Speakers and Program

During our two days of presentations, we will have the following Australian and overseas speakers:

Arno King

Arno describes himself as a ‘bromeliad addict’ and has been growing bromeliads since he was 10. Olwen Ferris encouraged him to join the Gold Coast Succulent and Bromeliad Society in 1989. He’s especially interested in using bromeliads for landscaping, both in the ground and on trees and rocks, and has a soft spot for larger species. He works as a registered landscape architect and horticulturist and uses bromeliads on many of his projects, as well as promoting them to the general public.

  • Guillermo Rivera 

Born in Argentina. Owner of Plant Expeditions (www.plantexpeditions.com) formerly South America Nature Tours), a company dedicated to the organization of tours for the last 16 years, throughout South America (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador), Mexico and South Africa, Madagascar, and Namibia with emphasis on plants (bromeliads, cacti, and orchids), and birding. Former researcher at the University of Cordoba, Argentina. BS degree in Biology University of Cordoba. MS Marine Biology. Northeastern University. PhD in Botany University of Cordoba.

His love for bromeliads started surprisingly on a cactus tour in Argentina. On the first day of a tour, all of the sudden, participants start yelling to stop the bus. No, there were no cactus nearby, but just a wall covered with bromeliads in full display by a little creek with red bracts and black flowers, Puya spathacea. From then on, he started paying attention to all bromeliads in Argentina (+100 species, mostly Tillandsia), photographing them in nature, and discovering the places where they grow

He is not a good grower nor a collector (although now that he lives in Florida, bromeliads keep on creeping into his yard). However, his degree in Botany has given him the tools to study, learn and analyze taxonomy, and most of all, discover and explore the habitats where bromeliads grow. Yes, it is all about how they grow in nature.

Since that first trip in Argentina, he has led several tours to look at bromeliads in their habitat; Ecuador (6), Brazil (3), Peru (5), Argentina (6), and has explored Mexico, Colombia, and Bolivia.

ECUADOR: “Bromeliads Paradise”

If there is one country on earth that would offer such a variety of habitats is Ecuador: Desert, Deciduous Forest, Andes, Paramo, Cloud Forest,  Amazon Forest, Pacific Forest. It is not surprising that such a small country has one of the largest number of bird species in the world (second to Colombia). Well, it is not surprising either that the country also offers a cornucopia of bromeliads from all different habitats: Tillandsia, Vriesea, Griggea, Pitcairnia, Puya, and Guzmania are among some of them with many species to see and discover. The presentation will cover the whole country with its incredible habitats.

  • Charlie Birdsong (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) – hobbyist and Internationally accredited judge

I developed my interest in Bromeliads from my parents in the late 1960’s in New Orleans.  I moved away from the plants to Baton Rouge in 1963 to attend LSU and have lived there ever since.  After college I started my collection with Mulford Foster plants my parents and I had been given by Erik Knoblock.  I brought my small collection to Baton Rouge and moved them in and out when the cold weather came.

In 1975 we started the Bromeliad Society of Baton Rouge.  As a charter member I have served in every office over the years and still serve the Society today as President .  I serve as the Vice-president of the Southwest Bromeliad Guild.  I also joined the BSI in 1975 and have attended many World Conferences and have chaired the auction at five Conferences and serve as the Chairman of the BSI Affiliate Shows Committee.

I co-chaired the Southwest Guild and Cryptanthus show in Baton Rouge in 2009 and am the Chair of the 2018 Southwest Guild Show.  I am serving the BSI as the Affiliate Shows Chairman since January 2010 and am a past BSI  Director for the Central District.

After years of trying to get a judging school in New Orleans, I joined the school in Houston.  I am now a Master Judge and have judged well over 100 Shows since accreditation in 1996.  I serve the BSI on the Judges Handbook revision committee through the Judges Certification Committee from our District.  I have the pleasure of working closely with the Judges in Australia.

I have had many opportunities to speak about my favorite plants at local Garden Societies and other plant groups and Bromeliad Societies throughout Louisiana, Texas, Florida and even Australia.

I have also had articles in the BSI Journal and Local Society Plant bulletins.  I have contributed a number of short articles for the Greater New Orleans Bromeliad Society bulletin Potpourri.

I grow many Genera and although Billbergias are favorites, most of my over five thousand plants are Neoregelias.  I am fortunate to have daughters living in Florida.  Under the excuse of a Grandpa visit I have been able to make many trips to see Society Shows and visit vendors every year and should continue in the future.

  • Anil Ghodke (Palmwoods, Queensland) – a member of Plant Biotech working in the area of tissue culture of plants including bromeliads
  • Erik Van ZuilekomErik van Zuilekom is a botanist, plant collector, living architecture designer and species selection specialist with expertise in vertical garden, roof garden and green facade technologies. Erik’s focus lies in studying plants in habitat, ecologies, and subsequently utilising species as living technologies capable of adapting to the built environment, notably on buildings and within architecture. Many of Erik’s commercial and residential projects (both within Australia and internationally) incorporate epiphytes and lithophytes on notably large scales, engineered to function as habitat, living tapestries, water and pollution capture and treatment and thermal or acoustic insulation technologies. All these outcomes stem from studying these species in a range of habitats and translating their fascinating evolution into dynamic and adaptive applications within our built environments from deserts to rainforests and cliffs to tree canopies. The ecologies of bromeliads and their associated species reveal fascinating tendencies, relationships, adaptations and responses to the challenges of environment and proximity to competing plants. By looking into where these species originate, we may unveil their life stories, genetic imperatives, adaptations and potential directions in evolution.

Presentation Title:    From habitat to the City: Aerial Ecologies

  • Rebekah Trevor (Brisbane, Queensland) – manager of The Olive Branch bromeliad nursery.

Rebekah Trevor’s love for Bromeliads started at age 12, when she began attending society meetings and shows with her grandparents, Olive and Len Trevor. Now 22, Bek’s passion for Bromeliad just continues to grow. She started helping in her grandparent’s nursery, The Olive Branch, from a very young age and in 2013 took over as manager. Today Bek is the business owner, who along with her 5 staff, operates one of Australia’s largest specialist Bromeliad Nurseries. Although she loves all Bromeliads, she has a special interest in Miniature Neoregelias, Billbergias and Alcantareas. Bek is also an accredited international Bromeliad judge and in her free time is trying her hand at hybridising.

Presentation Title:  Bromeliads through Young Eyes

  • Graeme Barclay (Auckland, New Zealand) – a keen species grower.

Graeme is a past President of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, is a current BSI Director and also Convener of the 2021 Australasian Bromeliad Conference to be held in Auckland.
He has collected bromeliads for around 20 years, in more recent times focusing on building and maintaining a large species collection at his native bush-clad property. He is also an active hybridizer and regular contributor of cultivation articles for the New Zealand ‘Bromeliad’ journal.

Presentation Title: ”The Kiwi Way – A tour of our talented bromeliad hybridists and species preservation projects”

  • Barry Genn (Birkdale, Queensland) – Tillandsia grower and hybridiser.

Barry began working with Tillandsias in the 1980s. and now has an amazing collection. Initially he wanted to grow species Tillandsias from seed – the species that had not yet been brought into Australia. He soon branched out from that into hybridising. He loves the variance that occurs from growing Tillandsias from seed – and even more from producing hybrids. The same species can produce very varied hybrids depending on the environment in which they are grown and that is just one of the variables. Barry will talk about his journey through the world of hybridising Tillandsias.

Presentation Title: Hybridising and growing Tillandsias in South East Queensland

To see the program, click here.