When you first walk the moldy-leaf paths of a rainforest, it is a chaotic wonder of tall trees, thick vines, dense growth, wet air, and a tempest of frenzied creature sounds. Trying to find flowers in this is not easy. But once you become accustomed to it, your senses relax.
One of the most versatile flowers on this planet, bromeliads are the natural jewels of the rainforest. In a family of over 3,100 species, this flower includes the pineapple, spanish moss, and the more typical flowering plants shown here.
This species of bromeliad is an epiphyte, meaning it attaches its roots to another tree rather than into the earth. They catch rain and nourishment within a whorl of their leaves, where other organisms like tree frogs also flourish. Bromeliaceae are primarily found in the rainforests of Central and South America. They commonly develop one flower that emerges on a stalk and lives for several months.
Outside the rainforest bromeliads can easily be found, oddly enough, in large grocery stores. These are grown in greenhouses and hybridized a hundred different ways, and sold to customers as a maintenance-free flowering plant. When I walk by the floral department with my shopping cart in front of me, I give a wink to them and smile at this big beautiful world.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander, Jet Eliot