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

Tillandsia ionantha
Ian Hook, Sydney 04/03.
Wendy7.
Ken Woods '04.
Ken Woods 12/06
Birgit Rhode at Bromeliad XIII.
Ken Woods 06/09
Alan Phythian 11/17
Derek Butcher 05/11. See -
Detective Derek 0511
Ian Hook, Sydney 05/04. Giant form, possibly 'Apretado'
Chris Larson 11/16 as var. maxima*
*Chris Larson ... "T. ionantha var maxima – imported as T. ionantha 'Huamelula' back in the early 90’s."
Bob Hudson 10/17
Bob Hudson 10/18
Chris Larson 11/18
Bob Hudson 10/17&10/18 ... "Another beaut T. ionantha. It should have a name [Apricot Crush?]. Note the very dark nearly black petals."
Chris Larson 11/18 ... "This is one I’ve always thought of registering. Many of you have it already – no one has ever said no. To my mind it was the best one from an Isley batch in 2006. But do we need another name?"
Vic Przetocki 07/18 "Giant form"
Rob Bower 07/18
Chris Larson 06/19 BOE1593
Derek Butcher 07/18 ... "Vic: There are at least 4 cultivars that can be called giant. To help you out I m going to suggest 'Penito'. What do others think?"
Chris Larson 07/18 ... "I would not go to T.Penito as I dont think it is that. I reckon that Vics doing the right thing in not lumping it with something which it is probably not - which would , from my point of view, make that name pointless."
Rob Bower 07/18 ... "After the meeting at Pams and her collection of ionanthas, I thought I would send these in. The big one is similar but not the same as the giant form from Vic recently. Nice hot red colour. The smaller red one is slow growing and pretty much always red. If anyone has some variety names in mind that would be good."
Chris Larson 06/19 ... "From Mr Boeker in Germany, hence ionantha BOE 1593. Very similar in form to the one labelled Mex in your nearest Bunnings, or T. ionantha 'Huamelula' around the world (which emanates from Asia) but is different to the ones in the states."
Chris Larson 07/19 BOE714



Tillandsia ionantha var. van_hyningii

Chris Larson 07/11.
Peter Tristram 10/14.
Chris Larson ... "Not often seen in colour & flower. Taken by me at Bob Hudson’s place during the World Bromeliad Conference."
Peter Tristram ... "The variety ‘van hyningii’ isn’t often posted and is slow growing plant. I gather it is not easy to find in Mexico now as the canyon where it grew is now a dam. Pam might know more. I have a few forms and Chris and I found a monster in Colombia at Gruber’s."
Nanette Collingwood 08/16
Bob Hudson 06/19
Chris Larson 08/19 "From Asia, probably tissue culture."



Tillandsia ionantha var. zebrina
See also T. 'Zebrina'.
In 1994 this was included into the definition of T. ionantha - from a Botanists view it fits within the range of ionantha.
Shortly after, it was included in the Cultivar Registry as T. 'Zebrina' by Derek Butcher
as there were sufficient horticultural differences to warrant "keeping the name alive".
Now listed as T. 'Zebrina' a cv. of ionantha.
Peter Tristram 08/11
Bob Hudson 12/12
Greg Aizlewood 09/14. Variegated form


Tillandsia ionantha var. stricta - was 'Rosita'.

