Some of the earliest illustrations of bromeliads can be found in A voyage to the islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica. The author was physician, traveler and collector Sir Hans Sloane. His collected curiosities became after his death in 1753 the nucleus for the then established British Museum and his herbarium is now in the Natural History Museum. The two volumes of this book were published in London in 1707 and 1725 and are illustrated with 274 drawings of plants, trees and animals. There are two bromeliads in the first volume; the drawings were made after herbarium specimens by Everard Kick and engraved by Michael van der Gucht. On the plates their pre-Linnean names are given, the current names are Guzmania lingulata (plate 120) and Tillandsia setacea with Tillandsia usneoides (plate 122).
A book written and illustrated (both drawings and copper engravings) by English traveler and naturalist Mark Catesby was published in London from 1730-1743, with a second edition revised by George Edwards from 1748-1754. It was titled The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. The original watercolours were purchased by king George III in 1768. The two volumes contained 220 plates of animals and plants, including the bromeliads pictured below.
The first magazine on horticulture that would give ample attention to bromeliads was started in England. In the year 1787 it was founded by botanist William Curtis and for the first 14 volumes was entitled The Botanical Magazine. The text on the titlepage tells us what it is all about: "The Botanical Magazine; or, flower-garden displayed: in which the most ornamental foreign plants, cultivated in the open ground, the greenhouse, and the stove, are accurately represented in their natural colours. To which will be added, their names, class, order, generic and specific characters, according to the celebrated Linnaeus; their places of growth, and times of flowering: together with the most approved methods of culture. A work intended for the use of such ladies, gentlemen, and gardeners, as wish to become scientifically acquainted with the plants they cultivate". Curtis died in 1799 after which John Sims took over as editor, later to be followed by William Jackson Hooker, John Dalton Hooker and William Turner Thistleton-Dyer, all directors of Kew Gardens. The name was changed in Curtis's Botanical Magazine and today that magazine is still published (from 1984-1994 it was labeled Kew Magazine). It is a publication of the Royal Horticultural Society. Over all the years some 11500 plates were produced, including 122 of bromeliads. About the artists working in the early years for the magazine one can read in an article in the BSI Journal (Read 1986).
To make a choice from the illustrations I focused on some bromeliads that were newly described. The first bromeliad illustrated in Curtis's Botanical Magazine was Pitcairnia bromeliifolia (plate 824 in vol. 21, 1805). There were three more Pitcairnias to follow before in 1813 a plate was published (Figure 1) depicting a member of some other bromeliadgenus: Tillandsia stricta Solander ex Ker-Gawler, a "frosted stiff-leaved Tillandsia", together with the description of this new species. The drawing for the engraving was made by Sydenham Teast Edwards who a few years later was to start his own magazine. The plant was found by Solander near Rio de Janeiro and first introduced into the European gardens by Lady Neale at Walhampton. The Swedish botanist Daniel Solander had already died in 1782, but the lengthy description of T. stricta in Latin is from his hand and published here by botanist John Gawler, who after a change of name was also known as John Bellenden Ker (in some publications the name of Sims, editor at the time, is mentioned as the publishing author). Solander was an apprentice of Linnaeus and the librarian of Sir Joseph Banks, co-founder of the Royal Horticultural Society in 1804. Together with James Cook, Solander and Banks had made a world trip collecting plants in the years 1768-1771. This was the first Pacific voyage by Cook. Many zoological and botanical collections were made and several artists made watercolours of these discoveries, often during the voyage of the ship Endeavour. They are now at the National History Museum in London. Some bromeliads were illustrated by Sydney Parkinson in 1768-1769 and are presented here below (courtesy National History Museum). The plants were collected in 1768 during a short stay in Rio de Janeiro.
Back to Curtis's Botanical Magazine now.
From 1857 is the plate of the newly described Puya virescens Hooker (Figure 2). A specimen came from a Belgian garden tagged as a Puya sp. and William Hooker left it in that genus, much later it was transfered to Guzmania. It is an epiphytic bromeliad endemic to the central coast of Venezuela.
