Aug 6, 2009

Philippine Fairytale

When two missionaries in the Philippines tasked themselves with hiking up Mt. Victoria, they got more than they bargained for. The fact that they got lost for 13 days in their ill-prepared attempt was more than made up for (among botanists, at least) by what they found. It seems like something out of a fairytale, complete with pink ferns and blue mushrooms. And to make sure it is a true fairytale, complete with danger lurking in the shadows: a carnivorous plant.

Their talk of finding large pitcher plants prompted a 2-month expedition by pitcher plant experts in the hinterlands of the Phillipines. They did indeed find a pitcher plant so large that it not only dines on the more mundane insects, but also on creatures as large as rats (and small, wayward children who don't obey their parents). This new species is named Nepenthes attenboroughii after David Attenborough.

I'll be telling my own version of this fairytale to my daughters tonight, except these pitcher plants will actually be fairy traps employed by the evil Enchanter. The plot needs some polishing, but I think they'll dig it...

Thanks for the article, Monica.

Photo source: HortLog

7 comments:

Sharlene said...

its spelled philiPPines.

Raging Wombat said...

Thanks, Sharlene.

niner said...

These plants are so creepy! A nursery close to us had a much smaller version on display and it had many blooms on it. I couldn't bring myself to get too close; afraid it would latch on my face and suck my brains out.

Cat said...

I LOVE carnivourous plants. I used to have a little book all about them and read it constantly, but since we moved I don't know where it is anymore. :-(

3Anon said...

I used to have a bunch of carnivorous plants.... sigh... those were the days...

anyway, I believe N. truncata is the tallest Nep out there, but there are a lot of damn HUGE nep species. My favorite is probably N. bicalcarata, how can you not love a plant with "fangs"? (http://www.carnivorousplants.org/gallery/images_br/nbica01.jpg)

Here's a pic of a N. truncata that caught a mouse- http://icps.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=nepenthes&action=display&thread=675

niner said...

WOW, thanks for the links, anon3. I've seen a lot of these plants but missed the "N. bicalcarata". I love those fangs!

Some orchids are just as creepy as these plants; I should send some photos in.

The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls said...

They look like you could play them like a bugle, or make soup in one. Dangerous, yes, but oh so interesting.