From BCR ... "'Rosita' = cv. of ionantha, Isley?, <1987
(Mexico - always red - to 10 cm. diameter) - Koide said, "The plant referred to as 'Rosita' is the same as Tillandsia ionantha 'Stricta' - This variation is endemic to one location in Oaxaca, Mexico. Red throughout its entire life and has very narrow, nearly filiform leaf blades". Now known as ionantha v. stricta (Koide)."
Peter Tristram 10/12.
Chris Larson 11/16 ex. Isley
Bob Hudson 01/17 "'Rosita' growing in a spiral leaf pattern"
Peter Tristram ... "This is what I got as T. ionantha Rosita in the mid '80s and what Chris sold (still sells) as v. stricta a few years ago. Very similar if not identical. I have Rositas from a few sources and they vary only in size but the overall shape and leaf density is pretty consistent, and reddness if grown bright. Chris has sold some that look like larger 'v. stricta' too.
Great plants anyway - never have too many! Too many ionantha forms to name them all!"
(Ed. - Note Pamela’s BSI Journal article of 1993, it says that the then proposed T. ionantha var stricta was created to apply to the previously named T. ionantha Rosita.)
Bob Hudson
Gary May 11/19 as Rosita
Gary May 11/19 var. stricta 'Silver Leaf; and 'Green Leaf'
Gary May ... (Rosita) "This came from Bob Hudson about 5yrs ago. Very dark, noticably heavier than other ionantha of similar size. Really slow growing but it was worth the wait. H 11cm, W total 9cm, W bulb 4cm. Stiff leaf. 40mins north of Brisbane, almost all day under 1% galvanised birdwire."
Gary May ... (var. stricta) "In my collection there are quite a few variations in the ionantha v. stricta group. Size, colour, degree of leaf recurve etc. Here are my medium size, green leaf and silver leaf. Approaching flowering the green leaf remains light green whereas the silver leaf turns a pleasant deep red."



Tillandsia ionantha Mexico Ex. Lau.

Harold Kuan 12/19 as ionantha "Curly Top Batch"
Harold Kuan ... "Just sharing this very festive-looking T. ionantha 'Curly Top batch'. Started flowering about November.
As soon as it flowered I managed to capture it with the good camera, but realised that unfortunately when it had three flowers poking through I only had time to capture it with my phone.
A lovely little plant! I remember Chris telling me that this was a particular clone he picked out of a batch of ionantha 'Curly Top' – hence the description."
Bob Hudson ... "Good evening Harold. See the BCR for photos of the real 'Curly Top'. Your plant may be T. Curly Leaf ?"
Chris Larson ... "This plant also goes by the name T. ionantha Mexican ex Lau. Collectors Corner imported this batch prior to my employment - Brent was supervising the import if I am correct.
T. ionantha Curly Top was selected as the best from this batch that show the particular trait and sent to Bob Hudson. I later isolated another few that show the same trait as T. Curly Top and have been propagating these. These may or may not be vegetative propagations from the original T. Curly Top.
Under certain conditions the T. Curly top sends up pups which are very flat. For a while I thought this was different and some crept out as T. Flat Top - due to people asking for them - but these all ended up being T. Curly Top.
So Harold, yours are normally tagged T. ionantha Mexico ex Lau. Many will have these forms in their collection. I think that Bertie Flower also got some accross to NZ in the '00s
I really like this form."
Chris Larson ... "BTW. The little scurfy T. ionantha Mexico which is available in the nearest Bunnings to you is a great example of the Registrars problem. (This is different plant from the form T. ionantha Mexico ex Lau that Harold showed above.) When it is grown in a similar latitude to Cairns but at around 450m altitude, it grows to a similar size to what we sell it - forms small offsets to approx 2-3 cm. But if it is grown nearby, at sea level - same as Cairns, it doesn't flower readily, and reaches a size similar to T. ionantha var maxima (approx 15 cm). T. ionantha var maxima is the name of the large plant that comes from Huamelula and prior to be being described was called T. ionantha Huamelula. (I refuse to use this name for this plant, as it is very different to the forms of T. ionantha var maxima that Bird Rock Tropicals & Rainforest Flora sells.) I've noticed some eBayers selling clusters of this plant (supplied by Collectors Corner) as "T. ionantha Mexico Mini" with each plant in the cluster being 10 to 15 mm - the vendors detailing it in the associated blurb as a small form - they haven't a clue, as they buy small plants and they sell small plants. This plant is around all over the world as T. ionantha Huamelula from CC's supplier - a name which CC refuse to use for the reasons stated.
These are the things that need to be taken into account as Registrar, and why (I think) Derek throws up his hands. Good luck Geoff! It is a big call in assessing each request for registration."



Tillandsia ionantha – a guide to its Cultivars as at January 2020.
Input by Pamela Hyatt, Justin Lee and Derek Butcher.
See also Journal Brom. Soc. 43(4):161. 1993.
T. ionantha has a wide coverage in Derek's DVD. Just one of the notes is called 'Ionantha cultivars' and shows how difficult it is if you lose a label.
Hopefully this table will assist identification by placing all the registered cultivars in one place.
Click thumbnails for larger image.
Click BCR number to jump to full BCR web page.

