by Derek Butcher

Updated September 2008

This follows roughly the information given in the Monograph by Smith and Downs (Flora Neotropica no. 14, 1974 - 77) which covered 46 genera. This was expanded in Lyman Smith's paper in Beitr. Biol. Pflanzen 63 (1988) 403 - 411 to cover 51 genera where he added new genera Steyerbromelia, Brewcaria, Pseudaechmea, and Lymania. Lindmania was revived from synonymy of Cottendorfia. In the same issue but on pages 101 - 113 Elvira Gross reported findings on the germination processes of the three subfamilies and one facet is shown in the key below. The key was further updated in 1998 by L. B. Smith and W. Till to cover 56 genera in The Families and Genera of Vascular plants, Kubitzki pages 83 - 86 (1998) where Alcantarea, Werauhia, Ursulaea, Pepinia, and Racinaea were added. Abromeitiella had been placed in synonymy under Deuterocohnia Note that Streptocalyx was retained purely because the genus Aechmea is currently in a state of flux. From a horticultural point of view the retention of this genus tends to make sense because of the similar growing conditions needed to get good specimens. However, Chevaliera was resurrected to genus status because of its clearly delineated boundaries and is said to be more of a natural group. Since this publication the genera have increased to 58 where Derek Butcher has now added Canistropsis, and Edmundoa, and made adjustments to Canistrum, Nidularium, and Wittrockia because of Elton Leme's recent work "Canistrum - Bromeliads of the Atlantic Forest" (1997) and "Canistropsis - Bromeliads of the Atlantic Forest" (1998). The merging of Pepinia into Pitcairnia at generic level in Harvard Papers in Botany Vol. 4 no.1 195 - 202 (1999) by Robinson and Taylor has reduced the genera to 57. The transfer of Pseudananas to a synonym of Ananas see Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge, G & F Leal, The Pineapple: Botany, Production and uses. CAB Int. 2: 13-32. 2003 reduces the genera to 56. The resurrection of Andrea Brown & Leme in Taxon 54 (1): 63-70. 2005 (now Eduandrea see Leme et al in J. Brom. Soc 58(2): 61-4. 2008) increases genera to 57. Givnish et al in Aliso 23: 3-26. 2007 gave major changes within Pitcairnioideae which is now Hechtioideae, Puyoideae, Pitcairnioideae, Lindmanioideae, Brocchinioideae, and Navioideae. Genus change is where Ayensua is now Brocchinia and new genus Sequencia. Number remains at 57

The splitting of Vriesea from Tillandsia is still based on petal appendages. The process of re-evaluating the Tillandsioideae has been accomplished so far with the acceptance of Alcantarea, Racinaea, and Werauhia Some taxa, for example Tillandsia engleriana and Tillandsia myriantha have petal appendages and should be treated as Vriesea in the strict sense, but sit comfortably in the Tillandsia sub-genus Allardtia.

The splitting of Portea from the rest is based on pedicellate flowers but there is an exception in the taxon which has all the attributes of a Portea but was described as Aechmea rubrolilacina. Leme has also transferred Portea leptantha to Aechmea leptantha indicating this genus needs review.


1. Fruits indehiscent, baccate
subfamily Bromelioideae
9 - 56
1a. Fruits dehiscent, capsular 2
2. Seeds plumose-appendaged
subfamily Tillandsioideae
2a. Seeds winged or naked 3
3. Flowers dioecious, plants of Central America
subfamily Hechtioideae
3a. Flowers perfect, or rarely monoecious or polygamodioecious, or dioecious and plants of the Brazilian Shield 4
4. Petal blades showy, tightly spiralled after anthesis, broad and distinct from claws
subfamily Puyoideae
4a. Petal blades remaining free after anthesis, or if slightly coiled, then not clawed 5
5. Petals large and conspicuous or, if minute, then sepals imbricate and anthers basifixed, linear
subfamily Pitcairnioideae
5a. Petals minute and sepals cochlear, or petals and bracts various and sepals convolute 6
6. Sepals convolute
subfamily Lindmanioideae
6a. Sepals cochlear and petals minute 7
7. Leaves entire, stellate chlorenchyma abundant
subfamily Brocchinioideae
7a. Leaves toothed, stellate chlorenchyma absent
subfamily Navioideae
9. Sepals symmetric or nearly so 10
9a. Sepals asymmetric 34
10. Filaments forming a tube to which the fleshy petals are joined along their centres but with their margins free; sepals mostly free or nearly so; leaves very laxly and coarsely spinose -serrate 11
