Nepenthes bicalcarata

from Borneo


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  • The Species

    Nepenthes rafflesiana

    Short Data
    Nepenthes rafflesiana Jack

    Synonyms: N. hemsleyana Macfarl.; N. hookeriana Low ex Becc.
    Distribution: Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Sumatra
    Altitudinal distribution: 0-1200 m
    Typical habitats: open, sandy, wet areas, kerangas and peat swamp forests
    Pitcher size: up to 15 cm high, 5 cm wide
      (giant form up to 40 cm!)

    lower pitcher lower pitcher   upper pitcher upper pitcher

    Typical lower and upper pitchers of Nepenthes rafflesiana.

    upper pitcher

    Nepenthes rafflesiana is an unusually variable plant. While only few forms are formally described pitcher shape and colour can vary so wide that the extremes look like completely different species. Lower and upper pitchers differ very much. Constant in all forms are the shape of the lid and of the peristome which ends in a long neck at the back and is largest just below the lid. In upper pitchers it is characteristically raised in the front part.

    var. alata

    N. rafflesiana var. alata Adam & Wilcock

    Winged tendrils can sometimes be found in N. rafflesiana. The lamina is continued along the tendril and fuses with the wings. Plants showing this marked and consistently are called var. alata.

    N. rafflesiana var. elongata Hort.
    var. elongata var. elongata var. elongata Var. elongata is clearly more slender. Pitchers are as wide as the ones of the normal form but up to four times longer.

    N. rafflesiana "giant form"
    giant form giant form The giant form (until now not formally described) is one of the most impressive of all pitcher plants. Pitchers can be up to 40 cm high. Other characteristics are the typical pitcher shape and the reddish hairs covering the youngest leaf.

    giant form

    Though the different variations can mix they usually stay apart even if they grow together. Exceptions can result in very interesting plants.


    The pitchers are often visited by ants but the plant seems not to be specialised in prey. The pitcher fluid is of a conspicuously viscous consistence.

    Nepenthes rafflesiana is a common plant in lowland areas of northwestern Borneo, especially in Brunei. It can be found as a pioneer in many degraded areas with wet, sandy soils, usually accompanied by N. gracilis. Other typical habitats are kerangas (heath) and peat swamp forests. Geographical distribution ranges from peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to Borneo and Sumatra.

    Described forms are: form alata: form elongata:


    Known natural hybrids are: x bicalcarata, x gracilis, x ampullaria, x mirabilis.


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