Tillandsia utriculata

Tillandsia utriculata, commonly known as the spreading airplant or the giant airplant,[3] is a species of bromeliad that is native to Florida and Georgia in the United States, the Caribbean, southern and eastern Mexico (Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Oaxaca, the Yucatán Peninsula), Central America, and Venezuela.[2][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Tillandsia utriculata
Tillandsia utriculata (Scott Zona) 001.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Bromeliaceae
Genus: Tillandsia
Subgenus: Tillandsia subg. Tillandsia
T. utriculata
Binomial name
Tillandsia utriculata
  • Platystachys utriculata (L.) Beer
  • Vriesea utriculata (L.) Regel
  • Tillandsia pringlei S.Watson
  • Tillandsia lingulata W.Bartram 1794, illegitimate homonym, not L. 1753
  • Tillandsia bartramii Nutt. 1822, illegitimate homonym, not Elliott 1817
  • Tillandsia nuttalliana Schult. & Schult.f.
  • Platystachys ehrenbergii K.Koch
  • Allardtia potockii Antoine
  • Tillandsia ramosa Bello
  • Platystachys ehrenbergiana K.Koch ex Hemsl.
  • Tillandsia ehrenbergiana Hemsl.
  • Tillandsia brevibracteata Baker
  • Tillandsia sintenisii Baker
  • Tillandsia ehrenbergii (K.Koch) Klotzsch ex Mez

Two varieties are recognized:[2]

  1. Tillandsia utriculata subsp. pringlei (S.Watson) C.S.Gardner - eastern Mexico
  2. Tillandsia utriculata subsp. utriculata - most of species range

Florida populations of Tillandsia utriculata are highly susceptible to attack by the invasive weevil Metamasius callizona, and have been devastated virtually throughout their range.[12] Tillandsia utriculata holds more impounded water in its leaf axils (up to a liter) than does any other Florida bromeliad. Accordingly, it is much the major host of aquatic invertebrate animals. Loss of habitat for those animals compounds the disaster of destruction of the plants.[13][14]


  1. ^ Isley, Paul T. (1987). Tillandsia: The World's Most Unusual Air Plants. Botanical Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-9617675-0-1.
  2. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ "Tillandsia utriculata". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Tillandsia utriculata". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  5. ^ Flora of North America, Tillandsia utriculata Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 286. 1753.
  6. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution map
  7. ^ Checklist of Mexican Bromeliaceae with Notes on Species Distribution and Levels of Endemism Archived 2007-10-30 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 3 November 2009
  8. ^ Checklist of Venezuelan Bromeliaceae with Notes on Species Distribution by State and Levels of Endemism retrieved 3 November 2009
  9. ^ An Annotated Checklist of the Bromeliaceae of Costa Rica retrieved 3 November 2009
  10. ^ Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  11. ^ Carnevali, G., J. L. Tapia-Muñoz, R. Duno de Stefano & I. M. Ramírez Morillo. 2010. Flora Ilustrada de la Peninsula Yucatán: Listado Florístico 1–326.
  12. ^ Frank, J.H., Cave, R.D. (2005) Metamasius callizona is destroying Florida's native bromeliads [p. 91-101 IN:] Hoddle, M. S. (ed.) Second International Symposium on Biological Control of Arthropods, Davos, Switzerland, September 12–16, 2005. USDA Forest Service FHTET-2005-08. Vol. 1. http://fcbs.org/articles/M_Callizona_Frank_Cave.pdf
  13. ^ Frank, J. H., Fish, D. (2008) Potential biodiversity loss in Florida bromeliad phytotelmata due to Metamasius callizona (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae), an invasive species. Florida Entomologist 91: 1-8 http://journals.fcla.edu/flaent/article/view/75750/73408
  14. ^ Cooper, T.M., Frank, J.H., Cave, R.D. (2014) Loss of phytotelmata due to an invasive bromeliad-eating weevil and its potential effects on faunal diversity and biogeochemical cycles. Acta Oecologica 54: 51-56.

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