DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Flora:-  THE 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 addition to the huge number of species, identification from photos is made complicated by what often seems a wider variation within species than between them.  In addition, bromeliad fanciers have produced a mind-numbing array of cultivars and hybrids, some of which are in the process of naturalizing as garden escapees. 

 

Surely one of the most striking of the group is the Queen Mary Bromeliad, Aechmea mariae-reginae.  This species is usually associated with Costa Rica, but is here hanging over the Papaturro River in southern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (378x480 pixels; 98 KB)
A closer look at the flowering structure of Aechmea mariae-reginae. Click to see big picture (344x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Somewhat similar but with bristles, this appears to be Aechmea pineliana or some cultivar thereof.  The species is Brazilian but widely planted, in this case in the Botanical Gardens in San Francisco. Click to see big picture (524x480 pixels; 97 KB)
A few species are more appreciated for their foliage than flowers.  The Zebra Bromeliad, Aechmea chantinii is from the highlands between Venezuela and Ecuador, but is here showing off its stripes at the botanical gardens in Denver. Click to see big picture (356x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Aechmea setigera ranges from Panama south through the neotropics.  This plant has chosen the Canal Zone as home. Click to see big picture (640x477 pixels; 132 KB)
Aechmea bracteata flashes just a few bright red bracts, and a huge inflorescence.  From south Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (247x480 pixels; 67 KB)
Two views of Aechmea pubescens, one from the Sarapiqui Valley in Costa Rica and the other from the highlands of Colombia.  This species may be found from Nicaragua to Venezuela. Click to see big picture (592x480 pixels; 132 KB)
Aechmea tillandsioides has even a wider range, from southern Mexico to Venezuela and Peru.  Hopefully this is an example, with toothed leaf edges. Click to see big picture (524x480 pixels; 119 KB)
Although its natural range stretches across northern South America, this specimen of Aechmea politii is blooming at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (414x480 pixels; 77 KB)
An Aechmea nudicaulis goes to seed on Isla Bastimentos on Panama's Caribbean coast.  This species is widespread, with several varieties recognized. Click to see big picture (271x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Shafts of Pitcairnia imbricata erupt near the top of Volcan Mombacho in Nicaragua.  The species ranges from southern Mexico to Panama.  Pitcairnia is the second largest genus in the family, after Tillandsia. Click to see big picture (281x480 pixels; 75 KB)
Pitcairnia brittoniana seems to prefer a more horizontal orientation.  It here graces the cloud forests of Costa Rica, but may be found from there to Peru. Click to see big picture (610x480 pixels; 142 KB)
The last flower on a drooping Pitcairnia arcuata in the Omaere Etnobotanical Garden at Puyo, Ecuador.  The species is native to tropical forests from Costa Rica to Peru.
And here is a mystery, from the Condor Range between Ecuador and Peru, a bromeliad? which sprouts from a cable-like runner snaking through the jungle. Click to see big picture (559x480 pixels; 155 KB)
A closer look at the weirdo bromeliad? on a runner. Click to see big picture (580x480 pixels; 130 KB)
Guzmania desautelsii in northeastern Panama. Plants of the Guzmania genus tend to die after flowering, but provide several garden favorites. Click to see big picture (582x480 pixels; 121 KB)
A closer look at the flowering structure of Guzmania desautelsii, which ranges from Nicaragua to Colombia. Click to see big picture (409x480 pixels; 60 KB)
From the same area in Panama, Guzmania musaica, of unusual appearance.  Found from Costa Rica to Venezuela and Ecuador, this is a striking epiphyte. Click to see big picture (499x480 pixels; 127 KB)
In part due to its banded leaves, Guzmania musaica has been welcomed by gardeners, and is much more likely to be found in captivity than here in the rain forest. Click to see big picture (518x480 pixels; 97 KB)
Some of the Guzmania genus are quite large, such as this example of G. diffusa near El Dorado Lodge in the Santa Marta Mountains of northeastern Colombia.
A closer look at Guzmania diffusa.  This is a mature specimen, and has lost some of the red coloration in its stem and bracts.  It is native to Colombia and Ecuador.
An the other hand, some Guzmania species are small and retiring, such as G. angustifolia here in the Wildsumaco Reserve, Ecuador.  It may be found in rain forests from here to Nicaragua, and in time will produce a yellow flower.
