Kako | @bicolmuseum via Photos: Leonardo L. Co | CDFP


There’s more to Mayon than its perfectly-shaped cone! Today we learn about Bicol’s rich Natural Heritage as National Museum of the Philippines Bicol introduces you to rare endemic carnivorous plant species of pitcher plants, or Nepenthes ventricosa of the Nepenthaceae family.

Documented growing in the Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP), this pitcher plant is endemic to the Philippines particularly in Aurora, Bataan, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quezon, Rizal, and in Bicol region in Albay, Camarines, and Sorsogon. This species thrives on lower mossy oak forests, from 1,000 – 2,000 meters above sea level.

Locally known as kako in Bicol, N. ventricosa is known for its hour-glass-shaped pitcher; it is strongly narrowed in the middle as if forming a waist. They are either epiphytic (growing on trees) or lithophytic (growing on rocks). Read further about N. ventricosa’s distinct characteristics here: bit.ly/3FrhjDc

What makes pitcher plants like N. ventricosa more interesting is that they are carnivorous. But how exactly does this carnivory take place?

Pitcher plants belong to the genus Nepenthes. Their stems and leaves have no direct roles in carnivory, but their pitchers, which are found at the tip of the tendrils extended from the leaf blades, are lined with a collar-like structure called the peristome. Interestingly the upper part of the inner side of the pitcher is covered with slippery wax crystals; at the bottom, it is lined with glands that secrete acids and enzymes that help facilitate the digestion of the prey.

Pitcher plants thrive abundantly in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, but they also have high species diversity in Sumatra, Borneo, and the Philippines. There are around 60 species of pitcher plants identified in the country. Check Philippine Nepenthes here: bit.ly/3FlO7gW

The N.ventricosa is classified as endangered per DENR Administrative order 2017-11. Habitat loss and poaching are threats to this species population.

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