New species of carnivorous pitcher plant unearthed in Indonesia

New species of carnivorous pitcher plant unearthed in Indonesia

The newly found species of pitcher plant was unearthed in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan, on the island Borneo. Like other pitcher plants, Nepenthes pudica has modified leaves, known as pitfall traps or pitchers, that its prey fall into before being consumed. One species is so large that it can trap rats No other species of pitcher plant known to science catches its prey underground.

The researchers said that the plant forms specialized underground shoots with small white, chlorophyll-free leaves. The pitchers are much larger than the leaves and have a reddish color.

This species puts its up to 11 cm long 4.3 inch-long pitchers underground, where they are formed in cavities or directly in the soil and trap animals living underground, usually ants, mites and beetles, according to lead study author Martin Dan k of Palack University Olomouc, Czech Republic.

Three other groups of carnivorous plants are known to trap underground prey, but they all use very different trapping mechanisms and, unlike Nepenthes pudica, can catch only minuscule organisms, the researchers said. The plant has pitchers to trap animals that are up to 11 centimeters 4.3 inches long. We found numerous organisms in the pitchers, including mosquito larvae, nematodes and a species of worm, which was described as a new species, said V clav erm k of Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic, who was also part of the research team. The plants on the mountain they were exploring closely resembled Nepenthes but produced no pitchers. An initial search showed a deformed pitcher protruding from the soil. At first, we thought it was an accidentally buried pitcher and that local environmental conditions had caused the lack of other pitchers, said ubo Majesk of Palack University Olomouc, who was part of the research team. As we continued to find other pitcherless plants along the ascent to the summit, we wondered if a species of pitcher plant might have evolved towards the loss of carnivory, as seen in some other carnivorous plants. Majesk said when taking photos he tore a moss cushion from a tree base, revealing a bunch of pitchers with a rich maroon hue. This discovery is important for biodiversity conservation in Indonesian Borneo. We hope that the discovery of this unique carnivorous plant can help protect Bornean rainforests, especially prevent or slow the conversion of pristine forests into oil palm plantations, said Wewin Tjiasmanto of Indonesian conservation group Yayasan Konservasi Biota Lahan Basah in Surabaya.