Aechmea aff. mertensii

The following paragraph on bromeliads and Aechmea mertensii is composed of quotes from: Benzing, DH (2000) Bromeliaceae; profile of an adaptive radiation. Cambridge University Press 690 p.

“Perhaps Amazonia limits the possibilities for Bromeliaceae, and especially Tillandsioideae, more than most other regions inhabited by the family because it offers fewer combinations of acceptable growing conditions (excessive warmth and seasonal drought for example). Most of the local bromelioids are epiphytes, and many possess bulbous shoots that feature a well-protected phytotelmata and accommodate ant-colonies in the drier recesses of the younger foliage. Other species root in arboreal ant nests (e.g. Aechmea mertensii). In Peru, ants were observed to build their nests preferably in trees with extrafloral nectaries such as Inga. In general, ants create the necessary rooting medium and hereby simultaneously reduce their own and the epiphyte's dependence on the tree. Epiphytes may establish themselves in the ants' nest when the ants take their seeds there. Seed attractiveness and retrieval to the nest are influenced by size and form (e.g. pupal mimicry), seed number per fruit, and the presence of fleshy pulp on the seeds.”

The plant in the picture on this page appears to be an example of Aechmea mertensii, although in this case it was found growing on a log on the ground near dwellings, where it was probably planted by humans rather than ants!


Pepinia sprucei


This beautiful flowering bromeliad can be found growing on the forest floor at Amazonat.