A community of its own

By Emma Diltz

MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST RESERVE, Costa Rica — Each bromeliad plant — and the pool of water it holds within its leaves — contains a small ecosystem teeming with life.

This plant, which is in the same family as pineapple, holds many values for a variety of organisms and is spread across much of Latin America and the West Indies, according to Bromeliad Society International.


A bromeliad plant inside the Hummingbird Gallery near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Photo by McGuire McManus

Frogs, various eggs and insects, among other creatures, thrive within a single plant, only to potentially become a feast for a monkey, said Esteban Méndez Vargas, a nature guide for the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

“Monkeys also drink water from the deep crevices in (the bromeliad) and eat the base of the leaf because it’s sweet,” he said.

After the primates have their fill of the foliage, they discard the remains onto the forest floor.

“That’s why, if you ever see (these leaves on the ground), you should keep your eyes peeled because there are probably monkeys around,” Méndez said.

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