Scientists Say: Bromeliad

These houseplants are both helpful and handsome


A pineapple is a type of bromeliad.

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Bromeliad (noun, “Bro-ME-lee-add”)

This is a word used to describe plants in the family Bromeliaceae. These plants grow in the tropics, the region around the Earth’s equator. But they are popular in cooler places as indoor houseplants. Some grow on the ground. Others are epiphytes and grow on trees. Their long, often spiky leaves form a circle, leaving a bowl in the center where water collects. Animals such as tree frogs may use the water as a place to lay their eggs. The leaves come not only in shades of green, but also in other colors such as red and white.

Famous bromeliads include the pineapple. It’s a delicious treat on its own, but its stem also contains the enzyme bromelain, which is used to tenderize meat.

In a sentence

Bromeliads are more than ornamental — their leaves can suck up pollutants from the air. 

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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