Tillandsia tenuifolia is often referred to as a narrow-leafed air plant. It has thin, pine-needle like leaves. This air plant is found growing densely in the eastern parts of South America, and also on most of the Caribbean Islands. It is found anywhere between sea level and high up on the cliffs of 2000 meter mountain ranges.
Tenuifolia forms large clumps from rock crevices or tree branches. It does well in areas with dry thickets to more moist conditions of evergreen forests. This species is monocarpic (each rosette bearing fruit only one time during its existence). An average adult is normally about 8 cm across and 12-15 cm high (flowering to 30 cm). The relatively short leaves are green, turning to often give the appearance of pine needles.
As with most other air plants, Tenuifolia has little or no roots, but draws in moisture and food from its leaves. The name given to this small, grass-like tillandsia in 1797 by Linnaeus is the combination of the Latin words, “tenuis” = thin, and “folium” = leaf, hence finely leaved tillandsia.
It produces a few purple flowers with pink to red bracts.