Pitcher Plant Rediscovered In Vietnam 100 Years Later

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(Photo by Dr. Ulrike Bauer)

A species of the pitcher plant has been rediscovered in a Vietnamese park after a century since it was last spotting in the wild.

Dr. Vu Ngoc Long of the Institute of Tropical Biology accidentally found this rare species of plant on a survey trip to the southern Vietnamese province of Tay Ninh last year.

Since August of 2011, scientists from the institute and park have gathered with researchers from France and Britain to find the plant again.

Nguyen Dinh Xuan, director of the Lo Go-Xa Mat National Park, said Monday that less than 100 specimens of the Thorel pitcher plant were found in parts of Cambodia.

The pitcher plant, or Nepenthes gracilis, is similar to the Venus Flytrap in that it feasts on insects by attracting them with a sticky nectar-like substance on the underside of the leaves. The top of the plant has a lid that closes on insects when it rains, which traps the prey inside the tube-like leaves and makes them unable to climb out.

“It’s amazing to see things like this in the field,” study author Ulrike Bauer from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences said, according to the Daily Mail. “The pitcher plants have very unique mechanisms, but this is perhaps the most amazing.”

The plant was first discovered by French botanist Clovis Thorel in Binh Duong in the 1860s and has not been seen in the wild since.

The Institute of Tropical Biology has requested that the pitcher plant be placed on the endangered species list in Vietnam to raise global awareness for the plant’s conservation.

Scientists and Lo Go-Xa Mat National Park officials are working to breed the plant and register a patent to prevent it from biopiracy.