Tillandsia balbisiana
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Tillandsia balbisiana
Ken Woods 08/04
Ken Woods 11/07
Dale Dixon 03/21
Dale Dixon ... "Tillandsia balbisiana (subg. Tillandsia) has a very wide distribution from Florida in the US, the West Indes, Mexico to Colombia and Venezuela. It is epiphytic in forest between 0 and 1500m elevation.
The species epithet honours Giovanni Battista Balbis (17 November 1765 – 3 February 1831) an Italian botanist and politician who worked in Italy and France. The type specimen used to support the species description came from his personal Herbarium. It was not uncommon for individuals to own personal natural history collections in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were very valuable commodities that were traded at high prices. Many of these collections now form the basis of major herbaria around the world. The personal herbarium of Balbis is now part of the Natural History Museum London.
A very easy species to grow at least in my conditions on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. It makes an attractive clump with its long curved leaves, inflated bases and tall thin exserted inflorescences. Even though plants have an inflated base it doesn’t suffer from crown rot as the leaf bases are loosely arranged. It flowers regularly each year for me and produces multiple offsets. My plants are suspended on aluminium craft wire in the #TillHouse."

Tillandsia balbisiana Schultes filius in Roemer & Schultes, Syst. 7(2): 1212. 1830.
Viscum caryophylloides maxim. flore tripetalo, pallide, luteo, femine filamentoso Ray. Hist. Suppl. 405. 1704; as to description, not as to Sloane citation.
Viscum caryophylloides angustifolium, floribus caeruleis Catesby, Carol. 2: 89, pI. 89. 1743.
Tillandsia polystachya sensu Gmelin, Syst. Veg. 1: 530. 1796; non Linnaeus, 1762. Based on Catesby, Carol. 1743.
Tillandsia tenuifolia Bertero ex Schultes filius in Roemer & Schultes, Syst. 7(2): 1212. 1830; nomen; non Linnaeus, 1762.
Platystachys digitata Beer, Bromel. 1857. Based on Catesby, Carol. 1743.
Tillandsia urbaniana Wittmack, Bot. Jahrb. II: 65. 1889. Type. Cartago, Costa Rica, Lehmann 1771 (G, US photo), 4 Feb 1882.
Tillandsia cubensis Gandoger, Bull. Soc. Bot. France 66: 290. 1920. Type. Santiago de las Vegas, Habana, Cuba, Baker & Wilson 591 (POM, isotype), July 2, 1904.
Tillandsia dressleri L. B. Smith, Phytologia 8: 221,pl. 1,fig. 7. 1962.
Desc from S&D p985
Plant flowering 13-65 cm high.
Leaves many in a dense bulbous rosette, often exceeding the inflorescence if extended but typically recurved, densely and minutely paleappressed-lepidote throughout, often purple-margined;
Sheaths ovate, large, inflated, forming an ovoid or ellipsoid pseudobulb to 12 cm long, pale-ferruginous toward the base;
Blades abruptly spreading or recurved from the apices of the sheaths, linear-triangular, filiform-attenuate, 1 cm wide at the base, usually involute for their entire length.
Scape erect or ascending, slender, subglabrous;
Scape-bracts erect, imbricate, elliptic with long, linear, spreading or renexed blades, inflated.
Inflorescence densely pinnate or subdigitate or rarely simple and distichous-flowered, slenderly fusiform or sub cylindric, dense, to 2 dm long;
Primary bracts like the upper scape-bracts, at least their sheaths shorter than the axillary spikes;
Spikes sessile, strict, linear, acute, 3-12 cm long, 1 cm wide at anthesis, complanate. Floral bracts erect, imbricate, ovate, obtuse and apiculate but often appearing acute in drying, 15-22 mm long, exceeding the sepals, coriaceous, even or slightly nerved toward apex, glabrous or obscurely lepidote, ecarinate, often bright red;
Flowers erect; pedicels very short.
Sepals lanceolate, acute, coriaceous, even, glabrous, connate posteriorly;
Petals tubular-erect, ligulate, obtuse, 30-45 mm long, violet;
Stamens and pistil exserted.
Capsule slenderly cylindric, acute, 4 cm long.
Type. Bertero s n (TO nv), Jamaica.
DISTRIBUTION. Epiphytic in forest, from near sea level to 1500 m alt, Florida, West Indies and Mexico to Colombia and Venezuela.
