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Between stone yew, giant bamboo and moss fern, a botanical peculiarity of extraordinary proportions is currently emerging in the winter garden of the Wilhelma in Stuttgart: after more than 20 years of development, the Tillandsia grandis in the zoological-botanical garden is about to bloom. The bromeliad is a representative of the largest species from the genus Tillandsia and already impresses with an impressive height of 2.87 meters.

As early as 1995, the zoological-botanical garden had taken over the Tillandsia grandis from a private collection. A young plant of this type is similar to a funnel bromeliad, the rosette of which is reminiscent of a chandelier. Only when it approaches its heyday after many years does the inflorescence grow vertically from its center, on which the buds are lined up like a spike. It can reach a height of up to 3.50 meters. Wilhelma's tillandsia has also shot up conspicuously in the past few weeks - a sure sign that it can soon be expected to develop. However, the exact point in time cannot be determined. "Since this Tillandsia species has never bloomed in our country, we cannot look back on experience," explains Wilhelma gardener Gabriele Dopatka. “The inflorescence also grows very slowly because it is relatively cool here.” Tillandsia grandis is actually quite undemanding in terms of care. Like all tillandsia, it is a epiphyte and grows primarily on steep rocky slopes from Mexico to Nicaragua at altitudes of 800 to 1500 meters. “The plant forms adherent roots that reach deep into the crevices in the rock,” says the gardener. “They literally connect with the stones. They take up nutrients not through the roots, but through the leaves. ”Rainwater collects inside the leaf funnel, which means that the tillandsia can survive dry periods well.

Tillandsia grandis probably unfolds the first bud in delicate light yellow in deep darkness. Because the giant plant blooms mainly at night. It is pollinated by bats that feast on nectar and pollen. Then the bromeliad slowly begins to multiply by developing lateral offshoots - the so-called Kindel. The mother plant itself recedes, which means that its life cycle ends after only one flowering period. This is particularly persistent. "Tillandsia has many individual flowers that only open for one day, but open one after the other," says Gabriele Dopatka. “We'll probably see the whole flowering until next year.” This means that there are still plenty of opportunities for Wilhelma visitors to admire this rare natural spectacle. (dt)

Press photos

Image 1: Gardener Gabriele Dopatka follows the growth of the tillandsia on a daily basis. Photo: Wilhelma Stuttgart

Picture 2: As the largest representative of its genus, the Tillandsia grandis reaches a height of up to 3.50 meters. Photo: Wilhelma Stuttgart

Picture 3: The Tillandsia grandis uses its roots to find a secure hold on rock faces. It collects water inside the funnel-shaped rosette of leaves. Photo: Wilhelma Stuttgart

 

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