Tillandsia capitata
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Tillandsia capitata
See new T. riohondoensis classification for name change of many T. capitata 'Rio Hondo', some T. capitata 'Peach' & other 'Nursery Names'

Ken Woods, Rio Hondo form.
"caulescent form", Ken Woods, 01/10.
Ken Woods. Peach form 01/06.
capitata, Ken Woods 09/04.
capitata, Ken Woods 11/09.
capitata, Ken Woods 05/11.
John Olsen 01/10.
"Guatemala 986"
"Select Red 364"
"Select Red, Guatemala and O.Ferris"

Chris Larson 05/15
T. capitata 'Jamaican Yellow' (NR)
Bob Hudson 05/15 (From N.T.)
John Olsen 05/15. Yellow and Orange forms similar to 'Jamaican Yellow'. I also have a similar "tall red" form.
Adam Bodzioch 01/15 as 'Large Scarlet'. Flowers not a high as most capitata

Len Colgan 02/10.
Mark Supple 12/10. Ex. Chris Larson.
"Mexico" from German Brom Conf.
"Orange" with green-grey leaves.
"San Christobal" V.large. Lydia Kohres.
Peter Tristram 12/10. Labelled "capitata LH".
Peter Tristram 12/10. Labelled "Rio Hondo".
Bob Hudson 12/12. "Rio Hondo".
Note: The story of capitata "Peach" and "Rio Hondo" is not yet written, and there is sure to be more decided "soon".
Officially they have been combined and registered as "Rio Hondo", but the story will probably not end there, as these few notes show.

John Olsen 08/10/11 "Further to the capitata/Rio Hondo debate I have attached my version. It came as Capitata Peach. The photo shows the colour achievable in full morning sun.
I also have plants labelled Rio Hondo which are just now sending up a flower spike which seems likely to be relatively short.
PS if any of you have other pics of capitata send them to me for my assembly of Aussie Capitatas. Picture and provenance where known."

Chris Larson 06/01/11 "The T.capitata Peach/ Rio Hondo problem has been going on for a long time.
The quantities brought in by Collectors Corner, Green and Company & Ari from up Billinudgel way, are massive. These are, now, all imported as T.capitata Peach and are known this way all over the world where Guatemalan imports come in. I know there are different plants which are around under the "T.capitata Peach" name. I have sold plants as "T.capitata Peach or Rio Hondo" as I know that T.Rio Hondo is the registered name, but the buyer is more likely to own it (if he or she does) under the name T.capitata Peach.
Dereks article: My information is gathered from imports from around 6 or 8 different sources in Guatemala over the past 18 years. The imports have usually listed this plant as T.capitata Peach - only rarely T.sphaerocephala - though the sphaerocephala name was used spasmodically a long time ago, only T.capitata Peach has been used in the recent past (at least 5 years, possibly 10 or more). Maybe T.sphaerocephala was their first guess, then they concurred on the other name - I don't know. So while the information in the article may have been true at the time from the sources quoted, it does not represent the situation in my experience.
From personal comments (and here I could be wide of the mark) one of the main arguments for using "Rio Hondo" and staying away from the "T.capitata" part, is that Renate had it earmarked for a new species. This (if I'm not mistaken) has been shelved as Renate has found intermediaries & now this is likely not to happen. Please correct me if I am wrong. So we have the BCR & Derek arguing to use T.Rio Hondo & the commercial world (and I mean world) using T.capitata Peach. The dominant source of plants in the public arena generally come from commercials - so guess which name is predominant.
This has been muddied further by a plant Pam Koide sells as T.ionantha Peach. This is in the BCR as T.Peach - so the name T.capitata Peach would be invalid under ICNCP rules anyway.
So John, if the provenance leads back to me - I advise the people to use the name they would like. If I don't use both names, the purchaser may buy the same plant twice.
Cheers, Chris"