Still later in time, in 1905, we arrive at the illustration of Aechmea lavandulacea C. H. Wright (Figure 3). It was made after a plant found on Grenada, one of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. A citation from the description: "The species is very distinct and is characterized by the distichous arrangement of the panicle-branches and flowers. The broad lavender-coloured margins of the bracteoles, resembling in colour the flowers of some species of Statice, candied all over with white scurf, harmonize with the deep violet petals, and thus avoid that sharp contrast in colour so often found in the inflorescence of plants of this order". The differences are given between this species and A. pubescens, A. lingulata and A. dichlamydea. However in 1896 Carl Mez had described a similar plant under the name Aechmea smithiorum and A. lavandulacea is now treated as a synonym of that one. There has been an article on A. smithiorum discussing its misidentification in the past in the BSI Journal (Luther 1995).
From 1910 is the plate of Neoglaziovia concolor C. H. Wright (Figure 4), also newly described. It looks very much like Neoglaziovia variegata, see the article about that species in the BSI Journal (de Paula and Guarçoni 2007). The text with the plate reads: "The bromeliad here figured is a native of the northern portion of the State of Bahia in Brazil, where it is known as the Makimbeira; here it grows in association with the Caroá, a very nearly allied plant referred by Baker as Dyckia glaziovii but treated by Mez, perhaps more satifactorily, as a member of a distinct genus Neoglaziova. From the Caroá (N. variegata) the Makimbeira (N. concolor) differs in its shorter stature and in having its leaves uniformly white-lepidote, the younger parts are indeed almost woolly; the leaves of N. variegata are glabrous or only very minutely lepidote, and when fresh are conspiciously marked with lighter transverse bars which in dried specimens become obscure or disappear entirely. The leaves of both species furnish fibre; that of the Caroá is well known and comes chiefly from the Queimadas District: it is made into ropes for binding packages of tobacco. These ropes have a breaking strain of 3 tons to the square inch; they are, however, very sensitive to attack by alkalis. The fiber of the Makimbeira is less well known and is of a softer and poorer quality". The plant flowered at Kew in 1909 after six years, it was slow growing.
Many plates from Curtis's Botanical magazine were used for the illustrations in A monograph of the Trochilidae, or family of humming-birds, often with some adaptations. This work on birds was written by John Gould with drawings by Gould and lithography by H.C. Richter, published in 5 volumes from 1849-1861 with a supplement in 1887 by R.Bowdler Sharpe. Below are some examples.
Several other magazines and works published in the form of a series followed in the wake of Curtis's Botanical Magazine. In 1815 Sydenham Edwards started The Botanical Register. The text on the title-page of the first volume reads that it "consisted of coloured figures of exotic plants cultivated in British gardens, with their history and mode of treatment". Initially the text was by John Ker-Gawler, later by John Lindley. For the volumes 15-33 the magazine was titled Edwards's Botanical Register. Edwards made many drawings for the coloured copper engravings in the first 15 volumes but he was not an engraver himself. Drawing the illustration and making the actual print (via engraving or lithography) was often done by different persons. When publication of Edwards's Botanical Register ceased in 1847, a total of 2702 plates had been published, including 20 bromeliads. An important article in The Botanical Register is the one connected to plate 1068 of Billbergia iridifolia in volume 13 (Figure 5). John Lindley - the first professor of botany at University College London in 1829 and Britain's pioneer orchidologist - gives here a synopsis of the bromeliadgenera known at the time: Aechmea, Ananas, Billbergia, Bonapartea, Bromelia, Caraguata, Guzmania, Pitcairnia, Pourretia and Tillandsia. The bromeliads formed in his words "a family of plants interesting from their beauty or singularity but of which the systematic arrangement has not been carefully studied". Billbergia iridifolia originating from Brazil was described several years earlier in the genus Bromelia. The specimen used to make the drawing was sent from Rio de Janeiro by William Harrison.
