JNTBGRI have developed three new hybrids of the Pitcher plant or Monkey cup (Nepenthes), a carnivorous plant that traps insects and small rodents and feeds on them.
Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) here have developed three new hybrids of the Pitcher plant or Monkey cup (Nepenthes), a carnivorous plant that traps insects and small rodents and feeds on them.
The institute is justifiably proud of its Nepenthes collection of 20 species brought from far and wide. Of the 140 species of Nepenthes distributed across the world, mainly in Madagascar, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Australia, only one — Nepenthes khasiana — is known to occur in India, in the Khasi and Jaintia hills of Meghalaya.
Plants of Nepenthes are usually climbers, growing several metres in length and straggling over low bushes and trees in forest areas. The leaves of the plant get modified into a pouch-like structure with a lid on top. The pouch produces enzymes that can kill insects and even small rodents. The trap is often colourful, attracting prey. The slick coating on the upper part of the trap makes escape nearly impossible for the prey.
According to C. Sathish Kumar, scientist, Orchid Biology and Conservation unit, JNTBGRI, Nepenthes and other carnivorous plants such as Aldrovanda, Dionea, Drosera, Sarracenia, and Utriculariaattract, kill, and digest insects to derive nitrogen required for their growth.
Dr. Sathish Kumar said the initial results of the breeding experiments with Nepenthes were exciting. “For the first time in India, we have developed a few wonderful hybrids.”
The collection of carnivorous plants is the highlight of Plant Wonders, a children’s education programme conducted by the JNTBGRI. “Understanding the basics of plant sciences will have to be a priority in this changing world when forced extinction of species is happening at a faster rate than ever. How many of the species on the earth today will be seen by our children or grandchildren is anybody’s guess. Botanical gardens will act as Noah’s Ark, arresting the extinction and saving some species for posterity.”
The JNTBGRI has drawn up plans to supply Nepenthes plants to students under the programme.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / T.NandaKumar / Thiruvananthapuram – July 28th, 2014