Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Aechmea tillandsioides

 (E. Morr. ex Mez) L. B. Smith, Caldasia 1(5):5.1942

Epiphyte. Leaf blades linear, sharply tapered and acumi­nate at apex, 50-120 cm long, slightly to greatly exceeding inflorescence, l-7 cm wide, minutely appressed-lepidote, the margins with dark spinelike teeth to 4 mm long, those near apex antrorse, those near base retrorse. Scapes slen­der or to ca 1 cm thick, white-woolly-pubescent at first; scape bracts widely spaced, lanceolate, 3-10 cm long, bright red, sharply toothed like the leaves; inflorescences digitately or pinnately compound to simple, densely white-woolly when young; primary bracts like scape bracts, suberect, longer or shorter than spikes; spikes spreading to erect, oblong, to 12 cm long and 2 cm wide, distichously 6-30-flowered; rachis square, the wings angled, adnate to base of floral bracts; floral bracts red, imbricate at anthesis, spreading and persistent in fruit, broadly elliptic, acute, mucronulate, 7-15 mm long; sepals asymmetrical, elliptic, mucronulate, 7-10 mm long, ± free; petals acute, mucronulate,13-16 mm long, bear­ing 2 fimbriate scales; ovary inferior. Berries oblong­-ovoid with a prominent beak, to 2.5 cm long, at first red at apex, white at base, becoming blue overall, the exocarp thin; seeds ca 20-40, ± oblong, to 3.4 mm long, brown, minutely longitudinally striate, surrounded by a sweet watery matrix, each seed bearing a slender, sticky, muci­laginous appendage on one end to 1 cm long. Croat 6655, 8267,13806.

Common in the tops of trees in the full sunlight; less common on exposed branches over the edge of the lake. Inflorescences usually begin to open in the early dry season, but individual plants may flower over a long period, perhaps for the full flowering season. Flowering from at least January to August. Mature fruits have been seen from May to December.

Fruits are no doubt chiefly dispersed by birds. The seeds ooze from the base when the fruit is pressed in the midsection, in the manner of Anthurium (21. Araceae). Part of the seeds may stick to the bird's beak, owing to the slender mucilaginous funicles.

The species A. tillandsioides ranges from Mexico throughout Central America and much of South America. The variety kienastii is known from Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and the Amazon basin. The typi­cal variety is in Colombia, the Amazon basin, and the Guianas. In Panama, apparently restricted to the Atlantic slope; known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone and Bocas del Toro and from tropical moist for­est, premontane wet forest, and tropical wet forest in Colón.

See Fig. 131.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Aechmea tillandsioides fruit
  • Aechmea tillandsioides immature-fruit
  • Aechmea tillandsioides immature-Infructescences
  • Aechmea tillandsioides seed-wet
  • Aechmea tillandsioides Timeseries