10a. Filaments not connate but sometimes adnate 13
11. Sepals with soft, usually broad apices; inflorescences compound. Mexico and the West Indies to Argentina and Uruguay Bromelia
11a. Sepals spinose-mucronate 12
12. Inflorescence simple, with almost no scape. Argentina Deinacanthon
12a. Inflorescence branched with terminal cone-like branches, with a scape. S Mexico, Guatemala. Hohenbergiopsis
13. Terminal axes of the inflorescence visible 14
13a. Terminal axes of the inflorescence covered by leaves or bracts 20
14. Petals naked; sepals 0.5-7 mm long 15
14a. Petals appendaged; sepals mostly much larger 18
15. Inflorescence compound; sepals broadly ovate or oblong, 0.5-2mm long. Costa Rica and Trinidad to Amazonian Brazil Araeococcus
15a. Inflorescence simple; sepals narrowly elliptic, 7mm long; flowers subsessile or pedicellate. Mount Itatiaia area in E. Brazil Fernseea
16. Petals zygomorphic or tightly recoiled and flowers sessile. W Mexico and Central America to Argentina and Uruguay 17
16a. Petals not zygomorphic 18
17. Epigynous tube usually well developed Billbergia
17a. Epigynous tube shallow. W. Mexico Ursulaea
18. Petals erect. E. Brazil 19
18a. Petals recoiled at the top Ursulaea
19. Flowers sessile Quesnelia
19a. Flowers pedicellate Neoglaziovia
20. Inflorescence simple, cone-like; flowers solitary in the axil of each bract 21
20a. Inflorescence compound 28
21. Scape short or none; cone-like branches nidular or axillary 22
21a. Scape well developed, obvious 26
22. Floral bracts leaf-like. NE Brazil Orthophytum
22a. Floral bracts bract-like 23
23. Scape distinct, its bracts shorter than the floral bracts; petals naked. Mexico and Venezuela to Chile Greigia
23a. Scape none or very short 24
24. Epigynous tube shallow, bowl-shaped (A. pitcairnioides) Brazil: Bahia Acanthostachys
24a. Epigynous tube cylindric, deep. Chile 25
25. Sepals obtuse, stamens included, petals blue Fascicularia
25a. Sepals acute with pungent apex, stamens exserted, petals rose Ochagavia
26. Scape erect, without bracts (A. strobilacea). S Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina Acanthostachys
26a. Scape covered with bracts 27
27. Scape bracts leaf-like, scape erect. NE Brazil Orthophytum
27a. Scape bracts bract-like; scape prostrate. French Guiana and adjacent Brazil Disteganthus
28. Inflorescence obviously compound with several strobils on an elongate floral axis 29
28a. Inflorescence pseudosimple with hands or flat fascicles in the axils of large bracts 30
29. Floral bracts leaf-like, serrulate; cone-like branches sessile or subsessile. NE Brazil Orthophytum
29a. Floral bracts bract-like, entire; cone-like branches on distinct scapes. Mexico and Venezuela to Chile Greigia
30. Outer bracts of the inflorescence leaf-like; sepals high connate; petals naked. NE Brazil Cryptanthus
30a. Outer bracts of the inflorescence bract-like, large, and covering most of the flowers. E. Brazil 31
31. Petals erect and apex distinctly obtuse cucullate, connate or agglutinated in a tube the height of the sepals Nidularium
31a. Petals sub-erect to spreading at anthesis, free or nearly so 32
32. Inflorescence wool persistent after anthesis Edmundoa
32a. Inflorescence wool not persistent 33
33. Stolons slender, flowers 20 35 mm long Canistropsis
33. Stolons stout or none, flowers 45 - 80 mm long Wittrockia
33. Rhizomes underground, flowers 24-27mm long, leaves entire Eduandrea
34. Ovaries coalescing to form a compound fruit; inflorescence simple, strobilate Ananas
34a. Ovaries always remaining distinct 35
35. Flowers pedicellate 36
35a. Flowers sessile or subsessile 41
36. Inflorescence nidular, simple in most species; petals naked. Amazonia, E. Brazil Neoregelia
36a. Inflorescence scapose 37
37. Sepals more or less connate, long-mucronate; petals appendaged. E. Brazil Portea
37a. Sepals free or unarmed 38
38. Inflorescence simple; sepals without sharp tip 39
38a. Inflorescence compound 40
39. Petals naked. Colombia Pseudaechmea
39a. Petals appendaged. Colombia and Guyana to NE Brazil Aechmea subg. 2. Lamprococcus
40. Sepals 1.5-3 mm long; inflorescence glabrous; petals naked. Colombia to Suriname and Amazonian Brazil Araeococcus
40a. Sepals 3.5-22 mm long; inflorescence lepidote; petals appendaged. Mexico to Peru Aechmea subg. 1. Podaechmea
41. Petals appendaged with well-developed appendages 42
