A flowering Nepenthes
by Francesco Zezza
I have probably overfed you with my interest on carnivorous plants, orchids and succulents plants. For those wondering what I am talking about, you can find some information on the Nepenthes genus. Pictured is the first plant I got, the one that gave me the flower you are going to see in this article. weeks ago. It’s – now – May 2005), .
While orchids are kept to enjoy their flowers (take a look at my Cymbidium and Paphiopedilum) and the same is true for Cacti and, in general, all succulents (see Astrophytum in detail) this is not the case with Carnivorous plants. They are gorgeous plants but difficult - to extremely difficult - to keep (as a matter of fact I failed with the only two “pure breeds” I tried, to my regret I have to add …)
Nepenthes generally requires high temperatures (although there are exceptions to this rule …); high humidity; and nutrient - poor soil (most of them are kept in a mix of peat and perlite maily - depending on the species other “trace” elements ranging from chalk, sand to, even, activated carbon may need to be added). Even “common water” is a threat (being too rich in nutrients), so water from a reverse osmosis, distilled water and/or pure (hard to get) rain-water are the choices … All Nepenthes come (beware – I repeat once again - they are STRICTLY enlisted in C.I.T.E.S. papers, even trade of their seed is strictly controlled) from Far East (Borneo, Malaysia and alike) with a few species spreading up to the coast of Australia and, on the opposite side, Madagascar.
It is evident from this foreword that keeping Nepenthes (allowing them to thrive) is quite a challenge (I don't even dare to think about propagating them) and the fact that almost all my specimens have been doing quite well for some years now is really rewarding. A week before my final (up to now) trip to Brasil I noticed a “strange” behaviour in one of the plants … it looked like being on its way to flower (Nepenthes have male and female flowers, to the best of my knowledge, and propagating them using seeds requires both “sexes” flowering at the same time). Anyway, even the simple “arrival” of a flower is considered by dedicated Nepenthes keepers (which I’m NOT, by the way …) a sign that the plants are doing well and is greatly appreciated.
What a pity I had to leave since I knew that the flower would be gone upon my return, almost two months later. Thus, the only way to go (in order to get some pictures of the flowers) was to lend a digital camera to Stefania’s grandson (son of Stefania’s sister) asking him to take pictures, and that’s what I did … The following pictures are the results of his efforts. You have to keep in mind that Manuel is only thirteen years old (I feel he did, all in all, a fairly good job!)
I know that this looks far less impressive than the flower of an orchid but it is the first (ever) Nepenthes flower I got and among the very few I have seen. You can see a closer shot of the same flower below.
Mission accomplished. Thanks to Manuel I was able to get some good pictures to look at and share them with the MCH team and our visitors.
Before closing this report, I would like to show you a picture of a gorgeous pitcher. The plant shown in this picture is a Nepenthes spathulata x maxima.
Finally, for the sake of truth (and for those interested in) this plant(s) was supplied (about three years ago) by the Belgian greenhouse Cantharifera.