Potbelly Airplant, Beach Botany

26

Potbelly Airplant, Tillandsia paucifolia, is a long time resident of Matanzas Pass Preserve. An epiphytic bromeliad that grows on Buttonwood trees attached by anchor roots. Paucifolia is a compact-bodied, densely-hairy-covered tank air plant that grows 4”’ to 14” in height including a flora stalk. Five to ten silver gray leaves with ovate bases recurve into an elongated blub that forms the tank and then dangles around the bulb.  Leaf length is 4” to 6”. The hairs are appendages that increase the surface area on the leaves to maximize nutrients and absorption of water from the air.

The Flora stalk carries pointed reddish bracts that can produce 2 – 15 flowers. Flowers are composed of three fused lavender-colored petals. At the tip of the flower are yellowish sex organs. After pollination by flying insects, the flowers will drop off and the bracts will release white seeds into the wind.

Like all our air plants, Paucifolia is a moncot.

 

Photo by James Rodwell