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The Multifarious World of Bromeliads














Bromeliads range from prickle-top pineapples to skeins of Spanish moss to yucca like, desert-loving dyckia.  Native largely to the South American tropics, where they swing from trees, cling to rocks and cliffs, and hug the rainforest floor.  Only one, the pineapple, is grown for food.

Many of the 3000  bromeliad species thrive both indoors and out and bloom for months at a time.  They often have splashy, eye-catching leaves, and quite a few are epiphytes that don’t need soil and instead use their roots more for grabbing somthing to grown on than for feeding.

The most familar bromeliads are aechmea and billbergia; both are “tank” types that store water in the cupped centers of their leaf rosettes.  Neoregelia and vriesea, also tank types, feature vividly colored and patterned foliage.  Tillandsia – called ” air plants” – can resemble curly legged sea creatures and contentedly live on a driftwood perch with occasional spritzes of water and food.

As seen in Garden Design magazine, January/February issue.  Written by Susan Heeger.  Photography by Jack Wolford.

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