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

Tillandsia straminea
Species. Ecuador, Peru.
Very delicate perfume like a Cattleya orchid.
Allan Ladd. 06/08
Terry Davis, BSA 2nd Open 02/10.
Terry Davis 02/10.
Bruce Dunstan 06/13.

Chris Larson 10/15
Peter Tristram 12/14 Purple bracts
Greg Aizlewood 08/18 Purple bracts
Peter Tristram ... "In July, when Chris, Michael and I visited Bromelias de Colombia, Gruber’s nursery at Fusagasuga down the hill from Bogota, we were taken aback by the many forms of T. straminea (and cacticola) being cultivated. The only one to bloom so far is this fantastic purple-bracted form. It is stemless and in the large range but nothing like the Grubers’ monster, individual plants of which must weigh well over a kilo. A couple of these big ones are budding too. There is also a yellow-flowered form. The straminea hybrids of theirs are damned nice too."
Chris Larson 03/21 forma. alba
Chris Larson ... "This one came from Bruce who got from Peter Tristram. Quite attractive."
Bruce Dunstan ... "I’ve struggled with this form in that it has always flowered early in comparison to my other 6 or so forms of T. straminea. By flowering early it has only had the strength to produce a couple of pups due to the small size. Thankfully this season they all have stayed in vegetative growth and with the extra growing season will get to a better size before flowering next Spring. From memory it also tends to flower early like T. Deep Purple well before the standard pink forms do in November. One day I’d like to do cut flowers like Franz Gruber does."
Bruce Dunstan 10/21 forma. alba ex. Lotte Hrondrak
Bruce Dunstan ... "Finally got this plant to put on some size before flowering. Previously it would flower at a very small size and struggle to produce more than a couple of pups. Another from Peter Tristram. I guess it may need a cultivar name in the future."
Bruce Dunstan 11/21 forma. alba ex. Lotte Hrondrak
Ray Clark 04/23 forma. alba
Rob Bower 01/22 "long leaf ex. Utrecht"
Rob Bower ... "A form of straminea - the label says it's from Utrecht - via Peter Tristram. It's smaller than some other forms but quite pretty."
Peter Tristram ... "Nice! It would have left me as 'stemmed' or 'caulescent form' though, from memory. I got it from Eric ages ago for which I am very grateful."
Bruce Dunstan ... "I have one labelled Ex Gouda Peru. Guessing it is likely the same as it is quite thin and stem forming."
Harold Kuan 11/18
Harold Kuan ... "I've got a T. straminea that has recently begun flowering, and I've noticed that curiously enough, whilst some flowers are coming up with the regular white petals distinctly tipped with purple, others are coming out as entirely pale purple across the petals with no white and no real consistent tipping – this is all on the one plant.
I cross-checked with the images on the disc, but they also seem to have the white petals with purple tips as far as I can see.
Has anyone experienced this with their T. straminea or any other Tillandsia? Is there a reason for this difference taking place? I'd be quite curious to know the reason behind this!"

Bruce Dunstan 05/20 'Ecuador'
Andrew Flower 05/20 'Skinny'
Chris Larson 05/20
Bruce Dunstan ... "Labelled T. straminea Ecuador from Greg Aizlewood. They look nothing like any of the many other stramineas I grow with the fantastic recurved leaves that also roll up along the full leaf blade and strongly caulescent growth. Greg do you have any info on when and where you got them? and have you flowered them. I’ve got them in all day full sun along with all the others mentioned and they grow there happily."
Andrew Flower ... "I can't help with any provenance, but this one has been around here for at least 20 years labelled "Tillandsia straminea Skinny" - mine (which are grown indoors (NZ) in un-heated shadehouse), can get quite a lot longer than the one in this pic before they flower. Very prolific puppers, too. Grow like weeds in the cool climes."
Bruce Dunstan ... "Andrew: That looks pretty close with the caulescent habit and thin rolled leaves. I’m hoping for flowers to compare."
Chris Larson ... "In a similar vein, here is one collected by me somewhere between Lima & Ayacucho in Peru. Have to find my books to find out where. This one is skinny."
Steve Molnar 01/21
Steve Molnar ... "This one is from Peter Tristram, labelled as T. straminea `very upright form'. And it certainly is very upright, the inflorescence isn't as purple as some of my other forms, but the flowers are stunning."

