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Taxonomic study of the genus Tillandsia L. (Bromeliaceae) in the Sierra de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Key words: Tillandsia L., Sierra de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico.



The neotropical family Bromeliaceae Juss. (Espejo-Serna and Lopez-Ferrari 1998, Barfuss, Samuel et al. 2005) has about 3000 species divided into 56 genera of which Tillandsia L. has the majority of species (Luther 2004.)

In Mexico the genus Tillandsia L. is represented by nearly 200 species (Espejo-Serna, Lopez-Ferrari et al. 2004), Oaxaca is the state with highest species richness (ca. 90 spp.). This group is distributed in almost all the vegetation types found in the country, existing as a very conspicuous element of the epiphytic flora.

The tillandsias have a variety of uses, which includes food, forage, medicinal, and above all as ornamental (Flores 1998). At Christmas time it is common to find many species on sale in seasonal stalls at local markets (Figure 2) (Rees 1976).


These plants represent one of the main sources of seasonal earnings for many communities in the Sierra de Juarez. The correct use and conservation of this resource requires precise and reliable information, which is why we set out to do the taxonomic treatment of the genus Tillandsia L. in the zone with the purpose of giving an accurate checklist.

Study zone

The Sierra de Juarez is a group of mountains located in the North East of the State of Oaxaca (Figure 1). It covers an area of approximately 3,500 [km.sup.2] (WWF and IUCN). The Sierra de Juarez has an intricate topographic arrangement which results in a heterogeneous collection of climates and vegetation types. Rzedowski and Palacios (1977) described the vegetation types, mentioning the tropical rain forest, the cloud forest with relics of Engelhardtia mexicana, the oak and the pine forest.

Torres (in prep.), in his study about Sierra de Juarez, listed approximately 2000 species of vascular plants present in the area, of which nearly 130 have a restricted distribution. The Sierra de Juarez is one of the best conserved and rich areas; in fact, it has been considered one of the most important floristic diversity centers in the world by the WWF and IUCN (IUCN 1997).



It is inhabited by Zapoteca and Chinanteca communities with a rich culture (Garcia-Mendoza, Ordonez et al. 2004). Despite being one of the poorest regions in Mexico, its people have a special interest in education and also possess a wide knowledge of their natural resources, which is an important factor in their family economy.


We checked the available taxonomic literature about the genus; in addition we examined the herbaria specimens deposited in MEXU, ENCB, FCME and OAX. The fieldwork consisted of collecting specimens at localities that were previously poorly explored.

The species identification was made by examining dry material, keys, comparison with original descriptions and type specimens, and field notes. Also, information about the phenology was collected.



Results and discussion

After the examination of herbaria specimens and our collections we concluded that 29 species of Tillandsia L. are distributed in the Sierra de Juarez. We assigned scientific names to 27 of the 29 species of Tillandsia L., while the remaining 2 were considered new species and are currently in the process of being described (Granados and Torres, in prep)

As we mentioned, one of the most important uses of these plants in the region is ornamental, especially in Christmas season. The species most used for this purpose are: Tillandsia achyrostachys E. Morren ex Baker (Figure 3), T. bourgaei Baker (Figure 4), T. butzii Mez, T. calothyrsus Mez, T. carlos-hankii Matuda (Figure 5), T. fasciculata Sw. (Figure 6), T. gymnobotrya Baker, T. imperialis E. Morren ex Roezl (Figure 7), T. juncea (Ruiz & Pav.) Poir., T. macdougallii L. B. Sm. (Figure 8), T. multicaulis Steud., T. oaxacana L. B. Sm., T. punctulata Schltdl. & Cham., T. schiedeana Steud., T. sierrajuarezensis Matuda, T. usneoides (L.) L. and T. violacea Baker.


