Thursday Jul 14, 2022
Researchers recently discovered a new carnivorous plant on the island of Borneo in Indonesia that is the first of its kind to catch its prey underground.
This plant, also known as a pitcher plant, has modified leaves that it uses to trap its prey in the soil.
“This species places its up-to-11-cm-long pitchers underground, where they are formed in cavities or directly in the soil and trap animals living underground, usually ants, mites and beetles,” said Martin Dančák, lead author of the study on the unusual plant, in a media release.
According to the study, the plant grows on ridge tops, elevated at 1100-1300m. The discovery of this new underground carnivorous plant highlights the diversity of Borneo’s rainforest.
“At first, we thought it was an accidentally buried pitcher and that local environmental conditions had caused the lack of other pitchers,” said researcher Dr Ľuboš Majeský.
“Still, as we continued to find other pitcherless plants along the ascent to the summit, we wondered if a species of pitcher plant might have evolved towards loss of carnivory, as seen in some other carnivorous plants. But then, when taking photos, I tore a moss cushion from a tree base revealing a bunch of richly maroon-colored pitchers growing from a short shoot with reduced leaves entirely lacking chlorophyll.”
There are more than 160 species of pitcher plants across subtropical SouthEast Asia, predominantly in Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippines
The study was published in the journal PhytoKeys.