Food for thought...
Derek Butcher 02/18 ... re. straminea pictures... "why isn't your plant T. purpurea ? This has bugged me for years.
NOTE In Binomials 1 1990 and confirmed in DeRebus I 1994 T. purpurea and T. straminea were split with no reason given. Therefore the description has been taken from Mez 1934. In Mez’s key the difference was shown as ‘Floral bracts less or equalling the sepals for T. straminea and floral bracts a little exceeding the sepals for T. purpurea’. BUT in his descriptions he has T. straminea bracts 18mm sepals 16mm, sessile? and T. purpurea bracts 12mm sepals 11mm with pedicel up to 5mm!!! Whereas Baker in 1889 says T. straminea has calyx reaching the tip of the bract and T. purpurea has calyx as long as the bract.
Desc from Rauh (1979) Habitat Southern Ecuador to central Peru, from the coastal desert up to 2,500 m. Can easily be confused with T. purpurea from which it differs by its straw yellow and naked primary bracts.
In California Brom trade 1998 purpurea = short stiff leaves (Mez rigid, 20cm x 14mm wide), straminea = long lax leaves (Mez leathery, 25cm x 10mm wide)"

Peter Tristram 02/18 ... "In nature there are Pacific coastal plants with succulent, relatively short leaves generally regarded as purpurea and mountain plants, usually epiphytic, with long, lax, softer leaves that are thought to be straminea.
Then there is cacticola, which I have seen growing with straminea in the Cochabamba area of northern Peru. You also find what could be purpurea in the high Andes and many in-betweeners.
Interestingly none of the plants with distinct branches with more imbricate fb (usually lax after anthesis) that we tend to call cacticola, are fragrant, whereas all of the purpurea and straminea forms I have come across, are. Food for thought. Great bunch of plants!!
Franz Gruber has an amazing collection of these species, from Peru and Ecuador – damned shame about the bloody Xylella restrictions!"

Tillandsia straminea H B K. Nov. Gen. et Spec. I. (1815) 285
Tillandsia scoparia Willd. ex Roem. et Schult. Syst. VII. (1830) 1217
Platystachys scoparia Beer, Bromel. (1857) 265
Tillandsia azurea Presl, Rel. Haenk. I. (1835-36)124, t. 24
Platystachys azurea Beer, 1. c. 90
Treated as a synonym of T. purpurea in S&D but treated as species in its own right by Luther in Binomials 1 1990– no reasons given.

Description from Mez 1935
Plant stemless, to 50cm high.
Leaves by no means forming a bulbose rosette, to 25cm long, 10mm wide next to sheath, then tapering gradually to a long filiform tip, leathery, large lepidote, spreading, brownish pruinose.
Scape slender, erect, doubly exceeding the leaves, dense straw coloured sheaths, sub membranaceous, elliptic- lanceolate, the tip of the lower bracts threadlike and bent downwards, the upper ones much shorter, dense lepidote, involute.
Inflorescence many flowered, sub-digitate panicle, dense, to 9cm long, and 6cm wide.
Primary bracts elliptic-lanceolate, long acute, shorter than the spikes.
Spikes ca 6, 6-8 flowered, subsessile, subpinnate, to 6.5cm long and 3cm wide, sub-erect.
Floral bracts a little shorter than the sepals, sub-erect, not at all imbricate, to 7mm apart, sub-membranaceous, prominently nerved on the back, carinate towards the tip and a little incurved, wide elliptic-ovate, acute, to 18mm long.
Flowers to 2.2cm long, sub-erect.
Sepals anterior free, posterior pair connate to 2mm, sub-leathery wide hyaline margins, wide ovate-elliptic, becoming obtuse, to 1.6cm long.
Petals longer than the sepals by up to 5mm, blades sub-erect, rounded.
Stamens included.
Habitat Peru, near Olleros (Humboldt and Bonpland n. 3496), near Huanuco (Haenke), Tal des Rimac, to the ruined walls of Cajamarquilla (Seler n.252). Ecuador; near Riobamba (Andre n. 4318)

Description from Rauh (1979)
Tillandsia straminea H B K., 1816
Plant stemless to short-stemmed, up to 50cm high
Leaves forming a rosette, up to 25 cm long, heavily grey-scaled
Sheath not clearly delineated
Blade narrowly lanceolate, about 1.4cm wide, long-tapered
Scape slender, upright
Scape bracts overlapping, narrow, scaled, with a thin, straw yellow blade
Inflorescence compound, seldom simple
Primary bracts lanceolate, naked, straw yellow, shorter than the loose spikes of 6 to 8 flowers
Floral bracts flared, oval-pointed, 1.8 cm long, as long as the sepals, keeled
Flower up to 2.2 cm long, white, with a blue edge, fragrant, enveloping the stamens
Habitat Southern Ecuador to central Peru, from the coastal desert up to 2,500 m. Can easily be confused with T. purpurea from which it differs by its straw yellow and naked primary bracts.

