Brocchinia reducta

B. reducta.jpg

Range: Southern Venezuela through upper tip of Brazil, west into Columbia

One of 3 carnivorous bromeliads currently recognized, this species grows in the northern region of South America in sandy soils or sandstone flats on loose soil within open vegetation on the Gran Sabana and the tepuis. Plants may reach upwards of 50 cm high, with a natural growth form of erect parallel leaves forming an upright, narrow tube surrounding the central urn. Coloration is typically bright yellow-green; in cultivation many plants possess broader spreading leaves of a deep green color due to lower light, but typically maintain the central urn. The inner leaf surfaces are covered in slick, waxy scales that appear like a whitish powder that insects and other organisms are unable to grasp, making them fall into the pool of water in the urn. An enzyme called phosphatase has been measured being produced by the plant itself alongside bacterial digestion, absorbed by small trichome-like glands at the base of the leaves. Flowers are borne on tall stalks, bipinnate, and typically unimpressively yellowish in color.

Cultivation: plant in soil of a 1:1 mix of sphagnum/perlite. Water from the top and let excess water drip out. Do not let temperatures drop below 45°F. Refresh water pools as often as possible. Grow in direct sunlight. Seeds should be sown fresh when produced; plants rarely self-pollinate and almost as rarely produce seeds.

Lifespan and reproduction: Perennial. Reproduces via seeds (rarely) and pups produced around the base of the plant, after production of such the mother plant may die off. May also be propagable via leaf pullings.  

The central insect-catching urn; the waxy powder that prevents insects from gripping the leaves is visible on the leaf to the right.

Development of pups at the base of the mother plant. These can usually be readily separated.