Saturday, April 16, 2016

Great Bloomin' Bromeliads!

This is "Choo-Choo Cha-Cha"
New bloom in the yard!
New bloom in the yard!
Tillandsia simulata has bloomed in my yard!
That makes a Tillandsia quartet of blooming airplants that I've seen in or from my yard! (The Neighbor's house had blooming T. setacea. Right now, all the T. setacea plants in my yard are too young to bloom.) Recently, I finally noticed a purple bloom sticking out of  "Choo-Choo Cha-Cha" the airplant Grace found in the backyard back in January, after our last trip to the Ichetucknee. I still haven't located the source of this particular plant, I'm thinking the live oak in the neighbor's yard. It's mature enough that it has a flower spike, and side growths. The plant is pictured on the right, shortly after I tied it to the tree with some nylon twine. I've seen pictures of this plant growing out of cypress tree trunks, and it seems to have attached itself to a hardwood twig. We'll see if it latches on to the live oak.
It's been just over one year since my first post about Tillandsia bromeliads. My affection for them continues to grow. They have such amazing depth of existence! Consider this: the T. simulata above is Florida's only endemic species of Tillandsia. It's only found here, in this state in the wild! It's considered common, but that could change. It's believed that the Mexican bromeliad weevil (Metamasius callizona) could use this as a host plant. This pest is responsible for making many once common species of bromeliads rare, and is considered a serious pest for the State's most rare native bromeliads. I've been keeping an eye on this plant, and so far, no issues with weevils! The only critter I've found living in it is a green spider who can barely be seen below.
Itsy bitsy spider crawled up the Tillandsia spike!
The Upshot
Sometime Later, in flower!
Try as I might, that was about the best picture I could get of the spider. I've seen it's web in the morning occasionally, so I know it's out there! Maybe it'll keep the weevils at bay. The biggest issue I have had with this plant so far is keeping it on the trunk. There are a couple of side shoots growing, I'm hoping that they will produce roots that will anchor the tree to the trunk of the Live Oak.

T. simulata is commonly known as "Broad needleleaf", "The Manatee airplant", or "Florida airplant". According to  the Atlas of Florida plants sponsored by USF, it has been vouchered in twenty-one counties in the state, all in a band across the middle of the peninsula. They bloom in the spring, and judging from the absence of a seed-spike, I'm guessing this is the first year for this particular plant to bloom. In the closeup picture of the flowerspike below, you see a new bloom emerging from the spike, and an old flower hanging off the side. According to the University of Florida's page on the species, it should produce 5-30 flowers. I'm still monitoring for further development.

 In investigating the history of this plant, I discovered that it was at one point considered the same species as T. bartramii, but that it was reclassified as a separate species in 1982 by Sue Gardner. She now operates as an artist under the name of Cecelia Sue Sill in Texas. I haven't been able to locate the exact reason for the split, but I figure I can research it more later.

When the flowers bloom, they seem to emerge from the bract for a day, then they open up for a day, then they begin to wither after the second day. These three pictures were taken about a day apart. Notice how the old flower is still attached to the bract. I haven't attempted to see if I can remove it. As of April 16, there were no further emerged flowers.

Enjoy the pics! I'll monitor the spike for further flower development.
2nd Bloom

Two Blooms Done

Other Side notes: I didn't get any really good pictures of the first bloom, My phone camera isn't all that great. I need to get a new lens for the Canon, I've been thinking something along the lines of a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 so that I can get nice, low light, high quality shots. Add a 25mm extension tube, and I would be set for 85% of the pictures I would want to take of  plants and people. If anyone has a good line on a good camera deal, let me know. I like Canon, and have a Rebel. I need a new/new-to-me lens.


I took the following pictures Sunday, April 17th. They show a THIRD BLOOM! Looking closely, you can tell that the bloom is old, close to withering. Since there was nothing on the spike before I left for school Friday, I believe that this must have emerged from the bract sometime Friday, and bloomed all day Saturday. Just goes to show you, check your plants every day, you never know what's going to happen!
Third Bloom!

Whole plant

Info about Florida's Bromeliads:

Info about the Mexican bromeliad weevil:

Atlas of Florida Plants:

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