Herbs, perennial, terrestrial, among or on rocks, or epiphytic. Roots usually present, often poorly developed in epiphytic taxa. Stems very short to very elongate. Leaves usually spirally arranged, forming water-impounding rosette, occasionally lax and/or 2-ranked, simple, margins serrate or entire, trichomes nearly always covering surface, peltate, water-absorbing. Inflorescences terminal or lateral, sessile to scapose, simple or compound; bracts usually present, conspicuous. Flowers bisexual or functionally unisexual, radially symmetric to slightly bilaterally symmetric; perianth in 2 distinct sets of 3; stamens in 2 series of 3; ovary inferior or superior; placentation axile. Fruits capsules or berries. Seeds plumose, winged, or unappendaged.
Widely distributed in the Neotropics (1 species in West Africa).
Bromeliaceae contain three subfamilies: Bromelioideae, Pitcairnioideae, and Tillandsioideae. Generic circumscriptions are problematic, especially in parts of the Bromelioideae and Tillandsioideae.
Pineapple, Ananas comosus (Linnaeus) Merrill, the only agriculturally important member of the family, is in worldwide cultivation in tropical climates. Horticultural interest in bromeliads is widespread among the public; the Bromeliad Society, Inc. caters to that interest.
Genera 56, species 2600+ (4 genera, 19 species, and 2 natural hybrids in the flora).
|1||Leaf margins spinose; flowers functionally unisexual, staminate and pistillate on different plants; seeds narrowly winged to almost wingless, plumose||Hechtia|
|1||Leaf margins entire; flowers bisexual (in flora) or functionally unisexual; seeds not winged, plumose appendages basal or apical.||> 2|
|2||Inflorescences 2-ranked, 1–50(–200)-flowered||Tillandsia|
|2||Inflorescences many-ranked, 5–many-flowered.||> 3|
|3||Floral bracts broad, conspicuous, mostly obscuring rachis, flowers laxly to densely arranged||Guzmania|
|3||Floral bracts small, inconspicuous, not obscuring rachis, flowers laxly arranged||Catopsis|