Nepenthes edwardsiana is apex Nepenthes and known as the “splendid pitcher plant” for good reason. It combines the most beastly characteristics of a flanged, spikey peristome (second only to Nepenthes hamata when it comes to “viscous factor”) with the handsome refinement of a cylindrical pitcher shape, fine ribbing, and beautiful red-orange coloration. It’s like a lion in a tuxedo – it will bite your face off, but will do it with style.
Parking the awe-inspired acclimation for a moment, Nepenthes edwardsiana is also a fascinating species with a bit of an early identity crisis. It was discovered by Spenser St. John and Sir Hugh Low in 1858 high atop Mt. Kinabalu. One year later, Sir Joseph Hooker formally described the plant, solidifying it as a unique species. Even so, some botanists thought N. edwardsiana was actually N. villosa (more specifically, a subspecies N. edwardsiana subsp. macrophylla). This debate raged on until 1908 when John Muirhead Macfarlane revised the description and botanical illustrations of N. ewardsiana in his monograph, reinstating its position as a distinct species. Hermann Harms doubled down on this in 1936 and this time it stuck.
The name edwardsiana honors Georgoe Edwards, Governor of the Colony of Labuan from 1856 to 1861. It was also referred to as Nepenthes edgworthii for a hot minute, but this did not stick.
Unique biology of Nepenthes edwardsiana
As alluded to above, Nepenthes edwardsiana pitchers are something to behold. Lower pitchers are about 10 inches (25 cm) tall, and generally smaller than upper pitchers. The bottom-most pitcher section is ovate, narrowing out to a distinct hip and more cylindrical shape. Lower pitchers have wings.
Unlike many Nepenthes with smaller upper pitchers, N. edwardsiana goes big. Upper pitchers can reach 20 inches (50 cm) and hold more than 13.5 ounces (400 ml) of digestive fluids. Wings subside and give way to subtle ribbing, but the peristome retains blade-like flanges.
Other notable characteristics
Nepenthes edwardsiana grows in dense forest at 5000-8800 feet (1500-2700 m) above sea level as an epiphyte, among trees, but also feels at home on terra, among mossy rocks. Conditions are almost always misty and engulfed in clouds. Stems grow up to 50 feet (15 m) long, climbing through vegetation.
The conservation status of this tropical pitcher plant is listed as a Vulnerable species, so make sure any specimens for sale come from reputable nurseries.
Other Nepenthes varieties, species & hybrids
With unique domed pitcher shape and outwardly-facing mouth, Nepenthes aristolochioides is instantly recognizable, and with pitfall, lobster, and flypaper traps, the tropical pitcher plant is a jack of all traps. So beautiful, so deadly.
Nepenthes alata is a highly variable, widely grown, and hugely rewarding tropical pitcher plant. It's great for beginners looking to cut their teeth on an easy-to-grow and pitcher-prolific species.
A heavy-hitting lowland Nepenthes species with broad variability and even broader size. It was treasured by Victorian-era botanists for its beauty and it's easy to see why, even today.
To say Nepenthes ampullaria is unique, among a sea of unique Nepenthes, would be an understatement. The plant leans heavily on a vegetarian diet, playing host to critters that help it digest debris that falls from the forest canopy above.
Nepenthes albomarginata looks like it’s going on a date, all dressed up with a classy white collar. The characteristic band of white under the peristome serves a unique purpose, though - and it’s not for attracting the ladies or gents - rather, a specific type of prey.
Known as the "splendid pitcher plant" for good reason. It combines the most beastly characteristics of a flanged, spikey peristome with the handsome refinement of a cylindrical pitcher shape. It's like a lion in a tuxedo - it will bite your face off, but will do it with style.
Nepenthes robcantleyi x hamata
This gorgeous hybrid Nepenthes is what happens when you take two beauties, N. robcantleyi and N. hamata, and make a celebrity baby.
This tropical pitcher plant has black pitchers and a branched spur on the backside of where the lid and peristome meet. - Kind of like cowboy spurs, but less pokey.
Nepenthes lowii x truncata
This robust Nepenthes hybrid adopts the huge peristome of N. truncata pitchers and gaping mouth and lid of N. lowii. It's truly one beast of a tropical pitcher plant!
With knife-sharp hooks for a peristome, Nepenthes hamata is insect nightmare fuel and, hands-down, the most vicious looking tropical pitcher plant. If I were an insect, I'd refer to this as a Nope-enthes.
Ever imagine what would happen if a vampire bit a Nepenthes? Really? Me too! Well, wonder no more. Nepenthes bicalcarata is our fanged tropical pitcher plant.
Tropical Pitcher Plant
The Tropical Pitcher Plant, or Nepenthes, is an exotic and refined bug catcher. Some even grow large enough to catch small mammals.
The ol' toilet bowl for tree shrews. This tropical pitcher plant is famous for its odd upper pitchers that are not only shaped like toilets, but also act as actual toilets to climbing critters lucky enough to stumble across their secrets.
With upper pitchers like dainty cocktail glasses filled with honey, Nepenthes inermis is a fascinating carnivorous plant that uses both flypaper and pitfall trapping mechanisms.
With a peristome you can serve dinner off of, pitcher volume you can cary 2 liters of soda in, and a hunger that will decimate annoying insects, it's the perfect picnic guest
Translation of sanguinea is "blood red" - suiting name for a Nepenthes with pitchers so red that they almost appear purple.
Nepenthes x ventrata
The name is a combination of "ventricosa" and "alata," like "Brangelina" but with Nepenthes. Because it's easy to grow, popular in cultivation, and has a celebrity name, it's a star in my book.
is an extravagant, fuzzy tropical pitcher plant that hugs and climbs tree trunks as an epiphyte.
Nepenthes mikei Nepenthes mikei is a beautiful highland tropical pitcher plant discovered in 1989 by Bruce Salmon, Ricky Maulder, and Mike Hopkins on an expedition to Mount Pangulubao in Sumatra. The plant was first [...]
Nepenthes truncata A grand lowland Nepenthes, N. truncata is known to swallow entire rats whole. How can you tell? The smell, unfortunately. And the bones. They don't digest the calcium-heavy bones. Nepenthes truncata is [...]