Apretado BRT
BCR=#14772, photo: Pamela Koide-Hyatt. Bird Rock Tropicals. Slow growing and therefore large at flowering. 12cm high x 6cm wide
Apretado RFI
BCR=#14773, photo: Chris Larson. 1cm to 5cm high x 2cm wide. Rainforest Flora Inc. (See discussions this website 'Apretado')
Aurea Grandis
name used by Isley before changing to Sumo Size White
Beacon
BCR=#13693, photo: Xiao Kong
China
Big Hawaiian
BCR=#14921, photo: Jerry Domingo
Hawaii
Big Kahuna
BCR=#15483, photo: Jerry Domingo
Hawaii
Black Beauty
BCR=#14120, photo: C. Sanchez-Mariscal
Philippines
Black Marmalade
BCR=#14632, photo: Woody Kaotun
Thailand
Bravo
BCR=#15936, Thailand, photo: Chris Larson
Blank
Blank
Charon’s Gem
BCR=#14085, photo: P. Pacharapong, Pachara Orchids
Thailand
Christmas Flame
BCR=#13233, photo: Pachara Orchids
Found in Mexico.
Christmas Pink
BCR=#13221, photo: Jenny Lynn
N.Ryan, Australia
Concentric
BCR=#15063, photo: Pachara Orchids
Mexico/Thailand
Cone Head
BCR=#8035, photo: Tillandsia International.
Seems different to other pics on BCR ?? (See also this website 'ConeHead')
(Not?) Cone Head
BCR=#8035, photo: Val Honeywood, Aus.
Koide said, "Another large cultivar of unknown origin" (See 'Hand Grenade', 'Pine Cone' and 'Huamelula').
Corsa
BCR=#10141, photo: Derek Butcher
A form being distributed by the company Corsa SA in Europe and quite widespread and named in Australia
Cupcake
BCR=#13232, photo: Andrew Flower
Andrew Flower in New Zealand
Curly Fountain
BCR=#15727, photo: Kelvin Tan
Cultivated in Singapore.
Curly Leaf
BCR=#15693, photo: Chris Larson
Asia, imported to Aust.
Curly Top
BCR=#10459, photo: Derek Butcher
Bob Hudson
Desert Lights
BCR=#14948, photo: Vic Przetock
Mexica/W.A.
Dragon Blood
BCR=#14194, photo: C. Sanchez-Mariscal
Philippines. See also Dragon Fire
Dream Boy
BCR=#13692, photo: Xiao Kong
China
Druid
BCR=#8060, photo: Dennis Cathcart
albino form, Mexico
Fire Up
BCR=#13730, photo: Jasmine Koh
Singapore
Fuego
BCR=#8091, photo: Pachara Orchids
from Guatemala, leaves stiffer than v. stricta
Fuego Yellow
BCR=#12733, photo: Hiroyuki Takizawa
see JBS Japan 2014
Gigante
BCR=#10142, photo: Jane Wu
from Isley 2010 seems similar to Apretado etc
Hand Grenade
BCR=#8105, photo: Dennis Cathcart
from Honduras – Cathcart
Haselnuss
BCR=#8107, photo: Jane Wu
name used in Germany - ?Peanut
.
spare, photo: .
Hawaiian Frost
BCR=#15482, photo: Jerry Domingo
Hawaii. (grex sibling to Hawaiian Orange ?)
Hawaiian Lavender
BCR=#13867, photo: Jerry Domingo
Hawaii
Hawaiian Orange
BCR=#15481, photo: Jerry Domingo
Hawaii. (grex sibling to Hawaiian Frost ?)
Hawaiian Red
BCR=#13678, photo: Jerry Domingo
Hawaii
Hedgehog
BCR=#12789, photo: Seth Charoenwong
From Thailand
Huamelula
BCR=#8116, photo: Pamela Koide-Hyatt
= v. maxima
Ice Sorbet
BCR=#15066, photo: Pachara Orchids
Mexico/Thailand
Icy Elf
BCR=#15065, photo: Pachara Orchids
Mexico/Thailand
Jett's Champion
BCR=#15454, photo: Claudio D Sanchez
Philippines
La Muerte
BCR=#13390, photo: Jane Wu
China
Little Velvet
BCR=#14150, photo: Woody Kaotun
Thailand
Mandarin Gem
BCR=#15064, photo: Pachara Orchids
Mexico/Thailand
Maui
BCR=#12639, photo: Terry Davis
Probably from Bob Okasaki, Hawaii
Mayan Flame
BCR=#14084, photo: P. Pacharapong, Pachara Orchids
Thailand
Mayan Pearl
BCR=#14060, photo: P. Pacharapong
Thailand
Mayan Regal
BCR=#14061, photo: P. Pacharapong
Thailand
