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PITCHER PLANTS

Introduction
 
The name Nepenthes is derived from Greek: ne = not, penthos = grief, sorrow; referring to the ancient drug “Nepenthe”. Nepenthes is popularly known as Tropical Pitcher Plant or Monkey Cup. Nepenthes is a genus of carnivorous plants in the monotypic family Nepenthaceae that comprises roughly 117 species, and numerous natural and cultivated hybrids. They are vine-forming plants which are commonly found in Southern China, Indo-China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. A few species occur in Madagascar (2 species), the Seychelles (1), Australia (3), New Caledonia (1), India (1) and Sri Lanka (1).
 
Scientific classification
Kingdom
:
Plantae
Division
:
Magnoliophyta
Class
:
Magnoliopsida
Order
:
Caryophyllales
Family
:
Nepenthaceae
Genus
:
Nepenthes
 
The highest diversity occurs in Borneo and Sumatra, where many endemic species are found. Many are plants of the hot and humid tropical lowland, with cool to cold humid nights. A few species are found in tropical alpine zone with cool days and nights near the freezing point. The name ‘Monkey Cup' ( Periuk Kera ) is given because monkeys have been observed drinking water from the pitchers of these plants.
In Borneo, there are 31 species of Nepenthes , of which 15 are found in Sabah.
 
Nepenthes naturally occur in regions shaded green.

 

Morphology and function
 

A pitcher plant usually consists of a shallow root system and a creeping or climbing stem, often several meters long, and usually 1 cm or less in diameter (may be thicker in a few species, e.g., N. bicalcarata ). From the stem arises leaf-like expanded leaf stalks, similar to certain Citrus species, ending in a tendril, which in some species aids in climbing. The end of the tendril forms the pitcher, considered to be the true leaf. The pitcher starts as a small bud and gradually expands to form a round or tube-shaped trap.

The trap contains a fluid which is secreted by the plant, and may be watery or syrupy, and is used to drown the prey. The lower part of the trap contains glands which absorb the nutrients released from the decaying prey. Along the upper inside part of the trap is a slick waxy coating which makes the escape of its prey nearly impossible. Surrounding the entrance to the trap is a structure called the peristome (or ‘lip') which is slippery and often quite colourful, attracting the prey but offering an unsure footing. Above the peristome is a lid (the operculum); in many species this keeps rain from diluting the fluid within the pitcher. The pitcher may contain nectar glands which attract the prey.

 
The basic structure of a Nepenthes pitcher.
 
Nepenthes usually produces two different types of pitchers. Appearing near the base of the plant are the large lower pitchers, which typically sit on the ground, while the upper pitchers may be smaller, colored differently, and have different features from the lower pitchers. These upper pitchers are usually formed as the plant reaches maturity and grows taller. To keep the plant steady, the upper pitcher often forms a loop in the tendril, allowing it to wrap around nearby support. In some species (e.g. N. rafflesiana ), different types of prey may be attracted by different types of pitchers.
 
Prey usually consists of insects, but the largest species ( N. rajah, N. merrilliana , etc .) may occasionally catch small vertebrates, such as rats and lizards. Flowers occur in racemes or more rarely in panicles, with male and female flowers on separate plants. Seeds are produced in a four-sided capsule which contains 10-60 or more seeds, and consists of a central ovary and two wings, one on either side. Seeds are dispersed by wind.
 
Lower pitcher of Nepenthes rafflesiana.
Upper pitcher of Nepenthes rafflesiana.

 

Nepenthes Species In Kebun Cina Forest Reserve
There are 4 species namely, N. ampularia, N. gracilis, N. mirabilis and N. rafflesiana are found in Kebun Cina. All of them occur naturally in the Nepenthes Garden which has been specially built for visitors to observe this interesting group of carnivorous plants.
 

Nepenthes ampularia Jack

This species is widely distributed, from Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra to New Guinea. The typical habitat of the species is in wet soils with thick humus in the kerangas forest, peat swamp forest and degraded swamp forest.

Easily recognized by forming rosettes on the ground and usually without upper pitcher. The lid is narrow and often reflexed.

 
 

Nepenthes gracilis Korthals

Found in Borneo, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Sulawesi. The most widespread and commonly found species. This species can even be found on roadsides regardless of soil types, light and water levels and vegetation types. It is very common in peat swamp and kerangas forests.

This species can be recognized by its slender growth habit with leaf without leaf stalks.

Nepenthes mirabilis (Lour.) Druce

Distributed in Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Maluku, Sulawesi, New Guinea, Australia, Philippines, Java, Indochina, China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Palau island.

Very variable throughout its vast range. The typical form of N. mirabilis has delicate, thin leaves with fimbriate (split) margins. The upper pitcher has distinct ‘hip' about one-third of the way up the pitcher. It is mainly found in open, swampy areas which are frequently inundated.

 
   
 

Nepenthes rafflesiana Jack

Naturally occurs in Borneo, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Typical habitats: open, sandy, wet areas; peat swamp and kerangas forests.

This is one of the most spectacular pitcher plants with large pitchers. This species can be recognized by the raised front part of the peristome. The upper pitchers are either pure green or white, or have a few purple flecks.

 
 
 
 

 

The information provided above is based on the poster(s) displayed at Kebun Cina Gallery.

Click the following link(s) to view the poster(s).

 

 

 

 

 
     
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