7. TILLANDSIA STRAMINEA. H B K. Nov. Gen. et Spec. 1. (1815) 285
T. foliis linearibus, apice subulatis, basin versus dilatatis, canaliculatis, argenteo-lepidotis; panicula simplici coactata bracteis calycem exteriorem subaequantibus, glabris. Crescit juxta montem Aipate et pagum Olleros Peruianorum inter Loxa et Jaen de Bracamoros, alt. 760 hexap. Perennial, Floret Augusto. Parasitica. Caulis sesqui- aut bipedalis, simplex, trigonus, glaber, foliosus. FOLIA linearia, apicem versus subulata, basin versus dilatata, vaginantia, canaliculata, rectiuscula, squamulis argenteis undique obsita, octo aut novempollicaria. VAGINAE striatae, argenteo-lepidotae; superiores aphyllae. PANICULA terminalis coarctata, oblonga, tripollicaris; ramis alternis, erectis, rhachique triquetris, glabris. FLORES sessiles, bracteati. BRACTEAE oblongae, acutae, concavae, striatae, glabrae, semipollicares, pallide violaceae, exsiccatae colore stramineo. CALYX exterior tripartitus, bracteam subaequans; laciniis lanceolato-oblongis, concavis, coriaceis, striatis, glabris, pallide violaceis, exsiccatis colore stramineo, interior corollaceus , exteriore longior, albus, apice versus violaceus. CAPSULAM haud observavi.
Description: Translated by Butcher
Tillandsia with linear leaves,tip subulate, dilated towards the base, canaliculate, silver lepidote; panicle simple, bracts pressed together and almost equalling the exterior calyx, glabrous.
Grows near the mountain Aipate and the district of Olleros in Peru between Loxa & Jaen de Bracamoros, alt. 760 fathoms. Perennial, Flowers August.
Parasitic. Stem 1˝ to 2 feet long, simple, three angled, glabrous, leafy.
LEAVES linear, subulate towards the tip, dilated towards the base, with sheath, channelled, becoming erect, covered with silver scales on all sides, 8 – 9 inches long.
SHEATHS (? scape bracts) striate, silver lepidote; upper ones without blades.
PANICLE terminal pressed together, oblong, 3 inches long; branches alternate, erect, rhachis three edged, glabrous.
FLOWERS sessile, with a bract.
BRACTS oblong, acute, concave, striate, glabrous, half inch long, pale violet, when dry colour of straw.
CALYX exterior in 3 parts, almost equalling the bracts; segments lanceolate-oblong, concave, coriaceous, striate, glabrous, pale violet, when dry coloured like straw, interior petal-like, exterior long, white, violet towards the tip.
CAPSULE not seen.

TILLANDSIA azurea Presl, Rel. Haenk. I. (1835-36)124, t. 24
T. foliis argenteo-lepidotis apice lineari-subulatis, spica paniculata laxa, floribus distantibus, bracteis calycem superantibus, infimis argenteo -lepidotis. Hab. in montanis Peruviae ad Huanocco, Perennial. Caulis sesquipedalis erectus teres vaginis foliorum argenteo-lepidotis vestitus simplicissimus, basi crebrius foliosus. Folia infima 5 pollices longa, 4 lineas lata, patentia, lanceolata, basi paulo dilatata amplexantia, apice in acumen tenue subulatum canaliculatum attenuata, caulina erecta lineari-lanceolata in apicem tenuem lineari-subulatum canaliculatum longe attenuata, omnia squamis densissimis argenteo-nitentibus. obtecta. Spica terminalis basi ramo uno-duobus instructa erecta. Bracteae alternae parum distantes striatae ovato-lanceolatae acutiusculae margine scariosae, inferiores fere pollicares argenteo - lepidotae, superiores decrescentes glabrae. Calyx glaber bracteis una quarta parte brevior, laciniis oblongis obtusis striatis margine scariosis. Corolla azurea, laciniis ovatis patentibus duas lineas superantibus. Capsulam non vidi.
Explicatio iconis in Tab. XXIV.
Fig. 1. Planta naturali magnitudine. 2. Flos seorsim positus naturali magnitudine.
Description: Translated by Butcher
Tillandsia with leaves silver lepidote, tip linear-subulate, spike a lax panicle,
flowers apart, bracts exceed the calyx, at the base silver lepidote.
Habitat in mountains of Peru near Huanocco, Perennial.
Stem 1˝ feet long erect, tubular sheaths of the leaves silvery lepidote, simple, base with many close together leaves.
Leaves lower ones 5 inches long, ? inch wide, spreading, lanceolate, a little wider at the base clasping the stem, tip tenuous subulate canaliculate attenuate, those on the stem erect linear-lanceolate tip tenuous linear-subulate canaliculate long attenuate, all covered with very dense shiny silver scales.
Spike terminal with one or two erect branches from the base.
Bracts alternate similar distance apart striate ovate-lanceolate becoming acute margins scarious, lower ones nearly 1 inch long silvery lepidote, upper ones becoming smaller glabrous.
Calyx glabrous bracts a quarter shorter, segments oblong obtuse striate margins scarious.
Corolla blue, segments ovate spreading, exceeding by 1/6th. Capsule not seen. Explanation of Icon in Tab. XXIV.
Fig. 1. Plant natural size. 2. Flowers in separate position natural size.

Updated 27/04/23