Family Name: Bromeliaceae
Native to: Central America, South America, West Indies, Southern United States
Tillandsia are in the Bromeliad family and there are over 700 species. Many are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants. Most plants use their roots to absorb nutrients and water but Tillandsia mainly use their roots to attach to a branch or tree trunk. To get the water they need, they, and other bromeliads, have tricomes. Tricomes, which means “growth of hair” in Greek, are tiny scales on the surface of the plant that absorb water and nutrients and protect it from sunlight. They quickly channel water through the plant’s cells, while also preventing water vapor from evaporating. Tricomes are what gives a dry Tillandsia the velvety texture and greyish color. When wet, tricomes give the plant a green appearance. With the exception of some red varieties, many Tillansia are greyish-green. Their flowers however, are often very colorful. Pollinators can’t miss the purple and pink petals that scream for attention. Tillandsia usually produce new plants, often referred to as “pups”, at their base.