41a. Petals naked or with lateral folds or rudimentary or reduced appendages 49
42. Epigynous tube shallow or lacking; flowers in tubular cone-like branches; inflorescence mostly pinnate and lax, rarely digitate or simple and without petal appendages (H. littoralis). Antilles to Venezuela and Brazil. Hohenbergia
42a. Epigynous tube well developed; inflorescence various 43
43. Sepals without a sharp tip 45
43a. Sepals with a sharp tip. 44
44. Inflorescence not involucrate. North and South America Aechmea subg. 3. Aechmea,
Aechmea subg. 4. Ortgiesia
Aechmea subg. 6. Pothuava
44a. Inflorescence involucrate with large upper scape bracts and primary bracts. S. America Canistrum
45. Floral bracts attached basally, not decurrent nor forming pouches; flowers polystichous 46
45a. Floral bracts decurrent and forming pouches around the flowers; flowers often distichous. North and South America Aechmea subg. 5. Platyaechmea
46. Inflorescence compound 47
46a. Inflorescence simple 48
47. Leaves distichous; blades marked with spots or bands; floral bracts minute; ovules obtuse (Q. marmorata). Brazil: Espirito Santo to Sao Paulo Quesnelia
47a. Leaves polystichous or the blades concolorous; floral bracts large to lacking; ovules long-caudate. Colombia, Venezuela, Amazonian Brazil Aechmea subg.2. Lamprococcus
48. Ovules obtuse (no further distinction possible without keying by species). E. Brazil Quesnelia
48a Ovules apiculate to caudate. Central America to Brazil and Argentina Aechmea subg. 7. Macrochordion
49. Ovary deeply sulcate; inflorescence simple or compound. NE Brazil Lymania
49a. Ovary evenly rounded 50
50. Inflorescence lax; axes visible 51
50a. Inflorescence dense 54
51. Inflorescence simple. Costa Rica to Peru Ronnbergia
51a. Inflorescence pinnately compound 52
52. Flowers very small; sepals not over 3mm long; ovules few; epigynous tube none. Costa Rica, Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago, Guyana to Amazonian Brazil Araeococcus
52a. Flowers small to large; sepals more than 3 mm long; epigynous tube distinct 53
53. Branches elongate, many-flowered; flowers perfect; anthers unappendaged. E. and Amazonian Brazil and adjacent areas Streptocalyx
53a. Branches short, digitately few-flowered; flowers functionally unisexual on different plants; anthers appendaged. Central America: Guatemala to Costa Rica Androlepis
54. Flowers 2 or more in the axil of each bract 55
54a. Flower single in the axil of each bract 56
55. Inflorescence involucrate; sepals only slightly asymmetric, not with sharp tip or mucronulate. E. Brazil Nidularium
55a. Inflorescence cone-like; sepals strongly asymmetric, mucronate. E. and Amazonian Brazil and adjacent areas Streptocalyx
56. Petals naked or with lateral folds; bracts papery or leathery; leaf blades often petiolate. Costa Rica to Peru Ronnbergia
56a. Petals bearing rudimentary or reduced appendages; bracts mostly thick and ligneous; leaf blades never petiolate; pollen sulcate. Mexico to Peru and Amazonian Brazil, E. Brazil Chevaliera
57. Ovary nearly or quite superior; seeds plumose on base or apex or largely on the base and only slightly on the apex 58
57a. Ovary only half superior; seeds equally plumose-appendaged at both ends; flowers polystichous. Lesser Antilles, Trinidad, adjacent Venezuela Glomeropitcairnia
58. Appendage of the seed wholly or largely basal, straight at maturity 59
58a. Appendage of the seed largely apical folded at maturity; sepals strongly asymmetric in most species; flowers in at least slightly more than 2 ranks; leaves often cretaceous-coated on the inside. Florida, Mexico, and the West Indies to Brazil and Peru Catopsis
59. Petal bases free or with very short tube exceeded by the sepals; flowers distichous in most species 60
59a. Petal bases conglutinated in a tube, equaling the sepals or, rarely, the petals entirely included in the sepals 64
60. Petals naked; inflorescence of 1 or more distichous flowered spikes or racemes or rarely reduced to 1 or more polystichous-flowered spikes or to a single flower; plants of southern United States to Argentina and Chile 63
60a. Petal appendages on the inside of the petal base; Mexico and the West Indies to Argentina and Uruguay 61
61. Seed with the apical appendage divided into a short coma; petals linear long, fusiform, usually 10-15 times longer than wide, soon flaccid and drooping Alcantarea
