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Image of Bromeliaceae

James Burghardt



Botanical Name

Plant Common Name

Bromeliad Family

General Description

This is a large and diverse plant family. There are approximately 45 genera and over 2000 species in the family. These are either epiphytic (tree-dwelling) or terrestrial (ground-dwelling) and many are drought tolerant. Species are distributed from North America to South. All are perennial and most are tropical to subtropical and tender.

In general, bromeliads have alternating stiff or leathery strap-shaped leaves with parallel veins. Leaf color varies widely. Many species have brightly colored ornamentally appealing leaves and sometimes floral bracts. Plants are often, but not always, clump forming and appear as neat rosettes of foliage. Some odd epiphytes have highly unusual habits, like the pendulous Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), which has delicate curled strands of foliage and looks less like a plant and more like a lichen. Bromeliad flowers are three petaled, often brightly colored and sometimes borne in stiff clusters or columns. They are often subtended by scales, but not always. The fruits are berries or capsules and may be compound.

The most commonly known and agriculturally important of all bromeliads is the pineapple (Ananas comosus). This crop originates from Brazil and most of the world’s supply is cultivated in southeastern Asia.

Bromeliad culture is species dependent, but overall epiphytes prefer consistently warm, humid environments. Some terrestrial species can be quite drought tolerant once established, but rainforest species, like Neoreglia species and hybrids, need consistent moisture. Most prefer partial sun or filtered bright light. Hardiness is species dependent.

There are literally thousands of cultivated bromeliads, many of which are ornamental. Use and design applications depend on the variety or species.


  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Native To

    North America, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, Caribbean, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Evergreen


Special Characteristics

  • Invasive