Tillandsia fasciculata- Cardinal Airplant

Giant Airplant

We hiked the end of May, and the hike leader showed us this beautiful air plant just off the trail. This is the Cardinal Air plant, one of the larger air plants once common in Florida. The Mexican bromeliad weevil, introduced accidentally to Florida in about 1989, spread to central Florida by 200?. The larva of this weevil feed on the interior of the larger air plants, including this species, killing them. This is the first Cardinal Air plant I have seen in years. Prior to the weevil we saw them all the time. Due to the weevil, the Cardinal air plant is now endangered.

Closeup airplant
Closeup of flower

The bright red flower bracts are the most common, but yellow and green are also found in Florida. It flowers all year, particularly from spring to early summer.

These can be challenging to photograph. Often they contain a lot of dead leaf or pine needles, and because of their habit lighting can be iffy. This one contained a couple of very small dead branches, and of course a small insect on one leaf (just visible in the upper right). I used my Canon 24 – 70 mm lens at 70mm and cropped the original photo to get the second photograph.



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