Bromeliads entered recorded history some 500 years ago when Columbus introduced the pineapple (Ananas comosus) to Spain upon return from his second voyage to the New World in 1493. On that voyage he found it being cultivated by the Carib Indians in the West Indies. Within 50 years this tropical fruit was being cultivated in India and other Old World countries.
It took some time for additional bromeliads to enter cultivation. It wasn't until 1776 that another bromeliad (Guzmania lingulata) was brought to Europe. Aechmea fasciata followed in 1828 and Vriesea splendens in 1840.
Within the last hundred years, bromeliads have become more widely used as ornamental plants. Originally only found in royal botanical gardens or the private greenhouses of wealthy Europeans, their popularity has spread to the masses. Today bromeliads are more available to the enthusiast than ever before. New species are still being discovered and plant breeders are developing ever more stunning hybrids to choose from.
Click HERE to view a terrific article on the symbolism of the pineapple.
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Some articles courtesy of Bromeliad Society International – adapted for the San Diego region