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

giant airplant

Florida's Native Bromeliads     

Tillandsia utriculata
Giant Airplant

Tillandsia utriculata
Scientific name: Tillandsia utriculata L.

Common names: Giant wild pine, swollen wild pine, spreading airplant.

Status in Florida: Endangered (listed as a result of  Mexican bromeliad weevil attack).

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

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

Distribution in Florida: Northern limits are Putnam, Flagler, Sumter, Lake, and Citrus Counties (found in those and all counties south). 
Occurrence in Florida: Before the Mexican bromeliad weevil, frequently found, often in very large, dense populations; now, rare and sparse.

Habitat: Dry and mesic hammocks, cypress swamps, pinelands. 

Description: Tank epiphyte (may grow terrestrially); plants grow singly, to 2m (6 ½  ft.) tall; 20-75 large, light green to gray-green leaves (up to 80 cm [31 in.] long) with wide base and scales; erect, zig-zag, branching flower spike 1-2 m (4080 in.) long (5-40 branches); floral bracts green or purple tinged; 10-200 flowers, 4 cm (1 ½ in.) long; petals white at base, violet at end; seed capsules up to 5 cm (2 in.) long; monocarpic (produces single flower spike, releases seed and dies); low rate of vegetative reproduction; seeds wind dispersed; may live to 20 years.

Time of flowering: Spring to fall (especially summer); seeds are released the following year in late spring.

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