Nematology Circular No. 69 (Botany 12)
S November 1980
Centrat Sciene n
Agric. & IbFwIner Service
Division of Plant Industi
MAR 26 1987
The Bromeliad, Guzmania monost chyaUniers4y Qo FlOda
An Endangered Plant in Flor da
K. R. Langdon
Guzmania monostachya (L.) Rusby ex Mez (fig. 1,2),sometimes in Florida called
Fuch's bromeliad, is the only species of this genus native to Florida. It occurs
in southern Central America, northern South America, the West Indies, and rarely
in southern Florida (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The showy red bracts of the flower spike
make this species quite ornamental and highly desired by collectors. This and
several other highly ornamental species of Guzmania are being propagated and are
available in the nursery trade.
Fig. 1. Flowering plant of Guzmania Fig. 2. Fruiting G. monostachya in
monostachya (D.P.I. Neg.file #702049) natural habitat in Dade Co. (D.P.I.
Neg. file #702049)
DESCRIPTION: Plant epiphytic or occasionally terrestrial, essentially stem-
less or with short stem, roots from stem serving as anchorage; leaves in rosette,
light green, soft, flexible, almost parallel-sided, without spines, 25-30 cm long,
2.5 cm wide, tips abruptly tapering to a point,leaf bases sheathing stem and form-
ing a cup which holds water; flowering stem from center of rosette, erect, 10-15
cm long, elongating somewhat in fruit; inflorescence simple, cylindrical, 8-15 cm
long, 2-3 cm wide, sterile in upper part, at first dense, elongating and becoming
loose with age; lower (fertile) bracts whitish or pale green with brown or reddish
longitudinal markings (markings rarely absent), upper (sterile) bracts red (vari-
ously reported as salmon pink to bright red, vermillion, or scarlet) or rarely
white; flowers white,3 cm long, protruding slightly from bracts;capsule cylindric,
2-3 cm long; coma white (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Contribution No. 220, Bureau of Nematology, P. O. Box 1269, Gainesville, FL 32602
DISCUSSION. G. monostachya could at one time in Florida be found occasion-
ally in hammocks from Homestead south and west with outliers reported as far as
the Fakahatchee Strand in Collier County. A combination of collecting, clearing,
development, and weather (such as hurricanes and freezes) has decimated most of
these populations. This species now can be found in significant numbers in only
one hammock in'Dade County (6). This hammock is public property, but not open to
*a the general public or to collecting.
Even though G. monostachya is rather widely distributed outside Florida, the
small Florida population represents a distinct genetic group. Elimination of this
population would eliminate a significant portion of the genetic diversity of the
species and an important part of the South Florida ecosystem.
This and other endangered plants are protected under the Preservation of
Native Flora act, Section 581.185, Florida Statutes. This law, among other things,
prohibits taking endangered plants from the wild without both permission of the
landowner or custodian and a collecting permit issued by the Division of Plant
Industry. Since the only significant population of this bromeliad is on public
land held especially for its preservation,no permission to collect will be granted,
and no collecting permit will be issued. Persons wishing to obtain plants of G.
monostachya can obtain nursery-propagated plants from reputable, registered nur-
SURVEY AND DETECTION: Those persons involved in checking compliance with the
law (Section 581.185) should look for bromeliads the roots of which show signs of
removal from trees rather than having been nursery-grown. G. monostachya when not
in flower is a rather nondescript rosette-type bromeliad with soft, flexible,
light-green, non-spiny, non-scaly leaves with nearly parallel sides, tapering
abruptly to a point at the tip. If a violation is suspected, positive identifi-
cation will be necessary before final action is taken.
1. Long, R. W, and Olga Lakela. 1971. A flora of tropical Florida. Univ. Miami
2. Padilla, Victoria. 1973. Bromeliads. Crown, New York. 134p.
3. Rauh, W. 1979. Bromeliads for home,garden, and greenhouse. Blanford, Poole,
4. Small, J. K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. Univ. N. C. Press,
Chapel Hill. 1554p.
5. Smith, L. B., and R. J. Downs. 1977. Flora Neotropica 14(3):1336-1339.
6. Ward, D. B., ed. 1978. Rare and endangered biota of Florida, Vol. 5, Plants,
Univ. Presses Fla., Gainesville. 175p.