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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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The Special Exhibition Gallery, Botanical Garden
March 7 - June 16, 2013

--- Only the knife knows the heart of a pineapple. ---

he bromeliads are a family of monocot flowering plants. There are more than 2,700 species of bromeliads. Most of them are native to the tropical Americas, with a few species found in the American subtropics and one in tropical West Africa. According to botanical classification, the bromeliads family is organized into three subfamilies: bromelioideae, pitcairnioideae, and tillandsioideae, while they can be terrestrial, growing on the ground; saxicolous, growing on rocks; or epiphytic, growing on other plants and trees according to their different ways to grow. Epiphytic bromeliads have the ability to absorb nutrients and moisture from the atmosphere, so they are sometimes called "air plants." Terrestrial species such as the pineapple (Ananas comosus), which are able to store water in a structure formed by their tightly-overlapping leaf base, are most well-known and popular.

Guzumania lingulata cv. Cherry
Pineapples named for its resemblance to the pine cone symbolizes 'prosperity' for its homonyms in Taiwanese culture. They represent good luck and hope. The plant flowers naturally only once a year. In Taiwan it is usually in January or February. Pineapple flowers are very popular amongst Taiwanese people, and held as the traditional festival flower during Lunar New Year season.

The bromeliads can sense the increasing day length by late January or early February. The plants that are mature enough will initiate flower buds that cannot be seen until the small, red bud arises out of the central ring of leaves 6 weeks later. Bromeliads typically have bright red, orange, purple or blue flowers, and can grow in a number of different ways: growing on the ground; on rocks; or on other plants and trees.

As a matter of fact, bromeliads flowers are spike-like inflorescence or accessory fruit grown from its stem rather than real 'flower' in terms of botany. The inflorescence is a dense raceme, and flowers last for many weeks. The color of its fleshy and trimerous 'flower' varies, depending on variety. It is a perennial herb; the rootstock is a bulb, 10 cm in diameter and flat at the base with numerous white roots.

Ananas comosus
Dyckia forteriana
Aechmea fasciata

Bromeliads can be used in many places and ways to brighten the landscape and interiorscape. Pineapples can be consumed fresh or cooked, canned or juiced, and found in a wide array of cuisines including dessert, salad, jam, yogurt, ice cream and candy. In Taiwan and the Philippines, aboriginal people use the pineapple leaves to produce the textile fiber for clothing, robes, or wall paper. They are the most economically significant plant in the Bromeliaceae family.

Yen in the gallery
"The bromeliads are easy to grow. Since they are extremely adaptable, tolerating a variety of home environment and have defenses against excessive water loss, as long as you don't water them too much or expose them to freezing temperature, and you fertilize them, they should thrive well in a pot or a garden," said Dr. Yen Shin-fu, the Museum's associate curator at the Botany Department and the exhibition organizer. "This bromeliads exhibition originated half and two years ago when Mr. Lin Ching-shan, a teacher at Tao-yuan High School, visited our Garden. Mr. Lin was surprised at our abundant collection of bromeliads plants, yet disappointed at the insufficiency in Terrestrial species. Lin thus donated his 273 potted Terrestrial pineapples to the Garden," Yen added, "We appreciate Mr. Lin's generosity for making our exhibition more fascinating and complete," noted Yen.

"Beautiful and brightly colored bromeliads should appeal to gardeners and non-gardeners. They will add quintessential tropical air to your home or garden, and make your friends or neighbors stop and look twice," Yen said.

Visitors to the flower show are welcome to stroll in the Museum's magnificent Garden, view its renowned collections of plants and explore the natural world.

  • Admission is included with the Conservatory ticket.

Bromeliads is organized by the National Museum of Natural Science in collaboration with National Taoyuan Senior High School, and proudly supported by Chiayi Agricultural Experiment Station, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute.