Carnation of the Air

While visiting friends in Mulchen last year, we happened upon a plant growing suspended from a branch, much like the Spanish moss in the southeastern part of the U.S. Commonly known as Clavel del Aire, or Carnation of the Air in English, it derives its water and nutrients solely from the air, and belongs to the same Tillandsia genus, as the Spanish moss.

The leaves, if one may call it that, are thin and spindly, giving it an appearance of an incredibly withered aloe vera plant. Two root-like shoots extend from the bottom. Its color is that of grey-green.

Having never seen one before, I was incredulous about its ability to survive without any intervention, and kept asking my mate whether he was certain that it didn’t need to be immersed in water, or at least sprayed once in a while. After several reassuring affirmations of the plant’s ability to thrive, it was left suspended in a wine rack sitting on a window’s ledge. After awhile, I forgot that it was even in the apartment.

It wasn’t until I decided to undertake “balcony farming,” and needed to use all available sills for seeding vegetables, that the lonely plant was remembered. However, having grown accustomed to an unhampered co-existence, I simply pushed it further and further away from the window, in favor of new seedlings, until it finally ended up on the dining table, awaiting another relocation.

I didn’t give this self-sufficient plant another glance or thought until this morning, when I decided to move it yet again. So, it was much to my utter amazement to find the most amazing flower bud protruding from it’s top. It is long, rosy-pink, and has two purple extensions that make the bud look like it has eyes. From the plant that has, for months, looked like it was half dead, the last thing that I expected to find was the blossoming of life.

For purposes of a photo, I propped my Carnation of the Air in a glass. However, before leaving the apartment to head to the office, I took the time to give my unexpected joy it’s rightful place back on the window sill.


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