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Author Topic: Billbergia pallidiflora blooming (finally!!)  (Read 1046 times)
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sdandy
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« on: June 17, 2012, 06:09:15 »

After many attempts (well, indirect attempts), I finally was able to find some Billbergia pallidiflora in bloom.  I've seen in many stages (around the country) from just setting seed, ripe berries (yay!...especially on a very nice clone), and many without any signs of inflos.  But this was to be the right time...

A standard area where they grow.  Here is a small clump up on one of the oaks.
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A closer shot of that clump
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I love the seedlings.  I think all of the ones that I have seen have been pink.  Here growing on a Cryosophila nana palm.
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So the first day was quite humbling.  I've been wanting to hike to the top of a specific mountain for a while now and I finally had the chance to hire a local guy to guide me up there.  Needless to say I was reminded how out of shape I was.  It was getting hot and humid as it is getting close to the 'rainy season'...but there had already been some rain storms early.  We had left the animal trails and bushwhacked down and back up a couple of really steep ravines (guides are there for a reason...although I'm sure there had to be a better way...) where we crossed streams that were pure enough to drink out of.  Which was necessary as the guide didn't bring any water, so he was using half of mine!

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We just crossed high enough to get to the more interesting flora that I was hoping to find.  A different type of oak appeared with long-needled and graceful pines.  Tillandsia mooreana (and perhaps some T. tillii) appeared alongside the T. jalisco-monticola and the diminutive Catopsis sessiliflora.  At that elevation the bulbous T. caput-medusae from lower elevations is joined by T. seleriana (the larger form).  A white azalea species and what I believe to be a new, undescribed Nolina species start showing up.  Getting to the good stuff.  The two plants I was expecting to find (but didn't on this hike) were Ursulaea tuitensis and Dioon tomasellii.  I'm almost sure they are up there, but at this point I was too tired and out of water.  Hiking probably close to 2000' in elevation in the hot summer humidity sure takes a lot of energy!

But, long story short...where I decided to call it a day was a beautiful view.  I could see the (Puerto) Vallarta Botanical Gardens, all of the other mountains, some cool plants....and my first blooming Bill!!!

Notice the Agave schidigera growing epiphytically
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with the Nolina in the background
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And guess what also was spotted at the fatigue, err, turning around point: the newly (finally!?) described Tillandsia chapalillaensis (tongue twister much?).  I've seen three different clones around this area now and all three look very different.  I'm not sure if they are as stable here as they must be further north on the Jalisco-Nayarit border.  All three of the ones I've seen here were all far apart, so not exactly prolific around the El Tuito area.

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Also an almost-blooming pitahaya (dragon fruit/Hylocereus sp)

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Here is a second clump just a little behind blooming

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So I carefully cut off the first one pictured to take back down to the Botanical Garden as they don't have this species in their collection yet (and I needed the flowers for some experiments...).  But going back down...totally gassed out and getting light-headed...when scrambling back through the ravines the flower spike was broken and lost!!  

But after being defeated, I took some time to inspect the plant a little closer.  It had quite an interesting pattern on the inside of the leaves.  A kind of marmoration?

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So taking a day off to recover (I told you it took a lot out of me!), I returned the next day to do a hike I am very familiar with--the hike with the Aechmea bracteata seedlings (http://www.bromeliadforum.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=401.0) as I knew there were several clumps of Billbergias in that area.  Hiking along (again in the heat), all of the usual clumps I have found didn't have any blooms.  I was just about to give up and I remembered one clump that I saw one 5-10 minutes off the trail.  Aha! Jackpot!

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Success.  This one was carried back very, very carefully and had just enough flowers left to do my experiments.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 06:11:17 by sdandy » Logged

Rickta66
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 12:49:50 »

Andy,

Great shots, good luck with your experiments.

Rick
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2012, 19:02:04 »

Very interesting trek. I noticed that there doesn't seem to be much pollen on the anthers. I recently had a B. brasiliensis flower and it too was not showing any pollen and I know it selfs. I froze up a bunch of anthers anyway.
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gonzer
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Gnarly dude!


« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2012, 20:38:10 »

Yowza! Exquisite.
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2012, 00:10:13 »

Thanks guys.  It did have more pollen at certain times.  The whole flower seemed a bit finicky (for lack of better description). I thought the pistils were fairly interesting.  They weren't spiral or clumped together like I was expecting...just flared out.  Makes sense for self-pollination as they were basically naturally in contact with the anthers that way.  And they were spread out randomly throughout the forest enough that very few clumps were growing within close proximity.  But still seemed a bit strange.