It was observed that most species of Tillandsia L. in the region bloom or fruit in April and December. The specific richness of Tillandsia L. in the Sierra de Juarez is--without any doubt--important, since it represents approximately 15 % of the Tillandsia L. species reported for Mexico by (Espejo-Serna, Lopez-Ferrari et al. 2004). We registered 15 national endemics, of which 4 are restricted to the state of Oaxaca: T. carlos-hankii Matuda, T. sierrajuarezensis Matuda, and the 2 new species restricted to the Sierra de Juarez. The floristic studies by (Ortiz 1970), with zero species reported, and (Villa 1999), with seven species, did not mirror the specific richness of the genus in the Sierra de Juarez, although these studies did not concentrate on bromeliads. However, (Espejo-Serna, Lopez-Ferrari et al. 2004), in their extensive work at national level, contributed considerably to the knowledge about Tillandsia L. in the region by mentioning 22 species.


It is our wish for this study to be not only of interest for taxonomists but also to become a useful tool for people not specialized in the subject, especially for the inhabitants of the Sierra de Juarez.


M. en C. Rafael Torres, Dr. Sue Gardner-Sill, Dr. Gerardo Salazar, Dr. Ivon Ramirez, Dr. Adolfo Espejo, Dra. Ana Rosa Lopez de Ferrari, M. en C. Lidia Cabrera, M. en C. Jaime Jimenez, M. en C. Patricia Magana, Biol. Tania Chew, Biol. Libertad Mendizabal, Biol. Alfredo Saynes, Rodrigo Suarez, Bromeliad Society International, Instituto de Biologia (UNAM), Herbario Nacional de Mexico (MEXU), Facultad de Ciencias (UNAM), Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biologicas (IPN), and Herbario CIDIIR (IPN).

Literature Cited

Barfuss, M. H. J., R. Samuel, et al. (2005). "Phylogenetic relationships in subfamily Tillandsioideae (Bromeliaceae) based on DNA sequence data from seven plastid regions." Am. J. Bot. 92: 337-351.

Espejo-Serna, A. and A. R. Lopez-Ferrari (1998). "Current floristic and phytogeographic knowledge of Mexican Bromeliaceae." Rev. Biol. Trop. 46: 493-513.

Espejo-Serna, A., A. R. Lopez-Ferrari, et al. (2004). "Checklist of Mexican Bromeliaceae with notes on species distribution by state and municipality, and levels of endemism." Selbyana 25: 33-86.

Flores, M. (1998). Flora generica de la familia Bromeliaceae en el Estado de Mexico. Manual para la identificacion de las especies de la familia Bromeliaceae presentes en el estado. Tesis de maestria. Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM.

Garcia-Mendoza, A., M. D. J. Ordonez, et al., Eds. (2004). Biodiversidad de Oaxaca. IB, UNAM, Fondo Oaxaqueno para la conservacion de la naturaleza y WWF. Mexico.

IUCN (1997). Centers of Plant Diversity. A guide and strategy for their conservation. Vol. 3. The Americas, IUCN Publication Unit, Cambridge, UK.

Granados, C. and R. Torres. In prep. "El genero Tillandsia L. (Bromeliaceae) en la Sierra de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico" Rev. Mex. Biodiv.

Luther, H. (2004). An Alphabetical List of Bromeliad Binomials, 7th Edition. Sarasota, FL, Bromeliad Society International.

Ortiz, D. (1970). Contribucion al conocimiento de la flora de la Sierra de Juarez, Oaxaca. Facultad de Ciencias Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

Rees, J. (1976). "The Oaxaca Christmas Plant Market." J. Brom. Soc. 26(6): 223-232.

Rzedowski, J. and R. Palacios (1977). "El bosque de Engelhardtia (Oreomunnea) mexicana en la region de la Chinantla (Oaxaca, Mexico)." Biol. Soc. Bot. Mex. 36: 93-101.

Villa, R. E. (1999). Contribucion al conocimiento de la flora del distrito de Ixtlan, Sierra Norte de Oaxaca, Mexico. Unidad Xochimilco, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana. Mexico.

Carolina Granados Mendoza (1)

(1) Departamento de Botanica, Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico 04510, D. F., Mexico. Tel.: 5622-9095. Fax 5550-1760, e-mail:
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Title Annotation:Scientific
Author:Mendoza, Carolina Granados
Publication:Journal of the Bromeliad Society
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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