Monday, May 28, 2007

Pitcher hunting

A short but interesting walk at NUS to hunt for some photo-friendly pitchers with KS. It wasnt that hard to find them as I was shown where they were during my ecology class and pretty abundant too. Pitcher plants are fascinating I'm sure to anyone, (I was so excited when shown by Lainie and Jinghui), being so cute and their carnivorous nature.

Pitcher plants are known in chinese as (zhu long cao) pige cage plants due to their shape resemblance to those pig cages of the past. Tropical pitcher plants (Old world pitchers) also have a cute name of monkey's cup as they had been seen quenching their thirst from this cup-shaped structure.

The adinandra belukar forest there is an acidic and low nutrient secondary forest. Pitcher plants can survive well in such places as they can obtain their nutrients through carnivory. Rem hearing from one lecturer that, the pitcher will not form if grown in well nourished soils.

Lotsa young ones on the ground

Nepenthes rafflesiana are very common here! Yup... it was named after our founder, Sir Stamford Raffles. In fact, as I was browsing, there were quite a number of flora and fauna named in honour of him. Apparently besides making here a busy port, he was also a biology enthusiast.

The parasitic flowering plants had also a whole genus named after him! The biggest individual flower in the world, Rafflesia arnoldii was also within the group. As shown above, adventurous Dingli taking a picture with the rare plant. Wonder hows hes doing over at Borneo? nw.

Tendrils of the pitchers (of tropical pitchers) will eventually grow into the pitcher trap, so the structure is actually a modified leaf.

Half rotten upper pitcher. Learnt from Ron and Budak that the plant actually have two differing pitchers. The upper pitcher of N. rafflesiana is thinner and slender. This is to trap winged insects or animals attracted to their nectary lure.

The lower pitchers of the N. rafflesiana are fatter and larger in size, often resting on the ground. It also have characteristic "wings" at the front, which is thought to serve as a guide for crawling insects leading to the nectar. The nectaries are located mainly along the "lips" (peristome) and underside of the "roof" of the pitcher.

They capture their prey by a pitfall trap, with slippery sides & grooves / hairs arranged so they cant climb back up. Eventually they will drown and be digested in the liquid present within the cavity.

N. rafflesiana has quite a few varieties and their pitcher size varies too, which can grow to a very large size, a record of 35cm. The largest species is N. rajah which is endemic in Mt. Kinabalu.

Each pitcher plant is either male or female bearing raceme (arranged vertically) infloresences. Right showing the inflorescene (duno their sex) and left the fruits?

There was another species of pitcher plant there, possibly the lower pitcher of N. gracilis. This was more interesting as it was so small that it took us awhile squirming our eyes to spot them. A 50 cent coin was placed for scale.

Macro view showing clearly the "wings".

More interesting and informative entries on pitchers
1) Budak
2) Earth
3) Nparks

Lastly... no poaching pls!


Ivan said...

Looking at the pitcher plants reminds me so much of our recce trip at Sentosa.

I can't wait for the Naked Hermit Crabs walks. =)

TS said...

hehe yea...

All Blog Spots said...

nice blog

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