The name "Medusa" makes one think of one of the three Gorgon sisters of Greek mythology.  The sisters with snakes for hair.  They are a hair stylist's nightmare.  Imagine each "strand" having a mind of its own.  I think Medusa may be the most famous of them all, although her head is more famous than the rest of her body. Mythology tells us that she was beheaded by Perseus who used her head as a weapon.  It is said that to gaze upon her would cause one to to turn into stone.  So, no one dared look upon the head of Medusa. 

Among the Tillandsias, there is one species that is named after this infamous Gorgon.

Tillandsia caput-medusae

or "Head of Medusa".  It is also known as "octopus plant".  Whether its twisted, tapered leaf blades look more like snakes or tentacles, I cannot say.  Its synonym is T. langlassei.  It was described and named "caput-medusae" by the Belgian botanist Charles Jacques Édouard Morren in 1880 and introduced into cultivation by M. Jacob-Makoy & Co.

Can you see the similarity?

The T. caput-medusae is indigenous to Mexico and Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras). Please take note that this plant is not endemic to Greece.

Below is a picture of the Gorgon sisters of the plant world (my T. caput-medusae clump).

My plants are exposed to at least 3 hours of morning sunlight and are watered regularly.  I feed them with Epiphyte's Delight every month.  No need to feed the serpent-like leaf blades separately with mice.

Unlike its namesake from Greek mythology, this one flowers.  Its purple tubular flowers emerge from the colorful salmon pink to red bracts.  The inflorescence is complex and takes a while to grow.

The T. caput-medusae, get ready for this, is myrmecophytic meaning it has a symbiotic relationship with ants. Ants live inside its bulbous base and protect the plant from harmful insects.

Such a beauty when in bloom. Stare all you want for you will not turn into stone.



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