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Tillandsia butzii

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Tillandsia butzii Carl Christian Mez published in Das Pflanzenreich IV. 32(Heft 100) 1935. This is a nomen conservandum against T. inanis Lindley & Paxton published in Paxton's Flower Garden 1, 1850.  Normally the first published name has precedence over any later duplications; however, because the name T. butzii was well known while that of T. inanis was largely unknown, it was proposed and accepted that the later name be continued in scientific use. (Wit 2008.)

  Ecology. This species trophic association with ants was first suggested by Schimper as far back as 1888 and observations of this species and T. caput-medusae in habitat also found that ants were probably feeding them. (Benzing 1970.)  In 1979 explorer-botanist, Werner Rauh noted it “housed colonies of large biting ants.”

  Description: Another pseudobulbous CAM-using epiphyte (Zotz & Hietz 2001.) often with rather green leaves.  I suspect that an occurrence of greener leaves, hence improved photosynthesis (other criteria aside) is to enable improved use of ant fed nutrients.  Again, upper leaf sections turn red before the appearance of pink and violet flowers.

  Habitats: Open, dry-forests at altitudes of 800-2810 m. (2625-9219 ft.) “Indeed, the two species of Tillandsia of atmospheric habit and dense trichome cover (T. juncea, T. butzii) were those growing on the thinner and presumably more exposed branches.” (Hietz 1997.)  Where access to leachates would be minimal.   Range: Southern Mexico and Central America (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.)

  Varieties. The formal description of Mexican var. roseiflora Ehlers was published in Bromelie 2, 2002.  It differs from var. butzii by having rose-red flowers instead of violet and its leaves are thinner and longer.

 Some clones have proven hardy in frost free New Zealand regions but it will prefer more moisture and shade than silvery-leafed examples and of course we expect colder temperature tolerances in plants from higher altitudes.

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