Nepenthes aristolochioides is so unique as a tropical pitcher plant, that botanists had to name it after an entirely different genus to capture the essence of it. “Oides” is Latin for “like” (as in “similar to something else”), so N. aristolochioides is literally Aristolochia-like. The reason being, Aristolochia (also commonly known as the Dutchman’s pipe) has some neat-o flowers that somewhat resemble the pitcher shape and color of N. aristolochioides. Aristolochia can be further broken into its Latin roots áristos, meaning “best” and lokheía, meaning “childbirth, childbed.”
So, we’ve got a plant named after a plant named because, long ago, it was thought to be helpful in fighting infections during childbirth. Unfortunately, Aristolochia is actually toxic and carcinogenic, so don’t ingest, inject, absorb, or inhale the thing unless you’re looking for kidney failure, or worse. Anyway, enough about the gloomy (but beautiful) Aristolochia!
Nepenthes aristolochioides is super cool and totally not carcinogenic (as far as we’re aware)! It’s a highland Nepenthes that had its holotype collected August 5 of 1956 by Willem Meijer atop Mt. Tujuh in Jambi. That was all folks heard about the pitcher plant for about 32 years, until 1988 when the botanist Joachim Nerz rediscovered the holotype specimen sitting in storage at the herbarium of Leiden University. There was an air of mystery around the specimen as folks questioned the unique positioning of pitcher mouth and peristome as, perhaps, a mishap of the preservation process. Joachim Nerz and Katrin Hinderhofer headed out to Sumatra in 1996 where they rediscovered the wild plant and confirmed its quirky mouth. Field science for the win!
Of course, it wasn’t until May 1997 in an issue of the botanical journal Blumea that Martin Cheek and Matthew Jebb actually, finally, officially described Nepenthes artisolochioides in a monography titled “A skeletal revision of Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae).” Nerz followed this up with a description in the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter in 1998.