Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jugs and skin

We scaled a near vertical cliff around the District 1 of Sarawak to catch a glimpse of, in my opinion, the most beautiful lowland pitcher plant, Nepenthes northiana. The plant was first painted by the Victorian naturalist and painter Marianne North and subsequently named after her. Large specimens are rare nowadays due to collection pressure but as usual in this part of the world, the biggest threat is still habitat loss. The species is restricted to this limestone range, although rumour has it that a second locality has been recently found.

These limestone hills are not legally protected and are haphazardly blasted and dug up by natives in their search for the shiny yellow metal. In fact, we were brought to these plants by one of these natives when he took a break from 'mining' his own business. There is't enough gold to attract the likes of Freeport McMoran but there is probably enough for the locals to get by pretty comfortably.

Each of these glaringly red jug is 20cm or more in height, excluding the lid, and bunches of these dangling from the green rosettes rooted on stark vertical cliffs is quite surreal.

As our native guide brought us back to his village, we were introduced to a young smiling man with shoulder-length hair who claimed he would faint whenever he wears clothes. He thus goes around stark naked, even to the grocer and bank in town and the local police, who was accustomed to his antics, would not even blink an eye.

Well, enough jugs and skin for the day, I was totally bushed and could barely opened my eyes during dinner....

FYI - this one made it to UBC Botany Photo of the day - check out the interesting pictures there !

8 comments:

Hermes said...

What an amazing plant. Glad you found one and could feature it here.

Martin said...

That is absolutely beautiful! I am a big fan of the Nephentes and as a Dutch florist I have been lucky to see (and sell) quite a few. I still want to go and see a lot of plants in their natural habitat. Although you can buy some beautiful plants at wholesalers, I am convinced that they aren't as gorgeous as they would be in their natural habitat. So I have to admit... I am quite jealous after reading your post!

Hort Log said...

My heart missed a beat when I saw it too - and nothing beats seeing it in the wild - this plant just does not seem right dangling from a pot.

Titania said...

I can imagine how wonderful to see this gorgeous plant growing the way it is intended to. Perhaps to save it might be the only option to grow it in a pot! It makes one feel sad to see the best things in the world disappear for ever.

Harold Stiver said...

That is an amazing looking plant. I wonder what its insect diet is?

My orchid journey said...

Im not into neps but the one featured is very beautiful... Thanks for sharing this treasure... hopefully it will not be lost forever out there...

Prospero said...

Fantastic nepenthes!

Hort Log said...

Hi Harold,
there's a popular photo of it with a drowned rat inside in the interent, but that's not the norm, its actually an insect eater most of the time

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