Nepenthes rafflesiana
from Borneo


the Nepenthes plants

the species

the hybrids

the ants - a special relationship

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    Pitcher plants

are carnivorous plants, and as such they are fascinating people since they are known. We - as we are animals - use to think that plants grow to be eaten by us, not to eat for themselves. But the carnivorous plants turn the tables. The vegetable strikes back.

The 'pitcher plants' comprise several genera of carnivorous plants without closer relationship. One of them is the genus Nepenthes, the tropical pitcher plants. They live in the moist tropics of the Old World, from Madagascar via Sri Lanka and the islands of Southeast Asia down to Australia. This site is dedicated to them.


Their traps are bizarre pitchers, often colourful like an exotic flower. It's hard to believe that they are only specialised leaves. They aren't simply pits waiting for the next stupid animal to fall in. The rim covered with slippery wax, the pitcher filled with digestive fluid, they attract their prey with colour, sugar and smell. And while being deadly traps for most insects, they are a place to live for others. Larvae of mosquitoes or flies grow up safely in the 'stomach' of the plant. Land crabs search for food and some frogs lay their eggs in these living water reservoirs. One pitcher plant species is even a real ant-plant living in co-operation with it's own ant colony!

Borneo is the centre of Nepenthes diversity. About thirty of the genus' over 80 species grow there. Lowland rainforests and high mountains, undisturbed forests but also degraded areas provide a wide range of habitats for pitcher plants.


The photos on this site where taken during two research tours to Borneo, to Brunei Darussalam and to Sabah (Malaysia) with its famous Mount Kinabalu. We hope you enjoy our little tour through the realm of Nepenthes.


Marlis & Dennis Merbach


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