Mayan Totem Pole
BCR=#12648, photo: Pachara Orchids
Thailand
Mayan Vase
BCR=#14038, photo: P. Pacharapong
Thailand
Methaporn Delight
BCR=#14495, photo: Warairak Charoenchan
Thailand. Variegated form of ‘Druid’
Mexican Pink
BCR=#13170, photo: Seth Charoenwong
Thailand.
Mindset
BCR=#15085, photo: Pachara Orchids
Mexico/Thailand.
Mini Q
BCR=#15854, photo: Mi Mi Lee
Apretado F2, Taiwan.
Minnie
BCR=#10143, photo: Derek Butcher
named by Bob Hudson of Cairns. AU, for a very small form selected from a seed batch. Flowers at 3cm tall
Minnie White
BCR=#11748, photo: Bob Hudson
Named by Bob Hudson. Has been growing and stable for several years now(BH).
Monstrose
BCR=#12641, photo: Paul Isley
By Isley? links to Gary Hammer as Pachara Predator and the German ‘Kristate’?
Orange
BCR=#15880, photo: Hiroyuki Takizawa
Mexico
Oriental Red
BCR=#14708, Fuego x Druid, China. photo:BCR
Pachara Predator
BCR=#12645, photo: Pachara Orchids
Monstrose
Peach
BCR=#8219
from Taxco Mexico
Peanuts
BCR=#8221
= v. stricta fa. fastigiata
Penito
BCR=#8224, photo:
large form similar to ‘Apretado’, from Bromelifolia, Guatemala. (See also this website 'Penito')
Pine Cone
BCR=#8229, photo: Dennis Cathcart
from Cathcart
Pink Beauty
BCR=#14915, photo: Chris Larson
from Asia
Pink Champagne
BCR=#8230
ionantha x Druid. N.Ryan Qld, photo Bruce Dunstan
Premium Red
BCR=#15067, photo: Pachara Orchids
Mexico/Thailand
Pyramid
BCR=#12731, photo: Paul Isley
Isley
Red Rock
BCR=#13391, photo: Joe Zhang
China
Renate
BCR=#8253, photo: -/Chris Larson
variegated form – Other names given which seem only to be a variation in the actual variegation such as ‘variegata’, albomarginata’, and ‘Yuko Johnson’ in Taiwan for an almost albino
Renate
BCR=#8253, photo: -/Chris Larson
variegated form – Other names given which seem only to be a variation in the actual variegation such as ‘variegata’, albomarginata’, and ‘Yuko Johnson’ in Taiwan for an almost albino
Ron
BCR=#12909, photo: Paul Isley
Isley
Rosita
BCR=#8259, photo: Bob Hudson
= ionantha v. stricta
Rubra
BCR=#8263, photo: Andrew Flower
from Guatemala – more soft open rosette with a fluffy silver appearance
Ruby Black
BCR=#14631, photo: Woody Kaotun
Thailand
Scarlet Rose
BCR=#13952, photo: Grant Paterson
Qld – Grant Patterson
Small Mexican
BCR=#8283, photo: Pachara Orchids
from Alfredo Lau in the early 1990’s and widespread at least in Australia & New Zealand. As the name implies, flowers when quite small.
Succulent Form
BCR=#15881, photo: Hiroyuki Takizawa
Mexico
Sumo Size White
BCR=#10144, photo: Ron Jell
A large white flowered form named by Isley(originally as 'Aurea Grandis')
Supattra's Glitter
BCR=#14751
P.Pacharapong. Thailand
Super Boy
BCR=#15487, photo: Steve Molnar
?
Super Frost
BCR=#15487, photo: Jerry Domingo
Hawaii
Tall Velvet
BCR=#8297
name from Tillandsia International
Totem Pole
BCR=#10145, photo: Benedict Tay
from Isley – a large form similar to ‘Apretado’. Also known as ‘Fuego Totem Pole’
Tuti Fruiti
BCR=#13815, photo: Andrew Flower
NZ Andrew Flower
Two Tone
BCR=#12642, photo: Paul Isley
Possibly a Sport of ‘Fuego’ from Isley
Uncle Vuth Pearl
BCR=#14630, photo: Woody Kaotun
Thailand
White Knight
BCR=#13932, photo: Bob Hudson
From Holm in Germany. Was known as ‘Alba’
Zebrina
BCR=#8340, photo: Dennis Cathcart as 'Zebrina Mex'
a cultivar with light cross markings on the leaves

