Botanical descriptions thanks to Derek Butcher. (See also T. cereicola, this website.)
Tillandsia hitchcockiana L B Smith, Contr. Gray Herb. 89:10. 1930, see Grant in Phytologia 75(2): 170-175. 1993
Vriesea hitchcockiana (L. B. Smith) L. B. Smith, Contr. U. S. Natl. Herb. 29: 446. 1951.
Desc. from S&D p1246-8
Plant flowering nearly 1 m high.
Leaves bulbous-rosulate, 4 dm long, densely lepidote throughout;
Sheaths ovate, very large, ferruginous;
Blades very narrowly triangular, 35 mm wide.
Scape curved, stout, sulcate, glabrous;
Scape-bracts imbricate and clasping, elliptic, lepidote, the lower long-laminate.
Inflorescence pendulous, subdigitate from 6-7 spikes;
Primary bracts elliptic, broadly acute, scarcely over 4 cm long;
Spikes subequal, narrowly oblong, 25-35 cm long, 2 cm wide because of the spreading bracts;
Rhachis slightly undulate, narrowly alate and forming pouches about the flowers, sulcate; internodes 1 cm long.
Floral bracts imbricate but covering little of the rhachis, to 28 mm long, narrow, distinctly shorter than the sepals, ecarinate, recurved-spreading toward apex when dry, sulcate, glabrous;
Pedicels 3 mm long;
Flowers suberect, 4 cm long.
Sepals free, lanceolate, 21 mm long, ecarinate;
Petals with elliptic blades, purple, bearing 2 scales;
Stamens exserted; anthers linear, scarcely wider than the filaments, 8 mm long; filaments undulate; style elongate;
Ovary 8 mm long.
Capsules cylindric, 25 mm long.
Type. Hitchcock 21323 (holotype GH, isotype US), El Tambo to La Toma, Loja, Ecuador, 3 Sept 1923.
DISTRIBUTION. On trees and cacti, open forest, 1200--1900 m alt, southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru.
ECUADOR. Loja: Vilcabamba to Cachiyacu, 6 Oct 1943, Steyermark 54370 (F, GH); Puente Boqueron to Gonzanama, 9 Oct 1955, Asplund 18111 (S); km 25, Loja to Catamayo, 10 Aug 1965, Gilmartin 1121 (US); same, km 27, 1124 (US). PERU. Piura: Cambaque, 28 Aug 1956, Rauh P-310 (HElD, US); Abra Porculla, Olmos to Dagua, Rauh 20369 (HEID, US).
From Brom of Ecuador Gilmartin 1972
2. Vriesea hitchcockiana (L. B. Smith) L. B. Smith, 1951 (Contrb. U. S. Nat. Herb. vol. 29, no. 10) p. 446. Tillandsia hitchcockiana L. B. Smith, 1930 (Contrb. Gray Herb, vol. 89) p. 10, pl. 4, figs. 2-5. Fig. 69
PLANT to 1 m tall, in xerophytic communities;
LEAVES 40-70 cm long,
blades 2.5-4.5 cm wide, narrowly triangular, gray-green, densely gray lepidote, apex attenuate, sheath 13-15 cm long by 5.0-6.0 cm wide, dark brown;
SCAPE 6-8 mm in diameter, erect, exceeding leaf-rosette;
SCAPE-BRACTS 5.0-17.0 cm long by 2.5-3.0 cm wide at sheath, apex caudate, imbricate throughout;
INFLORESCENCE 35-40 cm long by 10-15 cm in diameter, erect to ascending, bipinnate-subdigitate, lax, having 6 to 8 spikes;
PRIMARY BRACTS 4.0-5.5 cm long, erect-ascending, elliptic, mostly shorter than sterile stipe of spikes, distance between primary bracts 3.0-4.0 cm;
SPIKES 10-35 cm long by 2.0-2.7 cm wide, erect to spreading, purple, having 18 to 28 flowers per spike,
stipe 3.0-8.0 cm long with 3 to 5 sterile bracts;
FLORAL BRACTS 2.5-2.8 cm long by ca. 1.0 cm wide, apex acute, ovate, nerved, erect, imbricate but spike-rhachis exposed at anthesis, ecarinate, papery, glabrous without and glabrous within, purple when alive, often arching outward;
SEPALS 2.0-2.2 cm long, free, ecarinate, nerved, elliptic, acute, glabrous without and within;
PETALS ca. 3.2 cm long, blades ca. 4 mm broad, violet, 2 scales 0.7-1.0 cm long from petal base, stamens much exserted beyond corolla,
stigma 5-6 mm longer than stamens;
OVARY 6-8 mm long;
CAPSULE ca. 3.0 cm long or more, distance between flowers ca. 1.0 cm throughout.
