Bromeliads - Bromeliaceae

bromeliad

Bromeliads are particularly suited to rainforest environments - they originate in tropical and subtropical America. Most are epiphytes in that they often cling onto and climb up the outside of trees and tree stumps, but they gain most of there nutrients not from the roots but from the reservoir of water and detritus stored in the middle of the leaf well. In fact they can store water for an incredible length of time enabling them to survive lengthy periods of drought.

bromeliad

The well of water also makes them desirable living habitats for small frogs and other moisture loving animals.

The pineapple is an easily recognisable member of the bromeliad family, although most of them do not go to the extent of the pineapple in making such a desirable 'fruit' in the flower stem. Certain bat-pollinated wild pineapples, do the exact opposite of most flowers by opening their flowers at night and closing them during the day to protect them from weevils, which are most active during daylight hours.

bromeliad

Aechmea fasciata (Silver-Vase, Urn Plant), the variety shown at top, forms a very hard and spiky inflorescence that lasts a long time - long after the little florets have dried back. It is a native of Brazil and was one of the first varieties introduced to Europe early in the nineteenth century. The two other varieties shown in the other photos have a colourful heart and a soft flower stem that remains partly hidden within the water resevoir with the small florets poking out the top.

Other varieties produce soft and colourful flower sprays that only last for a short time. Many seem to rely on colourful red, green and/or yellow foliage to attract pollinators to insignificant flowers.

Overall, the bromeliads can make for an interesting collection in a reasonably care free garden, but beware, collecting them can become habit forming - there are over 3000 varieties and hybrids! Bromeliads in Australia has links to all the bromeliad societies in Australia and a huge range of photos.

All the above photos were taken in our garden on Tamborine Mountain.

Bromeliads in Australia   Bromeliads in Australia
wikipedia   Wikipedia article on Bromeliads

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