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Catopsis berteroniana

C. berteroniana.jpg

Range: southern Florida and northern South America, into southern Brazil

This bromeliad is an epiphyte found in tree canopies from the southern tip of Florida through the Caribbean into the northern half of South American rainforests, growing in mosses and detritus collected on the branches of its host trees typically high up where few branches shade it. Plants may reach up to 45 cm tall, with a spreading rosette of erect, parallel to lanceolate leaves tapering to a point that set into each other to form pools in the leaf axils and central urn. Coloration is bright green to yellowish, coated with a whitish wax powder to prevent insects from gaining footholds. Flower stalks arise from the center of the plant, sheathed in bracts along the main stem and branching into racemes of alternating small, delicate yellowish flowers. After blooming, plants may form pups around the base before the main plant dies off. This species is known in South America as “Lampera de la selva,” or Jungle Lantern, due to the bright yellow color and its position on open branches of trees like a hanging lamp. Though this species has not yet been recorded producing digestive enzymes, it is reportedly more efficient at capturing insects than other species even in the same genus and plays host to mosquito and other larvae as well as bacteria that digest captured prey.

Cultivation: Grow in a soil mix of peat and heavy perlite, sphagnum, or composts of wood bark, kept moist but well aerated and with high humidity. Temperatures should be elevated as well, kept between 60-90°F year round. Fill urns with fresh water as needed, and grow  in full sun.

Lifespan and reproduction: perennial. Reproduces via flowering and seed (after which the main plant dies) and afterwards offshoots that are sent out.

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