MATERIAL EXAMINED: Hitchcock 21323 (US, TYPE) epiphytic, between El Tambo and La Toma, Prov. Loja, 1000-2200 m, 3 Sept. 1923; AJG 1121 (US) epiphytic, very common, dry deciduous scrub, open forest, no water in tank, seeds very abundant, some on tree trunks minus the seed with coma only, the seeds seeming to have been insect eaten, km 25 Loja-Catamayo, Prov. Loja, 1900 m 10 Aug. 1965; AJG 1124 (US) epiphytic, same type of community as AJG 1121, km 27 Loja Catamaya, Prov. Loja, 1800 m, 10 Aug. 1965.
Tillandsia hitchcockiana L B Smith, spec nov Contr. Gray Herb. 89:10. 1930
Fere metralis: foliis haud bulbose rosulatis, 4 dm. longis, utrinque dense ferruginascenti-incanis lepidotis; basi in vaginam maximam, ovalem, ferrugineam dilatatis; super vaginas ad 35 mm. latis inde in apicem acutum sensim angustatis: scapo glabro, sulcato, arcuatim decurvo, valido, vaginis ellipticis, lepidotis, internodia optime superantibus, infimis longe laminatis dense involuto: infloreseentia pendula, subdigitata e spicis 6-7: bracteis primariis ellipticis, late acutis, haud ultra 4 cm. longis: spicis subaequalibus, anguste oblongis, 25-35 cm. longis, ob bracteas patulas 2 cm. latis; spicarum rhachibus glabris sulcatisque, leviter undulatis, angulatis, angulis ad flores in alas angustas productis; bracteis florigeris imbricatis sed axin paulo obtegentibus, submembranaceis, glabris sulcatisque, ad 28 mm. longis, quam sepala distincte brevioribus, fere omnibus ad apicem versus valde recurvo-patulis: floribus fere ercctis, 4 cm. longis, 1 cm. distantibus, breve (3 mm.) stipitatis; sepalis liberis, haud carinatis, 21 mm. longis; petalis purpureis (ex Hitchcock), quam stamina brevioribus, basi callis binis verticalibus praeditis; antheris anguste linearibus, quam filamenta vix latioribus, 8 mm. longis; filamentis undulatis; stylo perlongo; ovario 8 mm. longo: fructo ignoto. Pl, IV, figs. 2-5.
ECUADOR: Loja: between El Tambo and La Toma, alt. 1000-2200 m., 1923, A. S. Hitchcock 21323 (G, type; US, cotype).
This beautiful and striking species is related to T. incurva, T. cereicola and T. patula and the close resemblance of its inflorescence to that of T. subimbricata would argue that the latter species, though its flowers are as yet unknown, probably belongs to the section Platystachys also.
T. Hitchcockiana is easily distinguishable from its near relatives by the combination of densely furfuraceous-lepidote leaves and of floral bracts shorter than the sepals.
The recurved-spreading character of the floral bracts is of very doubtful importance as a specimen (Fendler 1524) of T. incana in the Gray Herbarium shows both incurved and recurved floral bracts on the same spike, yet its strongly spreading-tipped bracts are the most-striking single feature of T. Hitchcockiana.
The species is unusual in having two lateral folds on each petal, a rare occurrence in Tillandsia.