A beautiful caulescent plant with short, broadly triangular, silvery-gray leaves and a stunning red-flowered inflorescence. A native of Bolivia where it lives a lithophytic existence on sheer rock cliffs, hanging in massive cascades. Care-free to grow, when mounted in a pendant fashion it freely produces offsets along its old stem, soon forming large attractive clusters.
Our stock came from a collection we made in 1993 in Bolivia. The excitement still lingers when I think of my fist encounter with the species in the wild. We had been traveling the rugged canyons that lay between ridge after ridge of the Cordillera de los Andes on Bolivia’s rugged and desolate eastern frontier.
On our satellite maps the terrain appeared to have been clawed by a giant jaguar, leaving parallel grooves hundreds of miles long etched deeply into the altiplano. We were weary from several weeks travel having seldom enjoyed a bed or hot meal. It remains a mystery why in such a relatively rich habitat for Tillandsias such as this, that one can travel for many miles and endless hours and not see a single plant! But on this dusty day our luck changed.
In a deep gorge where the escarpment walls seemed to rise and close in, causing dark shadows across the valley floor, we came into an incredible sight. Our first hint was an isolated cliff, across a muddy stream, that had a small colony of a caulescent Tillandsia. Crossing the stream, a break in the monotony of the day, I carried collecting pole and camera towards the cliff. Distance deceives among the stone monoliths of these haunting canyons and as the ‘bushes’ at the cliff base became large trees at my approach, so also did the Tillandsias disappear into the forest canopy.
Reaching the base of the cliff, I couldn’t even see the plants that lured me in the first place, as they were easily over a hundred feet overhead obscured by the canopy of the forest. However, with adrenaline coursing as it does when victory or discovery is in the wind, we drove onward to our reward. Not over a mile further on, the cliffs, which towered hundreds of feet tall, were covered with Tillandsias as far as the eye could see. Approaching this time we discovered that our long awaited prize was Tillandsia edithae!
Buy one now and save the bone-jarring, dust-eating, dangerous trip to Bolivia’s eastern desert.