A friend of mine got a birthday present from abroad : in a box, three very interesting, complicated grey-greenish forms, suspended with iron thread on little wooden cylinders. Wondering what they could be, we first thought they are artificial decorations made of felt. But we understood quick there is life in the little things ! They were real plants, the Tillandsia Caput Medusae (like the head of the famous monster from the greek mythology).
The tillandsias (family of Bromeliads) are cousins ​​with … the pineapple! Native in Central America, they love the Sun and are “epiphytes” because they don’t need earth, neither roots. They grow on trees, rocks, cliffs, cactus … and even phone cables.

Fascinated by this discovery I bought one for me. Ordered by mail, it was not expensive, less than 10 euros. And I’m happy – the leaves are really looking like the snakes on Medusa’s head !
It is autonomous, even if I prefer to spray it once every 10 days with plain water, or immerse it for a few seconds in water. But like all tillandsias, in a more humid atmosphere it could do its very special thanks to the surface of the leaves, capable of absorbing the water from the air and the minerals necessary for their development.
I fixed it with a bit of raffia on a stone I liked the form (remember, glue is forbidden). It made a few roots, but they are merely crampons to cling on the beautiful stone I found of the beach in Calais (and properly rinced from all sea salt).
If I would like to have a bigger tillandsias, I could plant it in a flower pot and it will grow with even more hanging “snakes”.
But I like it as it is, on my desk – a lovely, modest, non pretentious plant.

Photo sculpture Medusa by Bernini – Didatticarte.it di Emanuela Pulvirenti