Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Icon of Vallarta - Tillandsia jalisco-monticola

Tillandsia jalisco-monticola

When driving through the mountains of Puerto Vallarta and notice a blooming bromeliad it will almost certainly be Tillandsia jalisco-monticola. It can be quite a large plant and when in full bloom will definitely catch your eye. The bright reds and yellows are why the local residents call it 'gallito', or rooster. An appropriate name for such a flamboyant plant perched up in the trees!

The scientific name is also quite appropriate. The specific epithet, 'jalisco-monticola', refers to the fact that the plant is only found growing in the mountains in the state of Jalisco.  But the only mountains in Jalisco that these plants grow is south of the city of Puerto Vallarta around the town of El Tuito.  Although they do range down to a slightly lower elevation as well, primarily they are found in the pine-oak forests.  They can grow to be quite sizable plants.  Most of the time they will have 2-3 branches or 'paddles' on a single plant, but sometimes they will have a single spike or even up to 4 and 5 paddles.

See more pictures and read more after the link...

Although not always typical, sometimes they will grow into massive clumps composed of many plants like in the tree above. It is more common for the plants to simply replace the mother plant with a single baby after she blooms like the plant below. Since they are larger plants it is probably safer for them not to make too large of a clump so they won't fall out of the tree due to the weight. They also might be more prone to rot if too many plants are growing too close. A single plant can grow up to nearly three feet in diameter and bloom nearly three feet tall.  In the plant below you can see the old plant's leaves and dried out flower spike hanging off to the left.  

They will also sometimes grow successfully on rocks next to orchids!  You can tell the plants that have more reddish colors are growing in much more intense sunlight.  On this boulder they were in full sun during the dry season as the oaks were deciduous.

Like any species they are variable.  I already mentioned that they can have anywhere from 1 to 5 branches or paddles on the inflorescence, but the paddles can also have different lengths and  differing amounts of yellow and red. Below is a plant with unusually long and also unusually yellow paddles being grown in the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

As the exceptions are always fun to see and show, below is a blooming plant with a simple inflorescence growing on a boulder in a protected ravine next to a blooming Pitcairnia (also a bromeliad!), orchids, and Peperomias.  Most of the time Tillandsia jalisco-monticola prefers growing in places with really good air circulation--like up in the trees--rather than down in this humid ravine!