Tillandsia Grey Power
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Tillandsia Grey Power
BCR ... "Grown in Qld. AU as erecta for many years but has large greyish flowers. It appears to be a bandensis hybrid which has been confirmed by Dr. Walter Till."
bandensis x crocata ?
Ken Woods 05/06
Derek Butcher 02/16
Dale Dixon 01/19
Dale Dixon ... "I have two individuals of this cultivar in flower today and they are somewhat different. Has anyone else experienced this or is one of mine something other than Grey Power? The plant shown above has the ‘greyish’ flowers and is overall a small compact plant and best conforms to Derek’s description on BinA and BCR."
Derek Butcher ... "It was over 20 years ago when I flowered an odd looking T. erecta I had got from Queensland and eventually worked out it had to be hybrid that I called 'Grey Power'. A few offsets would have come from my clone but others could have decided that their T. erecta was really 'Grey Power' and changed the tabel. Now might be the time to reverse the procedure and see if your other 'Grey Power' is closer to T. erecta. Description enclosed."
Dale Dixon ... "It’s interesting that you should recommend that strategy. I did exactly that yesterday after I posted the images. I went back and had a look at descriptions of other Diaphoranthema. I’m leaning more towards Tillandsia funebris for my brown coloured plant, but it’s still not a good fit. I did check out the description of T. erecta on the encyclopaedia but Eric says T. erecta inflorescence is with one flower. Tillandsia funebris has 1-2 flowers per inflorescence."

Tillandsia erecta - Derek Butcher in Bromeliaceae 1998 #6 p9

April/May is that time of year when few Tillandsias want to flower, but it is the time to expect T. crocata with its bright yellow flowers and delightful perfume to perform. Also we see the bright blue of T. bandensis and at this time of year we can also expect a grey petalled flower in similar shape to the flower on T. bandensis and having 3-4 flowers per inflorescence. The plant although similar in shape is a bit smaller. No doubt you have this plant as T. erecta.

The interesting part is that this plant is NOT Tillandsia erecta but is certainly a hybrid with one of the parents being T. bandensis.
A true T. erecta is a smaller plant with an inflorescence having only one erect flower. The petals are a dirty yellow and remain erect, rarely opening.
Back to our grey petalled plant hereafter referred to as Tillandsia 'Grey Power' for obvious reasons. I have considered Queensland Blue for equally obvious reasons because this problem originates in Queensland and the trail peters out there. They are very good poker players up there! The plant was in existence in Queensland before Rolly Reilly started his seed raising campaign but I could not find out if the plant had been imported or grown from imported seed.

While a cross between T. bandensis and T. crocata would probably produce grey flowers, hybrid vigour would probably ensure a larger plant than either of its parents. In this case the plant is slightly smaller than T. bandensis so I felt the other parent had to be smaller too. It could even be T. erecta but more likely T. funebris (its very close cousin!) if it were a natural hybrid.
I could find no reference to a hybrid occurring in this situation either man made or natural. I wrote to Dr. Walter Till of Vienna who is the world authority on these extra small Tillandsias. He confirmed my views on it being a hybrid and suggested another possible parent – T. myosura. He was unaware of this plant as a natural hybrid! I can assure you that this small plant with petals a delightful grey, offsets well and is widely spread in Australia. BUT, please change its name from T. erecta to T. 'Grey Power'. Perhaps it should have been retired years ago!
Fulham S.A.

Vic Przetocki 04/19. Originally as erecta
Vic Przetocki 03/20

Updated 12/01/24