Bromeliaceae: Tillandsia abdita
Middle elevations, Pacific slopes. March to May
The Bromeliaceae family, which is restricted--except for a single species in western Africa--to the American tropics, contains about 150 spp. in Costa Rica, many of them very beautiful. Most species here grow as EPIPHYTES, i.e., on other plants, attached, by their roots (though not parasitically) to branches and trunks of large trees. The species pictured here, Tillandsia abdita, is quite rare and grows only at high elevations (1000-2000 m) in the mountains to the south of San Jose. The family is very popular among horticultural collectors and a number of species are commercially grown for ornamentals. The economically most important member of the family, of course, is the pineapple. Along the Panamerican Highway, about half way between San José and Panama, a very large area is dedicated to pineapple cultivation. What we call the pineapple fruit is actually a MULTIPLE fruit, arising from many flowers that grow close together in a head.
© Barry Hammel 1996