Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tillandsia rothii

Tillandsia rothii
Tillandsia rothii blooming in habitat in Jalisco
Tillandsia rothii is another classic plant from the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It is a species that is distributed throughout the lowland thorn forest on the west coast of Mexico.  Although primarily found in Jalisco it is also reported to extend into Colima and maybe even into Michoacan. 

The leaves curl down and make a spherical mass with the inflorescence extending up with fat, inflated paddles that transitions from the bright red to equally bright yellow.

Tillandsia rothii
While likely partially due to clonal differences, some plants that are exposed to high amounts of sunlight will go bright red even when not in bloom. This plant to the left is a great example and also shows the spherical nature of the plant.

Tillandsia rothii habitat
Tillandsia rothii covering a tree.

They can be locally abundant and grow in large numbers in individual trees.

Trees downed by a bulldozer with T. rothii clinging on.

Unfortunately in the name of 'progress' many plants are simply destroyed. This spot was being cleared for widening of the road, so many trees covered in Tillandsia rothii, T. intermedia, and T. balbisiana were bulldozed under and left to die. And even in cases like this we are not allowed to rescue these plants.

Tillandsia rothii large habitat
Although we cannot rescue these plants and bring them home, it allows for a closer inspection.  It is a marvel to see such a large specimen like this.  There is quite a range in size s of this species, and this plant is definitely on the larger end of that scale.  It has clearly been suffering for a while and is well past its prime. Even so, a very impressive plant!