IUCN Carnivorous Plant Specialist Group
Who We Are
What We Do
IUCN Red List
Genera of Carnivorous Plants
Species of Most Concern
What is a
Commonly called the ‘tropical pitcher plants’, the genus
includes some of the largest and most obviously carnivorous of all the different carnivorous plant groups.
All species of
produce ordinary looking photosynthetic leaves from a central stem, but unusually, the vein in the middle of the leaf extends outwards to form a tendril. In addition to helping taller growing
species to climb, these tendrils have the potential to produce remarkable pitcher leaves.
These pitchers are open at the top and usually contain a fluid into which the plant secretes digestive enzymes. In this way, the pitchers of
are comparable to open stomachs! At the top of the pitcher is a specialised rim, called the ‘peristome’, and also a lid which may secrete nectar to attract insect prey. In most species, the peristome has evolved to be very slippery on the microscopic scale, ensuring that a proportion of the animals visiting the pitchers will slip and tumble down into the fluid below. There, they are eventually digested and the released nutrients are absorbed by the plant.
are carnivorous, and some unusual species trap leaf litter from the rainforest canopy above, while others have even evolved to act as toilets for rainforest tree shrews and rats!
are found across much of Southeast Asia, with strongholds in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, while a few species are known from outlying areas such as Madagascar, the Seychelles, Palau and New Caledonia.
grow in tropical habitats that are either permanently or seasonally moist, and most will not survive drying out completely. Many species are found in lowland rainforests, but even more are known from tropical mountain tops, where greater access to light, more regular rains and less competition from other plants allows them to thrive.
What is the Conservation Status of
Some species of
are widespread, but all species are threatened with habitat loss, particularly in the lowlands where large trees are felled for wood, or forests cleared for agriculture, industry and housing.
That said, the majority of
species occur on mountain tops, and many of them are known from only one mountain. Despite being sometimes difficult to get to, many species are highly vulnerable to habitat disturbance, and poaching of these highly ornamental plants for horticulture has had a catastrophic effect on wild populations in some areas. At least two
species are believed to be extinct in the wild, and only careful conservation of remaining species’ habitats will ensure that others do not follow.
can be conserved in a number of ways. One way,
conservation, safeguards their natural habitats so that the plants can continue to flourish in the wild. This can be done in a number of ways, including habitat management and controlled access.
conservation involves maintaining the genetic diversity of plants in botanical gardens and nurseries by cultivating plant material of known provenance. Additional plants produced in this manner can be used as part of reintroduction programmes.
be grown at Home?
are very difficult to grow without specialised equipment, others can be grown very easily in the home. The most tolerant will even make themselves at home on a bright windowsill, though the best specimens are invariable produced when provided with the constant conditions and additional humidity of a greenhouse. In tropical areas,
can be grown outside the home on verandahs or balconies, or even in the garden provided their specific needs are met.
A number of nurseries and societies are dedicated to the cultivation of
and other carnivorous plants. Please see the links page for some reputable suppliers of
in your area. You can be certain that the nurseries listed do not collect material from the wild.
How do I know if a
I buy is Artificially Propagated or taken from the Wild
A number of rare species, or their seeds, can often be found for sale on eBay. In many cases, the material is taken directly from the wild, so caution is strongly advised. If buying from eBay, please take the time to investigate the source of the material, and if in doubt simply ask on one of the many online forums dedicated to the growing of these plants. As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t worth taking the risk.
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