How to identify my bromeliad

Updated February 21, 2017

Bromedliads are a family of plants called bromeliadeae. The most well-known of bromediads is the pineapple. Bromeliads are native to the New World tropical and subtropical areas. Many varieties of bromeliads adapted to different types of environments. They take their nutrition and moisture from the atmosphere around them. Bromeliads come in many shapes, from needle-like to broad and flat, and many textures. To identify bromeliads, consider their location and basic structure.

Look at where the bromeliad grows. This can help you narrow the field concerning its type. Some bromeliads, called terrestrial bromeliads, grow right in the ground. Other types, called epiphytic bromeliads, grow on other plants and in the bark of trees.

Notice how the leaves grow on the plant. Bromeliads can have many kinds of plant structures, but they generally have a flower stalk growing from the centre of the leaf rosette. Neoregelia bears a flower low in the centre of the plant, and the flower may be one of a variety of bright colours.

Examine the leaf shape and texture. Cryhptanthus has spoon-shaped or lance-shaped leaves with evident banding or a frosty look. Tillandsia has thin, greenish-grey leaves or

thin leaves with an urnlike base.

Determine flower shape and colour. Tillandsia, which includes several kinds, has thin, bright red flower stalks or clusters of small, inconspicuous flowers. Aechmea's flower stalk grows out of a rosette of broad, leathery leaves that have spikes, and the flowers may be red and blue, pink and blue or red, yellow or black.

Observe growth habits. Bromeliad Guzmania has long, shiny leaves with a flower that blooms on a stalk from a central cup. After the bright-coloured flower blooms, the plant begins to die but produces offshoot buds that can be used to propagate more plants.


Some bromeliads can grow both in soil and on other plants. All bromeliads have tiny scales called trichomes on their leaves to help them absorb moisture from the environment and to protect them from too much sunlight. Often these scales are noticeable, thick and have a silvery appearance and fuzzy texture. Other types may have scales that are barely noticeable. According to tillandsia comes in three types, with leaves that can be like a fuzzy ball of string, curly tendrils or large, thick arcing leaves. Aechmea may have variegated coloured leaves such as maroon and green, or green with white.


Identifying bromeliad plants can be difficult because many types are hybrids or clones developed by nurseries.

Things You'll Need

  • Bromeliad books (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
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