Nepenthes distillatoria

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Nepenthes distillatoria
Nepenthes distillatoria 2.jpg
An upper pitcher of Nepenthes distillatoria from Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Nepenthaceae
Genus: Nepenthes
N. distillatoria
Binomial name
Nepenthes distillatoria
L. (1753)
Nepenthes distillatoria distribution.png
Distribution of N. distillatoria.

Nepenthes distillatoria (/nɪˈpɛnθz dɪˌstɪləˈtɔːriə/; from New Latin from Latin: destillo = to distill, -oria = adjectival ending; something from which a liquid is distilled, i.e., pitcher) is a tropical pitcher plant endemic to Sri Lanka. It was the second Nepenthes species to be described in print and the first to be formally named under the Linnaean system of taxonomy. It is therefore the type species of the genus.

Botanical history[edit]

Nepenthes distillatoria was the second Nepenthes species to be described in print, after N. madagascariensis. In 1677, Danish physician Thomas Bartholin made brief mention of it under the name Miranda herba, Latin for "marvellous herb".[13] Three years later, Dutch merchant Jacob Breyne referred to this species as Bandura zingalensium, after a local name for the plant.[12] Bandura subsequently became the most commonly used name for the tropical pitcher plants, until Linnaeus coined Nepenthes in 1737.[15]

Nepenthes distillatoria was again described in 1683, this time by Swedish physician and naturalist Herman Niklas Grim.[14] Grim called it Planta mirabilis destillatoria, or the "miraculous distilling plant", and was the first to clearly illustrate a tropical pitcher plant.[15] Three years later, in 1686, English naturalist John Ray quoted Grim as saying:[10]

The root draws up moisture from the earth which with the help of the sun's rays rises up into the plant itself and then flows down through the stems and nerves of the leaves into the natural utensil to be stored there until used for human needs. [translated from Latin in Pitcher-Plants of Borneo][15]

Linnaeus used Grim's original specific epithet when naming N. distillatoria in 1753.

Nepenthes distillatoria from Joseph Paxton's Magazine of Botany of 1838[16]

Nepenthes distillatoria was again illustrated in Johannes Burmann's Thesaurus Zeylanicus of 1737. The drawing depicts the end of a flowering stem with pitchers. Burmann refers to the plant as Bandura zeylanica.[11]

In the horticultural trade of the late 19th century, N. distillatoria was often confused with N. khasiana of India.[17][18][19][20]


Nepenthes distillatoria is endemic to Sri Lanka and is the only Nepenthes species recorded from the island. It grows in waterlogged open scrub, along road embankments and other cleared areas, and in forest. N. distillatoria occurs from sea-level to 700 m altitude.[1]

Due to its isolation, N. distillatoria has no known natural hybrids.

Infraspecific taxa[edit]

Three infraspecific taxa of N. distillatoria have been described, although they are no longer considered valid.

  • Nepenthes distillatoria var. rubra (Nichols.) Hort.Veitch ex Lindsay (1891)
  • Nepenthes distillatoria var. speciosa Hort.Van Houtte ex Rafarin (1869)
  • Nepenthes distillatoria var. vera D.Moore (1872)[21]


  1. ^ a b Clarke, C.M.; Cantley, R.; Nerz, J.; Rischer, H.; Witsuba, A. (2000). "Nepenthes distillatoria". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2000: e.T39656A10254604. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2000.RLTS.T39656A10254604.en.
  2. ^ (in French) Brongniart, A. 1824. Observations sur les genres Cytinus et Nepenthes. Annales des Sciences Naturelles 1: 29–52.
  3. ^ a b c (in German) Beck, G. 1895. Die Gattung Nepenthes. Wiener Illustrirte Garten-Zeitung 20(3–6): 96–107, 141–150, 182–192, 217–229.
  4. ^ Danser, B.H. 1928. The Nepenthaceae of the Netherlands Indies. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique de Buitenzorg, Série III, 9(3–4): 249–438.
  5. ^ Smith, W.G. 1882. New garden plants. Nepenthes hirsuta var. glabrescens. The Gardeners' Chronicle, new series, 17(430): 398–399.
  6. ^ [Anonymous] 1877. Reports of Societies. Royal Horticultural. The Gardeners' Chronicle 8(197): 441.
  7. ^ Chapman, V.J. 1947. A new endemic species of Nepenthes. Ceylon Journal of Science, Section A: Botany, 12(4): 221–222.
  8. ^ (in Latin) Hermann, H. 1726. Badura. In: Musaeum Zeylanicum, sive catalogus plantarum, in Zeylana Sponte Nascentium, observatarum & descriptarum. D. vander Vecht, Lugduni Batavorum. p. 16.
  9. ^ (in Latin) Hermann, H. 1726. Bandura. In: Musaeum Zeylanicum, sive catalogus plantarum, in Zeylana Sponte Nascentium, observatarum & descriptarum. D. vander Vecht, Lugduni Batavorum. p. 37.
  10. ^ a b Ray, J. 1686. Bandura cingalensium etc. Historia Plantarum 1: 721–722.
  11. ^ a b Burmann, J. 1737. Thesaurus Zeylanicus. Amsterdam.
  12. ^ a b Breyne, J. 1680. Bandura zingalensium etc. Prodromus Fasciculi Rariorum Plantarum 1: 18.
  13. ^ a b Bartholinus, T. 1677. Miranda herba. Acta Medica et Philosophica Hafniensa 3: 38.
  14. ^ a b Grimm, H.N. 1683. Planta mirabilis destillatoria. In: Miscellanea curiosa sive Ephemeridum. Med. Phys. Germ. Acad. Nat. Cur. Decuriae 2, ann. prim. p. 363, f. 27.
  15. ^ a b c Phillipps, A. & A. Lamb 1996. Pitcher-Plants of Borneo. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu.
  16. ^ Paxton, J. 1838. Nepenthes distillatoria. Paxton's Magazine of Botany 4: 1–4.
  17. ^ Masters, M.T. 1872. The cultivated species of Nepenthes. The Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 1872(16): 540–542.
  18. ^ Masters, M.T. 1881. New garden plants. Nepenthes Mastersiana×, Hort. Veitch. The Gardeners' Chronicle, new series, 16(415): 748–749.
  19. ^ Masters, M.T. 1882. New garden plants. Nepenthes rubro-maculata×, Hort. Veitch. The Gardeners' Chronicle, new series, 17(423): 143.
  20. ^ Dixon, W.E. 1889. Nepenthes. The Gardeners' Chronicle, series 3, 6(144): 354.
  21. ^ Moore, D. 1872. On the culture of Nepenthes at Glasnevin. The Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 1872(11): 359–360.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]