Tillandsia crocata
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Tillandsia crocata
(Note. T. crocata var. tristis has been moved to T. caliginosa.)
Ken Woods 08/04.
David Sheumack 05/06.
Stephen Haines 08/13.
Stephen Haines .... "T. crocata orange, beautiful colour, heavy fragrance that wafts thru the air."
Peter Tristram .... "There are oranges and oranges, Steve. The Germans sell the original one and RFI sells a nice, usually orange, hybrid often called Copper Penny. I bought some from Paul in 2010 and not all flowered ‘copper’ but all are larger than the normal yellow crocata and look more like 'Rutschmann' Orange. The RO in the photo was obtained in Germany (and also got 1 from UD initially). It flowers for many many months too."
Derek Butcher .... "Stephen, as Peter says, there are oranges and oranges. First there are true species like 'Rutschmann' - also found in Rio Grande do Sul AND UNREGISTERED hybrids from Holm in Germany AND now it seems Copper Penny from Paul Isley. Depends if you like a pedigree or not."

Tillandsia crocata "distichous"
Peter Tristram 11/12... "I took some pics the other day of a crocata that is a little different to the usual ones that I got from Burkhard - very tightly distichous, that he called... 'distichous'.

Tillandsia crocata by Derek Butcher Jan 2017 in Bromeliaceae L First Quarter 2017
What better plant to remind you of a Golden Anniversary. That is if you are a Tillandsia buff. This plant grows easily, its bright yellow flowers appear regularly AND are scented. Perhaps, a bit of history is warranted.
It all started in 1880 when Morren received a plant from Lietze from Rio de Janeiro which he named Phytarrhiza crocata. Morren said the leaves were distichous but the furriness reminded him of T. tectorum. He also saw similarities with the genus Diaphoranthema. My next reference is in 1887 when Baker transferred it to Tillandsia crocata where the petal-blade was described as orbicular, patent, bright yellow, 1/6 inch diam. We found out it had been collected by Tweedie 427 on a small island at the mouth of Rio Jaguaby. (reference to Google shows Rio Jaguabe is in Ceara in NE Brazil – problem!) So I referred to one of my other bibles, Mez 1935 where Tweedie 427 was said to come from Rio Grande do Sul near Rio Jacuhy. Now that made sense! Mind you, when you come to Smith & Downs 1977 you read Rio Jacui!
T. crocata can be found growing on rocks, 875-2650 m alt, Bolivia to southern Brazil and Uruguay.

In 1983 there a small hiccup when Werner Rauh introduced us to T. crocata var tristis and luckily this only lasted a year because in 1984 Walter Till (The Diaphoranthema expert) replaced it with T. caliginosa with its dirty yellow/ brownish flowers. Apparently Lyman Smith pointed out anomalies in 1935 regarding T. myosura but went no further! Such are the problems faced when you like botanists to be as accurate as possible. What is more annoying is that we do not have a full specific description of T. caliginosa. At the same time T. mandonii emerged which I call the poor man’s crocata because it has smaller flowers. This is not common in Australia. So there are identity problems at species level.

In Werner Rauh’s deliberations with his ‘tristis’ he mentioned an orange petalled T. crocata linked to Dr. Rutschmann. I contacted Renate Ehlers and ‘yes’ she knew about this plant and was growing it. So a few pieces got to Adelaide. It needed a name and the Germans seemed reluctant to treat it as a forma under T. crocata because it had garden origins - see following Email
"04 Dec 2006 Dear Derek and Eric,
As to the T. crocata ‘Orange’: This plant is not known from the wild, Juerg Rutschmann got it from a garden in Porto Allegre. But as far as I know in Rio Grande do Sul there is no T. caliginosa.
Regards Renate"

I registered the name ‘Rutschmann’s Orange’ but have no idea what they call the plant in Germany! It may be prudent to mention here that when I asked Luiz Filipe Varella, Tillandsia grower and intrepid explorer and Porto Allegre resident, what was the colour of T. crocata, he said Orange. It would therefore seem that the orange flowered form is more common than I thought.

This seems to be confirmed by reference to a plant named ‘Copper Penny’ by Mike Kashkin in California in the 1960’s but never registered until recently. To me the colour is more light orange. We do not know where this plant originated but assume Bolivia because this area is linked to Kashkin’s collecting zone.

This gives an idea of names at species level. Now to hybrids which are an intriguing subject. If you are a rose grower you would probably grow only hybrids with never a species in sight. All seem to be better than the species in colour of flower or vigour.

Many tillandsia hybrids seem to be brought into existence for want of something different to the hybridist rather than better. The first one to be registered in the BCR would have been ‘Tawny Yellow’ in 2001 which Rolly Reilly and myself worked out the possible parents to be (crocata x mallemontii). In 2011 we had Barry Genn’s ‘Gold Dust’ and in the following year ‘Nugget’. Then we had a period where Holm’s hybrids had been imported from Germany which circulated under parentage formula. The first one to be given a proper name and registered was in 2015. The only one that gave me concern regarding identity and similarity to species T. crocata circulated as either (crocata x caliginosa) or the reverse. If anyone has this name on the label it was registered as T. ‘Holm’s Wintersun’.

Updated 06/08/19