Nepenthes maxima

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Nepenthes maxima
Nepenthes maxima Sulawesi1.jpg
An upper pitcher of Nepenthes maxima from Sulawesi (~400 m asl)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Nepenthaceae
Genus: Nepenthes
Species: N. maxima
Binomial name
Nepenthes maxima
Reinw. ex Nees (1824)
An upper pitcher of a plant matching the description of N. oblanceolata, which is sometimes regarded as a synonym of N. maxima
A rosette plant of N. oblanceolata from near Wamena, Baliem Valley, New Guinea

Nepenthes maxima (/nˈpɛnθz ˈmæksmə/; from Latin: maximus "greatest"), the Great Pitcher-Plant,[5] is a carnivorous pitcher plant species of the genus Nepenthes. It has a relatively wide distribution covering New Guinea, Sulawesi, and the Maluku Islands.[6] It may also be present on Wowoni Island.[7]

Nepenthes maxima belongs to the loosely defined "N. maxima complex", which also includes, among other species, N. boschiana, N. chaniana, N. epiphytica, N. eymae, N. faizaliana, N. fusca, N. klossii, N. platychila, N. stenophylla, and N. vogelii.[8]


This species exhibits great variability across its range, particularly in the plasticity of its pitchers.[9] Plants growing in drier, somewhat seasonal parts of New Guinea generally produce elongated pitchers with narrow peristomes and well-developed waxy zones, while those inhabiting perhumid areas often have a reduced waxy zone and enlarged peristome. This is thought to be because the peristome, when fully wetted, is more effective at trapping prey than the waxy zone, but performs poorly in drier conditions.[10][11]

Lower and upper pitchers of various forms of N. maxima from around the Anggi Lakes, West Papua, New Guinea

Certain forms of N. maxima produce distinctly wavy laminar margins, a trait particularly common in plants from Sulawesi.[6][12] In extreme examples, even the decurrent wings of the leaf—which can extend down the entire length of the stem's internode—may be highly undulate.[13] Such rippled patterns result from increased cell growth near the edges of the leaf, which causes its thin, planar surface to buckle as it assumes the conformation with the lowest energy state.[14]

Nepenthes maxima exhibits extraordinary variability across its range, as evident in this selection of upper pitchers produced by plants from (left to right, top to bottom) Sulawesi at 400 m, Sulawesi at 700 m, New Guinea at 1500 m, New Guinea at 1600 m, New Guinea at 1700 m (two pitchers), New Guinea at 2300 m, and New Guinea at 2600 m.

Infraspecific taxa[edit]

In 2009, a cultivar from Lake Poso in Sulawesi was named Nepenthes maxima ‘Lake Poso’.[15] In 2016, this taxon was described as a species in its own right, N. minima.[16]

Natural hybrids[edit]


  1. ^ Clarke, C.; Cantley, R.; Nerz, J.; Rischer, H.; Witsuba, A. "Nepenthes maxima". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2000: e.T39675A10255301. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2000.RLTS.T39675A10255301.en. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  2. ^ (Latin) Hooker, J.D. 1873. Ordo CLXXV bis. Nepenthaceæ. In: A. de Candolle Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis 17: 90–105.
  3. ^ Masters, M.T. 1887. New or noteworthy plants. Nepenthes Curtisii, Mast., sp. nov.. The Gardeners' Chronicle, series 3, 2(49): 681, 689.
  4. ^ Ridley, H.N. 1916. Nepenthaceæ. [pp. 139–141] In: I. Report on the botany of the Wollaston Expedition to Dutch New Guinea, 1912–13. The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, series 2: botany, 9(1): 1–269. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1916.tb00009.x
  5. ^ Phillipps, A. & A. Lamb 1996. Pitcher-Plants of Borneo. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu.
  6. ^ a b c d e McPherson, S.R. 2009. Pitcher Plants of the Old World. 2 volumes. Redfern Natural History Productions, Poole.
  7. ^ (Indonesian) Sunarti, S., A. Hidayat & Rugayah 2008. Keanekaragaman tumbuhan di hutan Pegunungan Waworete, Kecamatan Wawonii Timur, Pulau Wawonii, Sulawesi Tenggara. [Plants diversity at the mountain forest of Waworete, East Wawonii District, Wawonii Island, Southeast Sulawesi.] Biodiversitas 9(3): 194–198.
  8. ^ Robinson, A.S., J. Nerz & A. Wistuba 2011. Nepenthes epiphytica, a new pitcher plant from East Kalimantan. In: McPherson, S.R. New Nepenthes: Volume One. Redfern Natural History Productions, Poole. pp. 36–51.
  9. ^ (German) Marwinski, D. 2014. Eine Expedition nach West-Papua oder auf den Spuren von Nepenthes paniculata. Das Taublatt 78: 11–44.
  10. ^ Clarke, C. 2013. What Can Tree Shrews Tell Us about the Effects of Climate Change on Pitcher Plants? [video] TESS seminars, 25 September 2013.
  11. ^ Moran, J.A., L.K. Gray, C. Clarke & L. Chin 2013. Capture mechanism in Palaeotropical pitcher plants (Nepenthaceae) is constrained by climate. Annals of Botany 112(7): 1279–1291. doi:10.1093/aob/mct195
  12. ^ [Anonymous] 2013. "BE-3543 Nepenthes maxima - wavy leaf." (PDF).  Nepenthes Growers Newsletter 2(2): 7–8.
  13. ^ Bourke, G. 2010. "Plant profile: Nepenthes maxima." (PDF).  Captive Exotics Newsletter 1(1): 9–10.
  14. ^ Sharon, E., M. Marder & H.L. Swinney 2004. Leaves, flowers and garbage bags: making waves. American Scientist 92(3): 254–261.
  15. ^ a b Evans, D.P. 2009. New Cultivars: Nepenthes maxima ‘Lake Poso’. Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 38(1): 18–22.
  16. ^ Cheek, M. & M.H.P. Jebb (2016). Nepenthes minima (Nepenthaceae), a new pyrophytic grassland species from Sulawesi, Indonesia. Blumea 61: 181–185. doi:10.3767/000651916X693509
  17. ^ McPherson, S.R. & A. Robinson 2012. Field Guide to the Pitcher Plants of Sulawesi. Redfern Natural History Productions, Poole.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]