Albany pitcher plant (Cephalotus follicularis)

loading
Albany pitcher plants
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Albany pitcher plant fact file

Albany pitcher plant description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderRosales
FamilyCephalotaceae
GenusCephalotus (1)

The Albany pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant with highly modified leaves that act as pitfall traps for prey. The leathery, hairy leaves form tapered tubes, with three ribbed nectar-secreting glands running upwards to an elliptical mouth (2). The attractive bright red mouth has a smooth surface with slippery ridges, and is partially covered by an overhanging, translucent lid. Inside the pitcher an array of inward-pointing, sharp, teeth-like spines lead down to a prominent ridge of secondary spines and a pool of digestive juices. In the shade, the Albany pitcher plant is green, but in full sunlight this pitcher becomes a mottled, deep burgundy colour (2) (3) (4). In spring, a glossy green leaf is produced in addition to the pitchers, which serves to supplement the plant’s energy stores through photosynthesis, while in late summer, elongated flower stalks with faint white petals rise conspicuously on branched stems, high above the pitcher (3).

Also known as
Australian pitcher plant, West Australia pitcher plant, Western Australia pitcher plant.
Top

Albany pitcher plant biology

Growing in nutrient-deficient soils, the Albany pitcher plant has evolved the remarkable ability to break down and absorb nutrients from insects trapped in its pitchers. Attracted to the plant by its bright colours and nectar secretions, insects stepping on the slippery, waxy surface of the mouth fall into the pitcher. The smooth inner surface of the pitcher, and the downward-pointing spines trap the prey, and unable to escape, it drowns in the pitcher fluid and is broken down by digestive enzymes (2) (3). Those insects not immediately trapped in the fluid are tricked by the translucent lid of the pitcher, which lets light through, to fly around the inside of the pitcher and try to escape. Eventually tiring, the prey fall fatally into the fluid (3). Nutrients gained from the insect prey supplement those obtained from the soils, allowing this plant to survive in environments where others would not (7)

Tiny flower heads raised on tall stalks begin to grow in late summer. Insects are attracted to the flowers and carry pollen between plants, and after pollination, brown, hairy seeds are produced. When exposed to the wind, the seeds are dispersed widely across the landscape, and in favourable conditions, rapidly growing clusters of young plants will emerge (2).  

Top

Albany pitcher plant range

Endemic to south-western Australia, the Albany pitcher plant grows along a 400 kilometre narrow arc of coastline, always within 50 kilometres from the coast, from Yallingup to Cheyne Beach (2).  

Top

Albany pitcher plant habitat

In common with most other carnivorous plants, the Albany pitcher plant favours moist, wetland habitats (4). Most abundant on freshwater margins, this pitcher plant is also found growing in roadside ditches and peat bogs, favouring acidic sandy or peaty soils (2) (5). The Albany pitcher plant’s habitat is characterised by a fluctuating climate, with cool and wet winters followed by intensely hot summers (6).   

Top

Albany pitcher plant status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

Top

Albany pitcher plant threats

Considered abundant throughout its range, with many thousands of plants, the population of the Albany pitcher plant is believed to be stable. Large areas of its habitat remain, with around 80 percent of the species’ range protected in government-owned reserves. However, this species is restricted to just a single area in south-western Australia, and as a consequence of urban encroachment, declines in wetland coverage have been observed, rendering this species vulnerable to further habitat loss (5)

Top

Albany pitcher plant conservation

International trade in this species is regulated by the Australian Wildlife Protection Act 1982, prohibiting trade without permits. All wild plants are also protected by Western Australia’s flora protection laws, and licenses are required to pick plants from government owned lands. Consequently, due to the lack of trade in this species, it was removed from CITES Appendix II following a ten year review (5).     

Top

Find out more

For more information on the conservation of pitcher plants, see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Enzymes
Proteins that trigger, or accelerate, activity in the cells of the body, for example, breaking down foods during digestion and building new proteins.
Photosynthesis
Metabolic process characteristic of plants in which carbon dioxide is broken down, using energy from sunlight absorbed by the green pigment chlorophyll. Organic compounds are made and oxygen is given off as a by-product.
Pollination
The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Cephalotus follicularis (February, 2010)
    http://www.aqph26.dsl.pipex.com/
  3. The Botanical Society of America (February, 2010)
    http://mcintosh.botany.org/carnivorous_plants/cephalotus.php
  4. The Carnivorous Plant Society (February, 2010)
    http://www.thecps.org.uk/content/view/42/25/
  5. CITES (February, 2010)
    http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/11/prop/06.pdf
  6. Humboldt State University (February, 2010)
    http://www.humboldt.edu/~rrz7001/Franco/CephalotusfollicularisGiant.html
  7. The International Carnivorous Plant Society (February, 2010)
    http://www.carnivorousplants.org/cp/WhatAreCPs.php
X
Close

Image credit

Albany pitcher plants  
Albany pitcher plants

© Densey Clyne / Auscape International

Auscape International
PO Box 1024,
Bowral
NSW
25a76
Australia
Tel: (+61) 2 4885 2245
Fax: (+61) 2 4885 2715
sales@auscape.com.au
http://www.auscape.com.au

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Albany pitcher plant (Cephalotus follicularis) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog