Recently-Discovered Carnivorous Plant Eats Bugs, Rats

By Boonsri Dickinson | August 11, 2009 2:48 pm

pitcher.jpgAudrey it’s not—but it’s pretty close. A large meat-eating plant, dubbed the “pitcher plant,” was discovered in 2007 in the Philippines, and the details of the discovery have now been published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. And when we say “meat-eating,” we mean it can stomach animals as large as rats.

While you’re probably familiar with the Venus fly trap or other plants that use their sticky surface to attack before closing their leaves on prey, the pitcher plant has a trapping method that’s unique: It relies on its huge base to send insects and other animals hurtling inside.

In 2000, Christian missionaries spotted the new species on Mount Victoria. Seven years later, a British natural history explorer, a botanist, and a German scientist set out to the Philippines on a two month expedition to see if they too, could locate the new species. They discovered the largest carnivorous pitcher plant ever found, called Nepenthes attenboroughii.

BBC News reports:

“The plant is among the largest of all carnivorous plant species and produces spectacular traps as large as other species which catch not only insects, but also rodents as large as rats,” says [Stewart McPherson, natural history explorer at the Red Fern Natural History Productions].

The pitcher plant does not appear to grow in large numbers, but McPherson hopes the remote, inaccessible mountain top location, which as only been climbed a handful of times, will help prevent poachers from reaching it.

In other words, these pitcher plants are unlikely to have any commercial value. So better stick with Venus fly traps if you’re interested in plants for the home.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Venus Fly Trap
DISCOVER: Flesh Eating Plants

Image: flickr/ cathy.hennessy

MORE ABOUT: carnivores, nature, plants
  • http://http// jen

    Another plant from the Philippines that is getting alot of attention is the TickleMe Plant. The TickleMe Plant won’t hurt a fly, but it will instantly close its leaves and lower its branches when Tickled! Now it can be grown indoors year round as a houseplant. Most think of the TickleMe Plant as a “Pet” as it is the most interactive plant in the world as the leaves close and reopen in minutes. It even produces sparkling pink little flowers. You can see the video and even order a TickleMe Plant Greenhouse to easily grow your own plant. You may have seen on CSI New York. Go to

  • sol vanzi

    Scientifically listed as Mimosa Pudica, what the modern world now calls Tickle Me Plant we Filipinos know as MAKAHIYA, a word that literaly translates to “Shy Plant.” It grows everywhere: city sidewalks, rice paddies, along the sides of fishponds. Olf folk use a decoction of the plant to cure several illnesses. It is officially listed among the Philippines’ medicinal plants. It is used as an expectorant and antiasthmatic. Its root is considered is considered to have aphrodisiac properties.

    Folkloric uses: Decoction or infusion of leaves used in asthma as expectorant; Decoction of leaves for urinary problems and hypertension; Decoction of roots used for bladder stones; Powdered seed applied to wounds and sores; Leaves applied to bruises; Poultice of leaves for grandular swellings.

  • Lurino

    Shy Plant, or Mimosa Pudica is a common plant to find in Indonesia, while the traditional usage is common to the one in Philippines, the plant is mainly ignored in this part of the world.

  • RickRussellTX

    Nice work naming the plant after David Attenborough, the narrator of hundreds of nature and science documentaries.

  • Art

    It has a less-attractive American cousin, too. Here’s a misleading headline about it:
    Giant man-eating plant discovered


    That’s a fancy one!

  • Jake

    So it’s big enough, I get that, but is there any mention of actual evidence having been found of dead rodents inside? I mean, if a rat can claw its way through a brick wall, it should get out of a simple plant.

    All speculation and headlines?

  • Pingback: Giant Carnivorous Plant Found « The 3 Monkeys Guide to Health()

  • James D

    I wonder if I can get one big enough for mymother in law?

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