Bromeliads are much more than just all the stuff growing on trees. Yes, they are leafy epiphytes in the same family as pineapples, but they are also much more. Wrapped in their leaves is the story of the hunt for food, search for a home, and the adaptations that have arisen from the cut-throat, competitive environment of the cloud forest.
Let’s start at the very top — the top of the food chain, that is. Monkeys, resourceful scavengers that they are, know to look through bromeliads for the frogs, insects, salamanders, and even crabs that make their home there. As they go, they tear off the leaves and scatter them along the forest floor. The tasty treats monkeys look for are attracted to the bromeliads by the moisture that their spiraled leaves collect so well. There are even some species of Euphonia birds who make their nests in bromeliads.
Although they are not parasitic, eventually the weight of the many plants growing on a tree can hinder its growth. And don’t forget about all the water and insects and animals hidden inside. Their very shape is an adaptation that allows Bromeliads to collect water in the harsh rainforest environment.
Now that you appreciate the special place bromeliads have in this ecosystem, you will have to come to see them here in Costa Rica!