Dancing Bulb

This beautiful bromeliad, also called an air plant because it gets its nutrients and water from the air, is a flowering plant in the pineapple family. All of them are epiphytes, meaning they get their support from and grow on other plants. Many are found in mangrove forests, such as this one making house on a mangrove root. It's not known whether they provide any benefit to the trees, but when the bromeliads lose their leaves and petals, they fall into the water and provide nutrients to the underwater ecosystem. More about mangroves can be found in our mangroves featured story.

A beautiful bromeliad blooms among the mud and roots of a mangrove swamp.

© 2004 Smithsonian Institution