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Purple flowers and reflective inner pool of a Lipstick Bromeliad after heavy rain

See this delicate watery world Large!


Bromeliads entered recorded history over 500 years ago when Columbus introduced the Pineapple (Ananas comosus) to Spain on his return from his second voyage to the New World in 1493. He found Pineapple being cultivated by the Carib Indians in the West Indies. Within 50 years this tropical fruit was being grown in India and other Old World countries.


It took some time for additional Bromeliads to enter cultivation. It wasn't until 1776 that another Bromeliad (Guzmania lingulata) was brought to Europe. Aechmea fasciata followed in 1828 and Vriesea splendens in 1840.


Originally only found in royal botanical gardens or the private greenhouses of wealthy Europeans, their popularity has spread to the masses. Within the last 100 years, Bromeliads have become widely used as ornamental plants. Today Bromeliad species are still being discovered and plant breeders are developing even more stunning hybrids to choose from.


Although the Pineapple is the only member of the family cultivated for food, several species including Caroa (Neoglaziovia variegata) are cultivated as a source of fiber. Pineapple stems are a source of the protein-digesting enzyme Bromelain used as a meat tenderizer. Because fresh Pineapple also contains Bromelain, it cannot be used in gelatin molds since the enzyme breaks down the congealing proteins. Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) contains a tough, wiry core that was once used as a material for stuffing upholstery.


Lipstick Bromeliad, Painted Fingernails, Neoregelia cruenta


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Taken on July 20, 2009