DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL SOUTH AMERICA

 
     
  FLORA- BROMELIADS  

 

There have been over 3000 species defined so far in the Bromeliaceae or Pineapple Family.  All but one of these is native to the western hemisphere, and the great majority are neotropical, albeit a few have adapted to deserts.   Although the pineapple is about the only species you are likely to get your teeth into, both the terrestrial and epiphytic forms of this genus abound in tropical gardens, with legions of enthusiasts.  The Bromeliad Society International may be visited at www.bsi.org and the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies has amassed an impressive gallery of photos at www.fcbs.org.  The genus is related to the grasses under the Botanical Order Poales.

In the tropical forests, many of the Bromeliaceae are epiphytes, living out of sight in the high trees.  In fact, little is known about many of these species outside of their appearance in gardens.  That, at least, is an excuse for the observation that the great majority of the photos on this page were taken in gardens.

 

The only Bromeliad that most people know by name is the PineappleAnanas Cosmos is thought to have originated in Paraguay and adjacent Brazil, but had spread clear up to the Caribbean prior to European contact.  In Spanish it is known as Piña or as Anana. Click to see big picture (521x600 pixels; 126 KB)
Pineapples are now grown throughout the tropics, and there seem to be a number of varieties developing. Here is one from near the Tanzania-Mozambique border. Click to see big picture (492x600 pixels; 118 KB)
Still stuck in Paraguay and adjacent sectors of surround countries is Pseudoananas sagenarius, the genus meaning 'false pineapple', and known in Spanish as Piña de Barbaro. The fruit are eaten by animals. This one has escaped to the KEW Gardens in London. Click to see big picture (436x600 pixels; 138 KB)
Although it causes an allergic skin reaction in some people, Aechmea fasciata is considered the most common 'household' Bromeliad.  Accordingly it goes by names such as Silver Vase and Urn Plant.  This one is at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver.  It is Brazilian by origin. Click to see big picture (593x600 pixels; 108 KB)
Aechmea gamosepala began its career in southeastern Brazil and adjacent Argentina.  It is now widespread in gardens for obvious reasons, in this case at Lotusland, Montecito, California. Click to see big picture (509x600 pixels; 115 KB)
A few bromeliads are appreciated for their foliage rather than flowers, after all the leaves last longer.  This is Aechmea chantinii, known as the Amazon Zebra Plant.  It is found mainly in eastern Ecuador, along with adjacent parts of Peru and Colombia.  Denver Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (446x600 pixels; 131 KB)
Looking up at an epiphytic bromeliad with patterned leaves, likely Aechmea tessmannii in eastern Ecuador.  It is found here and in adjacent parts of Colombia and Peru.  When in gardens, there are many cultivars, but here it is in nature.
Aechmea bromeliifolia is a widespread terrestrial bromeliad, found from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, adapting to both arid and humid climates.  Its spread may have been in part due to its edible black berries.  This one is at Lotusland again. Click to see big picture (430x600 pixels; 113 KB)
And from the same garden, a reddish form, Aechmea bromeliifolia var. rubra. Click to see big picture (800x539 pixels; 163 KB)
Returning to Sacha Reserve in eastern Ecuador, the unusual leaf ending of this bright bromeliad helps identify it as Aechmea retusa.  It is mainly reported from Ecuador, but also from other parts of the the western Amazon basin.
A full view of colorful Aechmea retusa.
At a park in Buenos Aires we find Aechmea distichantha, the Brazilian Vaseplant.  It is a terrestrial species native from Bolivia and northern Argentina to southeastern Brazil. Click to see big picture (450x600 pixels; 132 KB)
Aechmea angustifolia is native to the Andes margins and adjacent lowlands from Nicaragua to Bolivia.  Here it is producing berries at the Wild Sumaco Reserve in Ecuador.
Aechmea blanchetiana is yet another garden item with a Brazilian passport. This one in Denver looks natural, but some of the cultivars of this species have colored leaves. Click to see big picture (446x600 pixels; 140 KB)

 

Its known as the Nakedstem LivingvaseAechmea nudicaulis is here at Lotusland, but its native range is from Mexico and the Caribbean to southeastern Brazil.

