Botany Circular No. 15 Fla. Dept. Agr c. & CcCa tr l~yces
December 1981 Div'sion of P IfIndustry
The native Florida bromeliad or wild pine, MAR 26 1987
K. R. Langdon UOversity of Florida
Several genera of bromeliads (members of the family Bromeliaceae, the pine-
apple family), including Tillandsia, are native to Florida. Of these, probably
the showiest species is Tillandsia fasciculata Swartz (1,2,3,4) (Fig. 1). It can
be seen flowering mainly in spring and early summer on cypress, oak, and certain
other trees in the swamps and hammocks of the southern part of peninsular Florida.
It is currently reasonably abundant, but is being harvested commercially in large
Fig. 1. Tillandsia fasciculata growing on a cypress tree
in Collier County. (D.P.I. Photo 701672).
DESCRIPTION: Plant essentially stemless; leaves many in a rosette; rosettes
solitary or few in a cluster; leaves 3-7 dm (1 dm = 4 in. approx.) long, stiff,
recurved-spreading, dilated at base, long tapering above to an involute, pointed
tip, imbricated forming a cup, blades lepidote scaly, grayish green, brownish at
base; flowering scape solitary, erect or ascending, 3-6 dm tall, fasciculate with
several to many spikes 7-15 cm long, bracts of scape similar to leaves except
smaller, floral bracts yellowish or usually red to rose, ovate-acute, loosely
imbricate, 3-3.5 cm long; flowers partially covered by bracts, petals violet or
rarely white, 4.5 cm long, stamens and style exserted; capsule 3 cm long,
cylindric, seeds comatose, windborne. Cypress swamps and hammocks, epiphytic.
Contribution No. 15, Office of Systematic Botany, PO Box 1269, Gainesville, FL
DISCUSSION: The bromeliad, T. fasciculata, is a common and spectacular sight in
the interior swamps and hammocks from the southern parts of Osceola and Polk
Counties southward. The brightly colored floral bracts in shades of yellow, red,
and rose remain showy for' several weeks, fading to green only as the seed pods
near maturity. The'beauty of these plants in flower, which often rivals the best
in -~ brnbMeliad fancier's greenhouse, has resulted in a great demand for this
Commercial collectors harvest these plants by the truckload, mainly from
private land. Many conservationists have expressed fears that this harvest rate
exceeds the renewal rate. If this is so, it will eventually become a rare or
truly endangered species. For this reason it was listed in Section 581.185,
Florida Statutes, as endangered in order to provide a legal means to regulate
harvest and sale of this spectacular species. This law requires both written
permission of the landowner and a permit issued by the Division of Plant Industry
in order to harvest, transport, or sell these plants.
A serious problem with this bromeliad is that, unlike many other bromeliads,
it will not grow in soil. It can be grown successfully only when placed strictly
as an epiphyte on a plaque, tree branch, or other suitable support having excellent
drainage. Some plants offered for sale have been small plants placed in pots,
shells or other containers with soil, peat, or moss. Others have been stapled to
a plaque, often through the bud area. Either of the preceding is likely to result
in rapid death of the plant. Instead of the above methods, the plant should be
tied to the support with nylon cord. With this procedure and careful attention to
water, light, and protection from freezing, plants should stand a good chance of
surviving and growing.
1. Long, R. W., and Olga Lakela. 1971. A flora of tropical Florida. University
of Miami Press, Coral Gables, Florida. 962 p.
2. Rickett, H. W. 1967. Wild flowers of the United States. Vol. 2. The
southeastern states. Part 1. McGraw-Hill, New York. 322 p.
3. Small, J. K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. University of North
Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 1554 p.
4. Smith, L. B., and R. J. Downs. 1977. Flora neotropica. Monograph 14, Part
2. Tillandsioideae (Bromeliaceae). Hafner, New York. p. 946-952.