The next illustration that I selected from this publication depicts a plant provisionally described as a pale-flowered variety (y. pallida) of Tillandsia flexuosa Swartz (Figure 6). Lindley writes that "Tillandsia flexuosa must either be a very variable plant, or more species than one are already included in it by those who have described the wild subject". He didn't see the flowering plant after which the drawing was made himself, but judged that in foliage and form of parts it resembled the specimens in the Banksian Herbarium. We now know this plant under the name of Tillandsia utriculata, the description by Linnaeus dates from 1753. This epiphyte has a distribution from the south of the United States to Venezuela. One more new species described by Lindley was Puya heterophylla (Figure 7). Later this species was classified in the genus Pitcairnia by Austrian botanist Johann Beer. The plant was imported from Mexico in 1838 and was found "most remarkable as bearing two different kinds of leaves, short brown spiny and long green lanceolate". It was after this characteristic feature called "heterophylly", later encountered in other Pitcairnias too, that the species was named. The plant is epiphytic in moist forests but also saxicolous on dry cliffs and is very widespread, ranging from Mexico to Peru.
The next periodical treated here was founded by Conrad and George Loddiges. Conrad was a German-born horticulturist who settled in Hackney (now part of London); his son George was the main author of the text in the 20 volumes produced from 1817-1833 of The Botanical Cabinet - consisting of coloured deliniations of plants from all countries, with a short account of each, directions for management &c. &c. The 2000 handcoloured engravings - 7 of bromeliads - were made by George Cooke. The drawings for the engravings came from numerous persons, including Cooke and G. Loddiges. All the copper plates were later stolen by one of Loddiges's men from the library in his garden, only the original drawings were preserved. Pitcairnia staminea (Figure 8) was newly described as "a stately plant in the genus named after Dr. Pitcairn of Islington who had a good collection of plants, many of them recorded in the Hortus Kewensis as having been introduced by him". The description reads further that the flowers, which were near a hundred at their first opening, roll back initially but after a few days become straight again. The name of the species relates to the striking long stamens. It is saxicolous in eastern Brazil.
William Jackson Hooker, when professor of botany at the university of Glasgow, was the author of Exotic Flora with 3 volumes from 1823-1827 published in Edinburgh, containing 232 coloured engravings of exotic plants. Among several bromeliads were some new species, like Tillandsia nitida (now Catopsis nitida) and Tillandsia bulbosa. Reproduced here is the plate of Tillandsia aloifolia (Figure 9), the "aloe-leaved Tillandsia" as Hooker called it. A plant was send by Baron De Schack from Trinidad to Glasgow where it flowered in 1825. The species had been described earlier by Swartz under the currently still valid name of Tillandsia flexuosa. The distribution of this epiphyte ranges from Florida to Venezuela.
Successive works by W. Hooker between 1830 and 1857 are Botanical Miscellany, The Journal of Botany, The London Journal of Botany and Hooker's Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany with in total 448 uncoloured lithographs including some bromeliads, most of them made by Walter Fitch who is best known for his work for the magazine of William Curtis. In London, as director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Hooker also edited the first 2 series of Icones Plantarum (volume 1-10, 1837-1854), illustrated with 1000 lithographs of plants from his herbarium, again many made by Fitch; this publication was later continued by his son Joseph Dalton Hooker with a 3rd series (volume 11-20, 1867-1891) and by Daniel Oliver with a 4th series (volume 21-30, 1892-1913). There is a 5th series (volume 31-38, 1922-1975) and the grand total of monochrome plates in all series is 3750. As for bromeliads, in the 3rd series is a plate of Androlepis skinneri and in the 4th series one of Bromelia balansae.
Joseph Paxton produced both a magazine and a serieswork with coloured plates. He was a versatile person, his occupations and achievements were impressive and earned him a knighthood in 1851. Sir Joseph was horticulturist, editor, landscape gardener, railroad promotor, builder of glass structures (such as the famous Crystal Palace for the world exposition in London in 1851, later destroyed by fire), architect, civil engineer and politician. He achieved the first blooming of Victoria amazonica when serving as head gardener to the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. From Paxton's Magazine of Botany and register of flowering plants 16 volumes were published between 1834-1849. Besides woodcuts in the text it contained 768 coloured plates with some bromeliads (engravings by F. Smith and lithographs by S. Holden). One of the plates is described as Tillandsia stricta (Figure 10), but represents Tillandsia aeranthos, a species from northeastern Argentina and regions of adjacent countries. This error had been made earlier in Edwards's Botanical Register (vol.16 plate 1338, 1830). The successor of this magazine was The Gardeners' Magazine of Botany, conducted by T. Moore and W.P. Ayres; 3 volumes were published from 1850-1851 with 100 colored plates including some bromeliads.
