70 (May/June 2003)
by Johanna Zinn
B. crispula Brade is a Brazilian species
described in 1950. Three to six inch orbicular, crinkled leaves grow at
the ends of short, thin, creeping rhizomes. The leaves generally grow flat
and tightly together in clusters of leaves. Petioles are one to two inches
long, light cranberry in color, and are covered with very fine light
colored hairs. Mature leaves are light to medium green in color and are
covered with very fine light colored hairs that can be felt more easily
than they can be seen. New leaves can be blue‑green or gray‑green. Light
cranberry‑colored veins radiate from the site of the petiole attachment.
The veins are raised on the back of the leaf, and depressed on the front,
which contributes to the leaves' puckered appearance.
Sparse flowers appear throughout the year on new
growth. Flowers on my plant are less than one‑half inch in diameter. In
natural light, in a north‑facing window, the peduncle is six to eight
inches long and the flowers white. Under florescent lights the peduncle is
five to six inches long and the flowers are white with faint pink
coloration on the backs and centers of the tepals.
B. crispula needs high humidity to survive. In
Virginia I grow it in a terrarium in well rinsed, cut sphagnum moss placed
over a thin layer of perlite mixed with charcoal. After nine or ten
months, the leaves begin to yellow and I know that it is time to change
the moss. My plant grew well under florescent lights in our cool basement,
but is also content to grow in a large terrarium situated in a
north‑facing window. Our basement temperature ranges from fifty‑five
degrees on a cool winter night to seventy‑five degrees in the summer.
Because of its tightly clustered,crinkled leaves,
B. crispula should be watered very carefully to prevent leaf rot. I
water only when the moss begins to dry out or when there is little or no
condensation on the sides of the terrarium. I will occasionally use a very
dilute fertilizer applied only to the moss. Pests and diseases are not
often a problem in sealed terrariums. To prevent disease, remove dead
leaves and spent blooms, and trim the leaves touching the sides of the
terrarium. Since B. crispula leaves will not tolerate washing or
spraying, combat pests by sealing a piece of a No Pest Strip or dog's flea
collar in the terrarium for several days.
To propagate, place a section of the rhizome or a leaf
cutting, into cut, moistened sphagnum moss in an enclosed container under
lights, or in with the mother plant, or start from seeds. Leaf wedges have
decayed before rooting for me.
B. crispula may take a little extra effort to
grow, but it is certainly worth that effort. It has been called finicky,
delicate, difficult, even temperamental and a "Queen Bee", [Kit Jeans
Mounger]. If you are interested in a challenge, there will be leaves
on the sale tables in OK.