Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Gallery of Bromeliads

Last week I talked about the diversity of the bromeliads, plants in the family Bromeliaceae (link).  Here are photos of a bunch of them, although, alas, I don't have pictures of some of the most extreme species. And I have to confess that because I only encounter them when traveling--it is too cold and too dry for them outdoors in Colorado and normally too dry indoors--for the most part I cannot name them. So enjoy the pictures.

Brilliant foliage 

red bromeliad

And it can be this red in the wild. This very old photo from Costa Rica shows red-leaved bromeliads in the tree
                                 red bromeliad in tree
There are other leaf patterns, some surely enhanced by breeders

bromeliad with brown-striped leaves

bromeliad with white-edged leaves

bromeliad, green leaves, red stripes

Plants often produce red leaves when they are ready to flower. Here the actual flowers are white. 

bromeliad with white flowers, red upper leaves

red leaves at top of bromeliad

Bromeliads in a garden can spead to make a dramatic display

group of bromeliads, red and yellow

Flowering stalks are often brightly colored. Immediately below, the actual flowers are small and yellow, inside the big red inflorescence 

flowering bromeliad

flowering bromeliad

flowering bromeliad

The red inflorescences are of course very attractive to the humans who put these in their gardens, but they are also attractive to hummingbirds, the most important group of pollinators for these  plants of the New World tropics (hummingbirds are New World birds). 

Here is how they look in nature, though this one is closer to the ground than most are.

bromeliad on tree

Here are a couple famous bromeliads: 

pineapple, Ananas comosus

pineapple, Ananas comosus, fruit
Pineapple with nearly ripe fruit

field of pineapple, Ananas comosus
Field of pineapples

and Spanish moss. It is neither Spanish, nor a moss, but a bromeliad, Tilandsia usneoides. native all across the Americas but not native to Europe. Its flowers are small and obviously the plant shape is unusual.  

Spanish moss, Tilandsia usneoides
Spanish moss, Tilandsia usneoides

And, finally, a bromeliad as jewelry. This plant, a Tilandsia I haven't identified, is on a leather cord to be worn as a necklace. I received it as a gift and was horrified; my house's humidity averages about 30% and the winter air temperature is 67, terrible living conditions for a tropical airplant. After a year, I haven't killed it, though you can see browned leaf tips. I mist it most days. I searched my house for a better pot for it, tiny but larger than 1/2" in diameter, but couldn't find one, so it remains growing as a necklace.

bromeliad as a necklace

Comments and corrections welcome.

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist

1 comment:

  1. HaHA! You were at my great grandfather's house in Coconut Grove...the tennis court was not there in my day, but I spent the first three years of my life on that property (usually in the pool or the little fountain at the entrance,lol). Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoy your writing!