UNITED STATES. FLORIDA, Osceola, Holopaw, 23 Mar 1953, Foster 2819 (US); 8 June 1960, Ward 2004 (FLAS, US); Highlands: Lake Grassy, II May 1947, Brass 18111 (US); Palm Beach: West Palm Beach, 13 Apr 1909, Harper 28 (GH, US);
Loxahatchee, 5 Dec 1926, Small & Mosier s n (NY, US); Lee: Caloosa River, Ju11880, Curtiss 2846 (GH, US); Fort Myers, 1900, Hitchcock 347 (GH, US); Feb 1916, Standley 12556 (US); Sanibel Island, 18 May 1901, Tracy 7645 (GH, US); Broward: Oakland Park, I May 1959, Sturtevant 126 (US); Collier: Chokoloskee Island, Apr 1891, Simpson 289 (US); Pinecrest, 15 Apr 1952, Field & Lazar s n (US); June 1959, Hawkes 5571 (US); Dade: Miami River, 10 Ju11895, Curtiss 5467 (GH, POM, US); Miami, 30 Oct 1896, Evermann 507 (US); Apr 1898, Pollard & Collins 267 (US); Homestead, 7 Oct 1929, O'Neill 5994 (US); Monroe: Big Pine Key, 1950, Killip & Swallen 40321 (US); Flamingo, 17 Jan 1958, Craighead 10 (US). MEXICO. SINALOA: Mazatlan, Strickland s n (BM); Labradas, 18 Sep 1925, Ferris & Mexia 5162 (DS); La Cruz, 18 Dec 1968, Rudd 3031-A (US). SAN LUIS POTOSI: Ciudad Valles, 24 Nov 1959; Rzedowski 9734 (IPMEX). NAYARIT: Acaponeta, Jul 1897 , Rose 1521 (US); Maria Madre, Tres Marias Islands, 19 May 1925, Mason 1722 (US); San Blas, 10 Oct 1925, Ferris 5463 (DS, US). VERA CRUZ: Panuco, Apr 1910, Palmer 371 (US); Tampico, May 1910, Palmer 440 (US); Mirador, Apr 1929, Skwarra s n (GH, US); Rancho La Palmilla, Apr 1929, Purpus 13085 (DS). GUERRERO: Acapulco, 1882, Hancock 51 (K). CHIAPAS: San Quintin, Laguna Miramar, Mar 1955, Sohns 1598 (US); 1720 (US); Habenal, Tenejapa, Breedlove 6328-A (DS); La Trinitaria, 26 Jan 1965, Breedlove & Raven 8387 (DS, US); 8411 (DS, US). YUCATAN: Merida, Schott 842 e p (F); 894 (BM); Chichen Itza, 1938, Lundell 7330 (MICH); 7333 (MICH); 7522 (MICH, US); 7923 (MICH); Progreso, JuI 1938, Lundell 8116 (MICH). GUATEMALA. PETEN: Uaxactun, 7 Apr 1931,Bartlett 12515 (MICH); La Libertad, 20 Apr 1933, Lundell 2913 (GH, MICH, US); Lake Yaxha, Jun 1933, Lundell 3960 (MICH); Tikal, 1959, 15289 (LL, US). HUEHUETENANGO: Miramar, 29 Aug 1942, Steyermark 51534 (F, GH). GUATEMALA: Fiscal, 12 Dec 1938, Standley 59662 (F, GH); 18 Dec 1940, 80413 (F); Rio Vil1alobos, Jan 1966, Molina, Burger & Wallenta 16064 (EAP, F, US). BRITISH HONDURAS. Northern River, 26 Jul 1934, Gentle 1337 (GH); Mountain Pine Ridge, El Cayo, 1936, Lundell 6795 (GH); Columbia, Toledo, 5 Mar 194 7, Gentle 6187 (LL). HONDURAS. COMAYAGUA: San Pedro Sula, 22 Jul 1964, Gilmartin 1005 (US). COLON: Rio Aguan, Coyoles, 28 Jun 1938, Yuncker, Koepper & Wagner 8118 (GH). PARAISO: Zamorano, 7 Ju1 1964, Gilmartin 949 (US); Jiniapa, 8 Ju1 1964, Gilmartin 950 (US); Rio Mata, Indio, 8 Jul 1964, Gilmartin 951 (US); Yuscaran, 16 Jul 1964, Gilmartin 992 (US). VALLE: El Tular, 14 Jan 1968, Molina 21458 (EAP, US). NICARAGUA. MATAGALPA: San Ramon, 1963, Heller 5716 (F); 5717 (F). CHINANDEGA: Realejo, 1903, Baker 2138 (GH, POM). MANAGUA: Managua, May 1932, Gamier 783 (US). MASAYA: Masaya, 5 Dec 1968, Nichols 117 (US). CHONTALES: Acopaya, 4 Jan 1969, Atwood 1651 (US). COSTA RICA. PUNTARENAS: Puntarenas, 14 Jul 1923, Maxon & Harvey 7849 (US). ALAJUELA: Los Chiles, Rio Frio, 1 Aug 1949, Holm & Iltis 774 (US); 781 (US). PANAMA. CANAL ZONE: Summit, 4 Jan 1924, Standley 29679 (US). COLON: Gamboa, Rio Chagres, 3 Feb 1947, Allen 4134 (MO, US). DARIEN: El Real, Rio Tuira, 30 June 1959, Stem et al 759 (MO, US). CUBA. ISLA DE PINOS: Nueva Gerona, 17 Feb 1904, Curtiss 354 (GH, US); 15 Apr 1954, Killip 44014 (US); Rio Las Casas headwaters, 5 Feb 1955, Killip 44679 (US). PINAR DEL RiO: Coloma, 18 Mar 1900, Palmer & Riley 358 (US); Herradura, 18Sep 1905, VanHermann 915 (POM); El Mariel, Rio Mosquitos, 17 Mar 1923, Ekman 16357 (S). HABANA: Batabano, 4 Oct 1904, Baker & Wilson 2373 (POM); 20 Mar 1906, Baker 2734 (GH, POM, US); Santiago de las Vegas, 5 Oct 1905, Van Hermann 984 (POM); Campo Florida, Rio Quezada, 25 Dec 1921, Ekman 13583 (S). MATANZAS: Canasi, 28 Feb 1927 , Leon s n (LS); San Miguel de los Banos, Dec 1931, Killip 13835 (GH, US). LAS VILLAS: Cieneguita, 6 Ju1 1895, Combs 175 (GH); 13 Jun 1938, Carabia 58 (LS); Caibarien, 23 May 1920, Fernando 298 (LS); Santa Clara, 19 Feb 1923, Ekman 16336 (GH); Jun 1941, Howard 5097 (GH); Soledad, 2 Feb 1928, Jack 6389 (GH); Limones, 13 Ju1 1929, Jack 7579 (BH, GH); Rio Caunao, 30 Apr 1930, Jack 7827 (GH); 9 JuI 1936, L. B. Smith et al 3042 (GH, US). CAMAGUEY: Tiffin, Nov 1909,Shafer2902 (NY, US); Camaguey, 12 May 1956, Dahlgren & Lopez 2705 (US). ORIENTE: Holguin, 26 Apr 1909, Shafer 1555 (NY, US); Guantanamo, 26 Mar 1921,Hioram s n (LS); Manzanillo, 20 May 1938, Carabia 22 (LS); Alto Songo, 20 Jul 1952, Lopez Figueiras 583 (US); Santiago, 17 Aug 1952, Lopez Figueiras 597 (US). BAHAMAS. Great Bahama, 1905, Britton & Millspaugh 2727 (NY, US); Brace 3715 (NY, US); Eleuthera, 1907, E. G. Britton 6469 (NY); New Providence, 13 Mar 1888, Eggers 4474 (G, K, P, US, Z); 21 Feb 1946,Degener 18976 (GH); Hog Island, 21 Feb 1888, Eggers 4168 (B, US); Andros, 27 June 1890, Northrop 528 (GH); 1906, Brace 5234 (NY, US); 2 Mar 1966, Dawson 26648 (US); 26676 (US); Crooked Island, Jan 1906, Brace 4806 (NY, US). JAMAICA. SURREY, St. Andrew: Mona, 2 Oct 1944, Barry s n (IJ). MIDDLESEX, Clarendon: Jackson Bay, 21 Jun 1953,Lewis & Bengry s n (IJ, US); Portland Point, 27 Feb 1967, Read 1821 (US). CORNWALL, Trelawny: Windsor Estate, 27 Aug 1955, Proctor 10629 (IJ, US); Good Hope, 27 Aug 1956, Proctor 15716 (IJ, US); Manchester: Marshall's Pen, Robertson 5401 (IJ); Grove Place, 7 Mar 1952, Proctor 6387 (IJ, US); St, James: Catadupa, 5 Apr 1952, Proctor 6551 (IJ, US); Montpelier, 14 Sep 1966, Read 1728 (US); St. Elizabeth: Maggotty, 4 Apr 1952, Proctor 6532 (IJ, US); Malvern, 14 Mar 1953, Proctor 7740 (IJ, US); Westmoreland:Jan 1844,Purdie s n (K). WITHOUT EXACT LOCALITY: Wright s n (BM, K); Swartz s n (S); M. Hope Mines, Harris in Fl. Jam. 5526 (BM). CAYMAN ISLANDS: Grand Cayman, 3 Aug 1938, Kings GC-381 (BM); Little Cayman, 29 May 1938, Kings LC-2 (BM); Cayman Brac, 26 May 1938, Kings (CB-31 (BM). CAICOS ISLANDS: North Caicos, 18 Dec 1907, Wilson 7701 (GH). HAITI. Anse Galette, Gonave Island, Mar 1920, Leonard 3117 (US) Massif de la Selle, Port-au-Prince, 28 Sep 1924, Ekman H-2051 (S, US), Porte-de-Paix, Nord-Ouest, 27 Apr 1925, Ekman H-3923 (S, US); 12 May 1929 Leonard 15640 (US); St. Michel de l'Atalaye, Nord, Nov 1925, Leonard 7117 (US); 7118 (US); 7177 (US); 7304 (US); Dec 1925, 8029 (US); Cul-de-Sac, Croix-des-Bouquets, 18 Dec 1925, Ekman H-5364 (S, US); Gros Morne, l’Artibonite, Feb 1926, Leonard 10015 (US); 10016 (US); Miragoane, Jul 1927, Eyerdam 209 (US); Cabaret, Baie des Moustiques, 12 Jan 1929, Leonard 11825 (US); Jean Rabel, 6 Feb 1929, Leonard 12953 (US); Bassin Bleu, 21 Apr 1929, Leonard 14927 (US); La Vallee, Tortue Island, 4 May 1929, Leonard 15321 (US). REPUBLICA DOMINICANA. Rio Nunoz, 1887, Eggers 2464 (GH); San Pedro de Macoris, 7 Mar 1913, Rose, Fitch & Russell 3730 (NY, US); Haina, Jul 1921, Faru 426 (US); 11 Oct 1947 , Allard 15964 (US); Nigua, Sep 1921, Faru 627 (US); Moncion, Monte Cristi, Sep 1929, Valeur 121 (US); Bani, Azua, 28 Aug 1946, Howard 8626 (GH, S, US); Azua, 29 Aug 1946, Howard 8660 (GH, US); Bayaguanato Guerra, Trujillo, 19 Oct 1946, Howard 9519 (GH, US); Rio Yaque del Norte, Monte Cristi, Oct 1946, Howard 9623 (GH, US); Mana, Trujillo, 26 Nov 1947, Allard 17196 (US); La Leonor, 4 Aug 1952, Jimenez 2414 (US); Sabaneta, 25 Oct 1952, Jimenez 2476 (US); Isla Beata, 17 Mar 1955, Jimenez & Marcano 2836 (US); Cerro Gordo, Guayubin, 23 Jun 1969, Liogier 15795 (US). COLOMBIA. MAGDALENA: La Jagua, Magdalena Valley, 8 Sep 1924, Allen 618 (MO); Pueblo Bello, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Aug 1946, Foster & Smith 1467 (GH, US). ANTIOQUIA: Santa Fe de Antioquia, 23 Ju11968, Barkley 230462 (US). VENEZUELA. SUCRE: Irapa, 1944, Pittendrigh 1067 (US); La Toma, Cumana, 21 May 1945, Steyermark 62866 (GH); Puerto de Hierro, 24 Ju11962, Steyermark & Agostini 91288 (US, VEN); 91310 (US, VEN). DELTA AMACURO: Delta de Orinoro, Cano del Corisal-corisal, 26 Feb 1911, Bond, Gillin & Brown 201 (US). DISTRITO FEDERAL: San Bernardino, 4 Jan 1921, Bailey 708 (BH); Agua Negra, Sep 1940, L. Williams 13679 (GH). ARAGUA: Maracay, 1928, Vogl 1048 (M); 1065 (M); Rancho Grande, 19 Oct 1951, Foster 2769 (US); Maracay, 6 Aug 1963, Montaldo 3542 (VEN). YARACUY: El Cujisal, Pena, 8 Sep 1964, Trujillo 6917 (VEN). LARA: Barquisimeto, 21 Feb 1950, Velasco 285 (VEN). ZULIA: El Palmar, 31 Sep 1957 , Medina 949 (VEN). MERIDA: Lagunillas, 1 Mar 1922, Jahn 960 (US); 964 (US);,Real to Pueblo Nuevo, 5 Dec 1952, Bernardi 131 (MER, NY); Estanques to Chiguara, 23 Mar 1964, Trujillo 6210 (VEN); Rio Chama, Estanques to Puente Real, 2 Sep 1966, Steyermark & Rabe 97036 (US, VEN). TACHlRA: Lobatera to Michelena, 28 Aug 1966, Steyermark & Rabe 96724 (VEN). BOLIVAR: La Union, 11 Feb 1939, L. Williams 11216 (US).

Tillandsia dressleri L. B. Smith, Phytologia 8: 221,pl. 1,fig. 7. 1962. treated as a synonym of T. balbisiana by Gardner 1982 Tillandsia PhD dissertation
T. disticha H B K in systema Mezii proxima sed bulbo elongata, foliorum laminis majoribus reflexis, sepalis subaequaliter liberis differ. A T. balbisiana Schult. Cujus habitu valde imitans, staminibus quam petalis brevioribus ( Subgen. Allardtia) differt
Plant stemless, flowering 35 cm high.
