World authority on
the ecology of pitcher plants Dr Charles Clarke has discovered a new
species in Sabah, which has been named Nepenthes chaniana (Nepenthaceae)
after Sabahan Datuk CL Chan, who has become the first Malaysian to
gets a nepenthes species named after him.
The species was found on Gunung Alab - the highest peak in the
Crocker Range National Park, which
also means a protected habitat. The discovery was subsequently
published in the Sabah Parks Nature Journal.
This new discovery gives Sabah another added credential as one the
12 mega-biodiversity hot spots in the world!
After taxonomic efforts with Ch'ien Lee and Stewart McPherson
confirmed it was new, the James Cook University research scientist
decided to name it after Chan, as a tribute to Chan's enormous
publishing efforts on the biodiversity of Borneo and elsewhere.
"I feel it's a great honour," beamed Datuk Chan, Managing Director
Natural History Publications (Borneo).
The twist to the big breaking news is that this particular pitcher
plant had actually been sighted in Sabah for ages, but for a long,
long time, N. chaniana was mistaken as Nepenthes pilosa,
Dans. The latter was found in the remote mountains of Kalimantan
in 1899 by Indonesian botanist, Amdjah who was part of the
Nieuwenhuis Expedition and was subsequently described by Dutch
botanist, B.H. Danser, in 1928.
Amdjah collected only two specimens of N. pilosa, Dans on
January 28, 1899 at 1,600m from Bukit Batu Lesung which is located
geographically close to the center of Kalimantan but the population
of N. pilosa, from which Amdjah's material was collected
has never been seen since. As such, Dr Clarke had long doubted
whether the so called 'N. pilosa' in Sabah was the same as
the N. pilosa of Kalimantan.
Clarke made a personal expedition to Bukit Batu Lesung in July 2006
to check it out and found to his astonishment that the real N.
pilosa of Kalimantan was much rounder and broader in shape.
Hence, Sabah's so called 'N. pilosa' was decisively a
Clarke, who has written a record of five books on nepenthes,
rectified the mistake and that means N. chaniana is the
newest species of nepenthes in the world!
popularly known as Tropical Pitcher Plants or Monkey Cups, are a
genus of carnivorous plants in the monotypic
family Nepenthaceae that comprises roughly 117 species,
numerous natural and many cultivated hybrids. They are
vine-forming plants of the Old World tropics, ranging from South
China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines; westward to
Madagascar and the Seychelles; southward to Australia and New
Caledonia ; and northward to India and Sri Lanka. The greatest
diversity occurs on Borneo and Sumatra with many endemic
species. Sabah has some 20 species with many naturally occurring
hybrids, such as the beautiful N x trusmadiensis.
are plants of hot humid lowland areas, but the majority are
tropical montane plants, receiving warm days but cool to cold
humid nights year round. A few are considered tropical alpine
with cool days and nights near freezing. The largest nepenthes,
N rajah, grows in Sabah at altitudes above 2000 m
a.s.l., its cup can hold up to four liters!
rajah, from Trus Madi, Sabah
generally grow on ultrabasic soil poor in nutrients. While the
plant can absorb nutrients through its roots the poor soil makes
surviving nevertheless difficult, hence the cups filled with a
digestive liquid. This allows the plant to nourish itself by
carnivorous means. While nepenthes usually digest small insects
such as flies, ants and spiders rumor has it that within N
rajah one has already found rats, snakes and scorpions...
The pitcher or
cup of the nepenthes is not its flower, and it is not a
Venus-type trap. Once the pitcher, which develops from a tendril
extending from the plant's leathery leaves, is open the lid
presumably serves to prevent rainwater from diluting the
digestive syrup, not to keep in prey. Insects and others
attracted by the liquid in the cup drown as they are prevented
from crawling out of the pitcher by its wax coated inner walls.
Should they nevertheless be able to crawl up the walls they will
be met with fine hairs under the peristome, or "lip" of the cup,
making escape impossible. The smart ones bite through the
pitcher, N hookeriana
pitcher, N hookeriana
larvae, however, manage to survive in the aggressive liquid and
even nourish themselves from decomposing victims. A tiny frog
has been found in the Maliau Basin, making the pitcher plants
its home, too.
residing in the plant, waiting for victims...
produce two different kind of pitchers, 'base pitchers' on the
ground and upper pitchers. The two might be so different from
each other that one can get confused and wonder if it is
actually one and the same plant!
have separate flower stands (usually racemes, rarer panicles),
and male and female flowers grow on separate plants:
N. chaniana, Gng Alab
N edwardsiana, Kinabalu Park HQ
burbidgeae, Mt Trus Madi
rafflesiana (?), Sarawak
ampullaria, Bako National Park, Sarawak