35. Krulik, Gerald, "What Is Your Most Boring Bromeliad?", PUP TALK (Saddleback Valley Bromeliad
Society), 13(10)p.3-4, October, 2006.  


Please, if possible send the newsletter your nominations. It will be interesting to see how different
people have different tastes, different ideas of boring, of growing experiences, and maybe even,
different forms of species.

I originally was going to ask, What is your most boring Bromeliad Genus? However, I soon realized that
there were too many possible candidates for this. Most of the plants we see in collections are only from
about ten or so genera, versus 60-80 or so genera for the whole group. We see predominantly only
Aechmaea, Bilbergia, Dykia, Hechtia, Puya, Neoregelia, Ananas, Tillandsia, Vriesia, Bromelia,
Cryptanthus. Thus it would be too easy for people with only one or two in a genus, to proclaim that
genus as boring. For example, I can find no aesthetic reason for the existence of Racinaea, a plant that
grows well as an epiphyte like Tillandsia, and flowers and clusters easily. Yet, even in flower, it is hard
to spot or appreciate when growing mixed in with lots of other Tillandsias on a long piece of aluminum
edging mesh nailed to a fence. The most common genera in cultivation generally have many species,
and are mostly not boring.

My own nomination for the most boring bromeliad species, in our collection, is Tillandsia
guatemalensis. Yes, you heard me right—I am nominating a species of my all time favorite genus, a
Tillandsia, as the most boring bromeliad.

What makes me think it is boring? Well, for one thing, it is easy to grow, even outdoors. It clusters
without shame, and all the plants are perfectly green. It seems like the arch-typical plain vanilla (i.e.,
green) bromeliad. My plants have no spots, acne-caused or otherwise; no stripes; no warts or
crenellations; no spines; no non-green pigments. The flower spike is tall, open, thin, sparsely
branched, greenish-red with tiny blue flowers briefly appearing in parsimonious amounts. I have
attached a photo of my plant, so perhaps you can see for yourself. (I will put all photos, in color, on my
website at . Maybe I will even put in the full references.).

Our two plants are shown below.

Having said this, I did decide to do a little further research. The Internet is great for this, but I started the
traditional way, with the Tillandsia Handbook by Shimizu and Takizawa (1). They only have one photo of
this species, and apart from some brownish red pigmentation on some leaves, and a more reddish
flower spike, it looks just like mine. Case closed!?

This plant shown here is similar to the one shown in the Tillandsia Handbook, though a bit more green
with a redder flower spike.  I found it posted on the web (2).

Just to be thorough, and maybe to find another picture or two to back up my case, I went to the Google
search page. Imagine my surprise when I found that some people actually think that it is a wonderful
plant! This was cited by an Australian journal as having a beautiful tall red inflorescence (2).
Conversely, a California grower took hers, spray painted the inflorescence green, and made it into a
miniature Christmas tree (3). By the way, note the mis-spelling of the name. I only found this photo
because my first search was
by the wrong name. It is
supposed to be
T. guatemalensis,
T. guatamalensis

I then waded through more photos and some short notes. Most of the plants were dull and green, like
mine, but some were stockier, didn’t have rings of pups, and were an appealing shade of red. Now, I
could understand some of the color difference since my plants are grown in deep shade. I am sure that
they would color up some in the sunlight, though the other plants I grow don’t seem to have such a
difference between shaded and sunny environments. And my shade is not that shady anyway.

Onwards through the Internet. It got more interesting. Tillandsia guatemalensis is found in Guatemala,
and also in Chiapas, Mexico further north. I found a picture, shown here, of a very attractive, stout-leaved
red single headed plant attached to a wild tree. It looks nothing like my plant. Finally I found that there
seem to be two different forms of this species. The one from Guatemala is green, and clusters and
grows easily in the shade. The Mexican form seems to like bright sunlight, gets a beautiful red
coloration, and is normally monocarpic! This is Latin for-- it only flowers once, then dies, like Agaves. It
does not offset. The field photo, shown below, shows an absolutely gorgeous plant (4).

To sum up, I find that I was half right. I still think that Tillandsia guatemalensis is one of our most boring
bromeliads. But now I have to go out to find the OTHER form of this species, it’s non-clustering, and
thus far more costly, grown only from seed, good-looking sibling.


1. Shimizu, Hideo, and Takizawa, Hiroyuki, New Tillandsia Handbook, Japan Cactus Planning Co.
Press, 1998.

2. THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, INC - Club News 30/04Did you realise that
Tillandsia guatemalensis was known as Tillandsia cyanea for some 100 years before Lyman Smith in
1949 saw differences and corrected the ... -

3. Merry Christmas Tillandsia - Bromeliad Forum - GardenWebThis is 2' tall Christmas tree is actually
the bloom spike from Tillandsia guatamalensis that has been very lightly spray painted green with a
touch of ...

4. Rev. biol. trop vol.47 no.4; Resumen: S0034-77441999000400013The influence of humidity,
nutrients and light on the establishment of the epiphytic bromeliad Tillandsia guatemalensis in the
highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. ...