giant airplant

Tillandsia utriculata

Summary 4

Tillandsia utriculata, commonly known as the spreading airplant or the giant airplant, is a species of bromeliad that is native to Florida and Georgia in the United States, the Caribbean, southern and eastern Mexico (Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Oaxaca, the Yucatán Peninsula), Central America, and Venezuela.

Occurance in Palm beach County 5

Increasingly rare due to the Mexican Bromeliad Weevil (Metamasius callizona). Spreads only by seeds Tillandsia utriculata, so if you see a large airplant with multiple 'pups' in PBC it is not a Tillandsia utriculata, but instead probably a Tillandsia fasciculata.

ID Tips 5

Easiest distinguished from Cardinal Airplants either in extremely mature specimens or while in bloom. The bloom is multi-branching and less 'showy' (see second picture) than the Cardinal Airplant (T. fasciculata) and larger specimens will have leaves the are weeping or draped over instead of sticking straight up. Also keep in mind that T. utriculata only reproduce by seed so if you see any 'pups' (smaller plants growing out of the base of the main plant), you can rule this species out. If all else fails, look for a thicker base of the leaves and often even in small specimes the dead, brown leaves will drape over the base (see photo 3) whereas they don't usually in T. fasciculata.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Mary Keim, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/38514062@N03/14202132704/
  2. (c) Mary Keim, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/38514062@N03/48315196696/
  3. (c) jessica349, all rights reserved, uploaded by Jessica Flynn, https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/61290127
  4. Adapted by Jessica Flynn from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tillandsia_utriculata
  5. (c) Jessica Flynn, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

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