Tillandsia confertiflora

Thank you to Ruth for today’s write-up:

This stunning picture of a Tillandsia confertiflora inflorescence is by mdv_graupe@Flickr via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool (original image). Thanks very much!

Within the bromeliad family, the genus TIllandsia is the largest: estimates suggest roughly 400 species. Tillandsia as a group are found amongst montane, desert and forested regions of Central and South America, southern USA and Mexico. The genus Tillandsia was named by Linneaus in honour of the Finnish physician and botanist Elias Tilandz.

Many species of Tillandsia, including Tillandsia confertiflora, are epiphytic: they collect nutrients and water from the air. Consequently, these epiphytes do not require soil. Instead, they substitute the bark of trees as a substrate.

In this photograph of Tillandsia confertiflora, do note the few inconspicuous purple flowers emerging from the prominent reddish-green bracts.

Tillandsia confertiflora is native to the Andes Mountains, where it can be found at elevations from 1200 to 3000m.

Tillandsia confertiflora

16 responses to “Tillandsia confertiflora”

  1. Annie Morgan

    Stunning photo of a beautiful plant.

  2. bev

    Wow! What a close-up! I did not notice the purple flowers until prompted.

  3. Clint McInnes

    I didn’t notice the tiny flowers either.
    A question: Are epiphytes in general non-parasitic? In this case, for example, does confertiflora get all its nutrients from the air, or does it feed from the tree as well? We have a problem in our part of South Carolina with mistletoe taking over and killing mature shade trees, and I wondered.

  4. Ninurta5

    Entirely epiphytic, Clint. The plant need not be attached to the tree bark; it can be hung from a limb, for example, by a thin wire that is inserted vertically through the length of the plant. The plant then forms a hanging colony.

  5. Fred Bess

    No, Most epiphytes are not parasites. Epiphyte roots provide stability to the plants without taking nutrients from the host plant. Instead they collect nutrients that become trapped between the roots and the bark of the host plant.
    Parasites like mistletoe have root like structures called haustoria that actually invade the xylem and phloem of the host plant and take water and nutrients directly from the host plant. Even if the outward signs of the mistletoe are removed the haustoria remain and the plant can regrow -or- continue to rob nutrients from the host without showing outward signs. Some parasites only show outward signs at flowering time.
    Perhaps Daniel could post a photo of Nuytsia floribunda in the near future. This is probably the most spectacular parasitic plant on the planet.

  6. Jacqueline

    You said it, Annie. STUNNING!

  7. phillip

    ..Beautiful..looks like a a gladiola… and mabey confetti..?

  8. Stuart

    Beautiful photo, but there is no context to judge the scale from. The Tillandsia I’m most familiar with is Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), which has tiny flowers. What’s the magnification of this photo?

  9. Lanie

    fantistac and very interesting plant. I don’t have time to go through the links now but I have saved them and I can’t wait to read them all

  10. luise h.

    Such a gorgeous plant.I have a Tillandsia’aeronthus’
    cant wait for the Flowers.
    Thanks to the links in your story I know what the flower will look like.

  11. Earl Blackstock

    Spectacularly beautiful in its own way like so many others that have brightened my day.

  12. elizabeth a airhart

    i live in zone 9 on the west
    coast of florida
    air plants and spanish moss hanging
    from the old trees are all around me
    when the full moon is out and an owl
    hoots i feel like i am in one of
    old south ghost stories

  13. SoapySophia

    Stunning. The shape almost reminds me of a Bird of Paradise. Wonderful color.

  14. mdv_graupe

    Thank you very much Ruth and Daniel for selecting my photo.
    I found that growing these high altitude tillandsias at cool temperatures and with high light intensity really intensifies the colours.
    Stuart – This is a rather large growing Tillandsia. The section of the plant shown in the photo is approximately 8 inches long. The entire plant is about 15 inches tall and 10 inches wide.

  15. Marisa

    As I used to work in a plant nursery I am quite familiar with bromeliads, for a second I was thinking someone just took a splendid photo of their own houseplant. Is that what “cultivated in Pacifica, California, USA” means? I love the little purple flowers, but the reddish-green bracts are quite decorative enough on their own, that’s one of the best things of having a bromeliad a long beautiful display. If I remember right the ones we sold were potted in a combo of peat moss and Composted bark chips just like the more well-known houseplant orchids.

  16. Margaret-Rae Davis

    What a beautiful Tillandsia. I like the way it was photographed with the black backgound. It makes it POP.
    Thank you,
    Margaret-Rae

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