Derek Butcher 09/01/11 "Chris L and John.
Just a little more grist to the mill. I hope John can get a photo of his stocky 'Peach' because we may be able to nail it. You see Pam Koide sells capitata 'Peach' from Mexico and capitata caulescent from Guatemala. Therefore there must be a difference but we do not have photos.
T. riohondoensis fell by the wayside and I carried it on as 'Rio Hondo'. Its demise was more because there are great discussions from the Cubans who claim the name capitata as their own and what happens to those found in the mainland of Central America ? That was 5 years ago! 'Manana'

Tillandsia 'Peach' & 'Guatemalan Peach' November 2013
See DD 11/13: for discussion of the registration of these two forms.

capitata 'Peach'. Photo Pamela Hyatt.
capitata 'Guatemalan Peach'. Photo Dennis Cathcart.

Peter Tristram 01/12. Many of you know about the selection of interesting capitata of many colours, sizes and shapes, from Cuba, collected and introduced into cultivation by Lydia Koehres. Many of them come from the area around Vinales. There are a lot of different colours and shapes and some she hasn’t parted with yet too. The pics are of a pale yellow bracted form with a maroon flush, very obvious when watered. Both are very well frosted especially the elongated one. Some of you will have similar plants labelled ‘capitata (or aff.)

Bob Hudson 12/12.
Peter Tristram 12/12. Tall left, Lydia right.
Peter Tristram ..."Bob: Another Orange to add to the list. Your foliage looks like Marron from the pics. My main Orange is more like the big Yellow, with upright, frosted leaves. I also have a supposed Orange from Cuba (big plant too) so will wait and see with it. The pics above are of the tall Orange and a small one from Lydia. I also got one labelled Orange from the BSQ show quite a few yrs back, that has foliage like Marron, but I didn't get a pic. There are endless forms of capitata!"

See also T. capitata var domingensis

Tillandsia lautneri
Formerly T.capitata var guzmanoides ("though Renate may be still working on it, or possibly revising/resurrecting it.")
Guatemala, Cunen, Sierra de Cuchumatanes
Peter Tristram 07/09.
Chris Larson 12/12. As T. capitata var guzmanoides
Chris Larson 10/14. As T. capitata var guzmanoides
Chris Larson 12/12..."Another capitata. Plant is ex-Feldhoff in Guatemala via Germany this year.
This one I think is supposed to be the true T.capitata var guzmanoides though Renate may be still working on it, or possibly revising/resurrecting it.
Note that the 2012 Bi-nomials does not list a T.capitata var guzmanoides which was reclassified as T.lautneri quite some time ago.
Derek Butcher 12/12...."Chris - The good old DVD tells us that T. lautneri has stamens that do not exsert and the plant is bulbose. There are no doubt other differences in a closer look at the flower. Therefore it is closer to the very variable T. capitata."

Chris Larson 10/14..."I just thought I’d post these photos as some who trawl eBay will have seen them but others haven’t.
The story started with Peter Tristram & I importing some plants of Guatemalan origin out of Europe. We both got a couple of T. capitata var guzmanoides which were a nice darker clone with scarlet bracts – and definitely not var guzmanoides. These flowered at a smaller size, at least mine did, at around 12” tall. It also self set seed.
Then I got offered some more expensive Guatemalan plants (than our usual lines) as a one off – which included this var guzmanoides again. I only got a few. Some flowered at around 45cm tall with scarlet bracts – and are just starting to pup. Monster capitatas – as those that have seen them will attest. A few nutters have them now. I thought I’d better put this info out as these plants will be appearing around.
I’m still not sure whether to register it as T. capitata 'Scarlet' as I’m not sure that the 2 clones I have are not the same or what will happen with the pups."
Derek Butcher 11/14...."The only ones really interested in blatant wrong names seems to be we Antipodeans! Bromeliads in Australia has the problem partly solved because the right detail are under T. lautneri. Feldhoff started off this misnaming. The use of Scarlet is a nurseryman's solution but is frowned upon by Registrars. Why not call this 'Feldhoff'? It identifies the source AND that it is different."

