Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - An Air Plant

Often called and sold as an air plant, generally meaning an epiphyte that does not need soil, this is a popular and fairly common bromeliad (pineapple family), Tillandsia bulbosa. The leaf bases overlap each other forming a bulbous base. The leaves are quite waxy and the blades are rolled into a cylindrical shape that sort takes on a sinuous arrangement. Such adaptations reduce water loss and perhaps capture and store water in the modified bulbous tank.  At least one author has suggested it might also be an ant plant, but TPP has not verified this elsewhere.  The red inflorescence is the primary attraction and it lasts a long time providing a attractive platform for the handsome but not so gaudy purple flowers. The white stigmas and yellow stamens with purple filaments protrude from the tubular flowers. In the humidity of our glasshouse this plant thrives; in a dry household it would be more of a challenge to grow. Suggestion: hang it in the stall when you shower. 

No comments: