This genus, which is found in Brazil, Guiana. Colombia, and Venezuela, was named after the Italian naturalist Giambattista Brocchi (1772-1826). The eighteen known Brocchinia species were traditionally assigned to the subfamily Pitcairnioideae (Smith and Till 1995). However, based on molecular genetic analyses (Horres et al. 2000), Brocchinia and the genus Ayensua, which is known from only a single species (A. uaipanensis) from Uaipan Tepui in northeast Venezuela, are no longer in the Pitcairnioideae but are instead placed before this, basal subfamily directly at the base of the family. The only precarnivorous species is Brocchiniareducta which is describ below.
Brocchinia reducta is a terrestrial, perennial, stemless, herbaceous plant that develops funnel-shaped rosettes, growing in groups about 30 -50 cm. high. The plant has only weakly developed roots. A few yellowish green.sessile
Leaves, which are directed almost vertically upward, form a tubular rosette (so-called cistern bromeliad). The leaf laminas have entire margins and are oblong-linear, while the plant's specific epithet reducta refers to the rounded, truncate leaf tips. The plant develops an erect, loosely branched inflorescence borne on a stalk up to xml:namespace prefix = st1 />60 cm. high. The relatively inconspicuous flowers, which are about 5 cm. long and have short peduncles, are seated in the axils of bracts that are about 3 mm in length; the flowers consist of three oval sepals about 4 mm
Long, three white petals, and two rows of three stamens each that are fused to the corolla.Tree carpels are fused to form a trilocular ovary,Numerous elongated seeds develop in the cylindrical capsular fruits.
Brocchinia reducta grows on low-nutrient, sandy-swampy, and open sites in southern Venezuela and neighboring Guiana. It form a characteristic element of the white-sand savannas of Venezuela's Gran Sabana, at elevtions between 500 and 2900 m above sea level (Varadarajan 1986). In this region of the Precambrian Guiana upland plateau, B. reducta is also found on the tepuis, sandstone table mountains.
Brocchinia reducta traps its prey with the aid of leaf rosettes, which are developed as pitfall traps. Attracted by a weak scent that emanates from the cistern liquid and glands at the leaf base, numerous insects (almost exclusively ants and some flying insects) gather at the rim of the tubular leaf rosette. Brocchinia reducta is the only species of the genus that produces this scent. The leaf uppersides are coated with wax, which makes the leaf surfaces very slick, with the result that insects lose their footing and slide down into the cistern liquid. The liquid at the base of the leaf rosette has an unusually low pH value of 2.8- 3.0, but there are no digestive glands. In this precarnivorous Brocchinia species, digestion takes place by bacterial decomposition.
Like the epiphytic bromeliads, Brocchinia reducta also has water-absorbing scales at the base of the foliage leaves. In contrast to most other bromeliads, however, the shield cells of the water-absorbing scales remain functional throughout their lives. The latter have a labyrinthine cell-wall structure that consists of a network of finely branched channels. The resorption of proteins and amino acids (including leucine) from the cistern liquid probably takes place via these channels. Using autoradiographic methods, it was shown that B. reducta resorbs nutrients via the water-absorbing scales; the nutrients are released from dead insects that have fallen into the cisterns.
Brocchinia reducta is difficult to grow and is suitable only for experienced carnivore enthusiasts. Plants should be grown in a temperate to warm greenhouse, where they require high air humidity and a very brightly lit site. Excessive temperatures (over 28°C, 82°F) should be avoided, especially during the summer months. In winter, the plants can be kept at cooler temperatures (16-20°C, 61-68°F). They should be watered regularly, and the cisterns should always be filled with water. Live peat moss (Sphagnum) or a mixture of peat moss and noncalciferous sand are the best growing media. Regular fertilization promotes the plants' growth. Dead plant parts should be removed to prevent fungal disease and putrefactive bacteria.
The plants can be propagated vegetatively by scions. The plant dies after flowering, but plant "pups" then appear. When 3 -10 cm long, these buds can be separated from the dying base and potted on.