensis from 1891-1894. The complete flora (1840-1906) was edited by C. F. Ph. von Martius, later A. W Eichler and I. Urban, and was published in 40 volumes in 130 parts with a total of 20733 pages and 3811 monochrome plates. In volume 3(3) the 405 species of Brazilian bromeliads were described, illustrated with 64 plates. This work has been reprinted recently by Cramer Verlag in Germany. That same publisher reprinted Nova Genera ac Species Vlantarum and also the first 3 volumes of Flora Peruviana et Chilensis (annotated by F. Stafleu), by H. Ruiz and J. A. Pavon originally published from 1798-1802 in Madrid. Of the 325 monochrome plates in this flora of plants from Peru and Chili there are 17 of bromeliads (in volume 3). Many drawings from these and other classic works were used by Lyman Smith to illustrate his Flora Neotropica Monograph on Bromeliaceae.


We leave Germany now and cross the border into The Netherlands. Two long-term periodicals in that country were Sempervirens and FloraEa but in respect of coloured plates of bromeliads they had little to offer. Thanks to Willem Hendrik de Vriese however there are some plates of bromeliads published in The Netherlands to report on. De Vriese was professor of botany at the universities of Amsterdam and Leiden and his name lives on in the genus Vriesea. He has sometimes been confused with Hugo de Vries, also a professor of botany in Amsterdam, but half a century later and famous for his genetic research of plants and the resulting theory on mutations. Both men have worked at the Hortus Botanicus of Amsterdam, also known as the Plantage Hortus, a botanical garden still in existence today. De Vriese edited the 3 volumes of Tuinbouwflora van Nederland en zijne overzeesche bezittingen (Agricultural flora of the Netherlands and its overseas territories) pubished in parts in Leiden from 1855-1857. It contained descriptions and illustrations of new and remarkable plants, flowers and fruit, with instructions for their culture. The 38 plates were made by 4 different artists, the plate of Billbergia rohaniana (Figure 3) is from A.J. Wendel. De Vriese writes that this species "has never been described but can be found under different names; I named it after the great advocate of culture Prince Camille de Rohan, who honored us with a visit to our herb garden last year". The description of this species by de Vriese was published in 1853 in the German journal Linnaea. It turned out to be the same as Billbergia vitttata, described in 1848 in the French journal Vortefeuille des Horticulteurs.

De Vriese was together with P.F. von Siebold editor of Annales d'horticulture et de botanique, ouflore desjardins du royaume des Pays-Bas, in 3 volumes from 1857-1860 published in Leiden and written in French. From the 3 plates of bromeliads in this work I chose Bromelia commeliniana, a species named by de Vriese in 1844 after Caspar Commelin, a professor of botany in Amsterdam at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. This species flowered in Amsterdam in 1844, but as the model for this illustration (Figure 4) stood a plant in the Leiden Hortus. That plant had a diameter of 1, 5 meter and attracted much attention and admiration when in full flower; in fact it can grow to sizes more than twice as large. However it too had already been described earlier, by Bertoloni in 1824 under the currently still valid name of Bromelia antiacantha. The species originates from southeastern Brazil and Uruguay.

Literature cited

Smith, L. B. and R. J. Downs (1974). Flora Neotropica Monograph No. 14 (Vitcairnioideae) (Bromeliaceae). New York, Hafner Press.

Stearn, W. T. (2004 4th ed. paper). Botanical Latin. Devon, UK, David & Charles Publishers. Weber, W (1981). "An early essay by Poeppig on "Epiphytism"." J. Bromeliad Soc. 31(6): 249-254.
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