(for the Swedish botanist, J. G. Billberg). Bromelidceae. About 40 tropical American evergreen epiphytal herbs, now much cultivated by amateurs and infancy collections. A few kinds are well known to florists. A closely allied genus is Aechmea, which sees for botanical differences. The flowers are in a spike or spicate panicle, which rises from the center of the rosette of long, spiny-edged, and usually stiff, pineapple-like leaves.: flowers showy, with 3-parted calyx and 3 long petals, 6 exserted stamens, thread-like style, and berry-like flower. The colored bracts of the flower clusters are usually very showy. Cf. Charles Mez, the latest monographer, in DC. Phaner. Monogr. 9. Species confused, but the artificial arrangement given below may aid the gardener.
Billbergias can be cultivated best in greenhouses, planted in pans, pots, wooden cribs, or wire baskets, with loose, light material about their roots, such as pieces of charcoal, roots of very fibrous plants, or fern roots and sphagnum moss, and such material. They require little water at the roots in winter, and nothing but light sprinkling over the foliage is required to keep them alive during that time. But in summer, when the heat is great and they are making their growth, they can withstand an abundance of moisture, at the roots as well as at the top, most of the time holding water in the funnel-like center or body of the plant. They generally bring their conspicuous, showy flowers in the spring, when moisture overhead or sprinkling should be withheld in order to prolong the beauty of the flowers. They require at night a temperature of from 50°–75°, but, of course, can stand any amount of heat in summer. Billbergias, like all other Bromeliads, make very good houseplants, and they will thrive exceedingly well in a living room temperature. They love plenty of light and sun. All first-class private garden establishments should have at least a few of this class of plants. They are propagated best from suckers or sprouts, which arise from the base of the old plant, generally after it has bloomed and performed its functions. The old plant then gradually deteriorates, sending out from two to five young plants from its base. These can be taken off as soon as they are hardy and substantial enough, and can be mounted or potted into the same kind of material. Then, suspended in the greenhouse, conservatory, or window for an exhibition, they thrive best. Besides their beautiful and attractive flowers, they have very handsome foliage, which is of a tough and leathery texture. Billbergias, AEchmeas, and the like, are natives of the tropics, and, therefore, require a warm temperature. AEchmeas are usually larger than Billbergias and Tillandsias.