giant airplant
Save Florida's Bromeliads
A Method for Conserving Florida's
Native Airplants

giant airplant

Florida's Native Bromeliads     

Tillandsia variabilis
Leatherleaf Airplant

Tillandsia variabilis
Scientific name: Tillandsia variabilis Schlecht.

Former names: Tillandsia valenzuelana.

Common names: Leatherleaf airplant, soft-leaved wild pine.

Status in Florida: Threatened. 
Threats to this plant in Florida: Mexican bromeliad weevil (Metamasius callizona), illegal collecting, habitat destruction.

Florida, West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America.

Distribution in Florida: Broward, Collier, Hendry, Highlands, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee Counties.

Occurrence in Florida: Occasional.

Habitat: Moist, shaded habitats (hammocks, cypress swamps).

Description: Tank epiphyte; plants usually single (not clustered); grows to 30-50 cm (12-20 in.) tall; 15-20 leaves with fine scales, soft, green-gray or silvery (may have rose or purplish coloring), tapering at the top; outer leaves are 2-3 cm (3/4 - 1  1/8 in.) wide at the base; simple flower spike with reddish or purple floral bracts (up to 3.5 cm [1  3/8 in.] long), violet petals (3.5 cm [1  3/8 in.] long), and white sepals (6 mm; ¼ in.).

Time of flowering: Spring - fall.

Coile NC. 2000. Notes on Florida's Endangered and Threatened Plants. FDACS/DPI, Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology, Botany Section. Contribution No. 38, 3rd ed., Gainesville, FL.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory. 1997.  Matrix of Habitats and Distribution by County of Rare/Endangered Species of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory/The Nature Conservancy.

Long RW, Lakela O. 1976. A Flora of Tropical Florida. Banyan Books, Miami. 178 p.

Luther HE, Benzing DH. 2009.  Native Bromeliads of Florida. Sarasota, FL. Pineapple Press, Inc.

Ward DB (ed.). 1979. Plants, Vol. 5. In: Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, P.C.H. Pritchard (ed.). University Presses of Florida, Gainesville, 175 p.

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Florida's Native Bromeliads

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Last update: 17 February 2016