Habitat and Distribution:
Bromeliads are a family of monocot flowering plants found mainly in the tropical Americas, with a few species found in the American subtropics and one in tropical west Africa.
Bromeliads live in a vast array of environmental conditions due to their many adaptations. Trichomes, in the form of scales or hairs, allow bromeliads to capture water in cloud forests and help to reflect sunlight in desert environments. Some bromeliads have also developed an adaptation known as the ‘tank habit’, by forming a tightly bound structure with their leaves helping to capture water and nutrients in the absence of a well-developed root system.
Bromeliads have adapted to various climates with different shaped foliage: Needle-thin to broad flat, symmetrical to irregular, spiky to soft. The foliage usually grows in a rosette and is widely patterned and coloured. Leaf colours range from maroon, through shades of green, to gold. Varieties may have leaves with red, yellow, white and cream variations. Others may be spotted with purple, red, or cream, while others have different colours on the tops and bottoms.
The dramatic flowers of a bromeliad will last for at least six months. A plant's flowering season depends on the age of the plant and not the time of the year. The offspring created by a flowering bromeliad will develop as the mother plant ages and dies.
Frogs often live in the central well of bromeliads. Mother frogs will deposit one tadpole into each well, giving them enough room to grow into adults.
A very special Bromeliad in our Park
Giant Alcantarea or Empress of Brazil
Alcantarea imperialis is endemic to Brazil and is one of the largest terrestrial bromeliads, growing 1.5m high and 1.5m wide. The plant takes 8-20 years to flower and is worth the wait with the flower spike reaching 3 metres high and flowering for 12 months. It originates on mountains at an elevation of 1500m near Rio de Janeiro and is a popular cultivar. Its leaf colour is variable, ranging from all green to deep purple and various combinations in between. It can take up to ten years to attain full size. As with all bromeliads, once the plant flowers, the main plant dies and pups or offsets are produced along the base of the dying plant to begin the process all over again.
Where can Bromeliads be seen in the Parklands?
You can find the Giant Alcantarea or Empress of Brazil in Centennial Dining (Map Ref: I11)