Bromeliads have travelled the world for a long time now. Before that, their ancestors grew high in the rugged mountains of the Cordilleras de los Andes and deep in the tropical jungles of Uruguay. Bromeliads are still found growing in the wild throughout Central and South America, each one more beautiful than the next. Altogether, there are more than 2800 species. During the eighteenth century, Belgian traders visiting these lands discovered the beauty of Bromeliads and took a few plants back to Europe with them. This was the starting point for all the many, many varieties of Bromeliads from which we can choose today.
It is believed that Bromeliads first existed in Cretaceous era around 65 million years ago. Fossils have been dated at 30 million years ago, thus confirming their reputation as some of the original inhabitants of the planet. Inca’s, Aztecs and Mayans used every part of the plant for food, shelter, fibre and ceremonies. It is interesting that the original Bromeliad was not so very different from the varieties you find at the florists in town centres today: so you are taking home with you a piece of natural history, all dressed in the latest fashion.
The Bromeliad continues to inspire plant breeders and growers into creating and producing even more beautiful varieties. By now, the efforts of professional plant breeders and growers have resulted in a very substantial family of Bromeliads that are available year round at garden centres and florists. Their production is environmentally friendly, too. This is because growers purify and recycle their water and apply only safe crop protection products and nutrients. A high-tech computer efficiently ensures an ideal climate – with the proper temperature, humidity, light intensity – and water.
Bromeliads are available in so many varieties and colours that your garden centre or florist will always have some in stock. What’s more, the selection can change by the week. If you go to the garden centre or florist shop often enough, you’ll be discovering new varieties and colours again and again. Another nice thing about Bromeliads is that they’re always available. (Professionals speak of ‘year round availability’.) What does this mean for you? Every season is Bromeliad season!
…some Bromeliads grow in the soil (terrestrial) and some grow in trees (epiphytic) where they get more light?
…epiphytic Bromeliads have no adverse effects on the tree they cling to because both their roots and leaves absorb moisture and nutrients from the air instead of the tree?
…What we tend to call the flowers are actually coloured bracts. The real Bromeliad flowers are very small.
…all Bromeliads have small hairs or scales on their leaves that are called trichomes.
…these trichomes form an absorption system and serve as a shield against the heat in the desert: they prevent the plant losing too much moisture in the burning sun.
…the more silver-white the leaves and the fluffier they look, the larger the number of trichomes on the Bromeliad.
…there are Bromeliads with pointed leaves and serrated leaves?
…Bromeliads with thick leaves prefer a dry habitat, and Bromeliads with thin leaves require more moisture?
…the central calyx contains thin hairs and scales that absorb water?
…the calyx of Bromeliads growing in the wild also catches old rotting leaves and bird droppings that are used by the plant as nutrients?
…Poison dart frogs feed and drink from these calyxes and lay their eggs there – in the wild of course?
…Vriesea species emit oxygen at night, so this makes them perfect for keeping in bedrooms?
…Neoregelia species are real sun worshippers and hide little flowers among their leaves?
…the pineapples that you eat actually belong to the Bromeliad indoor plant family?
…there is even a special variety of Ananas (Ananas ‘Champaca’) that not only looks beautiful but also produces an edible fruit (when fully ripe)?