Oct 14, 2009

Nepenthes Gracilis (Periuk Kera)

Nepenthes gracilis is a widespread and common pitcher plant from SE Asia. Its latin name describes the long slender leaves characteristic of this species. The normal colour of the pitcher is green, sometimes spotted red but at this open shrubby grassland beside the peat forest.

While the pitchers are meant to catch prey, it is paradoxical that researchers had documented about 150 species of animals living within the pitchers (Phillips and Lamb 1996). These are commenals, that is they feed on excess food of the pitcher plants without doing any harm. Amongst these are frogs, tadpoles, insect larvae, crabs and crab spiders. Older pitchers are preferred since they are less acidic - so if you grow these plants, trim away the old pitchers to prevent mosquito breeding.

It is easily spotted on road banks and other cleared areas in Borneo. There are several colour forms, but all plants have a similar thin, scrambling vine structure, that is an easily distinguishable feature of this species. N. gracilis is predominantly found at the lower altitudes of its range, but has been observed growing next to N. stenophylla at Long Buan, Kalimantan Timur, and 2/3 of the way up the Crocker range in Sabah.

Borneo, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Sulawesi, Singapore, Thailand

ELEVATION: 0-1000 meters

Depending on the cultured plants origin, this species may be very susceptible to cooler temperatures. Grow as a typical lowland plant, and it will thrive. As plants get larger, put them into very large containers, and they will climb to form a large mass of stems and pitchers.

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