Written by Derek Butcher
I don’t know if you realised that if you had been growing this plant in 1889 you would have called it T. ionantha but in the period from 1935 to 1941 you would have called it T. erubescens. You see Mez got a bit confused with T. erubescens sensu Schlechtendahl and T. erubescens sensu Wendland. We never get confused about names do we? And we never have the same name for two different things!
I would stick out my neck and say this is the most popular Tillandsia under cultivation and I say this because it is one of the few that grows well in Singapore and SE Asia as well as Cairns.
There are many forms or varieties to look at as well as Cultivar names and other names. First we will look at what the taxonomists have provided us with.
Scopus – like a brush
First we had Lyman Smith who gave us
T. ionantha var ionantha photo
T. ionantha var vanhyningii photo
T. ionantha var scaposa. Here we have a problem because in 1981 Walter Till described his first Tillandsia and called it T. kolbii. It had very limited distribution near Copala in Oaxaca, Mexico but Harry Luther saw it as the same as var scaposa with a wide distribution in Guatemala, San Salvador and Costa Rica and because it had a higher rank called all the var. scaposa by the species name T. kolbii. I will show you photos of these plants which shows them having traits that can be used to tell them apart. Renate Ehlers led the charge to prove them separate species and in 2009 with a bit of help from me we raised var scaposa to specific rank
While here we may as well se T. delicata
The next to come along was T. ionantha var zebrina in 1982 by Bert Foster having been found in Guatemala. 11 years later it was decided by Harry that it did not warrant varietal status. In 2002 I decided it should not be in limbo-land and added it to the Cultivar Register as T. ‘Zebrina’
In 1993 Pam Koide decided to bite the bullet regarding the various forms of T. ionantha that were being offered in the trade. One that she was aware of, did come from an area near El Camaron in Oaxaca, Mexico and needed a formal varietal name. It had been sold in the trade as ‘Stricta’ as well as ‘Rosita’. So Tillandsia var stricta came into being. In the same collection area there were plants that had a peculiar trait that was transmitted by seed and had been given the apt name of ‘Peanuts’ To the uninitiated this is fastigiate or a narrow elongated habit and so Tillandsia ionantha var. stricta forma fastigiata came into being.
In 2000 Renate Ehlers described T. ionantha var maxima from near Huamelula, Oaxaca, Mexico. Previously from about 1990 this had been grown as ‘Huamelulah’
It grows on lava rocks on the west coast of Oaxaca. The plants are very large in comparison to the typical species. A single specimen can be 3-4 inches in diameter. It has beautiful green leaves, forming a symmetrical rosette. During anthesis it turns a vivid pink-orange color, and produces large purple flowers.
Let us now look at those with cultivar names
`Apretado’ by P Koide in J Brom Soc 43: 163. 1993
Appears to be a variation of the Mexican T. ionantha var. ionantha. I have on occasion, found specimens of it growing in Mexico. They seem to grow larger than the typical species, and the leaves are succulent, slightly stiffer and more erect. They grow quite large as they are reluc¬tant to bloom. Was this named by Isley?
`Cone Head' by P Koide in J Brom Soc 43: 163. 1993
Another large cultivar of T. ionantha. Its origin is not known to Pam Koide but seems to be a nurseryman’s name used by Tillandsia International of California
‘Druid’ by Eloise Beach in J Brom Soc 34: 19. 1984
About fourteen years ago, Drew Schulz of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, collected a large quantity of Tillandsia ionantha near the city of Vera Cruz, Mexico. Nothing un¬usual appeared until 1971 when Drew was surprised to find a plant that turned bright yel¬low in the center and produced flowers with white petals , in contrast with the plant that blushes red and has violet flowers (the name ionantha refers to the color violet). One by one, more of the unusual yellow plants appeared in that original group until six were found. Those six were given lots of tender loving care.
The cultivar name, "Druid' was selected to give an aura of mystery, while incor¬porating the collector's name.
When not in bloom, T. ionantha `Druid' looks like the common ionantha: it is a miniature rosette, only two-three inches tall, and the leaves are covered with silvery
scales. It should be mounted, not potted, and can be grown in shady to nearly full sun locations. Spring is the usual blooming time.
While Tillandsia ionantha has many different sizes and shapes, few tillandsias in bloom command more admira¬tion. Now, T. ionantha `Druid' joins this variety-filled group and introduces a strikingly dif¬ferent color. Nature is full of surprises!
`Fuego' by P Koide in J Brom Soc 43: 163. 1993.
Another variation sold by Guatemalan nurseries, is red throughout its life, but differs from the Mexican T. ionantha var. stricta in that the leaf blades are somewhat stiffer and more upright. The rosette is closed. It has purple flowers.I do not know its distribution. Chris Larson comment When I visited the Bromeliifolia Nursery on the Pacific Coast, Kurt Meyer Jnr at one stage pointed to the rise in one direction (which I assumed was west) and said the coast line was just over the rise. If that was west, he
then pointed north and said "Fuego grows just over there". I assumed that
this meant just outside the confines of the huge shadecloth growing area
that we were standing in.
`Hand Grenade' by P Koide in J Brom Soc 43: 163. 1993
A very large form of T. ionantha which resembles a hand grenade. According to Dennis Cathcart, this form is from Honduras and appears to have indeterminate growth. It is a sparse bloomer and occasionally will crest.
‘Haselnuss’ name used in Germany - ?’Peanut’
‘Huamelula’ = v. maxima
`Peach' by P Koide in J Brom Soc 43: 163. 1993
A variation found near Taxco, Mexico. It is more typ¬ical of the species T. ionantha var. ionantha in size. The leaves are pale green until the plant blooms. Then they turn peach. The leaves are also softer than the typical species. It also produces purple flowers.
‘Peanut’ = v. stricta fa. fastigiata
‘Penito’ large form similar to ‘Apretado’, from Bromelifolia, Guatemala
‘Pink Champagne’ ionantha x Druid by Nev Ryan
‘Renate’ variegated form Very popular with those from SE Asia where they want to use all manner of names
‘Rosita’ = v. stricta
`Rubra' by P Koide in J Brom Soc 43: 163. 1993
This name is used to describe a cultivar of T. ionantha sold by Guatemalan nurseries. It has semi-succulent green leaves, which recurve from an open rosette. When it blooms it turns a light pink-rose color, and has purple flowers. I do not know the exact distribution of this plant.
‘Small Mexican’ from Alfredo Lau in the early 1990’s and widespread at least in Australia & New Zealand. As the name implies, flowers when quite small. Named by Chris Larson
Zebrina = a cultivar with light cross markings on the leaves
re post, awaiting pin.
This post has been edited by benetay: 08 January 2010 - 10:15 PM