Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes)

If there is a royalty among carnivorous plants, that distinction surely lies with the Nepenthes. Tropical pitcher plants have a rich botanical and horticultural history and the plants themselves are a virtual ecosystem of give-and-take with nature. The genus has the only species known to have devoured whole rats! And they are hauntingly beautiful; their pitcher traps often as elaborate and gaudy as artistic creations by humankind.

Nepenthes usually grow as climbing or scrambling vines. Most species are found in Southeast Asia, their center of distribution being the island of Borneo. Nepenthes are not typically jungle plants, but prefer more open and sunny ridges, slopes and stunted forests.

Species that grow below 3,000 feet are considered lowland. They experience hot days, warm nights, and continuous high humidity. Seventy percent of Nepenthes are tropical highland or mountain plants, growing at elevations of 3,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. Above the lowland heat of the rainforest, the mountain climate can be considerably cooler and wetter, especially at night.

For more information on how to grow these plants check out our Nepenthes growing tips.