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Plants of the UNF Campus

Aechmea cylindrata - Matchstick air plant
Family Bromeliaceae


Over two thousand species of bromeliad are native to North and South America including several species in Florida. A single species is native to west Africa. About one hundred seventy species of Aechmea are native to the Caribbean and Central and South America.


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.

Care Instructions:

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.