Tillandsia ionantha; Its Varieties, Forms, and Cultivars by Pamela Koide in J. Brom.Soc. 43: 160-3. 1993
Tillandsia ionantha is one of the most common and interesting species of the genus Tillandsia. One of the most delightful of the miniatures, its tufting, silvery rosette reaches only 1½ to 4 inches in height. The leaves, covered with silvery scales, are seldom over 2 inches long. It is rather easy to grow and adapts well to our outdoor southern California climate. If left to grow into a cluster, this species will form a large ball in a very short time. Some people have grown these clumps to the size of a basketball, a spectacle when the whole cluster blushes red at bloom time. The common name for this species is "Blushing Bride," referring to the red blush during anthesis. Although several forms and varieties are available to the collector, there are only two varieties recognized in Harry Luther's AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF BROMELIAD BINOMIALS, but three in Lloyd Kiff's A DISTRIBUTIONAL CHECK-LIST OF THE GENUS TILLANDSIA. Descriptions of the varieties, forms, and cultivars follow:
Tillandsia ionantha var. ionantha is the most common and available variety. It was described in 1855 by Jules Emile Planchon. This variety is the most widespread, growing from Mexico to Costa Rica at altitudes of 450 to 5,000 feet. It varies somewhat in appearance from country to country, as well as within each country. It grows in dense masses in moist forests, as well as on exposed deciduous trees and rocks in arid regions. It can vary from silvery color with thin leaves, to green and lush, with thick, succulent-type leaves. When it starts to flower, the entire plant turns a brilliant rosy red. The narrow, tubular flowers are large for the size of the plant, topping the foliage by 1 to 1 ½ inches. The petals are vivid purple.
Tillandsia ionantha var. vanhyningii was described by Mulford Foster in 1957. It is endemic to one region in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico. It is lithophytic, growing on vertical limestone cliffs overhanging Rio Grijalva. This variety is caulescent (with distinct stems). The leaf color is a silvery pale green to white. In habitat, it produces large mats of rosettes. When the plant blooms, the foliage will flush bright pink, and produce the same vivid purple flowers as variety ionantha. Pups emerge from the base of the old mature leaves to form new leads. As this species is geographically isolated and morphologically and ecologically distinct, it fits Luther's criteria of a subspecies.
Tillandsia ionantha var. zebrina, the third variety listed in Kiff's book, was described by Bert Foster in 1982. Harry Luther thinks that this should be considered a form and not a true botanical variety. It was collected in Guatemala and differs from the typical species in its beautifully banded leaf blades.
Tillandsia ionantha var. scaposa is the synonym of the species Tillandsia kolbii. T. kolbii was described by Walter Till and Stefan Schatzl, in 1981. The species has little in common morphologically with the species T. ionantha. It occurs at much higher elevations in pine-oak cloud forests. It is characterized by a scapose, occasionally compound inflorescence. Although the type locality is Oaxaca, Mexico, it is found most commonly in Guatemala.
Tillandsia ionantha `Druid' was introduced in 1984. This is a Mexican variation of T. ionantha var. ionantha that appears normal until it blooms. It then turns an unusual yellow color and produces flowers with white petals. I have seen numerous examples of this phenomenon in the genus Tillandsia and have always considered them to represent an albino form. Every generation of offsets continues to produce the same colorless inflorescence and flowers, indicating a fixed genetic trait.
T. ionantha `Rosita', `Peanut', and `Apretado' are cultivars mentioned in Paul Isley's book TILLANDSIA. The plant referred to as `Rosita' is the same as T. ionantha "Stricta," so called by several commercial tillandsia nurseries. This variation is endemic to one region in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is an isolated population found growing on oak trees at approximately 6500 feet elevation with T. fuchsii var. fuchsii. Other plants growing in the vicinity are the peach form of T. capitata, T. fasciculata, T. leucolepis, and the orchid Epidendrum parkinsonianum. It is red during its entire life, and has very narrow, nearly filiform leaf blades. During anthesis, it turns a brighter, brilliant red, and the flower petals are purple. I consider this a distinct variety and propose the name T. ionantha var. stricta.

