Plants’ family that, contrary to what one might think, are not parasites but epiphytes (they use the tree only for support).
They may or may not have roots, but if they do have them, they only use them to adhere to a support, such as a tree (epiphytes), rocks or stones (lithophytes), cactus, electric and telephone cables, etc.
Although it is surprising, we are very familiar
with a plant of this family: the pineapple. It is one of the few terrestrial bromelias that need a substrate to develop, being an exception in the family.
The plants of this family (except the non-epiphytes) have developed two feeding strategies:
1. Some species have modified the shape of their leaves to create a kind of container or cone in their center, which allows them to collect and store rainwater and organic matter from the surrounding vegetation and insects, arachnids and amphibians that live in they. They belong to the genres: neoregelias, bilbergias, aechmeas and vriesias, among others.
2. A genre of bromelias that are characterized by having followed a different strategy: plants absorb water and substances that are dissolved by the leaves, which makes them particular beings within the plant world. This genre is the one of the tillandsias.
The gray tillandsias have developed trichomes, which are epidermal appendages, like some hairs, that cover the leaves and allow them, in addition to capturing the humidity of the air, to protect themselves from adverse environmental conditions, since they live in areas of more extreme climate, as the semi-desert zones. Tricoma comes fromes a Greek wordwhich means hair.
Also known as "air plants", they are the genre of the family of bromelias with the greatest diversity, accounting for more than 650 species.
Its natural habitat is very diverse and extensive, crossing the American continent from the south of the United States, to Argentina, and living in heights that go from sea level to the high mountain.
It will not surprise us, then, that there is a great variability in their care according to the species in question, although there are common elements in all of them.