Tillandsia capitata Grisebach, Cat. Pl. Cub. 255. 1866.
Tillandsia tephrophylla Harms, Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin 10: 800. 1929. Type. Vinales, Sierra de Vinales, Pillar del Rio, Cuba, Ekman 16693 (B, S), 13 Jun 1923.
Desc from S&D p1001-3
Plant stemless, 2-5 dm high.
Leaves densely rosulate, curved, equaling or exceeding the inflorescence when extended, densely and coarsely pale-appressed-lepidote throughout;
Sheaths broadly ovate or elliptic, to 9 cm long, ferruginous;
Blades narrowly triangular, attenuate, 1-3 cm wide at the base, involute-subulate toward the apex.
Scape erect or ascending, 6 mm in diameter;
Scape-bracts densely imbricate, foliaceous, their blades exceeding the inflorescence or spreading to reflexed, the upper ones subinvolucrate below the inflorescence, usually tinged with red.
Inflorescence depauperate-compound or pseudo-simple and polystichous-flowered, densely capitate, ellipsoid, 4-7 cm long;
Primary bracts like the upper scape-bracts but with very short blades, much exceeding the axillary spikes;
Spikes sessile, ovate, densely 1-5-flowered with 1 or 2 sterile bracts at the base, complanate.
Floral bracts ovate, acute, to 35 mm long, equaling the sepals, carinate, chartaceous, lepidote at least toward the apex;
Flowers subsessile.
Sepals lance-oblong, acute, glabrous or nearly so, membranaceous, carinate and short-connate posteriorly; Petals tubular-erect, narrow, 35-50 mm long, blue;
Stamens exserted.
Capsule slenderly cylindric, acute, 27 mm long.
Type. Wright 3274 (holotype GOET, isotype GH), [Sierra] San Andres, Oriente, Cuba. 1860-61.
DISTRIBUTION. Epiphytic or more often saxicolous, 800-1000 m alt, Mexico, Cuba, Republica Dominicana.

Tillandsia capitata var guzmanioides L. B. Smith now treated as T. lautneri.
Tillandaia tephrophylla. Harms, Notizbl. Bot. Gart.Berlin 10: 800-1. 1929
Leaves a dense rosette, from a moderately wide linear lanceolate sheath, gradually becoming very long and narrow with an acuminate tip, very densely appressed white to grey lepidote, to 40 –45 cm long.
Scape moderately thick,
Scape bracts sheath more or less involute, moderately strong, sheaths enclose the scape at the base, then a much longer narrow acuminate tail, the lower ones 20-30cm long, the upper ones decreasing and becoming primary bracts
Inflorescence a narrow cone shaped panicle, 6-10cm long, few flowered
Primary bracts dense with a more or less tufted tip, ovate-lanceolate or ovate ( sheath) with a long tail which gets shorter higher up the inflorescence, dense white or grey lepidote, hiding the flat spikes, 13-10cm long.
Spikes very short, 1 to 2 flowered, ca. 3cm long.
Bracts 2 lower bracts sterile, upper ones flowering, broad-lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, boat shaped, keeled above, acute, 2-2.5cm long, very short thick pedicel.
Sepals moderately rigid, to 2cm long, moderately obtuse (?).
Petals almost as long.
Ovary clearly triangular.
Cuba: Prov. Pinar del Rio, Sierra de Vinales, prope oppidum Vinales, in praeruptis frequens, in regione “Mogotes” (13. Juni 1923 -- Ekman n. 16693).
These properties, through the conspicuous ash grey color of its long-tailed leaves and the dense capitate narrow short panicle link it to Tillandsia capitata Griseb (Mez. Monogr. 830 n. 193; Cuba) but differs much by virtue of its more rugged leaves and thicker, longer scape.

