Brocchinia reducta is one of few carnivorous bromeliads. It is native to southern Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, and is found in nutrient-poor soil.
B. reducta, like many other bromeliads, forms a water-storing cup with its tightly-overlapping leaves. The leaves surrounding the cup of B. reducta are coated with loose, waxy scales. These scales are highly reflective of ultraviolet light. Since many insects are attracted to ultraviolet (it is also reflected by many flowers), this is an efficient lure. The water in the cup also emits a sweet odor, which may serve to attract ants and other insects.
The scales, being loose, provide a poor foothold for insects landing on them. The unfortunate creatures slip into the water-filled cup and eventually drown.
It has been argued that B. reducta is not actually carnivorous in the sense of other such plants because the production of digestive enzymes could not be found. However, in 2005 it was shown that the plant produces at least phosphatase and thus is a carnivorous plant in sensu stricto. The enzymes and bacteria digest the trapped insects and thus release the nutrients for absorption by the leaves.
Gonzalez, J.M., K. Jaffe & F. Michelangeli 1991. Competition for Prey Between the Carnivorous Bromeliaceae Brocchinia reducta and Sarraceniaceae Heliamphora nutans. Biotropica 23(4B): 602604.
Givnish, T.J., Burkhardt, E.L., Happel, R.E. & Weintraub, J.D. (1984). Carnivory in the bromeliad Brocchinia reducta, with a cost/benefit model for the general restriction of carnivorous plants to sunny, moist, nutrient-poor habitats. American Naturalist 124: 479-497.
Plachno, B. J.; Jankun, A.: Phosphatase Activity in Glandular Structures of Carnivorous Plant Traps., International Botanical Congress 2005 Vienna, P1716, The Jagiellonian Univ., Inst. of Botany, Dept. of Plant Cytology and Embryology, Krakow,Poland.
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