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The Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads) are a family of of about 80 genera and 3700 known species, native mainly to the , with several species found in the American and one in tropical , Pitcairnia feliciana.

(1997). 9780521414210, Cambridge University Press. .

It is among the basal families within the and is the only family within the order that has and inferior ovaries.Judd, Walter S. Plant systematics a phylogenetic approach. 3rd ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 2007. These inferior ovaries characterize the , a subfamily of the Bromeliaceae. The family includes both , such as ( Tillandsia usneoides), and terrestrial species, such as the ( ). Many bromeliads are able to store water in a structure formed by their tightly overlapping bases. However, the family is diverse enough to include the tank bromeliads, grey-leaved species that gather water only from leaf structures called , and many desert-dwelling .

The largest bromeliad is , which reaches tall in vegetative growth with a flower spike tall, and the smallest is .

Bromeliads are mostly , although a few have a more tree-like habit. Many are more or less or have other adaptations to resist drought. They may be terrestrial or , rarely climbing (e.g. species). Some species of (e.g. , Tillandsia usneoides) are aerophytes, which have very reduced root systems and absorb water directly from the air. Many terrestrial and epiphytic bromeliads have their leaves in the form of vase-shaped rosettes which accumulate water. Individual leaves are not divided and have parallel veins without cross connections. The epidermis of the leaf contains silica. Bromeliad flowers are aggregated into of various forms. The flowers have bracts, often brightly coloured, and distinct calyces of three and corollas of three . The flowers have nectaries. They are by insects, birds (often ) or bats, or more rarely (in Navia) they are wind-pollinated. Fruits are variable, typically taking the form of a capsule or a berry.

Bromeliads are able to live in an array of environmental conditions due to their many adaptations. , in the form of scales or hairs, allow bromeliads to capture water in cloud forests and help to reflect sunlight in desert environments. Bromeliads with leaf vases can capture water and nutrients in the absence of a well-developed root system. Many bromeliads also use crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to create sugars. This adaptation allows bromeliads in hot or dry climates to open their at night rather than during the day, which reduces water loss. Both CAM and epiphytism have evolved multiple times within the family, with some taxa reverting to C3 photosynthesis as they radiated into less arid climates.

Bromeliads are among the more recent plant groups to have emerged. They are thought to have originated in the of the approximately 100 million years ago. The greatest number of extant basal species are found in the highlands of South America. 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 and extinction during that time, which would explain the genetic distance of the Bromeliaceae from other families within the Poales.

Based on molecular phylogenetic studies, the family is divided into eight subfamilies. The relationship among them is shown in the following .

The most basal genus, (subfamily Brocchinioideae), is endemic to the Guiana Shield, and is placed as the to the remaining in the family. The subfamilies and are endemic to the Guiana Shield as well.

The species Pitcairnia feliciana is the only bromeliad not to the Americas, and is thought to have reached Africa via long-distance dispersal about 12 million years ago.

Radiation of Tillandsioideae and Hechtia
The first groups to leave the Guiana Shield were the subfamily , which spread gradually into northern South America, and the genus (Hechtioideae), which spread to Central America via long-distance dispersal. 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 , which was also occurring rapidly from 14.2 to 8.7 million years ago. The uplift greatly altered the region's geological and climatic conditions, creating a new mountainous environment for the epiphytic tillandsioids to colonize. These new conditions directly drove the speciation of the Tillandsioideae, and also drove the speciation of their animal pollinators, such as .

Evolution of the Bromelioideae
Around 5.5 million years ago, a clade of epiphytic arose in Serra do Mar, a lush mountainous region on the coast of Southeastern Brazil. 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 bromelioids 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 characters.

The family Bromeliaceae is currently placed in the order .

The family Bromeliaceae is organized into eight subfamilies:

Bromeliaceae were originally split into three subfamilies based on morphological seed characters: Bromelioideae (seeds in fruits), Tillandsioideae (plumose seeds), and Pitcairnioideae (seeds with wing-like appendages). However, molecular evidence has revealed that while Bromelioideae and Tillandsioideae are monophyletic, Pitcairnioideae as traditionally defined is 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.

, Plants of the World Online (PoWO) accepted 72 genera, as listed below. A few more genera were accepted by the Encyclopaedia of Bromeliads, including Josemania and Mezobromelia, which PoWO sinks into Cipuropsis.

