Over two thousand species of bromeliad are native to North
and South America including several species in
single species is native to west Africa. About one hundred seventy species of Aechmea are native to the Caribbean and Central and South
In nature, the matchstick air plant is an epiphyte growing
high on tree branches. Leaves are light green without markings, arranged in
tight rosettes that capture and hold water. The plant absorbs most of its water
from this rosette. The roots’ main function is to hold the plant on a branch. In
late winter, it produces a bright pink stalk with blue flowers. Each plant dies
when it flowers but is survived by new sprouts at its base. Including the
flower stalks, plants are less than twelve inches tall. In the garden, the
matchstick air plant will grow in a well-drained soil.
See plants in the Founders Plaza behind the Gandhi statue.
Small herbaceous plant to about twelve inches tall, including flower spike.
Light: part shade to shade
Water: well-drained soil
Soil: adaptable in a well-drained soil
In the Jacksonville
area, the matchstick air plant may benefit from a little winter protection. It
seems to be reliably cold hardy to the mid-20’s F. If temperatures drop a little
lower, the main plant will be killed but suckers may resprout in spring. Otherwise,
it is a sturdy little plant for a shady garden. Sometimes, it is confused in
garden literature with Aechmea gamosepala
and is described under that name.
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