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Silver Star

Common name for a small epiphyte in the family Bromeliaceae, with the botanical designation Tillandsia stricta, and in Thai referred to as ton tillandsia (ต้นทิลแอนด์เซีย), as well as by its generic name, sapparot sih (สับปะรดสี), i.e. ‘coloured pinnaple’. The common English name derives from both its shape and the natural film of glaucous coating, i.e. the fine, silvery powder-like substance that covers the surface of its leaves and which in Thai is called nuan (fig.), yet in the Silver Star it actually consists of microscopically small umbrella-shaped hairs, that are used to collect water and nutrients from the air, and give it the silvery colour. This thick-leafed evergreen originates from the subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, yet is widely found in Southeast Asia as an ornamental plant. As it absorbs water and nutrients through its leaves, which it collects from the air, it grows without soil while attached to other plants. Yet, it is not parasitic, using its roots as anchors and depending on the host only for support. Hence it could also survive on rocks or rock cliffs. As an ornamental plant, it is usually mounted on logs or bark of dead trees, or on dried pong pong seeds. As a perennial flowering plant, it will bloom from March to May, producing small tubular, dark violet to purplish flowers, that grow from lilac bracts. The Silver Star is related to Spanish Moss (fig.), an angiosperm with the botanical name Tillandsia usneoides.