Though often associated with tropical rain forests, the strange shapes and often epiphytic habits of bromeliads are wonderful surprises in the tropical dry forest. The Pineapple Family is only found in the Americas. Click on a thumbnail for a larger image:
1. 2. 3.
1. Most epiphytic bromeliads in Mexican tropical dry habitats
are in the genus Tillandsia. Epiphytic plants grow on
other plants, usually but do not parasitize them. The central
leaves of this species turn red when the flower spike emerges,
probably helping to attrack pollinators. These plants are growing
on the twigs of a large shrub in the genus Lycium, a member
of the tomato family Solanaceae.
2. This Enterolobium tree (Fabaceae) in Tamaulipas, Mexico, is covered with epiphytes, most of them bromeliads.
3. This species of Tillandsia (?) has the peculiar habit of growing on rock faces with its soft, floppy leaves weeping downward. In contrast, many bromeliads have very still leaves.
4. 5. 6.
4. - 6. The other most common genus of bromeliad in Mexican tropical dry habitats is Hechtia. Unlike Tillandsia, Hechtias grow in the ground. They are often very substantial, stiff, and prickly, resembling Century Plants (Agave in the Agavaceae), some of which can be seen as blue rosettes in the background in photo 3. The Hechtia shown in the foreground in photo 5. even has cruel recurved spines on the margins of its leaves. It occurs with the prickly cycad Dioon edule, lots of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia), and numerous spiny legumes on sharp, channelled limestone.