Hybrid genera
Intergeneric hybrid genera accepted by Plants of the World Online include:
  • × Cryptbergia R.G.Wilson & C.L.Wilson = Cryptanthus × Billbergia
  • × Guzlandsia Gouda = Guzmania × Tillandsia
  • × Hohenmea B.R.Silva & L.F.Sousa = Hohenbergia × Aechmea
  • × Niduregelia Leme = Nidularium × Neoregelia


airplants mounted on the bark of a cork oak]]

Distribution and habitat
Plants in the Bromeliaceae are widely represented in their natural climates across the Americas. One species ( Pitcairnia feliciana) can be found in Africa. They can be found at altitudes from sea level to 4,200 meters, from rainforests to . 1,814 species are , some are , and some are terrestrial. Accordingly, these plants can be found in the highlands, from northern Chile to Colombia, in the of coastal Peru, in the of Central and South America, in southern United States from southern to to , and in far southern .

Bromeliads often serve as , accumulating water between their leaves. 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." Pineapple Dreams", The Wild Side, Olivia Judson, The New York Times, March 18, 2008 The aquatic habitat created as a result is host to a diverse array of , especially aquatic insect larvae,Picado, C. (1913). Les broméliacées épiphytes considérées comme milieu biologique. Bulletin scientifique de la France et de la Belgique 5: 215-360 including those of mosquitos.[2] Life in South Florida can be an itch – but other places are worse These bromeliad benefit their hosts by increasing uptake into the plant. A study of 209 plants from the Yasuní Scientific Reserve in identified 11,219 animals, representing more than 350 distinct species, many of which are found only on bromeliads. Examples include some species of , small about in length, and . bromeliads are home to , a reddish-brown across, which has evolved social behavior to protect its young from predation by Diceratobasis macrogaster, a species of whose live in bromeliads. Some bromeliads even form homes for other species of bromeliads.

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.Gename, K., & Monge-Nájera, J. (2012). How organisms reach and colonize bromeliads: a field experimental test of two of Picado’s hypotheses, and the effect of tree age and cardinal distribution on bromeliads in Cartago, Costa Rica. UNED Research Journal, 4(2), 181-186.López, L. C. S., Alves, R. R. D. N., & Ríos, R. I. (2009). Micro-environmental factors and the endemism of bromeliad aquatic fauna. Hydrobiología, 625(1), 151-156.

Cultivation and uses
Humans have been using bromeliads for thousands of years. The , , Maya and others used them for food, protection, fiber and ceremony, just as they are still used today. European interest began when Spanish conquistadors returned with , which became so popular as an exotic food that the image of the pineapple was adapted into European art and sculpture. In 1776, the species Guzmania lingulata was introduced to Europe, causing a sensation among gardeners unfamiliar with such a plant. In 1828, was brought to Europe, followed by Vriesea splendens in 1840. These transplants were so successful, they are still among the most widely grown bromeliad varieties.

In the 19th century, breeders in Belgium, France and the Netherlands started hybridizing plants for wholesale trade. Many exotic varieties were produced until World War I, which halted breeding programs and led to the loss of some species. The plants experienced a resurgence of popularity after World War II. Since then, , and North American nurseries have greatly expanded bromeliad production.

Only one bromeliad, the pineapple ( Ananas comosus), is a commercially important food crop. , a common ingredient in meat tenderizer, is extracted from pineapple stems. Many other bromeliads are popular , grown as both garden and .

Bromeliads are important food plants for many peoples. For example, the of Mexico occasionally consume flowers of Tillandsia erubescens and T. recurvata due to their high sugar content; in Argentina and Bolivia, the shoot apices of T. rubella and T. maxima are consumed; in Venezuela, indigenous coastal tribes eat a sour-tasting but sweet-smelling berry, known as 'Maya', of Bromelia chrysantha as a fruit or in fermented beverages; in Chile, the sweet fruit of Greigia sphacelata, known as 'chupones', is consumed raw.

Édouard André was a French collector/explorer whose many discoveries of bromeliads in the Cordilleras of South America would be influential on horticulturists to follow. He served as a source of inspiration to 20th-century collectors, in particular Mulford B. Foster and Lyman Smith of the United States and of Germany and Michelle Jenkins of Australia.André, Édouard François. "Bromeliaceae Andreanae. Description et histoire des Bromeliacees recoltees dans La Colombie, L'Ecuador et Le Venezuela". Paris: Librairie Agricole; G. Masson, 1889

See also
  • List of foliage plant diseases (Bromeliaceae)

External links

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