Guzmania nicaraguensis, photographed in its namesake Nicaragua.  Despite that name, it may be found from southern Mexico to Colombia. Click to see big picture (303x480 pixels; 56 KB)
Guzmania zahnii calls Costa Rica home, but this specimen is representing the species at the botanical gardens at the University of Berkeley. Click to see big picture (616x480 pixels; 112 KB)
With a range from Venezuela to Ecuador, this bromeliad in the Cordillera del Condor appears to be Guzmania pennellii. Click to see big picture (550x480 pixels; 129 KB)
Guzmania lingulata is widespread in the Neotropics, not to mention tropical gardens, where it has gained the odd name of Droophead Tufted AirplantScarlet Star is another and more descriptive name. Click to see big picture (589x480 pixels; 93 KB)
Another view of Guzmania lingulata at a later stage of floration, presented by the botanical gardens of Quito.
And while at those gardens, here is Guzmania gloriosa, which is native mainly to Colombia and Ecuador and appreciated in gardens for its red-tipped foliage.
The handsome Guzmania whitmackii seems confined to the Andes of Ecuador, here again at the botanical gardens of Quito.
Many species from genera such as Guzmania, Vriesea and Werauhia produce capsules containing achenes, or 'dandelion style' seeds to be dispersed by the wind. Click to see big picture (640x396 pixels; 76 KB)
The bright leaves mark Werauhia (ex. Vriesea) sanguinolenta on Volcan Baru in western Panama.  Not all authorities have accepted the move of large sections of the Vriesea genus into Werauhia. Click to see big picture (287x480 pixels; 42 KB)
In Panama's Canal Zone, a Werauhia (Vriesea) werckleana rises next to a giant ants nest.  This is a large 'tank' bromeliad.  It may be found from here to Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (384x480 pixels; 113 KB)
A closer view of the Werauhia werckleana structure.  I am not sure if these area buds or pods. Click to see big picture (483x480 pixels; 66 KB)
From the heights of Volcan Mombacho in Nicaragua, this would be Werauhia (Vriesea) pedicellata, encountered from here to Panama. Click to see big picture (640x441 pixels; 142 KB)
This black on red, drooping bromeliad above the town of Manizales in Colombia appears to be Vriesea tequendamae, found in the highlands from Venezuela to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (308x480 pixels; 75 KB)
Vriesea elata is a large species which seems confined to the mountains of northern Colombia.  Here it is in the Santa Marta Mountains.
A closer view of Vriesea elata.
Werauhia (Vriesea) ororiensis, decorating Quetzal Park.  It is native here in Costa Rica and adjacent Panama. Click to see big picture (498x480 pixels; 137 KB)
From high on the Ecuador-Peru border, a huge tank bromeliad with spotted leaves.  Tillandsia venusta fits this form and location, as do some of the Racinaea genus, but there seem to be unusual white hoods on this specimen than don't fit anything well. Click to see big picture (640x471 pixels; 95 KB)
Tillandsia grandis is a large, terrestrial bromeliad with an unusual flower.  It ranges from central Mexico at least as for south as Honduras, and that flower may not appear for as much as two decades.  Lotusland, Montecitio, California.
Tillandsia funckiana once eeked out a living in Venezuela and Colombia, but is now a garden favorite, in this case the Matthaei Botanical Garden.  It is one of the light-colored, frizzy species known as Air Plants. Click to see big picture (640x422 pixels; 113 KB)
Tillandsia cyanea is native to the rain forests of Ecuador, but has become a very popular and widely planted species under names such as Pink Quill.  Photo from the Botanical Gardens of Bogota.
The Tillandsia genus is the largest and most adaptable in the Bromeliads, with maybe 540 species and counting.   This is likely T. punctulata near Bajo Mono in western Panama, which ranges from here to Mexico.  The name Fairy Queen has at times been associated with this species. Click to see big picture (640x409 pixels; 138 KB)
And sprouting from a rock wall in nearby Volcancito, this appears to be Tillandsia fasciculata, a citizen of the northern neotropics.  It is sometimes known as the Cardinal Airplant Click to see big picture (640x387 pixels; 143 KB)
This is a more normal setting for Tillandsia fasciculata, attached to a pine tree in the Sierra Maihuatlan of southwestern Mexico. 
On those same pine trees there is the larger and rarer Tillandsia cossonii, which appears to be endemic to Mexico.
Meanwhile, in the rain forests of Costa Rica, this would appear to be Tillandsia multicaulis, whose domain stretches from southern Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (562x480 pixels; 130 KB)
At altitude on Mt. Kennedy in the Santa Marta Mountains of northeastern Colombia, this appears to be Tillandsia archeri, also known as T. turneri.  It occurs in Colombia and adjacent Venezuela.
Tillandsia complanata ranges from Costa Rica to Bolivia.  It is a mountain species here seen near the Papallacta hotsprings of Ecuador, where it is known as Guycundo.