61a. Seed with the apical appendage minute and undivided; petals elliptical, usually 5-10 times longer than wide, usually firm and remaining more or less erect after anthesis 62
62. Flowers with brilliant coloration in most species, bright yellow, orange, or red, rarely dull to white, light yellow, or light orange; the adaxial petal pair arranged apically in respect to the abaxial; petal appendages tongue-shaped; stigma with the convolute blade type morphology, that is, 3 obviously spreading lobes covered with papillae Vriesea
62a. Flowers generally dull in color, white, greenish white, light green yellowish green, yellow, or light orange; the adaxial petal pair arranged basally in respect to the abaxial; petal appendages finger-like with 1-5 fingers of varying length; stigma with the cupulate type morphology, that is, 3 apical, capitate, cup-shaped lobes, without papillae Werauhia
63. Sepals symmetric or if slightly asymmetric, then ovate or lanceolate and broadest below the middle, free or variously connate; seeds usually with a distinct apical appendage Tillandsia
63a. Sepals asymmetric, free or nearly so, broadest near apex, not over 12mm long; seeds without apical appendage Racinaea
64. Petal bases always naked; spikes always polystichous flowered. Florida, Mexico, and the West Indies to Brazil and Bolivia Guzmania
64a. Petal bases bearing appendages on the inside; flowers polystichous rarely secund or distichous. Colombia to Peru Mezobromelia
65. Plants dioecious with functionally unisexual flowers; petals rose or white; plants of Texas, Mexico, and northern Central America Hechtia
66. Petal blades tightly spiraled after anthesis, broad, distinct from the bottom portion; leaf blades narrowly triangular, never contracted at base; ovary superior or slightly inferior; Andean plants of open slopes and summits from Costa Rica and Guayana to Chile and Argentina Puya
67. Ovary wholly superior; petals regular 68
67a. Ovary partially to wholly inferior, or, if superior then the petals zygomorphic. Petals large, naked or appendaged, sepals convolute Pitcairnia
68. Petals naked 69
68a. Petals each bearing a single basal appendage; xerophytic plants of the southern Andes from Peru to Chile, Argentina, and W. Brazil Deuterocohnia
69. Seeds with a sickle-like appendage; petal blades narrow, indistinct from the base; plants of NE Brazil Encholirium
69a. Seeds bicaudate-appendaged or clavate. Anthers basifixed, linear, coiled at anthesis, inner filaments adnate to the base of the petals; leaf blades thin, more or less contracted at base; mesophytic plants of Mexico to Argentina and W. Brazil Fosterella
69b. Seeds broad alate,Bases of the filaments forming a tube and adnate to the petals; petals yellow to orange; plants of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina Dyckia
70. Flowers showy. Sepals free, convolute, apically rounded to obtuse, subcoriaceous; petals rose, red, or purple, free, unappendaged, blades broad, spreading after anthesis and not twisted together afterwards. Stamens included; anthers basifixed. Ovary wholly superior; style elongate. Fruit a septicidal capsule. Seeds bicaudate. Connellia
70a. Flowers small. Sepals free, convolute, ovate to broadly ovate, rounded or broadly obtuse apically; petals free, unappendaged, exceeding the sepals, white, pink, yellow, or orange. Filaments mostly free; anthers versatile. Ovary superior, glabrous; style slender; placentae short, basal. Fruit an ovoid, septicidal capsule. Seeds slenderly fusiform, bicaudate. Lindmania
71. Capsular fruits, seeds bicaudate appendaged; petals minute, regular, free; sepals cochlear, with the two adaxial overlapping the abaxial; ovary partly to wholly inferior; in florescence racemose, paniculate, or capitate; leaves entire, almost always with stellate chlorenchyma. Brocchinia
72. Seeds bicaudate appendaged Sequencia
72a. Seeds not bicaudate appendaged 73
73. Stigma lobes distorted; sepals spiral in form with the abaxial overlapping both the adaxial cells of leaf epidermis straight walled, plants of NE Brazil Cottendorfia
73a. Stigma lobes uniform 74
74. Petals naked; inflorescence scapose, pinnate, and more or less open or sessile and capitate Navia
74a. Petals appendaged 75
75. Seeds wedge shaped, inflorescence long-scapose, simple, densely cylindric. Brewcaria
75a. Seeds narrow elliptic to falcate elliptic, inflorescence compound, lax, stigmas broad, strongly contorted Steyerbromelia