Nepenthes - the Monkey Cups
TRAP TYPE: Pitfall Trap
Currently 90 listed species (click
here) occupying tropical habitats in Australia, Madagascar, Papua
New Guinea, the Seychelles, Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.
Nepenthes, a native of Southeast Asia and Australia, forms
pitchers (cups) that hang from trees. Its pitcher is similar to that
of the North American pitcher plant in that it relies on a pool of water
to trap its prey. It has a most unusual leaf that first looks like a
normal leaf, then develops a tendril at its tip, and finally the tip
of the tendril develops an amazing pitcher. It gains support by twining
the tendril around another plant. The trap, like our own pitcher plant,
lures its prey into the pitfall trap by a combination of decaying odors
and sometimes a red coloration. As the pitcher develops, it swells and
droops due to its weight.
As it matures, it suddenly begins inflates with air. Once inflated
it begins to fill with liquid, then opens, revealing the enticing interior.
The top of the trap has a lid that initially covers the pitcher until
growth is complete. When the leaf is fully grown, the lid opens and
the trap is ready.
They attract insects with the odor of nectar. Once inside, the insect
finds it cannot get a grip on the walls of the pitcher because a flaky
wax on the interior surface peels off as it struggles to climb. Eventually,
it falls into the water and struggles to escape. The motion caused by
the struggle stimulates digestive glands to release a digestive acid.
This acid is so strong that a midge will disappear within hours. The
largest of these, the Rajah pitcher, is able to digest mice! Like our
own pitcher plant, this one too has its live inhabitants, the largest
of which is a small crab.
Insect larvae feed on the decaying remains of prey. Others live in
the upper levels and dip down occasionally to seize one of the larval
inhabitants. In one case, the plant provides a chamber in its stem where
ants live. The ants venture to the pitchers, grab some of the decaying
prey, and sit on the lip of the pitcher to dismember it. As they break
apart the body, pieces fall back into the pitcher's awaiting pool, where
the now smaller fragments decay more quickly than would a whole insect.
As you can see, this page is being developed. There are currently 91
listed species of Nepenthes.
Ca. 90 Listed Species:
N. adnata Tamin & Hotta ex Schlauer, 1994
| N. alata Blanco, 1837 |
N. albo-marginata Lobb ex Lindl., 1849 |
N. ampullaria Jack, 1823 | N.
anamensis Macfarlane, 1908 | N. argentii
M.Jebb & Cheek, 1997 | N. aristolochioides
M.Jebb & Cheek, 1997 | N. bellii
Kondo, 1969 | N. benstonei C.Clarke,
1999 | N. bicalcarata Hook.f., 1998
| N. bongso Korth.
| N. boschiana Korth. | N.
burbidgeae Hook.f. ex Burb., 1882 |
N. campanulata Sh.Kurata, 1973 | N.
clipeata Danser, 1928 | N. danseri
M.Jebb & Cheek, 1997 | N. deaniana
Macfarlane, 1908 | N. densiflora Danser,
1940 | N. diatas M.Jebb & Cheek
| N. distillatoria L., 1753
| N. dubia Danser, 1928 |
N. edwardsiana Low ex Hook.f., 1851 |
N. ephippiata Danser, 1928 | N.
eustachya Miq. | N. eymae Sh.Kurata,
1984 | N. faizaliana J.H.Adam &
C.C.Wilcock, 1991 | N. fallax G.Beck,
1895 | N. fusca Danser, 1928
| N. glabrata J.R.Turnbull & A.T.Middleton, 1984
| N. gracilis Korth. | N.
gracillima Ridl., 1908 | N. gymnamphora
Reinw. ex Nees, 1824 | N. hamata J.R.Turnbull
& A.T.Middleton, 1984 | N. hirsuta
Hook.f. | N. inermis Danser, 1928
| N. insignis Danser, 1928
| N. izumiae T.Davis, C.Clarke, & Tamin, 2003
| N. jacquelineae C.Clarke, T.Davis & Tamin, 2001
| N. khasiana Hook.f. | N.
klossii Ridl., 1916 | N. lamii
M.Jebb & Cheek, 1997 | N. lavicola
A.Wistuba & Rischer, 1996 | N. longifolia
L.Nerz & A.Wistuba, 1994 | N. lowii
Hook.f., 1859 | N. macfarlanei Hemsl.,
1905 | N. macrophylla (Marabini) M.Jebb
& Cheek, 1997 | N. macrovulgaris
J.R.Turnbull & A.T.Middleton, 1988 | N.
madagascariensis Poir. | N. mapuluensis
J.H.Adam & C.C.Wilcock, 1990 | N. masoalensis
R.Schmid-Hollinger, 1977 | N. maxima
Reinw., 1824 | N. merrilliana Macfarlane,
1911 | N. mikei B.R.Salmon & R.G.Maulder,
1995 | N. mindanaoensis Sh.Kurata
| N. mira M.Jebb & Cheek, 1998
| N. mirabilis (Lour.) Druce
| N. mollis Danser, 1928 |
N. muluensis Hotta, 1966 | N.
neoguineensis Macfarlane, 1910 | N.
northiana Hook.f., 1881 | N. ovata
J.Nerz & A.Wistuba, 1994 | N. paniculata
Danser, 1928 | N. papuana Danser,
1928 | N. pervillei Blume
| N. petiolata Danser, 1928 |
N. philippinensis Macfarlane, 1908 |
N. pilosa Danser, 1928 | N. platychila
C.C.Lee, 2002 | N. pyriformis Sh.Kurata
| N. rafflesiana Jack, 1823
| N. rajah Hook.f., 1859 |
N. reinwardtiana Miq. | N. rhombicaulis
Sh.Kurata, 1973 | N. sanguinea Lindl.,
N. sibuyanensis J.Nerz, 1998 | N.
singalana Becc., 1886 | N. spathulata
Danser, 1935 | N. spectabilis Danser,
1928 | N. stenophylla Mast., 1890
N. talangensis J.Nerz & A.Wistuba, 1994
| N. tentaculata Hook.f. |
N. tenuis J.Nerz & A.Wistuba, 1994 |
N. thorelii Lecomte, 1909 | N.
tobaica Danser, 1928 | N. tomoriana
Danser, 1928 | N. treubiana Warb.,
1891 | N. truncata Macfarlane, 1911
| N. veitchii Hook.f., 1859
| N. ventricosa Blanco | N.
vieillardii Hook.f. | N. villosa Hook.
| N. vogelii Schuit. & de Vogel,
American Journal of Botany abstracts for research papers about Nepenthes.
• Structure and Development of the Pitchers from the Carnivorous Plant Nepenthes alata (Nepenthaceae),
T. Page Owen, Jr., Kristen A. Lennon - Volume 86, Issue 10, Pages 1382-1390, October, 1999
• Floral Biology of Nepenthes gracilis (Nepenthaceae) in Sumatra,
Makoto Kato - Volume 80, Issue 8, Pages 924-927, August, 1993
• Floral and Fruit Morphology of Nepenthes lowii and N. villosa, Montane Carnivores of Borneo, Robert B. Kaul - Volume 69, Issue 5, Pages 793-803, May/June, 1982
Return to: Carnivorous Plant Index