Twisted Air Plant, Beach Botany

38

Twisted Air Plant, Tillandsia flexuosa, is an established perennial monocot resident in Matanzas Pass Preserve. Flexuosa usually makes its home high up in Buttonwood trees, Conocarpus erectus, which are common in the Preserve. Air plants come in two categories, Grassy air plants and Tank Airplants. Flexuosa is a Tank air plant. The tank is made up of 10 to 20 Triangular leaves 12” to 16” in length and about an inch in width. Leaves are green with whitish bands. Its large leaves have a left hand twist that forms a twisted tank which holds water and other nutrients. The tips of the leaves are elongated, often waving in the wind. A mature tank can be a foot in height.

After some time, Flexuosa blooms and produces an erect reddish main stem 3’ to 4’ high. The main stem may have a few secondary branches. Reddish bracts are attached on the main stem and branches in an alternate order. Bracts are about 1” long. Bracts subtend tend tubular flowers. Tubular flowers grow from the tips of the bracts. Tubular flowers have three fused blue or reddish petals rolled up like a cigarette. Yellow sex organs are at the tube tip. Inflorescence is a raceme. After pollination white seeds are developed and windblown. .

Flexuosa is listed by the State as endangered by a weevil and illegal removal. Family is Bromeliaceae (Pineapple) Family. There is no evidence of the weevil in the Preserve.