Where seen? In Singapore, it is usually found in adinandra
belukar, forest edges or on seaward sides of our natural cliffs
on many of our offshore islands. This plant has the largest pitchers
in Singapore and was first discovered in Singapore in 1819 by Dr William
Jack, the Scottish botanist and surgeon who accompanied Raffles to
Features: A climber that grows
to 10m long or more, producing long tendrils to clamber over trees
and other plants.
It has two kinds of leaves. One kind narrow, oblong (20-30cm long)
leathery with tendril-like tips that may coil around other plants.
The other kind of leaves form pitchers that are vase-shaped or narrowly
funnel-shaped (20-35cm long), green at the base and purplish-red at
the mouth with two prominent ribs. It may have ground pitchers which
are urn- or goblet-shaped (rounder) (5-25cm long) with two fringed
Male and female flowers on separate plants and are pollinated by night-flying
moths and insects. Male flowers tiny, many densely clustered on a
tall spike (80cm long), female flowers green banana-shaped in a cluster.
Fruits reddish capsules which split open explosively releasing thread-like
seeds that disperse in the wind.
Pit of Death: The pitchers are
modified leaves, each with a tiny lid. Nectar is secreted by glands
under the lid or at the lip of the pitcher, which are colourful too.
These attract insects. The pitcher's lip is smooth and inner surface
covered with loose scales of wax that clog up the feet of insects.
Thus a small misstep causes the hapless insect to slide into the fluid
in the pitcher, where it eventually drowns. The resulting nutrients
in the fluid are absorbed by the plant.
Pit of Life: Despite the treacherous
nature of the pitcher, the Nepenthes Crab Spider (Misumenops nepenthicola)
lays its eggs on the inside of the pitcher walls, and ambushes insect
prey that approach the pitchers. According to Butterfly Circle, the
tiny butterfly Pitcher
Blue (Virachola kessuma deliochus) lays its eggs on a maturing
seedpod and the developing caterpillars bore into the pod and devour
the developing seeds, moving onto another pod as it grows, finally
pupating in yet another pod or even inside a pitcher.
Human uses: According to Burkill, the tough stems of pitcher
plants (species not specified) are used in rope making, while the
roots are used to treat stomach aches, dysentery and in poultices.
The stem may be used to treat coughs and fevers.
Status and threats: The plant
is listed as 'Vulnerable' in the Red List of threatened plants of
modified into a pitcher.
Sentosa, Aug 09
Sentosa, Apr 04
Sentosa, Dec 10
Ripe capsules split, releasing thread-like seeds..
St John's Island, Aug 09
pitcher plants on Singapore shores
- Tan, Hugh
T.W. 1997. A Guide to the Carnivorous Plants of SIngapore.
BP Science Centre Guidebook. 176 pp.
- Tan, Hugh
T.W. and T. Morgany. 2001. Growing
the Native Plants of Singapore. BP Science Centre Guidebook.
- Hsuan Keng,
S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan.1998, The
Concise Flora of Singapore II: Monoctyledons
Singapore University Press. 215 pp.
G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore
Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
I. H., 1993. A
Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula.
3rd printing. Publication Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-1240; volume 2: 1241-2444.