I took these photos on a recent visit to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The plant looked somewhat familiar to me, but I couldn’t put a name to it. After rummaging through the garden’s plant database, I finally identified it as billbergia nutans. That name sounded even more familiar and a quick check revealed it was a plant I grew in my (tropical) garden in Washington State. There, it was an annual or one to be overwintered indoors. Here, it grows year-round.
Billbergia nutans is native to South America. It’s commonly known as queens tears or friendship plant, the latter because it is an easy plant to split and share. It’s an epiphytic bromeliad, meaning it is shallow rooted and gets most of its moisture and nutrients from the air and from rainfall through the leaves and flowers.
For more information about Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, go to htbg.com.