Cambodia: New pitcher plant from remote Cardamom Mountains


A beautiful new pitcher plant from Cambodia has been added to the database of life thanks to a discovery on expedition by British photographer Jeremy Holden of Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

large pitcher plant from cambodiaHolden found the carnivorous plant in the remote Cardamon Mountains, which are unusual for tropical forests as they regularly catch fire during the dry season.

Nepenthes holdenii, named after its discoverer, has evolved an unusual strategy to exploit the clearings left in these fire's wake: it produces large tubers that send up new pitcher bearing vines after the fires have passed. Holden was naturally delighted with the find and said: "The Cardamon Mountains are a treasure chest of new species, but it was a surprise to find something as exciting and charismatic as an unknown pitcher plant."

The pitchers are in fact large modified leaves, which catch and digest insects. This strategy allows the plant to gain additional nutrients and survive in impoverished soils.

Pithcer plant in foreground with person inspecting it in background

Nepenthes expert François Mey takes a close look at the new discovery on the slopes of the Cardamom Mountains. Mey said: "This amazing species may be the most drought tolerant of the genus. Thanks to a large underground tuber it has the ability to endure extended periods of drought and fires." All photographs © Jeremy Holden/FFI

The full species description published by François Mey et al can be found in Carnivorous Plants and their Habitats, by Stewart McPherson of Redfern Natural History.

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