Paxton founded with John Lindley the magazine The Gardener's Chronicle, but that was illustrated only with drawings in the text. They were also the authors of Paxton's Flower Garden, consisting of 3 volumes published in parts from 1850-1853, with 108 excellent handcoloured lithographs by L. Constans and E. Prévost. In the revised edition of Paxton's Flower Garden by Baines published from 1882-1884 the plates were printed as chromolithographs and of less quality. Among the 4 bromeliads in this work is the illustration of Bromelia longifolia (Figure 11), called "the long-leaved bromelia from Guiana". Mr. Henderson of the Wellington Road Nursery exhibited the plant on a meeting of the Horticultural Society. It is refered to as the same species described by Rudge under that name in Plantae Guianenses (1805), however Rudge's plant originated from quite some other type of habitat and represents the species now known under the name of Aechmea longifolia. The plant figured in Paxton's Flower Garden is from Chile; in 1857 Austrian botanist Johann Beer gave it the new name Bromelia carnea and the current name is Ochagavia carnea.
From The Gardener's Magazine of Botany, Horticulture, Floriculture and Natural Sciences edited by Thomas Moore and William Ayres, 3 volumes were produced in London in 1850-1851. In the first volume are plates of some bomeliadspecies very often portrayed in those days, namely Aechmea fulgens and Vriesea splendens. There has once been made an inventory of coloured plates from Vriesea splendens published in the 19th century, counting at least 10 (Lecoufle 1967). Moore, a curator of the Chelsea botanic gardens, has also been editor of The Gardener's Chronicle and The Floral Magazine; the latter magazine was illustrated with 1022 lithographed plates in the two series published from 1861-1881.
Refugium Botanicum was published by William Wilson Saunders, botanist and horticulturist. From 1869-1873 there were 5 volumes, each in 3 parts with in total 360 plates by Fitch (both drawing and lithography). Each plate is only partially coloured. The text was written by John Gilbert Baker and - for the orchids - by Heinrich Reichenbach. There are 6 bromeliads illustrated in this serieswork. The plate of Hohenbergia legrelliana Baker (Figure 12) shows the illustration technique used. No derivation of the speciesname is given by Baker in his description; in his Handbook of the Bromeliaceae from 1889 it is listed as Ortgiesia legrelleana. Most probably the species honors Belgian mrs. Legrelle born d'Hanis who cultivated the bromeliads send by her brother from exotic places. Saunders received the plant from the European continent, but lost all further history of it. This species had already been described in 1856 by German botanist Klotzsch under the name Macrochordion recurvatum and has also been classified as a Billbergia and a Portea before ending up as Aechmea recurvata. It is a plant from southern Brasil and adjacent areas of bordering countries, usually growing as an epiphyte.
Above left: plate 138 of volume 2 of Elizabeth Twining: "Illustrations of the natural orders of plants" (London, vol.1-2, 1868), with Ananas comosus, Aechmea fulgens, Cryptanthus zonatus and some details (seed, flower, fruit) of other bromeliads.
Above right: plate in vol.27 (1885) of "The Garden - An illustrated weekly journal of horticulture in all its branches", with Aechmea paniculata, a species known only from the type collection and described in Ruiz & Pavon's Flora Peruviana et Chilensis (see chapter on Spain). This engraving had been published already in 1870 in the French journal "Le Tour du Monde - Nouveau journal des voyages".
There were more publications in 19th century England and Scotland with the occasional icon of a bromeliad; from a referencebook on botanical illustrations (Nissen 1966) I selected some titles:
Botanist's Repository, for new and rare plants, volume 1-10 1797-1814 London, with 664 coloured plates; drawings, engravings and text by Henry C. Andrews.