T. ionantha var. stricta hort. ex Koide, var. nov.
A typo T. ionantha Planchon sed cui similis foliis pertenuibus et perpetuo rubris differt.
Type: Mexico: Oaxaca; 6 km east of El Camaron, elev. ca.. 2000 m. Epiphytic on Quercus sp. Koide & Schuster s.n. legit., April 1982. Flowered in cultivation, P. Koide s.n. (SEL, holotype; US, MEXU, isotypes).

T. ionantha `Peanut' is actually a form of the above-mentioned variety. It grows within the population of T. ionantha var. stricta and appears rather randomly. It, too, is red throughout its life, but morphologically different. Instead of growing onto an open rosette, its leaves stay erect, close together, and very tight. This characteristic is continued in offspring as well as in young seedlings. On account of its distinctive growth habit it is described below as forma fastigiata. According to H. Luther a "forma" is used to designate biologically trivial variations of a species that occur sporadically within a natural population. If these variants occur in a cultivated population, they should be designated a cultivar.

T. ionantha var. stricta forma fastigiata, Koide, forma nov.
A typo T. ionantha var. stricta Koide sed cui similis foliis fastigiatis differt.
Type: Mexico: Oaxaca; 6 km east of El Camaron, elev. ca.. 2000 m. Epiphytic on Quercus sp., growing intermingled with typical T. ionantha var. stricta, Koide & Schuster s.n. legit., April 1982.
Flowered in cultivation, P. Koide s.n. (SEL, holotype; US, MEXU, isotypes).

The last named, `Apretado' ; appears to be a variation of the Mexican T. ionantha var. ionantha. I have on occasion, found specimens of it growing in Mexico. They seem to grow larger than the typical species, and the leaves are succulent, slightly stiffer and more erect. They grow quite large as they are reluctant to bloom.

OTHER CULTIVARS
T. ionantha `Rubra'. This name is used to describe a cultivar sold by Guatemalan nurseries, It has semisucculent green leaves, which recurve from an open rosette. When it blooms it turns a light pink-rose color, and has purple flowers. I do not know the exact distribution of this plant.
T. ionantha `Fuego'. Another variation sold by Guatemalan nurseries, is red throughout its life, but differs from the Mexican T. ionantha var. stricta in that the leaf blades are somewhat stiffer and more upright. The rosette is closed. It has purple flowers.I do not know its distribution.
T. ionantha `Huamelula' was recently brought into cultivation from Mexico. It grows on lava rocks on the west coast of Oaxaca. The plants are very large in comparison to the typical species. A single specimen can be 3-4 inches in diameter. It has beautiful green leaves, forming a symmetrical rosette. During anthesis it turns a vivid pink-orange color, and produces large purple flowers.
T. ionantha `Peach' is a variation found near Taxco, Mexico. It is more typical of the species T. ionantha var. ionantha in size. The leaves are pale green until the plant blooms. Then they turn peach. The leaves are also softer than the typical species. It also produces purple flowers.
T. ionantha `Hand Grenade' is a very large form which resembles a hand grenade. According to Dennis Cathcart, this form is from Honduras and appears to have indeterminate growth. It is a sparse bloomer and occasionally will crest.
T. ionantha `Cone Head' - is another large cultivar. Its origin is not known to me.

To summarize, we can agree that the species Tillandsia ionantha is not only attractive but variable. As the species appearance changes, individuals have applied various names to distinguish one type from another and in so doing have created a nomenclatural nightmare. I hope that the names of these cultivars, varieties, and forms can be clarified before it becomes an impossible task.


Updated 12/07/20