Herbarium Studies III by WILHELM WEBER in J. Brom. Soc. 32(1); 28-31. 1982
Tillandsia circinnata Schlechtendal 1845 ("1844")
Tillandsia circinnata sensu Mez et auct., which is found commonly in nature and in collections has been mistakenly identified as being identical with the T. circinnata described by Schlechtendal on pages 430-432 in LINNAEA 18, 1845 (“1844”). This fact has been revealed by the study of the type plants deposited with the herbarium of the University of Halle. Handwritten notations by Schiede, who collected the plants in Mexico and whose plants form the basis of Schlechtendal's descriptions, have been added to the samples. On one postfloral specimen: "Tillandsia in arboribus, Hac. de la Laguna Aug. 29," and on two fruit-bearing specimens: "Tillandsia in arboribus Mixantlan, Mar. 29,"
Schlechtendal did not conclude that his T. circinnata could be identical with T. streptophylla, because he wrote in his introduction on page 427, Loc. cit.:
“Yet another species is occasionally mentioned by Galeotti, described, and depicted in L'Horticulteur Belge de 1836 p. 251-253 - T. streptophylla Scheidweiler, which Galeotti brought live to Europe but did not preserve among his dried plants. The name leads me to assume that it might be T. circinnata, which is described below. I have not been able to determine this for sure, since that book was not available nor has the description been published elsewhere.”
Also Schlechtendal's description makes it clear that his T. circinnata is not the same as T. circinnata sensu Mez et auct. He cites the specimens of Schiede and says on page 431, loc. cit.:
“In arboribus pr. la Hacienta de la Laguna Aug. defloratam et Martio m. Misantlae capsulas aperientem leg. b. Schiede. Although only 1 to 1¼ foot tall, this is nevertheless an imposing plant by virtue of the span of its leaves as well as the multi-branched inflorescence. The longitudinally rounded leaf bases, which quickly meld into the leaves, are approximately 1½ inches wide and very convex but only loosely arranged but in great number, form a type of onion-like mass, which gets an even greater size by virtue of the fact that the leaf surfaces are curled inward and variously twisted or even spiraled, almost like tendrils. The plant has a diameter of 4-6 inches.”
The accompanying photographs show the postfloral specimen from Hacienda de la Laguna and one of the fruiting specimens from Mixantlan (HAL 45627). They show clearly that T. circinnata Schldl. 1845 is indeed the same as the well known T. streptophylla Scheidw ex Morren 1836. Therefore the following nomenclature changes are necessary:
Tillandsia streptophylla Scheidweiler ex Morren in Hortic. Belge 3, 1836, p. 252, Pl.
Till. circinnata Schldl. 1845 (" 1844"), non sensu Mez nec sensu auct.
Vriesea streptophylla (Scheidw.) E. Morren 1873
Till. tortilis Brongn ex E. Morren 1873, non Klotzsch 1857
Type: Institute Gembloux s.n., Mexico s. loc. (Holotype BR)
Till. circinnata sensu Mez et auct., so familiar to us, must then be re-named according to the first valid description:
Tillandsia paucifolia Baker in Gard. Chron. II. 10, 1878, p. 748 Synonyms:
Till. bracteosa Klotzsch ex Beer 1857, nomen
Vriesea bracteosa Beer 1857, nomen
Till. bulbosa sensu Chapman 1860, non Hooker 1826
Till. yucatana Baker 1887
Till. pruinosa sensu Chapman 1897, non Swartz 1797
Till. intermedia Mez 1903
Till. circinnata sensu Mez et auct., non Schldl. 1845
Typus: Cultivated plant of unknown origin, Kew Hortus s.n. 1878 (K)
Addendum: I have had the opportunity to see plate 6757 in the Botanical Magazine of 1884 with the description of Till. streptophylla by J. G. Baker. It is clear that he too showed Till. circinnata Schldl. as a synonym for Till. streptophylla. This equivalence was thus already known, and the reason for confusion with Till. paucifolia by Mez is today difficult to explain.
Translated by Harvey L. Kendall
Tillandsia streptophylla Schweid by Baker in Bot. Mag. pl. 6757. 1984
Native of Mexico and Honduras
Nat. Ord. Bromeliaceae – Tribe Tillandsieae
Genus Tillandsia, Linn. ., (Benth. et Hook.f. Gen. Pl. vol. iii. p.669)
Tillandsia (Platystachys) streptophylla; foliis dense rosulatis lineari-lanceolatis acuminatis insigniter spiraliter tortis semipedalibus et ultra utrinque dense persistenter albo-lepidotis basibus oblongis erectis ventricosis, pedunculo brevi foliis bracteiformis rubellis imbricatis apicibus squarrosis, spicis pluribus densis distichs, bracteis oblongo-lanceolatis navicularibus lepidotis valde imbricatis, calyce incluso glabro, petalis lilacinus angustis calyce triplo longioribus, genitalibus exsertis.
T. streptophylla. Schweid. in Hortic. Belg. 1836, vol. iii. p.252, cum icone;
Schlect. in Linnaea, vol. xviii. p. 427;
E Morren in Belg. Hort. 1878, p. 296. t. 18, 19;
Hemsley in Biol. Cent. Bot. vol. iii. p. 322
T. circinnata Schlecht. in Linnaea, vol. xviii. p. 430.
T. tortilis, A. Brong, MSS.
Vriesea streptophylla, E Morr. Cat Bromel, 1873, p. 17
This Bromeliad, from its remarkable habit, is quite a botanical curiousity. Like its neighbours, it grows on old trunks of trees. The bases of the leaves form a large pitcher round the base of the stem, and from this rise their long tapering leathery blades, which are rolled up spirally, and twisted in all directions in the most irregular fashion. The spikes and individual flowers do not show any striking difference from some of the best-known West Indian representatives of this large genus, such as T. polystachya and T. fasciculata. there is a specimen at the British Museum, gathered in the Mosquito territory as long ago as 1744 by Catain Miller, but it was not described and named till a century later. It has long been cultivated sparingly as a curiosity in the Belgian, English, and french conservatories, and it has been found wild in Mexico by Schiede, Bourgeau, and Hahn.
Our drawing was made from a plant that flowered at kew last April.
DESCR. Whole plant a foot or a foot and a half long. Leaves in a dense basal rosette, their rigid ventricose erect dilated base two or three inches long and broad; blade six or nine inches long, an inch broad at the base, tapering gradually to a long point, very much twisted spirally from low down, firm in texture, densely lepidote on both surfaces. Peduncle short, quite hidden by its numerous amplexicaul red-tinted lepidote imbricated bract-like leaves, with short free linear recurving tips. Spikes four to eight in a short panicle, distichous, three or four inches long, under an inch broad; bracts oblong-lanceolate, much imbricated, densely lepidote. Calyx half an inch long, hidden by the amplexicaul bract, glabrous, cut down nearly to the base. Corolla cylindrical, bright lilac, an inch and a half long. Stamens exserted. Style-branches overtopping the sytamens, short, twisted spirally, flattened towards the tip. Capsule an inch and a half long. - J G Baker
Fig.1. Lepidote scale from leaf – much enlarged; 2. a flower complete except the calyx – life size; 3. front view of an anther; 4. back view of an anther; 5. pistil – all more or less enlarged.