Tillandsia religiosa
Click thumbnails for full size, scaled to a new window.

Tillandsia religiosa
Hern.-Cardenas, Gonzalez-Rocha, Espejo, Lopez-Ferr., Cerros & Ehlers, sp. nov. Fig. 1 A-F. Phytotaxa 184(1): 53-57. 2014

Tillandsia religiosa is similar to T. taxcoensis Ehlers from which it differs by having oblong-elliptic vs. ovate leaf-sheaths, its shorter spike stipes, flowers 9-16 vs. 5-6 per spike, and its glabrous and pruinose vs. densely cinereous-lepidote flower bracts.
Type:-MEXICO, Morelos, municipio de Tlayacapan: 920 m al SW de San Jose de los Laureles (en linea recta), rumbo a la barranca Tepecapa, taludes en bosque tropical caducifolio y bosque de Quercus, 1800 m, 1858'29" N, 9900'25" W 23 January 2011, A. Espejo, R. A. Hernandez-Cardenas, R. Cerros T., J. Espejo, A. Flores-Morales, L. J. Hernandez Baron y J. Mora 7419 (holotype UAMZ(x4)!, isotypes IEB(x3)! ).

Plant saxicolous, stemless, solitary flowering 0.8-1.5 m tall; rosette of the tank type, 35-50 cm high, 25-30 cm in diameter in the broadest part.
Leaves numerous, rosulate;
sheaths pale brown abaxially, dark brown adaxially, oblong-elliptic, densely punctulate-lepidote on both surfaces, glabrous towards the base, 16.5-23 cm long, 7.8-11.2 cm wide, entire;
blades green, narrowly triangular, densely punctulate-lepidote abaxially and sparsely punctulate-lepidote adaxially, 50-64 cm long, 3.8-7 cm wide, long attenuate, entire.
Inflorescence terminal, erect, once branched of 15-23 suberect to ascending spikes;
peduncle green, terete, erect, glabrous, 25-55 cm long, 0.8-1.9 cm diameter, fully covered by the sheaths of the bracts;
peduncle bracts green, densely lepidote, longer than the internodes, gradually decreasing in size toward the apical portion of the peduncle, 26-61 cm long, imbricate, the lower ones foliaceous, the apical ones with the sheaths ovate, 4.5-5 cm long, 3.5-5.5 cm wide, the blades narrowly triangular, 21-22 cm long, 1.2-2 cm wide;
primary bracts green to rose, gradually decreasing in size towards the apical portion of the inflorescence, shorter than the spikes, sparsely punctulate-lepidote adaxially, glabrous at the base and densely lepidote in the apical portion abaxially, 4-21 cm long; the apical ones rose, vaginiform, ovate-elliptic, 4-5.5 cm long, 1.7-1.9 cm wide, the basal ones green, foliaceous, similar in shape and size as the apical peduncle bracts, with the sheaths ovate, 5.3-4.5 cm long, 3.3-4.7 cm wide,
the blades reflexed, narrowly triangular, 11.5-16 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide;
spikes long stipitate, somewhat flattened, linear, (18-)20-26 cm long, 2-2.4 cm wide;
stipes bracteate, (7-)14-28 cm long;
floral bracts rose, greenish toward the basal margins, ovate when flattened, glabrous and pruinose, sparsely lepidote towards the apical margins abaxially, densely lepidote adaxially, imbricate, slightly carinate towards the apex, conspicuously veined towards the apical portion, 3.7-4.3 cm long, 1.5-1.7 cm wide, acute, longer than internodes and sepals;
flowers distichous, appressed to the rachis, 9-16 per spike, actinomorphic, tubiform;
sepals free, light green, narrowly ovate, glabrous, entire, 2.9-3.4 cm long, l-1.4 cm wide, acute, the 2 adaxial ones slightly carinate;
petals green in apical portion, white in basal portion, narrowly oblong-elliptic, glabrous, 4.7-5.6 cm long, 7.8-8.7 mm wide, acute and with reflexed margin at the apex;
stamens subequal, longer than petals, filaments free, green in apical portion, white in basal portion, filiform and twisted in the basal portion, 4.4-6.5 cm long; anthers yellow, narrowly oblong, 3.6-6 mm long, 1-1.6 mm wide;
ovary green, ovoid, 6.5-8.8 mm long, 2-4mm diameter; style green at the apex, white in the basal portion, filiform, 5-6.7 cm long, longer than petals and stamens; stigma green, conduplicate-spiral (Brown & Gilmartin, 1984), ca. 2 mm long.
Fruit and seeds unknown.

Distribution and habitat:- Tillandsia religiosa is known from the northern region of the state of Morelos (Map l) where it grows on rocky cliffs or vertical walls (Figure 2A) in tropical deciduous forest, coniferous forest, oak forest,and cloud forest in the municipalities of Tepoztlan, Totolapan, and Tlayacapan. The plants occur between 1,800 and 2,100 m elevation. Tillandsia religiosa blooms from December to March (Figure 2D).

Etymology:-Specific epithet refers to the religious-ornamental use of these plants by the people of the villages of the Sierra de Tepoztlan, like Tlayacapan, Tepoztlan and San Jose de los Laureles. The entire plants or the inflorescences are used in altar scenes ("nacimientos") during Christmas celebrations (Figure 2B).

Comments:-Because of its saxicolous habit, rosette and inflorescence morphology, Tillandsia religiosa could be confused, particularly in herbarium material, with T. superinsignis Matuda (1973:189), and with T. thyrsigera E Morren ex Baker (1889: 185). However, these two last species have violet corollas, while the new taxon has green petals. Tillandsia religiosa is also similar to T. taxcoensis Ehlers (1996: 26) (Figure2C, D), as both species have similar type of inflorescences and green petals, but there are clear differences between the two taxa that are shown in table 1 and figure 2C,D.

Additional specimens examined (paratypes):-MEXICO, Morelos, municipio de Tepoztln: at St. Catarina on steep walls, 1700 m, 4 March 1990, K. & R. Ehlers EM900401, (MEXU, WU); sendero a Ia zona arqueologica del Tepozteco, 2100 m, 1900'04.38" N, 9906'05.18" W, March 2013, E. Gonzalez-Rocha 235 (UAMIZ); municipio de Tlayacapan, barranca Tepecapa, 1950 m 1857'52.42" N, 9900'53.72" W 23 January 2011, R. A. Hernandez-Cardenas, R. Cerros-Tlatitpa, A. Flores-Morales & L. J. Hernandez-Baron 624 (IEB, IZTA, UAMIZ); barranca Tepecapa,, 1814m, 1858'40.71"N, 9900'25.35"W, 23 January 2011, R.A.Hernandez-Cardenas, R. Cerros Tlatilpa, A. Flores-Morales & L. J. Hernandez-Baron 637 (IEB, MEXU, UAMIZ), 638 (HUMO, IEB, MEXU, UAMIZ); municipio de Totolapan, 600 m al E de San Sebastian la Canada (en linea recta), ladera E del cerro, 1920 m, 1859'26" N, 9857'44" W, 15 December 2013, E. Gonzalez-Rocha, R. Cerros Tlatilpa, A. Espejo, A. R. Lopez-Ferrari & L. J. Hernandez-Baron 302 (photo UAMIZ).

Updated 31/10/14