The bromeliad family, known to scientists as the Bromeliaceae, is a medium-sized family of approximately 3200 species distributed from the southeastern United States and Mexico south to Argentina. A single species is native to Western Africa. The family is particularly diverse in the Andean region of South America and southeastern Brazil. Greater than 50% of all bromeliad species are epiphytic and are thus of particular interest to Selby Gardens, a botanical Garden that specializes on epiphytic plant groups. Research on bromeliads has occurred at Selby Gardens since its inception, as is evident from the Gardens’ official seal featuring a bromeliad along with a gesneriad and orchid, the other two focal plant families at Selby Gardens.
Bromeliads are characterized by a rosette habit and often large, overlapping leaves in whorls, with inflorescences of often brightly colored spikes most commonly originating from the center of the rosette. Bromeliads play an integral role in their environment, by providing food and shelter for many species of insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals, and impound and store water utilized by other species in the forest canopies. This family is also important in horticulture, particularly as house plants but also as landscape plants in subtropical and tropical parts of the world, including Florida.
To learn more about bromeliads and the collections, research and conservation efforts going on at Selby Gardens, please visit the Bromeliaceae page.