Rat-eating Plant Declared a New Species After 7 Years

An unnerving plant, unusual for its partiality towards meat, has been declared a new species previously unknown to science. The ‘Queen of Hearts’, which also munches on mice and frogs, seems to be straight out of botanical science fiction.

The plant, which was first found in Borneo in the late 1980s, is one of the largest carnivorous plants ever seen with some flowers stretching 2.5 metres.

Nepenthes Robcantleyt is named after botanist Rob Cantley who first found the plant in Borneo in the late 1980s. Dr Martin Cheek of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew Surrey was shown a leaf and photographs. Mr Cheek, an expert in Nepenthes, spotted the plant as a discovery almost immediately.

According to Robert Cantley the pitchers are ‘modified leaf tips’ with ‘different shapes, colours and forms’ which are so pretty they often resemble flowers. About 40cm in length, they are ‘designed to capture and lure the prey,’ Cantley said.

The ‘Queen of Hearts’ is particularly distinctive in this way with its checkerboard design, which makes it very attractive to insects. The carnivorous plant then breaks down its capture with hydrochloric acid and enzymes in a way akin to the human stomach.

The plant, which is believed to be extinct in the wild, continues to exist only through botanists who continually spray it with mist and keep it in very high humidity.

 

Source and Image: Mail Online