Tillandsia gardneri var. rupicola
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Tillandsia gardneri var. rupicola
Ken Woods.
David Sheumack plant, photo Ken Woods.
Peter Tristram 10/14
Stephen Haines 10/14
Peter Tristram ... "Every year some plants of the fabulous T. gardneri var. rupicola bloom in late winter/early spring, in my collection. The species was introduced into horticulture back in the ‘80s and most of my stock was imported back then. More recently I obtained 2 more forms – Alba, so I assume white flowers, from Germany (yet to bloom) and Purple, so I assumed purple something, from a Florida nursery (at great expense I might add). Now, anyone who knows this species will know it is not exactly a red-flowering Brazilian, more a purple/lilac flowering Brazilian, originally described in 1982 and having petals that are ‘pale violaceo-roseate’ (awkward translation from the Latin I think) with a white corolla. All of the normal T. gardneri that I have ever seen, including the ones that look like intergrades with chapeuensis, have had red flowers, though, in the description they are described as ‘rose or pale lavender’.
So how are the three pictured different? Yes they are! Which one is the expensive ‘rarity’ from a Florida nursery? Hopefully some seed has been set as all three are different clones, though I haven’t had a lot of success with this species in the past."
Derek Butcher ... "You did not mention the delicious 11 pages of info on the DVD. Elton tells us that it grows with T. neglecta which is probably the cause for differing petal colour. I am guessing that self set seed from var rupicola will produce variability."
Bruce Dunstan 05/19
Bruce Dunstan ... "With great joy I noticed some buds on 4 different clones of gardneri var. rupicola. Hoping for seeds later. Fingers crossed."
Andrew Flower ... "I tend to get confused, and at least find it interesting, that all the photos labelled "Tillandsia gardneri var rupicola" show the plant stemless whereas in the descriptions:
T. gardneri (Lindley) 1842 - "Plant: stemless...."
T. gardneri (Lindl) var. rupicola Piera 1981 - "...Differs from type in Plant long caulescent...." and (now syn. var. rupicola) T. gardneri Lindl var. cabofrioensis Weber & Ehlers - plant up to 30cm. long, caulescent...."
Am I missing something here? Or does it all come down to the secund leaves??"
Derek Butcher ... "I have not yet got the knack to identify when not in flower. I always think of a caulescent plant as being a plant that does not know when to flower. We have lots of these in Adelaide when stuck on a bit of wood. This is a species with lots of synonyms showing how the taxonomists were confused in years past and whether they were lumpers or splitters. So I, for one will sit and wait."
Bruce Dunstan ... "Interesting point. My first two plants were grown less than optimally and did produce caulescent stems over time hanging down off their mounts. Since then I moved them to full sun and much more water and fertiliser and they now flower well before they have time to produce stems. I’m betting that in nature, without the extra fertiliser, they would produce stems. I have tracked down some images from the old impoverished versions. (see below)."
Bruce Dunstan 08/16
Bruce Dunstan ... "These were the images of the first flowering in August 2016 Sadly I wasn’t trying to get a close up of the caulescent growth habit. From memory the floral structure, bract indument and colour is a little different from T. gardneri. I have a T. gardneri in bud currently so we will be able to compare soon."
Bruce Dunstan 06/19
Bruce Dunstan 12/19
Peter Tristram 12/19
Bruce Dunstan 05/20

Bruce Dunstan 06/19 ... "Some success in pollinating multiple clones with healthy seed set. Now to grow them to maturity."
Peter Tristram ... "My remaining 8 yr old seedlings. Unfortunately the heatwaves a few years ago fried most of the babies but the survivors are going well 2cm+ I reckon for a few. I have my seedlings in much more shade now as protection when those seemingly endless 37+ days come."
Bruce Dunstan ... "Sadly, you need different clones to set seed of T. gardneri var. rupicola."
Bruce Dunstan 05/20 ... "T. gardneri var. rupicola are getting close to flowering. Going back for the past few years and checking dates these seem about 4-6 weeks ahead of previous flowering times. No overseas travel means I’ll get to pollinate rather than rely on Eleesa to do it for me!"
Bruce Dunstan 08/20
Bruce Dunstan 05/21

Bruce Dunstan 08/20 ... "This one seems to be the most purple yet. From Barry Genn."
Robert Reilly ... "The inflorescence on my plant seemed to develop quite quickly, but then “stalled” when we had a period of cold (by Brisbane standards!) weather."
Pam Butler ... "I have had a similar experience with forms of T. gardneri. They don't like the cold nights. Even T. Cabaret did the same thing this year."
Bruce Dunstan 08/21
ex. BRT
Bruce Dunstan 08/21
Bruce Dunstan 08/21
Peter Tristram 08/23
Peter Tristram ... "Just a couple of forms of the beautiful T. gardneri var. rupicola, which is another plant that deserves species status, imo. Posts on Facebook often show red flowering species from much further north under this name. Confusing! I remind them to check the description. I have been told the whole group is being revised, again, so I hope I live long enough!"

Tillandsia gardneri var. rupicola white petal form

Peter Tristram 08/17, v. rupicola Alba
Peter Tristram ... "I have waited quite a few years to see whether Lotte's T. gardneri var rupicola Alba indeed was a white flowered form. The plant looked to be a seedling too though could also have been a very small pup growing out. I was dubious when pinkish bracts appeared but, when a white flower appeared about a week ago, my doubts were forgotten. I waited for a second flower before taking these snaps. I have a couple of others from a later trip so hope they will also prove to be 'Albas'.
A more pressing question for me is what the dna will show, as to whether this beautiful species is really a species in its own right not a variety of gardneri."

Peter Tristram 09/23
Peter Tristram ... "Worth looking at! The white flowered one, ex Lotte, is a real treat. Hopefully seed is set and there'll be a lot more in 10 years."
Ray Clark ... "Very nice Peter, mine is growing strong but I cannot recall flowering it yet."
Adam Bodzioch ... "Got mine from Peter 10 to 12 years ago. I can flower gardneri but var. rupicola hasn't looked like flowering. Must be some problem with the climate in Adelaide."

Ed. ... See notes under T. gardneri for description of types.
(Particularly note Elton Leme's comment in J. Brom. Soc. 37: 217-9. 1987, that Edmundo Pereira, in 1981, first described var. rupicola as having white petals based on his first specimen studied.)

Updated 21/10/23