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The Bromeliad Collection

The Bromeliaceae family comprises about 3,300 species, distributed in 8 subfamilies and 52 botanical genera, almost all of which are native to Tropical America.

The Bromeliad Collection

The diversity of bromeliads, land and aerial plants

Bromeliads have a vast diversity of species and adaptability to the most diverse environments, whether in the hot deserts of Chile, the tropical forests of Brazil, flat land, or mountains that reach 4,000 meters (13123 feet) in altitude.


There are terrestrial species with well-developed roots, capable of absorbing water and nutrients, and aerials, which we can see in tree trunks, shrubs, cacti, rocks, roofs, and even electrical wires.

Between species, the leaves and fruits change

The species belonging to genera of the Bromelioideae subfamily are distinguished by their spined leaves and seeds that produce berry-like sweet and sticky fruits that become bird food.

On the other hand, species belonging to genera of the subfamily Tillandioideae have smooth leaf margins and fruits that resemble dry capsules. Inside, these capsules lodge winged seeds with feathered appendages that help them disperse in the wind.

The genera with the most economic importance are Ananas, which includes the pineapple, and Tillandsia, known for its epiphyte species, such as Spanish moss.

Between species, the leaves and fruits change

A rosette of leaves as a common trait

The morphology of leaves, flowers, and fruits is usually common within the same subfamily or botanical genus and is the main factor in recognizing different species.

All bromeliads have the spiral arrangement of their leaves in common. Designated by some as a "rosette of leaves," the foliage can be green, silver, reddish, pink, or blended colors.

A rosette of leaves as a common trait

The Bromeliad Collection in numbers

  • Families



  • Genera



  • Species



  • Subspecies



  • Varieties



  • Cultivars



The Bromeliad Garden at Terra Nostra Garden

The Bromeliad Collection begins at Terra Nostra Garden in 2011.

With about half of the species belonging to the Tillandsia genus, it is a collection that delights visitors all year and peaks between June and October.

Here we can find the Chestnut trees and various Tils, the endemic species of the Laurissilva forest, recognizable for their prominent exposed roots, which form an unusual reticulation.

The pineapple in the history of the Azores

The Bromeliad Family also includes a plant often associated with the Azores - the Pineapple, although it is an exotic, native plant of South America.

In the seventeenth century, pineapples were brought to Europe and cultivated in heated greenhouses, becoming a symbol of luxury and a delicacy reserved for special occasions and festivities.

José Bensaude made the first agricultural rehearsals with this species in the nineteenth century for commercial purposes on São Miguel Island. In 1864, the first pineapples were exported to the English market, bound for Queen Victoria's table.

  • Did you know...

    The pineapple contains digestive properties?

    Apart from its fiber-rich content that aids digestion, pineapples also contain a digestive enzyme called bromelain, which helps break down and absorb proteins in the digestive system. This enzyme is usually extracted from the plant stem, even immediately after the fruit has been harvested.


    That Puya raimondii is the largest bromeliad in the world?

    The "Queen of the Andes" (Puya raimondii) is a rare giant bromeliad found in the Andes of Bolivia and Peru. Its yucca-like leaves (Yucca sp.) typically measure 3 to 4 meters (9.8 to 13 feet) in length. During blooming, it can reach impressive heights of 10 to 12 meters (33 to 40 feet) and up to 2.4 meters (7.8 ft) in diameter. Some of the largest plants can produce inflorescences up to 15 meters (50 feet) tall, adorned with 8,000 small white flowers.

    The bromeliads are small ecosystems? 
    Certain bromeliads form exquisite "rosettes" of leaves, perfectly designed to collect and store rainwater for use in challenging conditions. These miniature water reservoirs evolve into micro-ecosystems, fostering the growth of plants, bacteria, and fungi. Amphibians and insects discover water sources, sustenance from plant matter and deceased animals, and a sheltered haven within these leafy rosettes, providing protection from predators and opportunities for mating.

    That trichomes take on various functions?
    Trichomes not only absorb moisture and nutrients from rain and airborne particles but also serve as a shield against excessive sunlight for plants exposed to intense solar radiation. Leaves heavily coated with trichomes tend to exhibit a grayish hue, a common feature in Tillandsia genus species like Tillandsia usneoides. This species, resembling moss or lichen, is colloquially known as "Spanish moss" due to its natural growth on tree trunks.

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