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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 22 | Bromeliaceae

2. Tillandsia Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 286. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5; 138, 1754.

[After the Swedish botanist E. Tillands, 1640--1693]

Harry E. Luther;Gregory K. Brown

Herbs, usually epiphytic, stemless to long caulescent. Leaves mostly many-ranked, rosulate, or occasionally 2-ranked and / or laxly arranged; blade linear to triangular or ligulate, margins entire, trichomes usually conspicuous. Inflorescences central, 1--many-flowered, 2-ranked; floral bracts mostly broad, conspicuous, rachis covered or exposed at anthesis. Flowers bisexual; sepals distinct or adaxial pair connate, usually symmetric; petals distinct; stamens included or exserted, filaments free; ovary superior. Capsules cylindric, dehiscent. Seeds with basal, white, plumose appendage.

Species ca. 550 (13 species and 2 described natural hybrids in the flora): widespread in the Neotropics.


Gardner, C. S. 1982. Systematic Study of Tillandsia Subgenus Tillandsia. Ph.D. dissertation. Texas A&M University. Gardner, C. S. 1984. New species and nomenclatural changes in Mexican Tillandsia---I. Selbyana 7: 361--379. Luther, H. E. 1985. Notes on hybrid tillandsias in Florida. Phytologia 57: 175--176.

1 Leaves 2-ranked; inflorescence 1--2(--3)-flowered.   (2)
+ Leaves many-ranked; inflorescence more than 3-flowered.   (3)
2 (1) Stems elongate, plants forming pendent festoons; inflorescence reduced to single, apparently sessile flower, scape concealed within leaf sheath; petals yellow-green   1 Tillandsia usneoides
+ Stems short, plants densely clustered to form spheric masses; inflorescence of (1--)2(--3) flowers, scape conspicuous; petals violet   2 Tillandsia recurvata
3 (1) Floral bracts spreading and / or small, exposing most of rachis at anthesis.   (4)
+ Floral bracts imbricate, broad, covering all or most of rachis, rachis not visible at anthesis.   (5)
4 (3) Leaves 10--20, spirally twisted, banded silver; floral bracts 2.3--3.1 cm; inflorescences with 2--6 flowers per branch; corolla pink to dark rose   14 Tillandsia flexuosa
+ Leaves greater than 20 in number, not twisted or banded (rarely variegated with linear cream stripes); floral bracts 1.2--2 cm; inflorescence with 6--11 flowers per branch; corolla white   15 Tillandsia utriculata
5 (3) Leaf sheath conspicuously inflated; plants pseudobulbous.   (6)
+ Leaf sheath flat or only slightly inflated; plants not pseudobulbous.   (10)
6 (5) Leaf blade channeled to involute; scapes 8--35 cm; floral bracts glabrous to inconspicuously scaly near apex only.   (7)
+ Leaf blade involute; scapes 1--15 cm; floral bracts densely scaly.   (8)
7 (6) Leaf blade and scape bracts twisted, reflexed   6 Tillandsia balbisiana
+ Leaf blade and scape bracts erect to spreading   7 Tillandsia x smalliana
8 (6) Scape 7--15 cm; plants from extreme s Texas   3 Tillandsia baileyi
+ Scape 6 cm or less; plants from Florida.   (9)
9 (8) Inflorescence linear to narrowly elliptic; base of floral bracts visible at anthesis   4 Tillandsia paucifolia
+ Inflorescence broadly elliptic; base of floral bracts not visible at anthesis   5 Tillandsia pruinosa
10 (5) Leaf blade obviously narrowly triangular, tapering evenly from base to apex.   (11)
+ Leaf blade linear-triangular to filiform.   (12)
11 (10) Leaves soft, brittle; inflorescence simple or laxly 2--3 branched, never palmate; floral bracts 0.6--0.9 cm wide   12 Tillandsia variabilis
+ Leaves stiff, leathery; inflorescence densely palmate to laxly 2(--3)-pinnate with 3--15 branches; floral bracts 1.2--2 cm wide   13 Tillandsia fasciculata
12 (10) Leaf sheath narrowly elliptic, 1.2--2 cm wide, slightly inflated   8 Tillandsia simulata
+ Leaf sheath broadly elliptic to triangular, 0.8--2.5 cm wide, flat.   (13)
13 (12) Leaves finely appressed-scaly, appearing green to reddish green; sheath of scape bracts, especially distal ones, narrowing abruptly into blade; floral bracts green or tinged red, uniformly scaly; corolla lavender   9 Tillandsia setacea
+ Leaves densely and coarsely appressed-scaly, appearing gray; sheath of scape bracts narrowing gradually into blade; floral bracts uniformly red to rose, scaly distally, becoming sparsely scaly toward base; corolla violet.   (14)
14 (13) Leaves 15--30, not over 0.5 cm wide at mid-length; inflorescence simple or with 1--5 lateral branches   10 Tillandsia bartramii
+ Leaves 20--50, 0.5--1 cm wide at mid-length; inflorescence 2-pinnate with 2--10 lateral branches   11 Tillandsia x floridana

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