Leaves bulbous-rosulate, covered with minute subappressed cinereous scales;
Sheaths ovate, to 10 cm long, tightly clasping the scape and forming a narrowly ovoid bulb;
Blades strongly reflexed, very narrowly triangular , filiform-attenuate, to 55 cm long, 15 mm wide, involute toward apex.
Scape erect, soon glabrlus, sulcate when dry;
Scape-bracts densely imbricate and concealing the scape, subfoliaceous with small elliptic sheaths and elongate reflexed blades, very densely lepidote.
Inflorescence bipinnate, 12 cm long, subdigitate;
Primary bracts incompletely known but their sheaths shorter than the spikes, very densely lepidote;
Spikes divergent, oblong-lanceolate, 3-8 cm long, 15 mm wide, to 16-flowered, strongly complanate;
Rhachis flexuous, winged, sparsely and obscurely punctulate-lepidote.
Floral bracts densely imbricate but narrow and more or less exposing the rhachis, ovate, acute, to 18 mm long, much exceeding the sepals, sharply carinate, subcoriaceous, glabrous, lustrous;
Flowers subsessile.
Sepals equally subfree, oblong-lanceolate, broadly acute, 12 mm long, glabrous, nerved;
Petals blue-purple, the blades divergent, nearly 2 cm long, exceeding the stamens.
Type. Dressler s n (holotype MO), on trees, 8 miles south of Agua Nueva, Sinaloa, Mexico, 31 Dec 1949.
DISTRIBUTION. Known from the type collection only.

Detail from Baker 1889
149. T. URBANIANA Wittm. in Engl. Jahrb. xi. 65
Leaves densely rosulate, linear-setaceous, above a foot long, under an inch broad at the dilated base, the edges involute down nearly to the base. Peduncle much shorter than the leaves. Spikes 2, dense, distichous, ascending, 1½-2 in. long, ⅓ in. diam.; branch-bracts small; flower-bracts oblong-lanceolate, ½ in. long. Sepals as long as the flower-bract. Petals violet. Capsule cylindrical, three times the length of the calyx.
Hab. Costa Rica, near Cartago, alt. 5000 ft., Lehmann 1771. Near T. disticha H. B. K.

Detail from McVaugh in Flora Novo Galiciana 1989
Tillandsia balbisiana Schult. F. in Roem. & Schult. Syst. Veg. 7, pt. 2: 1212. 1830.
Lowlands of the Pacific slope, on trees in tropical deciduous or subdeciduous forest, 30-450 m, flowering Oct-May.
Sin., Nay., Jal., Col., Gro., Ver., S.L.P., Tamps., Tab., Yuc., Chis.; Centr. Amer.; s Fla.; W. Ind. (Jamaica, Bertero, "in hb. Balbis" {TO}, the holotype); S. Amer.
Ca 20 km NW of Tepic (Rzedowski 15595, ENCB, cited by Magana, not seen); San Blas (Ferris 5463); 32 km N of Puerto Vallarta (Gardner 1347!); Mpio. Cabo Corrientes (road to Ixtlahuahuey, Magana 377; 2 km S of El Tuito, Magana et al. 41; both MEXU, cited by Magana, not seen); {also cited by Magana, all at MEXU: 20 km NW of Chamela, Sousa 3928; Chamela, Estacion de Biologia (10 additional collections)}; 8 km E of Chamela, lands of Estacion de Biologia (McVaugh 25233, 25234, both det. by L. B. Smith, S. Gardner & J. Utley); hills near the pass 17-18 km SSW of Colima (McVaugh 24958, det. as above).
Plant. Acaulescent, up to 65 cm high in flower; leaves 10-15 or more, often longer than the inflorescence but typically recurved, densely pale-lepidote, often purplemargined; sheaths inflated, ovate to elliptic, 2-10 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, forming an ovoid or ellipsoid pseudobulb up to 12 cm long; blades abruptly spreading or recurving from the apices of the sheaths, linear-triangular, usually involute their whole length, filiform-attenuate, 10-60 cm long, ca 1 cm wide at base;
panicle erect or ascending, at least when young fusiform or subcylindric, up to 20 cm long, pinnately or somewhat digitately divided (rarely simple and distichous-flowered), the spikes 2-4 (-8), sessile, appressed, flattened, linear, acute, 3-12 cm long, 1 cm wide at anthesis;
scape (peduncle) slender, subglabrous, its bracts commonly pink or red, their sheaths imbricated, inflated, ellipsoid with long linear spreading to strongly reftexed blades;
primary bracts 1.5-7 cm long, shorter than the spikes;
floral bracts erect, imbricated, ovate, obtuse and apiculate (acute in profile), 12-22 mm long, exceeding the sepals, glabrous or nearly so and smooth and lustrous, sometimes slightly nerved toward apex, coriaceous, not keeled, commonly bright red;
flowers erect, subsessile;
sepals elliptic, obtuse or subacute, 10-14 mm long, coriaceous, smooth (not nerved), glabrous, the adaxial (posterior) ones connate;
petals tubular-erect, ligulate, subacute, 2-4.5 cm long, violet ("morados," "purple");
stamens and pistil exserted; stigma green, spiral;
fruit cylindric, 2-4 cm long, 3-4 mm in diameter;
seeds 60-90, 0.8-2 cm long.

