blank'/> muhilneel: Carnivorous Plants - Brocchinia

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Carnivorous Plants - Brocchinia


P.Tamizh Muhil Neelamegam

                   Brocchinia is a genus of bromeliads with about 20 known species. Among them, Brocchinia hechtioides and Brocchinia reducta are carnivores, since they entrap the insects. They live in swampy savannas on the top of the Venezulan tepuys.Their erect, yellow leaves have a cylindrical shape with a waxy slippery powder in the inner surface. The liquid emits a nectarious smell, and the leaves  contain trichomes which helps in absorbing the digested amino acids.The liquid is highly acidic. A sweet odor emanating from the tank may be the means of attracting insects.  

               Brocchinia reducta forms a water-storing cup with its tightly-overlapping leaves. The leaves surrounding the cup of Brocchinia reducta are coated with loose, waxy scales. These scales are highly reflective of ultraviolet light. Since many insects are attracted to ultraviolet (since it is reflected also by many flowers), this is an efficient lure. Mostly, ants and small insects are captured by this plant.

                  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 Brocchinia reducta is not actually carnivorous in the sense of other such plants, because it does not produce pepsin or any other digestive proteases. However, bacteria and fungi digest the trapped insects, and the leaves are capable of absorbing the resulting nutrients.

                       The genus name Brocchinia honors the Italian botanist Giovanni Battista Brocchi (1772-1826). As far as I know, there are no "common names" for Brocchinia.

tepuy , is a table-top mountain or mesa found in the Guiana Highlands of South America, especially in Venezuela.


Interrelationship Between Insects and Plants By Pierre Jolivet, CRC Press, 1998

To be continued....

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