IUCN threat status:

Vulnerable (VU)

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Biology

Nepenthes pitcher plants have evolved carnivorous habits as the answer to growing in extremely nutrient-poor habitats (2) (5). The plants are able to break down and absorb nitrogen and other nutrients from animals, usually invertebrates such as insects, that fall into the pitchers. This supplements any nutrition gained from the soils and therefore allows these plants to survive where others may not. Nepenthes plants attract their prey with nectar, aromas and visual signals such as colour (5). The brim of the pitcher, the peristome, produces the highest amount of nectar, and animals stepping on the slippery, waxy surface of the peristome often fall in. There, unable to escape, they drown in the pitcher fluid and their bodies are broken down by digestive enzymes (2). Unlike other pitcher plants, however, recent studies have shown that N. lowii has also adapted to feeding on animal droppings, especially those of birds and tree shrews (4). These plants produce a huge amount of nectar on the underside of the pitcher lid, and the edge of the pitcher is an ideal place for birds and shrews to perch while feeding on the nectar. The wide pitcher opening then collects the animals' excrements, thus feeding the plants (2) (4). Nepenthes are dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants. Likely pollinators include flies, moths, beetles, bugs and ants, which have all been observed visiting the flowers. The fruit takes around three months to develop, and can contain 500 or more seeds, which are very light and have long wings, and are carried by the wind to aid dispersal (2).

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Source: ARKive

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