From Gouda in Flora of the Guianas 1989
3. Tillandsia balbisiana Schultes filius in Roemer & Schultes, Syst. 7 (2): 1212. Type: Jamaica, Bertero s. n. (TO not seen).
Plant acaulescent, flowering 20-55 cm tall, with 8-15 somewhat cinereous-green leaves mostly exceeding the inflorescence, but often recurving, the sheaths forming a dense ovoid and cinereous pseudobulb.
Leaves about 10-20, rigid-coriaceous, (20-)30-50 cm long, mostly longer than the inflorescence;
sheaths distinct, contracted into the blades, ovate, greatly inflated-convex, 2.5-7.5 x 1.7-6 cm, with narrow thin margins, very densely (or obscurely) subappressed-lepidote and glabrous at the extreme base, pale-ferrugineously lepidote inside, often with a purple-red band at the margins;
blades strongly recurved, very narrowly triangular, often involute at the margins (at least when dry), 17-45 x 0.7-1.8 cm, filiform-attenuate, very densely (sub-) appressedlepidote throughout.
Inflorescence densely bipinnate of 2-6 spikes or simple, (4-)9-17 cm long;
scape erect, 13-30 cm long, ca. 4 mm in diam., glabrous, densely covered by bracts;
scape bracts imbricate, chartaceous, ovate, with foliaceous to filiform blade, excluding the blade exceeding the internodes, densely appressed-lepidote at both sides, except near the bases, cinereous;
axis mostly short, but partly exposed, almost straight, rugose when dry, glabrous;
primary bracts as the upper scape bracts, but more caudate, exceeding and hiding the sterile bases of the spikes;
spikes erect, subsessile (sometimes the apical spike with bracteate peduncle), linear-lanceolate, complanate, 3-7 x 0.8-1.1 cm, acute, with 1-2 imbricate sterile bracts at the base and apex, densely and distichously 3-10-flowered;
rachis hidden at anthesis, flexuous, angled, glabrous;
floral bracts imbricate, coriaceous, with even surface or slightly veined at the apex, ovate, 1.3-1.9 cm long, more than twice as long as the internodes, about as long as the sepals or slightly shorter, thin at the margins, obtuse or narrowly rounded and apiculate, two-angled below and fleshy carinate at the apex, sparsely appressed-lepidote in upper half and glabrous below, cinereous-green to coral-red.
Flowers tubular-erect, sessile; receptacle obconic, ca. 2 mm long;
sepals very thin-coriaceous, with even surface, ovate-oblong, 1-1.7 cm long, with broad veinless margins, broadly rounded, posterior ones connate for ca. 2 mm and sharply carinate for most of their length, anterior ones nearly free and ecarinate, glabrous or sparsely and obscurely lepidote inside toward the base;
petals thin, ligulate, ca. 3.5 cm long, often pale-violet;
stamens much exceeding the petals, filaments thin and hyaline, straight, flat below, exceeding part dilated, subterete and pale-violet, anthers dorsifixed nearly at the middle, 6-7 mm long, sagittate, but free basal lobes less than 0.5 mm long, bluntly apiculate; pistil just exceeded by the stamens (?);
ovary slenderly ovoid, tapering into the slender style, stigmas spathulate, fimbriate, twisting-conduplicate.
Capsule cylindric, ca. 4 cm long, narrowly obtuse, short-beaked.
Distribution: Florida, West Indies and Mexico to Colombia and Venezuela. It may be expected in Guyana. Epiphytic in forest, from near sea level to 1500 m alt. 14 collections studied from Venezuela, including Delta Amacuro.
Culture and use: T. balbisiana is a decorative species, not difficult to grow epiphytically in window or greenhouse, at a bright and sunny place, needs little watering. This species is easily propagated by seed, in greenhouse on vertical wire-gauze.

Translated by Derek Butcher
Tillandsia balbisiana was in a consignment of living Bromeliads sent to us from Jamaica, in 1874, by our scholarly friend Mr. J. C. Houzeau, now Director of the Brussels observatory. The plant had been collected, growing in woods, on the small branches of trees, near Gordon Town where Mr. Houzeau lived. Since that time it prospered in our collection where it bloomed and even multiplied itself.
A live specimen of Tillandsia Balbisiana had not been introduced to Europe; it was little known to science and a little widespread in nature. It had been described in 1830 by Schultes fil, according to samples from Balbis, where he used the offending name of Tillandsia tenuifolia. Since then, Ramon of Sagra has mentioned it in his flora of Cuba and Mr. Grisebach understood it in his flora of the Antilles. It has also been harvested on St - Domingo by Rob. Schomburgk in 1852. Finally the same species was in a number of Bromeliads that has been collected close to the coast of Florida, in 1877, by the Dr N. P. Garber and that have been sent to us (under the numbers 5, 8 and 15), the same year, by M.C.S. Sargent, director of the botanical garden of the Harvard University, at Cambridge (Mass.).
Tillandsia balbisiana is not easy to cultivate: many of the plants of Jamaica and the Antilles offer the same difficulties: they need the heat, the shade and especially a lot of atmospheric humidity. We treat it as a real epiphyte, floating freely in air, suspended on a dead wood branchlet, in the same manner as the Anoplophytums. This one has much bigger measurements; it forms remarkable tufts by the curling of their leaves; its leaves are hard, thick, tough and greyish. The peduncle is erect, with long thin and arched leaves. The flowers, in long violet blue tubes, are arranged in a panicle of distichous spikes. In the illustration, we show a fruiting plant at the time of the dehiscence of the capsules where the scattering of seeds has just begun. It is a very interesting phenomenon.
Here is the description of the plant that we took from life.
Epiphyte, a little caespitose,
The measurements of the plant in bloom vary a lot (0.20m high to 0.60m). Leaves tough, green radical, pellicle on both faces and so greyish, more or less numerous (8, 20, 30) disposed in a rosette that is flask shaped at the base in plants in bloom. The large, erect sheaths, imbricate, are first straight on the young rosette, then convex and pot-bellied in the middle part, while they have a brown base and have the upper part which is contracted and thence passing to the blade. This flask shaped utricle sometimes reaches 0.08m to 0.10m high, to 0.035–0.045m in the central part.
Leaf blade is tough, thick, lanceolate, sometimes for a long time flagelliform, canaliculate; in young plants, it is erect, warped, sinuous, then strongly arching; lastly, in flowering plants, it is arched, falling again and becoming round; with much elegance. Its length sometimes reaches 0.45m, while at its base it hardly measures 0.01m wide. It is entirely grey with a whitish dandruff effect on the green bottom of the leaves
The peduncle emerges from of the utricle and stands up above the foliage, has a more or less large height (0.07m–0.35m). It is cylindrical and a little thick (0.002-3m) The internodes ( 0.02-3m long) are covered entirely by a leaf with a cylindrical sheath, amplexicaul, blade spreading, rarely erect and divaricate, usually arched, somewhat deflexed, sinuous, sometimes very long (0.20m}), narrow, canaliculate, green, greyish.
Inflorescence simple or compound: it consists of a simple distichous spike with 3-5-7-9 flowers, or, most often, in a panicle of 2 to 4 of these spikes, closer together and erect each provided at the base with an extended bract (0.07m), briefly stemmed (0.003-5m) two edged, elliptic and sub-9 flowered.
Floral bracts lanceolate, canaliculate, convex outside, acuminate, covering the whole calyx, smooth, nearly entirely coloured in dark rose, about 0.02m long. Pedicel very short (0.0015m), thick, smooth, green.
Calyx short (0.017m); erect, narrow at the summit, smooth, green and pink, has 3 unequal divisions; as far as known: one free, lanceolate, acute; the other two, situated toward the rachis, joined about a half of their length.
Corolla very long (about 0.045m),much exceeding the bract (0.025m), has 3 petal ligules, convoluted into a narrow tube (about 0.003m) and a little elliptic, hardly revolute in the upper edge, obtuse, violet, except the inclusive part that is white.
Stamens very long (0.054m), exserted (0.01m), filaments twisted in the inclusive part, while they are erect, wide, subulate and purple in the exserted part.
Anthers short (0.002m), dorsifixed.
Style the length of the stamens, a little twisted at the base, ending with 3 spreading stigmata, wavy, lobular and greenish.
Ovary short, pyramidal, smooth, green. Ovules numerous, appendiculate. Capsule twice as long as the calyx (about 0.04m), valves acuminate, sometimes bypassed.
Seeds have a long stalked hair (0.026m).

