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Scientific Classification
Sundew with an insect

Nepenthales is a taxonomic order of carnivorous plants, which include the sundew and pitcher plants. In the plant kingdom, there are very few that have developed a certain taste for other organisms. These insectivorous heterotrophs, also known as the carnivorous plants, have been found all over the world in countless environments with one common characteristic. These plants attract, capture and consume prey.These types of plans have learned to adapt and make use of their abilities to survive. Since the creation, these carnivorous plants have undergone adaptations that have enabled them to survive competition with other species over limited resources. Evidence in the fossil record reveals the existence of these plants prior to the Biblical flood.[1]

Body Design

The trap is set

These carnivorous plants use trickery to entice their prey into thinking the plant holds a meal for them. When in reality it is the insects that become the meal. The pitchers of Nepenthes are mottled, a pattern that insects associate with decaying flesh, and thus the pitcher looks like an easy meal. Scattered along the leaves and stems, are nectar glands that produce a sweet fluid whose presence and smell also attract insects. These glands are particularly dense around the mouth of the pitcher, but an insect trying to feed there will find that the lip of the pitcher is slippery and tumble into the waiting trap.[1] These plants are similar in they all are carnivorious, but that is where they begin to be removed. They are all trap plants and use digestive juices to break down their captured prey, while still enticing other prey into them. Inside, pitcher traps are lined with many thousands of tiny wax scales. Because these scales are made to fall off easily on contact, insects attempting to grasp them while trying to escape will find their footing loose and slide further into the pitcher traps along the slippery surface. At the bottom of the trap is a pool of fluid containing digestive enzymes, where the hapless insects drown and are digested for their nutrients. Unlike other carnivorous plants in the Nepenthales, Nepenthes traps are reusable, and may trap many victims in the same pool of digestive fluid.[1]

Life Cycle

Venus Fly Trap
These plants use seeds and pollination to reproduce. Reproduction in Droseraceae occurs through insect pollination and involves relatively small flowers that are usually characterized by white, violet, or red colors. However, perhaps because of its use of insects as food, the Venus flytrap has to produce many seeds. Drosophyllum, on the other hand, produces large flowers of a conspicuous yellow color. Large insects are used to pollinate the flowers of this plant and small insects are often consumed as prey. Therefore, Drosophyllum produces a small amount of large seeds because they utilize insects as vectors to maintain wide reproductive dispersal. [1] More specifically, in the battle for habitat space, energy sources, and greater reproductive success, these plants represent the definition and exploitation of a new biological niche. [1]


Where they live
Because of the nature of the habitats which Nepenthes species occupy, they are often graded as either lowland or highland species, depending on their altitude above sea level, with 1,200 m (3,937 ft) the rough delineation between lowland and highland. Species growing at lower altitudes require continuously warm climates with little difference between day and night temperatures, whereas highland species thrive when they receive warm days and much cooler nights. Nepenthes Lamii grows at a higher altitude than any other in the genus, up to 3,520 m (11,549 ft) [2].The Nepenthes Macrophylla is a beautiful carnivorous plant that grows only on the summit of a single mountain on the island of Borneo[3]. Nepenthes is a genus of tropical pitcher plants, ranging from Southeast Asia, its center of diversity, westward into the Seychelles and eastern Madagascar and south to Australia. Nepenthes is the most diverse group of carnivorous plants to have become sophisticated pitcher traps and the only genus in the family Nepenthaceae. [2]

Fun Facts

Spider Steals Food

Nepenthes are routinely poached from the wild in Palawan. This species has high horticultural value, but as a newly described species, currently it has a very limited penetration into this market. [4]. Trade in this species is unknown, but seeds collected during the expedition that identified the species are held by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew with the intention of institutional, non-profit dissemination by in-vitro culture [4]. Although some organisms do live in the pitcher traps, the acidicity of the secreted digestive fluid prevents most microbes, fungi, slime molds, protozoa, diatoms, worms, larvae, nematodes and other species from living in the fluid. Because of the long time required to digest the trapped insects, Nepenthes often competes with other organisms such as spiders and primates for food. Spider may build webs above the fluid in order to take advantage of the plant's attraction of insects, and thus rob the plant of its potential catches. [1]


The video depicts ands explains the three families within the Nepenthes order.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Scott, Erin. Kirkner, Lara. Shin, Jane. Veeral, Desai. Chan, James. Nepenthales flytraps, sundews, & Asian pitchers Nepenthales. Web. May 21, 2017 (accessed).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Scholz I; Bückins M; Dolge L; Erlinghagen T; Weth A; Hischen F; Mayer J; Hoffmann S; Riederer M; Riedel M; Baumgartner W Nepenthes: Tropical Pitcher Plants The Encyclopedia of Life Web. May 14, 2017. (accessed)
  3. Clarke, C. Nepenthes of Borneo.Pitcher plant Web. May21, 2017. (Accessed)
  4. 4.0 4.1 A.S.Rob., S.McPherson & V.Heinrich Nepenthes attenboroughii. The red List. Web. May 14, 2017 (accessed).