I spread out the floral parts to get a better picture.  Usually the pistils are buried in the anthers.
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After seeing these guys in bloom I will wait further genetic testing whether thinking of them being closely related to the Podaechmeas and the Ursulaeas.  I went back and looked at the paper again...they mentioned B. viridiflora but not B. pallidiflora as being closely linked to those plants.  But I still find it a little strange that this species ranges the whole length of Mexico and the only other 'Billbergia' is the viridiflora in Chiapas.  Aechmea bracteata is that widespread, but there are other Aechmeas that are there as well.  Interesting stuff no matter what!
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Aechmea lilacinantha


« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2012, 00:38:22 »

Thanks Andy. Inspires me to put mine on a palm trunk. Great photos. Must have been a great joy for you to see one in flower.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 00:25:52 by Brod » Logged
Lisa
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2012, 02:01:55 »

You must have internal GPS, Andy, if you can remember where you saw a clump several minutes off the trail.  Apart from the stigma, the bloom has the look of one of the helicoid Bills, but that is an odd feature, and so is the marmoration on the inside of the leaf.  Nice find!   

Just out of curiosity, what kind of experiments are you planning to do?   
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2012, 02:36:53 »

Thanks for the entertaining read and fab images, Andy! Sounds like you head south quite often these days. Yes?

Congrats on your eventual success with retrieving a blooming Bi. pallidiflora. Those clones are beauties indeed. Interesting observations re its questionable, taxonomical status. Please keep us updated on any revelations.

That marmoration is a curious feature, as well as the unusual shape of the stigma. I grow two supposed(?) Bi. pallidiflora - one small seedling and a larger specimen, with offset, originally labelled as Bi. oaxacana. When looking up the most current Brom Taxon list, I see that oaxacana is now mexicana. Then I see mexicana is now pallidiflora. I'm confused!
Neither of them have any marmoration like those clones Andy found. They are both very succulent-like, with banding and tapered leaves. Neither have flowered yet, so the proof might be in the pudding blooms.

Any results yet from your mystery experiments, Andy? Did you get enough viable pollen?

I was excited to bloom my imported Bi. tessmannii in January. Beautiful! It had a "normal" stigma, but hardly any pollen. I was hoping to get selfed seed, and did attempt selfing it - but nary pollination...bummer!

K

« Last Edit: June 22, 2012, 06:10:07 by Kerry T. » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2012, 16:05:36 »

This has been a very cool travelog to read.  The cool 70-degree weather here (Fahrenheit, sorry) is getting boring!  It's time for another tropical vacation.  Thanks, Andy, for the fine descriptions.
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2012, 07:42:13 »

Glad you guys enjoyed it.  I should probably start working on writing up some articles for the Journal but can't quite motivate myself to do that.

I knew that would probably catch people's interest--but no reason to talk about the experiment without more evidence.  So, sorry I'll remain vague about that.

There certainly seemed like enough pollen when performing a couple of the experiments...But won't know for sure for a while.  It took a couple of days to get the timing right.  It had to be early enough before the pollen was gone (dried out and fell off?  I didn't seen any bee activity but the pollen didn't seem to last even to mid-day) and after when the other flowers were receptive.  Hopefully there will be ripe berries when I am down there next...

Not too much Kez, just try to make the most out of any opportunity.  And it takes a while to go through pictures and having the time to do it!  This month has been a bit of a whirlwind.  So I am pretty tired!

I recently got a seedling from a friend that the seed was collected from another friend's plant which was labeled as Bi. oaxacana.  But we are pretty sure it is brazilensis (flowers were dark purple).  As far as I can tell all of these types of Bills in Mexico are now considered pallidiflora.  All of them have seemed to be fairly good sized.  The smallest that I've noticed was probably still over 18" tall.  I'll have to go through my pictures to make sure I'm not remembering wrong.  The seeds I got this last round ended up not being from as much of a super clone as I though.  Well, other than its size.  But I won't expect them to grow as tall in my climate as the mother was in Chiapas.
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2012, 16:59:16 »

Very enjoyable post, Andy. Someday I'd like to accompany you on a trip south, but I absolutely wilt under heat and humidity.
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2012, 18:01:10 »

You must have internal GPS, Andy, if you can remember where you saw a clump several minutes off the trail. 

Oh, well when you grow up exploring in the woods and swamp by yourself I think you have to develop a reasonable sense of direction.  But you always have to be careful as it is all too easy to get confident and really mess up.  This area is really easy to backtrack and follow similar paths due to the topography.  Correlating it to a map is much more difficult.

@Dave, that is why I was scouting at this time...everything was cheaper as it isn't the tourist season.  Most gringos go during the dry season when it is cooler and much more pleasant.  The summer/wet season is mostly domestic tourists and they go to the beaches or up higher in the mountains where it should be cooler than in the cities.  The Puerto Vallarta trip will be warm when my group is there, but usually pleasant/comfortable temperature range and the Oaxaca group will be in a drier air when in the heat of the desert...plus the vans/buses will have air conditioning!
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