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69(2c pp. 5) (PDF/A 3227 KBytes) published online: April 22 2020 Airplant Aerialists on the High-Wire
Bruce HolstCircus tightrope artists do their best to remain in contact with the wire -- their goal is staying alive while making a living and entertaining crowds. With tightrope plant artists, their goal is finding a niche to grow and reproduce. Bromeliads are masters of the high-wire, and to my knowledge, the only group of vascular plants that can maintain a perch on wire lines high in the air well enough to flower and set seeds that then drift on the air currents to new perches, be-it wire or wood. The Tillandsioideae are the best skilled aerialists, being mostly represented on high wires by atmospheric tillandsias or air-plants, though small tank-forming species of Tillandsia and Catopsis have also been observed on wires.
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