Southern Needleleaf

AngelColor-2

This photograph of a southern needleleaf air plant (Tillandsia Setecea) on a water oak (Quercus Nigra) was taken on a hike in Nocatee Preserve near my home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  The needleleaf is an epiphyte, an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and debris accumulating around it. I am fascinated by epiphytes, like the resurrection fern in an earlier post.  In Florida, they are everywhere.  We had a few large crepe myrtles in our back yard, and the needleleafs practically covered the trunks and branches of the trees.  I have always been curious how they take hold on their host tree.  Many people have seen these members of the bromelaid family, but few have ever seen the beautiful and delicate purple flowers that bloom for an instant and are gone.  I have been lucky enough to see the blossoms, having grown up around them, and perhaps as the Romantic Poets believed, they are all the more beautiful because they are so evanescent and fleeting.

Click here for a larger version.

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