Description from Flora of China
Herbs or rarely shrubs, epiphytic, lithophytic, or terrestrial. Leaves spirally arranged, usually rosulate, sessile, simple, veins parallel, base dilated, sheathing, margin often spinose serrate or sometimes entire. Inflorescence terminal or lateral, scapose or sessile, a panicle, raceme, spike, or head, sometimes reduced to solitary, pseudolateral flowers; bracts usually brightly colored and conspicuous. Flowers bisexual or sometimes functionally unisexual, 3-merous. Sepals and petals each 3, distinct, free or basally connate; petals often brightly colored, basal margin with a pair of scalelike appendages. Stamens 6, in 2 whorls of 3; filaments free, connate, or collectively or individually adnate to petals; anthers 2-celled, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Gynoecium of 3 carpels united to form a compound, 3-loculed, superior or very often partly or wholly inferior ovary; ovules few to usually ± numerous in each locule; placentation axile. Style terminal and often 3-parted; stigmas papillose. Fruit a berry or less often a septicidal capsule, or seldom compound and fleshy. Seeds usually winged or plumose; endosperm mealy; embryo small to fairly large.
Ma Weiliang. 1997. Bromeliaceae. In: Wu Kuo-fang, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 13(3): 64--68.
About 50 genera and 2000--2600 species: mainly tropical America, except for Pitcairnia feliciana (A. Chevalier) Harms & Mildbraed in tropical W Africa; one species (introduced) in China.
(Authors: Ma Weiliang (马炜梁); Bruce Bartholomew)