The twisted form of Tillandsia bulbosa adorns trees in Central America and northern South America.  There are many cultivars, but here on Zapatillos Island on the Caribbean coast of Panama, it is the original version. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 115 KB)
Tillandsia oerstediana, the Golden Bromeliad, decorates trees in the Boquete area of Panama.  It seems confined to Costa Rica and western Panama. Click to see big picture (577x480 pixels; 146 KB)
With orange and green bracts and purple flowers, I am calling this one Tillandsia leiboldiana, a feature from Mexico to Colombia. Click to see big picture (634x480 pixels; 136 KB)
This giant eruption near Menizales, Colombia is Tillandsia pastensis, which seems endemic to the highlands of that country. Click to see big picture (313x480 pixels; 98 KB)
A sprawlng giant, unidentified at the Quito Botanical Gardens.  This appears to be Tillandsia fraseri, better known as Racinaea fraseri. It is endemic to the Andes of Ecuador.
Tillandsia (or Racinaea) tetrantha may be found though much of the highlands of northern South America.  It is here at the Papallacta Hotsprings in the Ecuadorian Andes, east of Quito.
A closer look at Racinaea (or Tillandsia) tetrantha in the mountains of Ecuador, where it is known as Guycundo.
Many species of Tillandsia have adapted to arid conditions, typically as confused, white leaf epiphytes.  Here are typical examples, dull tangles offset with a Tropical Kingbird.  Click to see big picture (502x480 pixels; 107 KB)
Sometimes called the Pincushion Airplant, Tillandsia fuchsii inhabits southern Mexico and Guatemala, but here has found a home in the Quail (now San Diego) Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (299x480 pixels; 74 KB)
Some Tillandsia species will happily roost on telephone wires.  This may look quaintly tropical, but come the next hurricane, and those wires are gone. Click to see big picture (619x480 pixels; 64 KB)
These epiphytes have some of the characteristics of Tillandsia genus, but I can't place them.  On the left from Wildsumaco Reserve rainforest of Ecuador, and on the right attached to a wax palm in the Santa Marta Mountains of northeastern Colombia.
Perhaps the most widely distributed of the genus, Tillandsia usneoides forms great cascades from trees and anything else with height.  This is the classical Airmoss, and goes by other names such as Barbar Viejo (old man's beard).  I hope my beard never looks that long or dirty. Click to see big picture (540x480 pixels; 134 KB)
Meet Neoregelia carolinae, the Blushing Bromeliad.  Like most of its genus, it is Brazilian by origin, but there must be more than a hundred cultivars of this thing, and here in a tropical garden, this may be one of them. Click to see big picture (455x480 pixels; 86 KB)
This looks a lot like some version of Nidularium rutilans, another of those well traveled Brazilians.  As it was photographed near Bogota, it would then have to be a garden escapee. Click to see big picture (580x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Jumping to southern Mexico, this lovely bromeliad is Ursulaea macvaughii, endemic to the area.  Some would define it as Aechmea mcvaughii. Click to see big picture (636x480 pixels; 121 KB)
From the mountains of Oaxaca Province, may I introduce the striking Tillandsia prodigiosa.  The locals call this type of bromeliad Maguitos, which confuses them with agaves. Click to see big picture (625x480 pixels; 179 KB)
A redhead, looking a lot like Quesnelia quesneliana, although those toothed leaves are odd.  That is a plant from Atlantic Brazil, so if this is one near Pereira Colombia, it is another garden escapee. Click to see big picture (363x480 pixels; 74 KB)
We are back in the mountains of the Condor Range for a large tank bromeliad, which appears to be Guzmania undulatobracteata.  It is reported from this region and from Peruvian highlands to the Bolivian border. Click to see big picture (640x470 pixels; 141 KB)
An unusual style of bromeliad from the same area, apparently Guzmania coriostachya, which may be found in the mountains from here to Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (561x480 pixels; 93 KB)
Perhaps it is not so unusual, here is a similar specimen from near Bogota. Click to see big picture (307x480 pixels; 69 KB)
From the rain forests of Wild Sumaco Reserve in Ecuador, a large epiphyte with a cone of red bracts and pink and white flowers with a black style?   Distinctive, but I can't find a match.
An enormous yellow bromeliad at the Botanical Gardens of Quito. Unamed by the garden and unidentified by me.
Last but far from least, Ananas comosus, the Pineapple.  Thought to have originated in the southwestern Neotropics, it had spread as far north as the Caribbean in prehistoric times and is now a pantropical crop.  In Mesoamerica it goes by Piña or Anana'. pineapple