Rat-eating plant discovered in Philippines
The plant is among the largest of all pitchers and is believed to be the largest meat-eating shrub, dissolving rats with acid-like enzymes.
Rats are lured into its slipper-like mouth to drown or die of exhaustion before being slowly dissolved by digestive enzymes.
Natural history explorer Stewart McPherson, who runs Redfern Natural History Productions, discovered the plant during an expedition to Mount Victoria in the Philippines, with fellow botanists Alastair Robinson and Volker Heinrich.
The plants produce large ‘pitchers’ which are big, hollow, water-filled leaf structure. The plant then secrete nectar to attract insects and some rodents. The prey falls in and cannot escape back up the slippery, waxy interior of the trap.
Mr McPherson, of Poole Dorset, said: “The plant produces spectacular traps which catch not only insects, but also rodents. It is remarkable that it remained undiscovered until the 21st century.”
The team, which found the plant in 2007 following a two-month expedition, published details of their discovery in the Botanical Journal of Linnean Society earlier this year following a three-year study of all 120 species of pitcher plant.
They decided to name the plant Nepenthes attenboroughii, after the wildlife broadcaster Sir David.
“My team and I named it in honour of Sir David whose work has inspired generations toward a better understanding of the beauty and diversity of the natural world,” added Mr McPherson.
Sir David, 83, said: “I was contacted by the team shortly after the discovery and they asked if they could name it after me. I was delighted and told them, ‘Thank you very much’.
“I’m absolutely flattered. This is a remarkable species the largest of its kind. I’m told it can catch rats then eat them with its digestive enzymes. It’s certainly capable of that.”
Source : Telegraph.co.uk