Click here to see enlargement of front cover BLOOMING BROMELIADS
Ulrich and Ursula Baensch
Tropic Beauty Publishers
November 1994 ISBN 0-9641056-0-8

A Review by Bob Reilly, Bromeliad Society of Queensland

This book was published by Ulrich and Ursula Baensch in 1994 through Tropic Beauty Publishers in the Bahamas. As the English edition of this book is "out of print", you will only be able to buy a second-hand copy. (Spanish and German editions are still available through specialist American distributors).

The book has 272 pages and over 1,000, high-quality, photographs. Many of these were taken in the Baenschs' garden, called Tropic Beauty, in the Bahamas.

Blooming Bromeliads opens with a description of Tropic Beauty, followed by short biographies of some of the botanists, explorers and nurserymen who have had a significant "impact" on the bromeliad world. Some of the Baenschs' travels in search of bromeliads in the northern part of South America, and Mexico, are then described.

This test is illustrated by a large number of colour photographs, including ones of some rare bromeliads. An overview of the botanical classification of bromeliads, and their ecology, is then provided.

The main part of the book deals with individual bromeliads. Mainly species, rather than hybrids, are discussed. There is a photograph (sometimes several) of each plant, accompanied by a very brief description of its appearance, natural habitat and, sometimes, other information. About 200 aechmeas are treated in this manner, 33 billbergias, 36 crytanthus, 64 guzmanias, 80 neoregelias, 21 nidulariums, 11 quesnelias, around 120 tillandsias, over 70 vrieseas and more than 150 of other genera.

Click here to see enlargement of back cover A chapter on bromeliads' cultural requirements (largely written from a European/North American perspective) then follows. The origin of many bromeliads' names, and a glossary of botanical terms concludes the book.

The material on bromeliads' cultural requirements needs to be treated with some caution, because of the differences between Queensland and European/North American conditions. Also, the way in which plant photographs are "linked" to the text can be somewhat confusing until one becomes familiar with the approach. Another relatively minor drawback with the book's layout is that plants are not presented in alphabetical order. If you are looking for a particular plant, the easiest way is to look up the book's index, and then refer to the text.

The book's great strength is its many colour photographs. Blooming Bromeliads contains photographs of many species which are seldom seen in other publications. For example, the book presents many rare aechmeas, and species from the rarer (in cultivation) genera, such as Canistrum, Hohenbergia, Pitcairnia, and Portea. Overall, this book is well worth reading.

Year of Review: 2002