Nepenthes (Indonesian name : Kantung Semar )
Nepenthes can also refer to Nepenthe, a drug of forgetfulness mentioned in Greek mythology.
The Nepenthes (IPA pronunciation: /nə.pɛnˈθiz/, from Greek: ne = not, penthos = grief, sorrow; named after the ancient drug Nepenthe), popularly known as Tropical Pitcher Plants or Monkey Cups, are a genus of carnivorous plants in the monotypic family Nepenthaceae that comprises roughly 116 species, numerous natural and many cultivated hybrids. They are vine forming plants of the Old World tropics, ranging from South China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines; westward to Madagascar (2 species) and the Seychelles (1); southward to Australia (3) and New Caledonia (1); and northward to India (1) and Sri Lanka (1). The greatest diversity occurs on Borneo and Sumatra with many endemic species. Many are plants of hot humid lowland areas, but the majority are tropical montane plants, receiving warm days but cool to cold humid nights year round. A few are considered tropical alpine with cool days and nights near freezing. The name 'Monkey Cups' refers to the fact that monkeys have been observed drinking rainwater from these plants.
Morphology and function
The plants usually consist of a shallow root system and a prostrate or climbing stem, often several metres long, and usually 1 cm or less in diameter, although this may be thicker in a few species (e.g. N. bicalcarata). From the stems arise leaf-like expanded petioles, similar to certain Citrus spp., ending in a tendril, which in some species aid in climbing, and at the end of which forms the pitcher, considered the true leaf. The pitcher starts as a small bud and gradually expands to form a globe- or tube-shaped trap.
Basic structure of an upper pitcher
The trap contains a fluid of the plant's own production, which may be watery or syrupy and is used to drown the prey. The lower part of the trap contains glands which absorb nutrients from captured prey. For detailed information on the digestion process, see the External Links section. 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 (the "lip") which is slippery and often quite colorful, attracting 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 underside of which may contain nectar glands which attract prey.
Nepenthes usually produce two different types of pitchers. Appearing near the base of the plant are the large lower traps, which typically sit on the ground, while the upper pitchers may be smaller, colored differently, and have different features than the lower pitchers. These upper pitchers usually form as the plant reaches maturity and the plant grows taller. To keep the plant steady, the upper pitchers form a loop in the tendril, allowing it to wrap around nearby support. In some species (e.g. N. rafflesiana) different 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. Seed is produced in a four-sided capsule which may contain 10-60 or more seeds, consisting of a central ovary and two wings, one on either side. Seeds are wind distributed.
Nepenthes may be cultivated in greenhouses. Easier species include N. alata, N. ventricosa, N. khasiana, and N. sanguinea. These four species are highlanders (N. alata has both lowland and highland forms), some easy lowlander species are N. rafflesiana, N.bicalcarata, N.mirabilis, and N.hirsuta.
"Highlander" forms are those species that grow in habitats that are generally higher up in elevation, and thus exposed to cooler evening temperatures. "Lowlander" forms are those species that grow nearer to sealevel.
Both forms respond best to rainwater (but tap water works as long as you flush it out with rainwater every month), bright light (not full sun), a well drained but moisture holding medium, good air circulation and a relatively high humidity. Highland species must have night-time cooling to thrive in the long-term. Chemical fertilisers are probably best avoided or used at low strength. Occasional feeding with frozen (thawed before use) crickets may be beneficial. Terrarium culture of smaller plants like N. bellii, N. × trichocarpa and N. ampullaria is possible, but most plants will get too large over time.
Plants can be propagated by seed, cuttings, and tissue culture. Seeds may be sown on damp chopped Sphagnum moss, or on sterile plant tissue culture media once they have been properly disinfected. The seeds generally become inviable soon after harvesting, so seed are not usually the preferred method of propagation. A 50:50 mixture of orchid medium with moss or perlite is suitable for germination and culture. Seed may take two months to germinate, and two years or more to yield mature plants. Cuttings may be rooted in damp Sphagnum moss in a plastic bag or tank with high humidity and moderate light. They can begin to root in 1-2 months and start to form pitchers in about six months.
Tissue culture is now used commercially and helps reduce collection of wild plants, as well as making many rare species available to hobbyists at reasonable prices. Nepenthes are considered threatened or endangered plants and are listed in CITES appendices 1 & 2.
Taken From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia