Nepenthes pitchers develop at the terminal end of the tendril. They vary in size and shape, not only across species, but even on the same plant. As Nepenthes stems grow taller, pitcher structure begins to morph to assist in catching a different type of insect.
Lower “ground” pitchers are commonly colorful with striped or speckled patterns of reds, pinks, yellows, and greens that visually entice prey. Two wings, or “ladders” run along their front to encourage insects to climb up to the mouth. Lower pitchers are generally larger, squatter, and more colorful than upper pitchers. They will commonly rest along the ground or dangle up to a few feet in the air.
Beyond this height, upper pitcher begin to form. They are smaller, more delicate, ditch the ladders, and are less colorful than ground pitchers. They’re primary prey tends to skew more towards flying insects versus crawling insects. They will often look so different from lower pitchers, that you’ll assume they belong to a different species, entirely.
All pitchers contain sweet nectar glands that entice insects, fatten them up, and ease them into an unsuspecting drunken stupor. These glands are most prominent along the tendril, ladders, and peristome. Pray tell, what is this peristome you speak of? Read on, below.