Pitcher Plant Family

Peter Anderson & Roger Spencer

Perennial, mostly woody climbing or scrambling terrestrial, epiphytic or shrubby insectivorous plants. Leaves alternate, often with a winged stalk, the strap-like blade extended into a tendril and the tip forming a lidded insect-catching pitcher which has a thickened, ribbed rim and 2 ribbed or fringed wings on side opposite point of lid attachment; stipules absent. Flowers unisexual, on separate plants, small and in spike-like clusters. Sepals free, mostly 4 but occasionally 3, petals 0 and stamens 8-25 with the filaments united into a central column. Female flowers with a discoid stigma. Carpels mostly 4, united, mostly 4 with 4 chambers containing numerous seeds having axile placentation. Ovary superior. Fruit a capsule. Insects are attracted to the pitcher by its secretion of sweet substances and colour patterns, slipping down the smooth, waxy sides to drown in the liquid at the bottom. Special glands release digestive fluids into the pitcher liquid.

Stem cuttings and seed, occasionally by air layering more recently by tissue culture.

Pitchers at the leaf tips; flowers unisexual, the sexes on separate plants.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha; Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Melbourne Gardens), Tropical House; Dingley Home and Garden, Dingley, Victoria; Garden World, Collector's Corner, Keysborough, Victoria.

1 genus with c. 140 species extending from Madagascar, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, SE Asia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the northern tip of Australia (1 species) and New Caledonia; there is a centre of distribution in Borneo.

Popular: Kurata (1976), Slack (1979), Jebb (1991), Cheers (1992), Ohlenrott (1995). Journals: Australian Carnivorous Plant Society Newsletters and Bulletins.

Source: Anderson, P.; Spencer, R. (1997). Nepenthaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Caryophyllanae
order      Caryophyllales
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
genus        Nepenthes L.