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Tillandsia balbisiana

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Tillandsia balbisiana Julius Hermann Schultes published in Systema Vegetabilium 7(2) 1830.

  Olmsted & Dejean (1987) report that 42% of this species contained ant colonies in Mexico and Eshbaugh (1987) reports that 25% of plants contained Crematogaster ants in seasonally swamped savannahs and mangrove forests in the Bahamas.

  Description: Somewhat larger than T. baileyi, single or clustering, when flowering to 75 cm long. Leaves rosetted 15-30, many-ranked, reflexed, twisted or contorted, grey, often flushed red, to 65x0.6- 1.4 cm, adpressed greyish scaly; sheath conspicuously rust-coloured toward base, ovate to elliptic, conspicuously inflated, forming a small pseudobulb 2-4 cm wide; blade linear-triangular, leathery, channelled to involute, apex attenuate. Flower scape conspicuous, erect, 8-30 cm x 2-4 mm, bracts densely imbricate, spreading, recurved, twisted like leaves; sheath of bracts narrowing gradually into blade; spikes erect, 2-pinnate, linear, compressed, 2-10x1 cm, apex acute; lateral branches 2-10 (rarely simple). Floral bracts imbricate, erect, green to red, broad (covering all or most of rachis, rachis not visible at anthesis), elliptic, keeled, 1.5-2 cm, leathery, base not visible at anthesis, apex acute, surfaces glabrous to inconspicuously scaly near apex only, venation even to slight. Flowers 5-30, conspicuous; sepals with adaxial pair connate (conjoined), lanceolate, keeled, 1.5-2 cm, leathery, apex acute, surfaces glabrous; corolla tubular; petals erect, violet, ligulate, to 3.5 cm; stamens exserted; stigma exserted, conduplicate-spiral.  Flowers about 5-30 spring and summer; fruits to 4 cm, probably self-fertile.

  Habitats:  Mostly in exposed positions on a variety of trees in low deciduous forests, medium height forests, cypress swamps, coastal forests and mangroves from sea level to 1500 m. (4921 ft.)

  Range: Florida, USA; Mexico,  Caribbean Islands (Bahamas, Caymans, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos) Central America (Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) northern South America, (Colombia and Venezuela)

  It should prove amenable to most reasonable light exposures but it colours nicely in sunlight and its often lowland habitats indicate a need for (a little?) warmth according to clonal origins.



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