Simpson Shadehouse - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Simpson Shadehouse - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

05 November 2013

Tillandsia aeranthos

Tillandsias are often called air plants because, as epiphytic bromeliads, they literally grow in the air.  Probably the best known tillandsia is Spanish Moss or Old Man's Beard (Tillandsia usneoides) which grows from trees in tropical forests and even hangs off power lines in some countries.  At one time it was used as stuffing for automotive seats - a live plant!

Tillandsia aeranthos has larger leaves than Spanish Moss and it has colourful flowers (the flowers of Spanish Moss are insignificant).  The photo below shows the complete plant.  It's hanging from a hook attached to a piece of bark hanging in the shade of a birch tree.  Whilst South Australia has a much drier climate than the tropical or subtropical countries from which tillandsias originate they grow quite well (if slowly) in dappled shade and an occasional sprinkling of water.  In a humid greenhouse, growth can be spectacular.

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