Monday, March 29, 2010
Tillandsia - Elizabeth Smith
This Tillandsia sp. Is just one of the many types of epiphytes that abound in certain types of trees here in Southwest Florida. Although some people mistake them for parasites, they don’t harm the trees; collecting their nutrients solely from dust and moisture in the air and from the organic debris that collects in their leaf bases. They are part of the Bromeliad family, a huge group that includes the cultivated pineapple.
The red spike is a series of bracts that cover the real flowers, which haven’t emerged yet. The flowers are small, about 1/8 inch or so, and I seem to remember that this one has tiny purple petals with yellow stamens. The seeds are dispersed through wind, often with fluffy gear that helps them travel far.
I know that insects and lizards also use these plants, and probably attract birds, who then attract other predators. My imagination wonders at the microcosm of other life that must exist within these dull green leaves!
You can click on the image above to view it larger on my Flickr photostream.