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Tillandsia bulbosa Hook. (William Jackson Hooker) published in Exotic Flora 3, (1825.) The word bulbosa is Latin for bulbous.  Synonym Platystachys bulbosa (Hook.) Beer (Johann Georg Beer) published in Die Familie der Bromeliaceen 83, (1856.)  Its DNA indicates it is sister species to T. ionantha, a species that does not possess a pseudobulb. (Chew et al. 2010.)

  Olmsted & Dejean (1987) report that 41% of the plants studied, contained ant colonies.  Dejean et al. (1995) report 26 inhabiting ant species, the greatest range found in all tillandsias tested in this particular study. Furthermore, www.antweb.org report Brachymyrmex pictus balboae, Ectatomma tuberculatum, Pheidole dissena, & P. bilimeki as opportunist ant inhabitants.

  Description: Plants range from 7-22 cm tall, typically with 8-15 leaves covered in fine trichomes. Pseudobulb dense, large, ovoid, greenish, formed by orbicular 2-5 cm long, greatly inflated leaf sheaths, which form internal chambers. Leaf blades contorted, to 30 cm long, involute-subulate, often appearing round in cross section. Upper leaves turn either a brownish red or an attractive bright red when announcing that lovely flowers are imminent. Inflorescences erect, usually shorter than leaves, floral bracts 13 mm long; petals linear, 3-4 cm long, blue or violet, stamens and pistil exserted.  Capsules 4 cm long, producing many plumose (feathery) wind-dispersed seeds

  Habitats: Epiphytic, occasionally lithophytic in tropical savannas from sea level to 1350 m. (4429 ft.)  Range: Southern Mexico, the Caribbean Islands (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Leeward Isles, Puerto Rico, & Trinidad Tobago,) Central America (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, & Panama.) South America (Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Ecuador & Brazil.)  Naturalised in Hawaii.

  Ecophysiology. This, like all other species in this pseudobulbous group is a member of Benzing's (2000) Group five.  Another study found that 97.2% of CO2 intake occurred in the dark period, hence it is a CAM species. (Pierce et al. 2002.)

  T. bulbosa unlike most others in this airplant group often exhibits "unexpected tolerance for shade and humidity. Wetted at night, these plants consume CO2 as if still dry. Exceptional trichome structure and (sic) rigidity and (their) distribution relative to the stomata explain this difference.  Although organised like those of other Tillandsioideae, the abaxial trichomes born by these species fail to move like their counterparts serving Spanish moss and its kind, and the shield wings lie beyond the stomata.  Permanently flattened against the leaf surface, the scale probably promotes rather than reduces light propagation through the epidermis, and additionally sheds water." (Benzing 2000.)

  Certainly clones with particularly greenish leaves indicate a need for some shade but others with whitish leaves will take full sun.  Upper leaves turn either a brownish red or an attractive bright red when announcing that their lovely blue flowers are imminent.

  Mount this species on slabs with bright light for best leaf colours and maintain 65-75% humidity.  Mist them perhaps daily in hot conditions but reduce supply appropriately if weather is consistently cold and humidity remains high. Lowland originating clones will require warmer conditions (minimum 5C or higher.)but mild northern New Zealand summer temperatures of seldom more than 25°C (76°F) provide quite suitable ranges.  Probably self-fertile and very easy to maintain.

  The image is of a plant I cultivate in New Zealand.  Tillandsia ant-plants are freely available here but I expect most growers have little knowledge about them.



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  • 1 month later...

may be also , T.caput-medusae and T.butzii

The introduction to Bromeliaceae article, specifically the introduction to tillandsias chapter, lists both of these and all other members of Gardener's  pseudobulbous clade, plus one she omitted to include.  Most are considered to be myrmecodomic (ant-house) species but the number of ant occupants tend to be far less than in most other ant-house myrmecophytes.  There are also some phytotelm (water holding 'tank') species that are regularly ant occupied.

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A particularly nice form of Tillandsia bulbosa from Caribbean coast of Guatemala in full flower at my home a couple years back. Grown fully exposed on cork mount from single offset. This is the so-called "Giant" form, which are 2-3x the size of run-of-the-mill T. bulbosa. Plants flanking it are large form of T. stricta...note seedlings of same that have germinated on the leaves of the lower part of the T. bulbosa colony. Under native conditions here, most bromeliad species in my collection will "weed" quite aggressively, particularly members if the Tillandsioideae. There are a number of native bromeliad spp. that are abundant on old avenue trees and shrubs (esp. Tabebuia rosea, Cupressus lusitanica and Bauhinia x blakeana) in my neighborhood. These include T. fasciculata, T. seleriana, T. medusae, T. pruinosa, T. usneoides and Catopsis paniculata. None of the ant-associated spp. appear to be colonized under these conditions.






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By the way, i grow my bulbosa next to this heliamphora (burgundy-black), under massive lighting, and its still green.


My setup:


And the t.bulbosa:


I think i bought the bulbosa righ after the flowering, thats why some leaves was still red-ish. And its probably the reason why i got so many pumps(babies) at the base of the plant. Many divisions has been made, and the plant still grow new ones.

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