Tillandsia capitata Griseb. Cat. Cub. 255 in Baker 1889 No. 308
Leaves about a dozen in a dense rosette, lanceolate-acuminate from an ovate base an inch (2.5cm) broad, 5-6 in.(13-15cm) long, ½ in.(1.2cm) broad at the middle, subcoriaceous, thinly persistently lepidote on both surfaces.
Peduncle shorter than the leaves;
bract-leaves crowded, with large free lanceolate recurved tips.
Inflorescence a dense oblong multifarious capitulum 1 ½ in.( 3.7cm) long;
bracts ovate -acuminate, firm in texture, lepidote, the lower 2-3 in.(5-7.5cm) long.
Calyx ½ in.(1.2cm) long; sepals obtuse.
Petals not seen.
Capsule above an inch (2.5cm) long.
Habitat Cuba, Wright 3264!

Tillandsia capitata Griseb. Cat. Cub. (1866) 255 from Mez 1935 Note expanded from Baker because two collections referred to.
Plant to 14cm high, small
Leaves few, not at all bulbose rosulate, to 13cm long, above sheath to12mm wide, more or less subulate gradually narrowing toward the tip, very densely large grey tomentose lepidote totally gleaming silver.
Scape slender, erect, equalling the lax rosulate leaves, recurved.
Inflorescence very dense capitate corymb, bipinnate panicle, almost equalling the leaves, composed of very short branches, to 40mm long and wide.
Primary bracts covering the base of the inflorescence cyathium, producing a thick subulate blade from a broad oval base, dense lepidote white tomentose, axillay branches with flowers clearly exceeding. Spikes fan shaped, 2 flowered, very short.
Floral bracts membranaceous, lepidote toward the tip, keeled folded upon itself, ovate, almost acute, equalling the sepals.
Flowers erect, blue-white, others not known because in fruit.
Sepals anterior free, posterior pair connate to 3mm, membranaceous, glabrous, minute prominent veins, subcarinate, slightly acute, ovate elliptic
Cuba (Wright n. 3274, Ekman. n.16188)

Tillandsia capitata var domingensis Rauh & Ariza Julia Not published but see J Brom Soc 33(4): 170. 1983
One of the most attractive tillandsias of the Dominican Republic is Tillandsia capitata, known only from one locality, the limestone rock called El Penon, between Higuey and El Seibo in the southeastern part of the island. It differs in so many characters from the type that it should be described as a separate variety, T. capitata var. domingensis nov. var. Rauh et Ariza Julia, Fig. 19. The plant is not stemless, but forms long stems and produces many offsets, so that it forms dense mats and big clusters. All rosette leaves, including the 3-4 cm long sheaths, are of a dark wine-red color, which does not fade in the winter in Europe; the inflorescence is shorter than the rosette leaves, is depauperate-compound or often pseudosimple and very short-ellipsoid, with few flowers.

From Moscosa 4: 54-104. 1986 Zanoni. Mejia, and Read
TILLANDSIA CAPITATA Grisebach, Cat, Pl. Cub. 255. Tipo: Cuba: "San Andres in Cuba oriental", C. Wright 3274 (Holotipo: GOET; Isotipos: GH, NY).
T. capitata var. domingensis Rauh & Ariza Julia in Rauh, J. Bromel Soc. 33.170.
Translated by Butcher.
Plant growing on calcareous rock. The leaves and bracts of the inflorescence wine colour, and dark red sepals; corolla clear blue-purple. Ariza Julia (1969) reported this species for the first time in Hispaniola. Rauh (1983a & b) described it as a new variety, Tillandsia capitata var. domingensis Rauh & Ariza Julia based on the plants of the Republic Of the Dominican Republic. We find that this species is so variable that the plants of the Dominican Republic does not deserve their own variety. Ramos (1977) reported on T. capitata, the wine coloured plants are common in the species in Mexico and their photos indicate the form of the growth and habit very similar to the plants of the Dominican Republic.
Distribution: H: not reported. RD: LH, LC. only well-known in two places, on calcareous highlands, totally exposed to the sun (this condition possibly explains the reason the whole plant becomes a wine-red colour, because several species of Bromeliaceae are usually green and become red when they grow exposed to the sun), elev. almost at the sea level 550 m. (fig. 3).