The Paradisus Londinensis, volume 1-2 1805-1808 London, with 117 coloured plates drawn by William Hooker, text by Richard Salisbury.
Collectanea botanica, or figures and botanical illustrations of rare and curious exotic plants, London 1821, with 40 coloured engravings, text by John Lindley.
The Floral Cabinet and Magazine of exotic botany, volume 1-3 1837-1840 London, with 138 chromolithographs, conducted by George B. Knowles and Frederic Westcott.
The Garden - An illustrated weekly journal of horticulture in all its branches 1872-1927 London, founded by William Robinson.
The Floral Magazine, volume 1-10 1861-1871 and New Series 1872-1881 ('vol.11-20') London, with 1040 chromolithographs, conducted by Thomas Moore and later Henry Dombrain and others. In it were at least eight bromeliads, two of them are depicted below.
Lecoufle, M. (1967). Early illustrations of Vriesea splendens in horticultural periodicals. Journal of the Bromeliad Society vol.17(3):64-65.
Luther, H.E. (1995). Misnamed bromeliads, No.15: Aechmea smithiorum. Journal of the Bromeliad Society 45:26.
Nissen, C. (1966). Die botanische Buchillustration, ihre Geschichte und Bibliographie. 2nd ed. Verlag Hiersemann, Stuttgart, Germany.
de Paula, C.C. and Guarçoni, E. (2007). Neoglaziovia variegata: a fiber-producing Brazilian bromeliad. Journal of the Bromeliad Society 57:119-120.
Read, R. (1986). Icones Bromeliacearum II: Curtis's Botanical Magazine. Journal of the Bromeliad Society 36:152-153.
Figure 1. Tillandsia stricta Solander ex Ker-Gawler. Drawing S. Edwards, engraving F. Sansom, Curtis's Botanical Magazine vol.37 plate 1529 (1813).
Figure 2. Guzmania virescens (Hooker) Mez. Published as Puya virescens Hooker. Drawing and lithography W. Fitch, Curtis's Botanical Magazine vol.83 plate 4991 (1857).
Figure 3. Aechmea smithiorum Mez. Published as Aechmea lavandulacea C.H. Wright. Drawing and lithography W. Fitch, Curtis's Botanical Magazine vol.131 plate 8005 (1905).
Figure 4. Neoglaziovia concolor C. H. Wright. Drawing and lithography W. Fitch, Curtis's Botanical Magazine vol.136 plate 8348 (1910).
Figure 5. Billbergia iridifolia (Nees & Martius) Lindley. Drawing Mrs. Withers, The Botanical Register vol.13 plate 1068 (1827).
Figure 6. Tillandsia utriculata Linnaeus. Published as Tillandsia flexuosa var. pallida Lindley. Drawing M. Hart, engraving S. Watts, The Botanical Register vol.9 plate 749 (1823).
Figure 7. Pitcairnia heterophylla (Lindley) Beer. Published as Puya heterophylla Lindley. Drawing Miss Drake, lithography G. Barclay, Edwards's Botanical Register vol.26 plate 71 (1840).
Figure 8. Pitcairnia staminea Loddiges. Drawing G. Loddiges, engraving G. Cooke, The Botanical Cabinet vol.8 plate 722 (1823).
Figure 9. Tillandsia flexuosa Swartz. Published as Tillandsia aloifolia Hooker. Engraving J. Swan, Exotic Flora vol.3 plate 205 (1827).
Figure 10. Tillandsia aeranthos (Loiseleur) L.B. Smith. Published as Tillandsia stricta sensu Lindley. Drawing and lithography S. Holden, Paxton's Magazine of Botany and register of flowering plants vol.15 page 125 (1849).
Figure 11. Ochagavia carnea (Beer) L.B. Smith & Looser. Published as Bromelia longifolia sensu Lindley. Drawing W.H. Fitch, Paxton's Flower Garden vol.2 plate 70 (Baines ed. 1883).
Figure 12. Aechmea recurvata (Klotzsch) L.B. Smith. Published as Hohenbergia legrelliana Baker. Drawing and lithography W.H. Fitch, Refugium Botanicum vol.4 plate 285 (1871).