Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tillies of the Month: Baileyi vs. Pseudobaileyi

Alert gardeners have asked me what the difference is between Tillandsia baileyi and Tillandsia pseudobaileyi. Since I have both in my garden, I thought I would find out!
Bailey is on the left, pseudobaileyi is on the right. According to Paul Isley III, they are both named for a mysterious V. Bailey. I was asked if this could possibly be B. Bailey, as in Beetle Bailey, as their greens are strikingly similar, but I don't think so....

File:Recruta zero 03.png
Courtesy of Wikipedia
Anyway, T. bailey, the more slender figure on the left, grows in dry woods from Texas to Mexico at fairly low altitudes. It has neither stem nor bulb. But it can grow into a very impressive clump over the years. T. pseudobaileyi, on the right, comes from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, and is a bulbous high-altitude Tillie. It prefers to grow sideways or upside-down. It actually looks a lot more like the much more common T. bulbosa, or perhaps T. butzii....
Tillandsia butzii

The confusion between the two species comes from the fact that the obviously bulbous T. pseudobaileyi was sold as true T. baileyi for many years. How they got so tangled up in each other is beyond me, but as you can see from the above picture, tangling is what Tillies do best. Or perhaps someone dropped a label and stuck it on the wrong plant. Who knows what was going on with those botanists, hoofing around in the wilderness back in 1900?? At any rate, it's very easy to tell the difference between the two, and they are both beautiful and worth growing.

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