Tillandsia ‘Rio Hondo’ by Derek Butcher, Bromeliad Cultivar Registrar J Brom Soc 56: 64. 2006
The recent naming of a Tillandsia maya in Novon:209-11. 2003 had me worried because we already have Tillandsia ‘Maya’ in the Cultivar Register and to further confuse it is likely that T. maya will be treated as T. xmaya! Plants named under the ICBN rules always have precedence over those named under ICNCP rules irrespective of date.

This and other query from Ken Woods here in Australia prompted me to action.
Dennis Cathcart named ‘Maya’ in Cargo Report #7-3 for a supposed natural hybrid of xerographica x capitata occurring in Guatemala. Some followed this naming and others not, so we see its photo in ‘New Tillandsia Handbook’ by Shimizu & Takizawa, 1998 on page 113 as a formula. Just for interest sake, on the same page you will see a Dimmitt hybrid namely T. xerographica x brachycaulos. This was named ‘Betty’ by Paul Isley. We know that T. brachycaulos and T. capitata are very similar, in fact some collected plants seem to fall between the parameters of both species. It depends whether you are a lumper or a splitter! To my mind a hybrid with these as parents should show some sort of similarity but in this case they don’t. Here the man-made hybrid gives a hint of what the natural hybrid should look like. In this case it adds weight to my belief that the parentage xerographica x capitata was the wrong one to use!

Apparently this all started in 1989 when Uwe Feldhoff collected a plant at Zacapa, Rio Hondatal, Guatemala and sent a specimen to Renate Ehlers in Germany. Investigations showed that it was different to what is generally considered to be the range of the very variable T. capitata. Although T. rhodocephala, another variant within T. capitata in the broad sense, was published in 1994, no action has yet been taken with this particular taxon.

Guatemalan exporters meanwhile, had also been selling this plant around the world to the general nursery trade as Tillandsia sphaerocephala Guatemala. The true T. sphaerocephala from Bolivia was, at that time, not common in collections and which in any event had been confused with T. schreiteri in Smith & Downs, Flora Neotropica. Never had it been found in Guatemala and in any event the stamens are included so it was an odd identification. The plant was also distributed by the name of T. harrisii to which it does have some vague similarity when young and not in flower!

When I knew that Renate Ehlers was not immediately going to describe this taxon I decided to call it by the name of Tillandsia ‘Rio Hondo’ and it is recorded as such in the Bromeliad Cultivar Register with notes referring to ‘Uncle Derek says’.

In July 2001 Anwyl Bromeliads in New Zealand, imported a shipment from Tropimeyer (Guatemala) that included Tillandsia "sphaerocephala.". 40 or 50 plants flowered whilst in the quarantine house, and all were the same and were given the provisional name of 'Yellow Rose' because the coloration of the primary bracts was quite different from any other Tillandsia capitata photos in the records. So several hundred of these plants are being grown in NZ collections with the label Tillandsia capitata 'Yellow Rose'. This colour was unique and may have been the result of the obligatory gassing because subsequently, remaining plants flowered later in cultivation with that orange coloured primary bract typical of ‘Rio Hondo’. Indeed, offsets from what were called ‘Yellow Rose’ flowered similarly.

To summarise, we have a plant variously called, T. xerographica x capitata, T.‘Maya’, T. sphaerocephala Guatemala, T. harrisii, Tillandsia capitata ‘Yellow Rose’ in New Zealand, and T. ‘Rio Hondo’.
Because of the duplication problem with T. ‘Maya’ would you please change all labels to read T. ‘Rio Hondo’ or T. capitata ‘Rio Hondo’and I will note the Cultivar Register accordingly.

R Ehlers & P. Koide, 1994, J. Brom. Soc. 44:130
Hideo Shimizu and Hiroyuki Takizawa, 1998, New Tillandsia Handbook Japan Cactus Planning Co. Press
L.B. Smith and R.Downs, 1977, Flora Neotropica, Monograph 14, Tillandsioideae, Hafner Press

Updated 26/03/17