"Bromeliad" redirects here.
For the trilogy of children's books, see The Nome Trilogy.
|Scientific classification Bromeliaceae|
The Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads) is a family of monocot flowering plants of 75 genera and around 3590 known species native mainly to the tropical Americas, with a few species found in the American subtropics and one in tropical west Africa, Pitcairnia feliciana.
Many bromeliads are able to store water in a structure formed by their tightly overlapping leaf bases.
However, the family is diverse enough to include the tank bromeliads, grey-leaved epiphyte Tillandsia species that gather water only from leaf structures called trichomes, and many desert-dwelling succulents.
Bromeliads are plants that are adapted to various climates.
Foliage takes different shapes, from needle-thin to broad and flat, symmetrical to irregular, spiky to soft.
The foliage, which usually grows in a rosette, is widely patterned and colored.
Leaf colors 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 colors on the tops and botttoms, and species Tillandsia cyanea have a fragrance resembling that of clove spice.
One study found 175,000 bromeliads per hectare (2.5 acres) in one forest; that many bromeliads can sequester 50,000 liters (more than 13,000 gallons) of water.
Various organisms take advantage of the pools of water trapped by bromeliads.
Jamaican bromeliads are home to Metopaulias depressus, a reddish-brown crab 2 cm (0.8 in) across, which has evolved social behavior to protect its young from predation by Diceratobasis macrogaster, a species of damselfly whose larvae live in bromeliads.
Some bromeliads even form homes for other species of bromeliads.
Plants in the Bromeliaceae are widely represented in their natural climates across the Americas.
One species (Pitcairnia Feliciana) can be found in Africa.
Accordingly, these plants can be found in the Andean highlands, from northern Chile to Colombia, in the Sechura Desert of coastal Peru, in the cloud forests of Central and South America, in southern United States from southern Virginia to Florida to Texas, and in far southern Arizona.
Bromeliads often serve as phytotelmata, accumulating water between their leaves.
The aquatic habitat created as a result is host to a diverse array of invertebrates, especially aquatic insect larvae.
Trees or branches that have a higher incidence of sunlight tend to have more bromeliads.
In contrast, the sectors facing west receive less sunlight and therefore fewer bromeliads.
In addition, thicker trees have more bromeliads, possibly because they are older and have greater structural complexity.
Bromeliads are among the more recent plant groups to have emerged.
However, the family did not diverge into its extant subfamilies until 19 million years ago.
The long period between the origin and diversification of bromeliads, during which no extant species evolved, suggests that there was much speciation and extinction during that time, which would explain the genetic distance of the Bromeliaceae from other families within the Poales.
Radiation of Hechtia and Tillandsioideae
The first groups to leave the Guiana Shield were the genus Hechtia, which spread to Central America via long-distance dispersal, and the subfamily Tillandsioideae, which spread gradually into northern South America.
Both of these movements occurred approximately 15.4 million years ago.
When it reached the Andes mountains, the speciation of Tillandsioideae occurred quite rapidly, largely due to the Andean uplift, which was also occurring rapidly from 14.2 to 8.7 million years ago.
The uplift created a new mountainous environment for the epiphytic Tillandsioides to colonize, and greatly altered the region's geological and climatic conditions.
These new conditions directly drove the speciation of the Tillandsioides, and also drove the speciation of their animal pollinators, such as hummingbirds.
Evolution of the Bromelioideae
This is thought to have been caused not only by the uplift of Serra do Mar itself at that time, but also because of the continued uplift of the distant Andes mountains, which impacted the circulation of air and created a cooler, wetter climate in Serra do Mar.
These epiphytes thrived in this humid environment, since their trichomes rely on water in the air rather than from the ground like terrestrial plants.
Many epiphytic bromeliads with the tank habit also speciated here.
Even before this, a few other bromeliads had already dispersed to the Brazilian shield while the climate was still arid, likely through a gradual process of short-distance dispersal.
These make up the terrestrial members of the Bromelioideae, which have highly xeromorphic characters.
Bromeliads are able to 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, which involves them forming a tightly bound structure with their leaves that helps to capture water and nutrients in the absence of a well-developed root system.
This adaptation allows bromeliads in hot or dry climates to open their stomates at night rather than during the very day, which reduces water loss.
Both CAM and epiphytism have evolved multiple times within the family, with some taxa even reverting to C3 photosynthesis as they radiated into less arid climates.
The family Bromeliaceae is currently placed in the order Poales.
The family Bromeliaceae is organized into eight subfamilies:
Bromeliaceae were originally split into three subfamilies based on morphological seed characters: Bromelioideae (seeds in baccate fruits), Tillandsioideae (plumose seeds), and Pitcairnioideae (seeds with wing-like appendages).
However, molecular evidence has revealed that while Bromelioideae and Tillandsioideae are monophyletic, Pitcairnioideae is, in fact, paraphyletic and should be split into six subfamilies: Brocchinioideae, Lindmanioideae, Hechtioideae, Navioideae, Pitcairnioideae, and Puyoideae.
Brocchinioideae is defined as the most basal branch of Bromeliaceae based on both morphological and molecular evidence, namely genes in chloroplast DNA.
Lindmanioideae is the next most basal branch distinguished from the other subfamilies by convolute sepals and chloroplast DNA.
Hechtioideae is also defined based on analyses of chloroplast DNA; similar morphological adaptations to arid environments also found in other groups (namely the genus Puya) are attributed to convergent evolution.
Navioideae is split from Pitcairnioideae based on its cochlear sepals and chloroplast DNA.
Puyoideae has been re-classified multiple times and its monophyly remains controversial according to analyses of chloroplast DNA.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromeliaceae.