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Epyphytes cling to tree branches in the Tropical Rainforests Conservatory.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Tremblay)
  • Bromeliads
  • Bromeliads
  • Hohenbergia stellata
  • Vriesea
  • Guzmania lingulata var. cardinalis 'Superb'
  • Hechtia glomerata
  • Neoregelia marmorata
  • Aechmea 'Rajah'
  • Neoregelia 'Fireball'

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Bromeliads come in a wide variety of forms, often with spectacular blooms. Half the 2,400 known species in this family are epiphytic. These plants are characteristic of tropical forests in the Americas, and only a single species is found elsewhere, in West Africa.

There is tremendous evolutionary diversity within the Bromeliaceae family. The species in this family are some of the most specialized of all Angiosperms (or flowering plants). They are adapted to extreme conditions and capable of surviving different types of stress in their habitats.

The plants in this group have an unusual type of growth and reduced vegetative organs. Their flowers have evolved to adapt to a wide variety of pollinators.

Of the 40,000 or more species of Monocotyledons, only the Bromeliaceae have this unique combination of seed, flower and fruit characteristics along with flattened hairs.

The Garden’s collection

Many specimens from the Bromeliad collection are displayed in the Tropical Rainforest exhibition greenhouse. Bromeliads share the greenhouse with representatives of other tropical families, including Aroids, Orchids, Maranthaceae, Zingiberaceae and Nepenthaceae.

In the greenhouse, the Bromeliads grow on artificial trees made of welded pipes wrapped in sphagnum moss and cork, highlighting their epiphytic growth habit. An epiphyte is a plant that grows upon another plant without feeding on it. The host plant provides it only with support. There are no physiological exchanges between the two plants.

The Garden’s Bromeliad collection is not limited to the plants displayed in the exhibition greenhouse. Much of it is kept in the collection greenhouses that are off-limits to the public.

The collection includes some 30 genera and close to 400 species, varieties and cultivars, making it highly representative of the family, which has 44 genera and some 2,000 species, 500 of them Tillandsia species. Some species were collected directly in the wild, although most of them were acquired through exchanges with other gardens or from specialized growers.

Where and when

Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse: year round.

Based on articles by Denis Barabé and by Suzanne Forget in Quatre-Temps magazine.

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