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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - April 23, 2012

From: Warwick, RI
Region: Northeast
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Source for air plant from Warwick RI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Would you know of any store in Rhode Island that would sell the air plant (tillandsia plant)? I've been searching around and no luck! I would appreciate the help!! Thank you and take care

ANSWER:

We are always touched that our patrons are convinced that we know everything. Sorry, we don't have a list of stores in Rhode Island that have an airplant. Heck, we probably couldn't find one in Austin, where we live.

Another problem is the common name you have given us. There are a number of plants that are consided "air plants," all members of the Tillandsia genus. They can all be considered epiphytes. Here is an article on What is an epiphyte?

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is centered on plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they grow naturally, which in this case seems to be the Southeast and Texas, at least of those native to North America. Here are the five members of the Tillandsia genus that are in our Native Plant Database

Tillandsia baileyi (Giant ball moss) - native only to Texas

Tillandsia fasciculata (Giant airplant) - native to Florida and Georgia

Tillandsia recurvata (Small ball moss) - native to Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas

Tillandsia setacea (Air plant) - native to Florida and Georgia

Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss) - southeastern states

We tried Googling "sources of air plant in Rhode Island," and found one article that might be of interest to you:

Air Plants Tillandsia is apparently is a mail order nursery for air plants.

You will note that none of these plants are native to Rhode Island. If you grew them, they would almost have to be indoors or in a greenhouse, due to climate. Is there any chance you were looking for an airplane plant? That house plant, native to South and West Africa, is sometimes also called a spider plant. Follow the airplane plant link to an article about them. Beyond that, we don't seem to be able to help you.

Pictures of air plants

Pictures of airplane/spider plants 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Giant ball moss
Tillandsia baileyi

Christmas mistletoe
Phoradendron tomentosum

Spanish moss
Tillandsia usneoides

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