On a secluded beach in the Virgin Islands, I strolled along looking at the beautiful foliage and rock formations… reveling in the dense greenery and a long-awaited tropical escape from New York City’s frigid winter.  To my great astonishment and awe, I spied this Air Plant (Tillandsia, Giant Wild Pine), a huge two-foot wide specimen hidden, 30 feet up, amongst the leaves of what I believe to be a Lime Tree.

Although Air Plants are adapted to survive in diverse habitats… from deserts to rainforests and thrive in conditions from freezing to tropical, I was surprised to see this giant thriving in the harsh salt air of a beach shore.

The icing on the cake, this specimen is OLD!  Tillandsia grow very slowly, often taking 5 to 20 years to mature.  A 50-year-old plant may be only 8 inches across!  And here I was looking at a plant at least, 2 feet across.  An exciting find, which I’m certain, not many people had noticed (or if they had, were thinking they were looking at a palm or some other plant).  And, if they HAD noticed, did they understand what a feat of nature this plant represented?

Stay tuned for more tropical plant finds in the Virgin Islands.

1 comment:

  1. That's amazing! As you mention, I would have thought it was a palm plant. I'd never heard of air plants - thanks for the botany lesson! Love your blog :)


All images and content copyright Jeffrey Schneider of JAMES Modern Terrariums 2009.