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Tank bromeliads: Nutritional supplements

The cisterns of some bromeliads do more than just store water. In these little pools, a bustling ecosystem of insects, crustaceans, snails, spiders, frogs and small reptiles can develop. There are more than 400 species of animals known to inhabit bromeliad tanks!

So what does the bromeliad get from hosting all these houseguests?

It gets fertilizer from the excretory products of the animals’ metabolic processes. The bromeliad absorbs water, and any nutrients dissolved in it, through specialized scale-like structures. It’s too complicated to construct such a miniature ecosystem here in the conservatory, so our gardeners intentionally add suitable nutrients to the tanks of our bromeliads.
In the wild, though, a constant struggle for resources is being fought. It should come as no surprise, then, that other plants try to forage for nutrients in the bromeliad tanks. Some carnivorous plants even snatch small creatures straight from the pools! For example, certain species of bladderwort send out long shoots from bromeliad to bromeliad and catch tiny aquatic animals in their bladder-like traps.

Audio file download
Tank bromeliads: Nutritional supplements (MP3, 545 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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