Nepenthes ampullaria, seeds of carnivorous Pitcher plant
Nepenthes belongs to the family of the Nepenthaceae, the pitcher plants. Nepenthes is mainly native to Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. In Europe it is used as an ornamental plant. The pitcher plant is an evergreen, perennial, carnivorous plant. Due to the fact that the plant grows mainly on soils that are nutrient- poor it has to eat flies and other insects to get its nutrients from them. For that reason the plant has pitchers. Many people think that the pitchers are special organs of the plant but they are just modified leaves.
The pitchers are reddish at the top. That shall imitated meat what is very attractive to flies. When a fly lands on the pitcher, it falls immediately down into the water. The pitchers are really smooth and slippery. There is always some water in the pitcher. In the water there are some digestive enzymes that are able to solve the flies and insects. The pitcher has also a cover. That cover has the task to prevent the escape of the insects. If a fly falls into the water and per accident their wings stay dry, than it has theoretically the opportunity to escape. But when it tries to escape it will always leave the pitcher vertical and bounce against so the cover. Bouncing against the cover means falling back into the water. So once captured in the pitcher the fly has to die.
Some researchers found out that there is a tropical bat that is very small and though able to sit into the pitcher of Nepenthes. Doing so the bat does not have to go hunting, the flies just fly into its mouth. This behavior of the bat is not a disadvantage for the plant. It profits, too. The bat sits very long in the pitcher and uses it as a toilet. So the plant gets its nutrients from the dung of the bat. This phenomenon is called symbioses in biology.
What we notice to be the leave is just the leaf base that is bigger than usual to have more surface to do photosynthesis.
The flowers of Nepenthes are not next to the pitchers to avoid that the pollinators fall into the pitchers. This would not be good because they have to carry away the pollen. The flowers are very small, reddish or greenish and stand in inflorescences that can get up to 1 m long. They are mainly pollinated by flies and beetles.
The fruit is a capsule that contains many very fine seeds. The seeds are distributed with the wind.
Cultivation of Nepenthes from seeds
The seeds of Nepenthes need high air moisture for germination. For that reason the container should be covered with transparency. The transparency should be removed from time to time to avoid fungi growth. Germination occurs after 1 to 1,5 month. The substrate should be nutrient- poor and kept moist at a temperature of about 25°C.
The seeds should be put on the substrate very quick.
Nepenthes needs a sunny place. Even as an adult plant the pitcher plant needs high air moisture. If the air is not moist enough the pitchers desiccate.
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