The main picture shows Tillandsia balbisiana in bud, in bloom and in fruit. All colours are a little too harsh; the hue of foliage notably is more greyish.
1. A flower whose base is enclosed in the bract.
2. A flower stripped of the bract to show the calyx,
3. The whole calyx.
4 and 5. The sepals of the calyx.
6. A petal
7. A stamen.
8. The pistil.
9. An ovule.

A voyage of discovery – Tillandsia balbisiana as havanensis by Butcher 9/2009.
First I show the detail from S&D as synonyms of T. fasciculata var fasciculata
Renealmia polystachia sensu Jacquin, Sel. Stirp. Am. 93, pl. 183, fig. 27. 1763; non Linnaeus, 1753. Based on Jacquin s n obtained in Habana, Cuba, and cultivated in Vienna. Not seen, identity fide Mez.
Platystachys havanensis Beer, Bromel, 85. 1857; nomen novum for Tillandsia polystachia sensu Jacquin.
Tillandsia havanensis Jacquin ex Beer, Bromel. 85. 1857; nomen.

This all started out in Feb 2009 when I was checking out the synonyms of Tillandsia fasciculata var fasciculata and was looking at Platystachys havanensis and Tillandsia havanensis in Smith & Downs. I also saw that these same species had been treated by Mez in 1935 as synonyms of T. fasciculata var venosispica. No reasons were given for this move which made me somewhat intrigued. Did Smith know something that Mez did not? These names had been published by Beer in 1857 and I knew that my friend Leo Dijkgraaf in Belgium had access to such material. He did not disappoint me, and here I was busily translating botanical German as written in 1857. Beer had used the name havanensis because this plant was based on Renealmia polystachia sensu Jacquin 1763 which was different to the T. polystachia of Linnaeus.
Now to the next phase of investigation. Where would a publication made in 1763 be?
Did you know that for some years now the Missouri Bot Gardens have been digitally copying OLD Botanical publications and making them available on Botanicus.org This is a fantastic resource for someone with an archivist type brain. I found out that “Nicolae Josephi Jacquin Selectarum Stirpium Americanum historia. Publication info; Vindobonae: Ex officina Krausiana, 1763 was available! It was in 1763 Botanical Latin so Stearn’s 2004 Botanical Latin was only of limited assistance. To save you the job of translating, the following is my translation.

Renealmia (polystachia) scape with imbricate spikes, lateral. LINN. sp.pl. 2. p.286?
CALYX. Perianth monophyllous, flat sided, then convex, persistent. Tube very short, born around the receptacle. Blades erect, very long, converging, bifid: outside lacinia lanceolate-oblong, canaliculate-concave, acuminate; inside oblong, acuminate, posterior converging on the side canaliculate, anterior flat, bifid above.
COROLLA Petals 3, linear, canaliculate-concave, acute, erect, sides folded inwards one after the other, almost twice as long as the calyx.
STAMENS Filaments 6, filiform, erect, inserted in the receptacle, exceeding the corolla. Anthers oblong, obtuse, folded inwards.
PISTIL Ovary ovate, scarcely three angled, changing suddenly into a filiform style, situated and alongside the stamens. Stigma 3, subrotund, spreading.
PER. . .
SEM . . .
Plant parasitic growing on rocks shrubby & growing on trees. Stem is foliate, erect, 3 feet long. Leaves linear-subulate, acuminate, entire, canaliculate, base wide & swollen, numerous, lower ones 2 feet long. Spikes lateral, about 10, 1 foot long, red, alternate in the stem. Primary bracts red, imbricate above, covering the spikes totally. Flowers sessile, solitary, not scented, corolla blue. Fruit not seen.

Habitat: Havana growing on rocks and elsewhere. Found flowering in January.

From this genus or the preceding one, another species was also found near Havana as a maritime bony shrub growing as a parasite on rocks, whose flowers were unknown. Leaves linear-subulate, entire, imbricate, with similar leaf habit of Tillandsia tenuifolia, not at all maculate, and not spiralling. Stem divided into compressed spikes, whose alternate parts are about five., flat compressed, distichous, erect, with three or four capsules on both sides suberect & alternately imbricate. Drawing of the spike part is shown in figure 27. table CLXXXIII

As you will see there was a drawing
I was in contact with Eric Gouda and pointed out I felt the plant was closer to T. balbisiana because of the description of the leaves and the spike description. Eric advised his thoughts to Lucia Schwesinger who is doing a thesis on Tillandsia fasciculata. Lucia commented that these days around Havana you find T. utriculata, T. balbisiana, T. recurvata, and T. flexuosa, but no T. fasciculata.
I do not know what will be the final outcome but I feel confident it will not be considered as a synonym of T. fasciculata.

Updated 06/03/21