Tillandsia Xerographica are internationally recognized as an endangered species. Due its restrictive status, growers are generally required to keep a certain number of offsets (pups) for future mother plants. Propagation via offsets only, although quicker than seed production, has been shown to limit genetic variability across the species. Over time, the fear is that this would cause weaker plant stock. If all Xerographica were propagated by offsets only, every plants would just be a copy of a copy.
Out of necessity to increase the number of plants on the farms, many have started the arduous process of growing Xerographica by seeds. This process involves waiting for plants to bloom, distributing pollen, finding the plants that are producing seed (not all do!), and preparing the seed on wind screen material to begin the germination process.
The small plants that we have today are 3-4 year old, hardy seedlings. Besides being more genetically diverse compared to many other commercialized Xerographica, seedling plants also will show a regular adult shape at a much smaller size. The second photo demonstrates that these are grown by seed, as the earliest, smallest leaves, albeit dry, are still attached.
Supporting air plant farms who are undertaking the painstaking investment of hand pollination, time and massive growing space ensures that Xerographica will be around to be enjoy by generations to come.