The more exotic the plant, the better I like it, so it’s no surprise I’m fascinated by Tillandsias. Thus far I’ve only grown native varieties, but when I saw this alien-looking, Bolivian relative at Gardenfest, I knew it was time to branch out. 😉
T. duratii grows wild on the Chaco Plain in South America, an area of xerophytic deciduous forests for which it is well suited. Unlike most Tillandsias, T. duratii has an obvious leafy stem, better seen in this next picture:
T. duratii has very distinctive, recurved lower leaves that form curlicues around convenient branches, while new leaves “climb up” from the tip to maintain sun exposure. In this way, a single specimen can sometimes blanket an entire tree!
In the next photo you’ll notice the thin, wiry roots typical of all bromeliads. Over time, they grow into the surrounding tree bark, firmly binding epiphyte and host.
There are two forms of T. duratii, identical except for the shape of the inflorescence. The spikes of T. duratii (my plant) are erect and tight against the rachis, while the spikes of T. duratii saxatilis are curved and spreading as seen in the picture below:
While other Tillandsias have a tubular arrangement of petals, the flowers of both duratiis are more reminiscent of neoregelias: three open lilac flowers with white throats. It’s been said the scent of a single duratii in bloom is SO fragrant it overpowers everything else in the greenhouse!
Predicting when T. duratii will spike is akin to betting on the lottery–the odds aren’t good! I’ve read accounts of spiking anywhere between 5 and 30 years, with sometime between 12-18 being most likely! Hopefully mine is on the lower end of the scale! I’d like to experience it before I’m too old to care—or recognize it!! 🙂
Until next time….
🙂 🙂 🙂