Hook., Exot. Fl. pl.173.1826 Epiphyte; usually growing in dense clusters. Leaves often exceeding inflorescences in length, covered with fine, appressed-cinerous scales; sheaths orbicular, 2-5 cm long, inflated and sometimes housing ants, abruptly contracted into blade; blades involute-subulate, acuminate, to 30 cm long, 2-7 mm wide, contorted and spreading. Scapes erect; scape bracts often exceeding inflorescence; inflorescences simple to subdigitate, distichous, red or green; spikes spreading, lanceolate, acute, flattened, 2-5 cm long, 2-8-flowered; floral bracts erect, imbricate, ovate, acute, ca 15 mm long, exceeding sepals, keeled, densely lepidote; flowers sessile; sepals oblong, apiculate, ca 13 mm long; petals violet-blue, 3-4 cm long; stamens exserted; ovary superior. Capsules narrowly cylindrical, 3-4 cm long, the valves 3, roughened outside, brown and shiny inside; seeds ca 2.5 cm long, comose, the coma white, very fine, fused and refolded midway. Croat 6098, 7048. Southern Mexico to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, and Brazil; West Indies. In Panama, known principally from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, San Blas, and Darien, but known also from tropical wet forest in Colón (Guásimo).