Friday, August 8, 2014

The one and only - Nepenthes

    This week we've received this fantastic plant, I had seen it a few years ago, but not that big and that plenty of pitchers. I fall in love, and it's "function" to attract bugs, flies and that kind of little annoying animals, is really cool. It is known as a tropical pitcher plant or monkey cups. The name "monkey cups" comes from the fact that monkeys love to drink the rain water which is gathered inside its pitchers.  It is from the Nepenthaceae monotypic family with origins from South China, going through Malaysia, Indonesia to the Philippines. They occur in a variety of habitats, from the misty rainforests high in the mountains to the warm open grasslands at the foot of the mountains. Two species could be found in Madagascar , one on the Seychelles , three in Australia. The genus consists of 150 species, and a number of cultivated hybrids. The place to enjoy this flower is on Borneo.  A lot of of the species are humid lovers, hot preferable atmosphere, but the majority are  tropical montane plants. Living in a warm environment but cool to cold, humid nights.

Most of Nepenthes species consist of a shallow root system and climbing stem, often several metres long and up to 15 m or more ( in nature), and usually 1 cm or less in diameter. From the stems arise alternate, sword-shaped leaves with entire leaf margins. An extension of the midrib protrudes from the tip of the leaf; at the end of the tendril the pitcher forms. The pitcher starts as a small bud and gradually expands to form a globe- or tube-shaped trap.
There are two types of pitchers which Nepenthes produce , it is called leaf dimorphism. The aerial pitchers (the upper ones) are most of the times smaller. They possess different features from the lower pitchers, and are often coloured differently.  Near the base of the plant are the large lower traps. Prey usually consists of insects, but the largest species may occasionally catch small vertebrates like rats or lizards. We can separate two distinct groups: highland and lowlands.  Most of Nepenthes are easy to grow, and easily adapt to most homes. Grow it in a bright sunny position, bright light but not direct. The best temperature is 18-27 C, at night : 7-18 C. Sprinkle every day, preferably with rain water, keep soil moist. Do not add water directly into the pitchers, And don't feed them by yourself. They need small amount of insects, and will do it on their own. Try to keep the plant in a moisty environment. Repot it every year.

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