 

Click to see big picture (404x600 pixels; 103 KB)
From the same garden, Aechmea ornata, originating from southern Brazil. Click to see big picture (756x600 pixels; 183 KB)
The colorful Aechmea recurvata is native to southeastern Brazil and adjacent parts of Paraguay and Argentina.  There are many cultivars, but this example at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens was not so identified. Click to see big picture (799x600 pixels; 249 KB)
From the same region comes Acanthostachys strobilaceae, one of the Pinecone Bromeliads.  This one is fading and producing seeds at the Matthaei Gardens, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Click to see big picture (471x600 pixels; 100 KB)
In Iguazu Cataracts National Park in northeastern Argentina, Bromelia balansae flowering.  It is found mainly from here into adjacent Paraguay and southeastern Brazil.
We return to Lotusland for Quesnelia testudo, which again belongs in southeastern Brazil.  A lovely flower, but guarded by sharp-spined leaves. Click to see big picture (399x600 pixels; 101 KB)
A broader look at Quesnelia testudo, which seems to have become popular in garden circles.  Note the distinctive white 'bracts' around the flower stem. Click to see big picture (720x533 pixels; 143 KB)
Billbergia nutans is known as Queen's Tears for the flowers which are here just starting to emerge at the National Gardens in Bogota.  It is native farther south, in Uruguay, Paraguay and adjacent Brazil and Argentina. Click to see big picture (450x600 pixels; 139 KB)
The flowering of giant Alcantarea imperialis is a rare event.  This one at Lotusland, Montecito, California is just starting to put up its floral spike. Click to see big picture (755x600 pixels; 190 KB)
A closer view of the new flowering spike.  The species is at home in eastern Brazil. Click to see big picture (385x600 pixels; 95 KB)
Again at Lotusland, this is Dyckia brevifolia, perhaps the best known of its genus, or most widely planted. It is native to southeastern Brazil, and goes by names such as Pineapple Dyckia and Sawblade. Click to see big picture (759x600 pixels; 110 KB)
We turn to KEW Gardens for Dyckia maritima, derived from the same part of Brazil.  At home, it grows on rocky coasts, and is considered one of the more hardy bromeliads. Click to see big picture (428x600 pixels; 85 KB)
Back to Lotusland.  This is Dyckia rariflora, which seems to have originated in east-central Brazil. Click to see big picture (639x600 pixels; 151 KB)
The contrast between the dark striped and the light green foliage of Orthophytum gurkenii has allowed it to travel to gardens far from its home range of Minas Gerais, Brazil.  Matthaei Gardens, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Click to see big picture (759x600 pixels; 149 KB)
This would appear to be Tillandsia maculata, a species found mainly in the mountains of Ecuador.  This one is in the Condor Range on the Ecuador-Peru border. Click to see big picture (405x600 pixels; 145 KB)
A closer look the the floral spike of Tillandsia maculata. Click to see big picture (461x600 pixels; 112 KB)
Tillandsia streptocarpa is native to a range from eastern Bolivia to southeastern Brazil. San Diego Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (640x578 pixels; 168 KB)
Vriesea splendens has the ornamental advantage of both striped foliage and a bright red floral spike.  It is mainly found on the northern rim of South America.  Bloedel Conservatory, Vancouver. Click to see big picture (769x600 pixels; 240 KB)
Here is a strange one, well named as the Painted Fingernail Plant. Neoregelia spectabilis is another of those species from southern Brazil, here at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (692x600 pixels; 148 KB)
From the same genus, Neoregelia olens, borrowed from central Brazil and resident at the KEW Gardens, London Click to see big picture (624x600 pixels; 153 KB)
An unidentified bromeliad with sharp teeth on the leaf edges.  Calanoa Reserve, Colombian Amazon. Click to see big picture (736x600 pixels; 113 KB)