Madagascar pitcher plant (Nepenthes madagascariensis)
Classified as Vulnerable (VU D2) on the IUCN Red List 2003 (1) and listed under Appendix II of CITES (2).
The Madagascar pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant that produces impressive ‘pitchers’ that catch the insect prey.
Endemic to the east coast of Madagascar, reaching the northernmost extreme of its range in the Masoala Peninsula. It is most common around Fort Dauphin in the south (1).
Found in wetland habitats including bogs, swamps, marshy areas, fens and peatlands (1). It prefers peaty or sandy soils and is found at low altitudes (1).
The pitchers of Nepenthes species have a smooth lining. Insects and other small animals that are attracted to the pitchers cannot maintain a grip on this slippery surface and fall into the pitcher, where their tissues are broken down by a strong digestive fluid produced by the pitcher (3). Interestingly, the active agent in this fluid that digests proteins is very similar in structure to that produced in the stomach of mammals (3).
Members of the genus Nepenthes produce very small seeds, which are easily dispersed (4).
The threats directly facing this species are unknown. However, Madagascar has suffered devastating levels of habitat destruction and degradation since the arrival of humans on the island around 2000 years ago.
International trade in this pitcher plant is controlled by the listing of the species under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3).
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- Endemic: a species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Genus: a category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2003 (March, 2004)
CITES (March, 2004)
Frazier, C.K. The enduring controversies concerning the process of protein digestion in Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae) – International Carnivorous Plant Society (March, 2004)
Conspectus of the Vascular plants of Madagascar (March, 2004)