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Monday, May 24, 2010

Nature's Savages Part 1

Carnivorous plants are plants which obtains most of their nutrients through trapping insects. They are a diverse group and can be on every continent except Antarctica. The main trapping mechanisms are pitfall traps, flypaper traps, snap traps, bladder traps, and lobster-pot traps.

Nepenthes, also known as Monkey Cups and Tropical Pitcher Plants, are a group of pitcher plants found mainly in Southeast Asia with a few species in India, Australia and Madagascar. They trap insects using pitchers which lure insects with nectar and bright colours. The insect will then slip into the pitcher and drown, before being digested by the plant's enzymes.

Here are some of my pitcher plants.

N. rafflesiana are very variable with different shapes and colours for each variety

N. Rafflesiana 'Kondo var Alata'

N. rafflesiana 'Bau Red Giant'

N. rafflesiana 'Kuching Squat Red'

N. albomarginata produces a white substance around the peristome(lips) of the pitcher. This substance attract termites, the primary source of food for it.

Black form of N. albormaginata.

N. albomarginata 'Cameron Highlands'

N. truncata, easily identified from its truncate/heart shaped leaves.

N. hirsuta

N. sibuyanensis, a very very fussy highlander (nepenthes are divided into lowlanders and highlanders). The mian vine rarely produces pitchers for me in my lowland conditions, but the basals (new growth from near the roots) are actively producing new pitchers.

And much more next time!


  1. I am not real familiar with these types of plants. It is just the neatest thing that plants get fed that way. Hope you have a good day Aaron.

  2. Funny that one has heart shaped leaves. Looks cool he he... Is the pitcher very different from the rest? Btw, do you pour a little water into the pitcher after you dropped insect(s) into it?

    Enjoy your pitchers! They seems to be doing really well :-D

  3. @Becca

    Thanks. There are also North American, Australian and even South American versions of these plants.


    The pitcher is shown just below the heart-shaped leaf photo. It is green (some highland varieties can turn pinkish or even reddish) and N. truncata produces one of the largest pitchers, up to 40 cm!

    Pouring water into the pitchers is discouraged since they produce their own fluids and the added water will disturb the chemical properties and enzymes inside it. However, if the pitcher is somehow empty (accidentally poured, etc.), then you may fill it to prevent it from drying up.

  4. Aaron, if possible, can you tell me what type of insects each of these plants eat? I'm gonna get the one that eats termites. If I know of any that eat flies, mosquitoes, and other bad insects, that'll be great.

    Pitcher plants are called "zhu long cao" (pig cage plants) and considered auspicious in Chinese culture. The cups which store water are believed to attract and store wealth, so it is very popular during the Chinese New Year season. I'm going to link this post to my "Auspicious Plants for CNY" post dated 25 Jan 2010, so I hope you don't mind.

  5. These plants consume anything that fall into their traps. Flies and ants are usual preys. Some big ones can even eat small mammals, birds, frogs and lizards! The one that eats termite is hard to find here (only one nursery here has it) but one visit to Cameron Highland and you'll find so many species (especially near Cactus Valley and YG Park).

    I don't mind it if you link this to the you post. In fact, I'm honored!

  6. I love these - your photos are cool Aaron. Do you grow the carnivorous bromeliads?

  7. Thanks. Nope I don't have the carnivorous bromeliads. They are very hard to find here.

  8. Amazing.
    I didn't know there are so many species of pitcher plant...
    Is there one that will attract female mosquitoes (those that prey on mammals) and eat them?