Families of Vascular Plants - Botany 307F

Bromeliales - Bromeliaceae

59 genera/2400 species, in the New World tropics (and subtropics; one species occurs in West Africa). Herbaceous, terrestrial to epiphytic, highly drought-adapted. Leaves spirally arranged and with sheathing bases, often so as to form a "tank" within which water accumulates. Leaves simple, parallel-veined, often with spiny margins, and with specialized, stalked scales that assist in water retention, and in absorption of both water and nutrients.

Flowers mostly animal-pollinated, K3, C3, A3+3 often attached to C, G(3) superior to inferior.

Fruits typically a berry, but sometimes septicidal capsules. Ananas (pineapple) cultivated for its fleshy, multiple fruit (other genera are cultivated for their leaf fibers).

Three subfamilies:

  • Pitcairnioideae - usually terrestrial, flowers typically hypogynous, seeds winged. Pitcairnia feliciana is the only Bromeliad found outside the New World (W. Africa). Dyckia, Hechtia, Navia, Pitcairnia, Puya
  • Tillandsioideae - usually epiphytic, but otherwise like Pitcairnioideae (seeds, however, with plume of hairs instead of wing). Guzmannia, Tillandsia, Vriesea
  • Bromelioideae - usually epiphytic, but typically with epigynous flowers, and seeds lacking wings or plumes (think of pineapple seeds!). Aechmea, Ananas, Billbergia, Bromelia, Canistrum, Cryptanthus, Neoregelia, Nidularium


These illustrations courtesy of (and ©) the University of Hawaii Botany Department or the photographers. Click on the link below to see more illustrations, including a close-up of Tillandsia showing its flowers.

Click HERE to see some of the material collected at Allan Gardens and studied in the lab on 7 October 2004.


There are no members of the Bromeliaceae that are native to Ontario (cf. Judd et al. p. 278ff.)

Credit: this page, and the corresponding lecture, are based in part on information compiled and presented by S. Gentles in the reading course version of BOT1307H, given January-March 2004.

The Flora North America treatment of the Bromeliaceae (Luther & Brown 2000) is available HERE:

Flora North America - Bromeliaceae


The Families of Flowering Plants
DELTA database in natural language

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Images from Botany at the University of Hawaii

Note: Use your browser's BACK function to return to the course pages from these images.

| What are plant families? | How do we distinguish them? | How and why do we study them? | Selected vascular plant families of Ontario | Reading List | Course outline |

| EEB337H1 Home Page | What's New | U of T Ecology & Evolutionary Biology |

2004 Botany Department, University of Toronto.

Please send your comments to tim.dickinson@utoronto.ca; last updated 13-Jan-2007