Click here to see enlargement of front cover Pitcher Plants of the Americas
By Stewart McPherson
The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company
ISBN 0-939923-75-0
Click here to see enlargement of front cover

New Book Features Brocchinia and Catopsis Species
Review by Karen Andreas

I have to report that I am thrilled to find considerable information about three rarely cultivated and little-known bromeliads in Pitcher Plants of the Americas by Steward McPherson. While this book mainly discusses conventionally recognized pitcher plants, Mr. McPherson makes his case that three bromeliads, by virtue of their physical structures and their abilities to lure and trap insects, deserve consideration and inclusion in discussions of carnivorous plants.

The introduction to this book is followed by a discussion of carnivorous plants and their taxonomy as well as evolution. This book is written in layman's terms and is easily accessible in the way its information is presented. The book is further divided into chapters devoted to each genus of pitcher plant, and the first two deal with bromeliads. The book concludes with discussions of "Habitat Loss and Extinction", "Cultivation and Horticulture", a glossary, bibliography and index. Regardless of whether your interest is in bromeliads or in pitcher plants, the photographs in this book are wonderful.

When was the last time you read a description of Brocchinia hechtiodes, Brocchinia reducta, and Catopsis berteroniana as well as a discussion of their habitats, their symbiotic relationships with their environments, methods of attracting and trapping insects, and detailed information about their distribution? Eighteen pages are devoted to the Brocchinia and twelve to the Catopsis. The eighteen habitat pictures (including one that fills two pages) in the two chapters are outstanding (more bromeliad pictures are elsewhere in the book). Maps of the ranges of these bromeliads as well as botanical drawings of their anatomical structures are also included. The photographs illustrate the discussion of habitat so that you can see and understand exactly the communities and growing conditions of these bromeliads. In one of the concluding chapters of the book is a cogent discussion of habitat loss, with mention of the Mexican bromeliad weevil and its threat to Catopsis berteroniana in south Florida.

In all likelihood, Brocchinia hechtiodes, Brocchinia reducta, and Catopsis berteroniana depend on the natural decomposition of the insects trapped within as well as the assistance of symbiotic partners such as frogs to extract the nutrients from its victims, although the complete absence of enzymes and bacteria such as conventional pitcher plants employ have yet to be completely ruled out. Whether or not you question if Brocchinia hectiodes, Brocchinia reducta and Catopsis berteroniana should be included in a book about pitcher plants, Pitcher Plants of the Americas offers enough concise information, habitat pictures and descriptions about the three species to make it a book to include in any serious bromeliad library.

Pitcher Plants of the Americas by Stewart McPherson, 2007, 328 pages, 227 full-color pictures, 12 black and white figures. Softcover (0-939923-74-2) $34.95; hardcover (0-939923-75-0) $44.95, plus shipping and handling. McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 431_B East College Street, Granville, OH 43023, 1-800-233-8787. You can find ordering information here:

Proceeds from this book support the efforts of Meadowview Biological Station to protect critical habitat. More information can be found at