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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 29 Aug 2009 Issue

Rat Eating plant discovered in Philippines
By Chris Irvine


A carnivorous pitcher plant that eats rats and insects has been discovered in the Philippines and named after Sir David Attenborough.

Rat-eating plant: The team of botanists, led by British experts Stewart McPherson and Alastair Robinson, found the plant on Mount Victoria in the Philippines. Photo: STEWART MCPHERSON

The plant is among the largest of all pitchers and is believed to be the largest meat-eating shrub, dissolving rats with acid-like enzymes.

The team of botanists, led by British experts Stewart McPherson and Alastair Robinson, found the plant on Mount Victoria in the Philippines.

They were inspired to search for the plant after word that it is existed came from two Christian missionaries who described seeing a large carnivorous pitcher in 2000 after they climbed the mountain.

Mr. McPherson, of Poole Dorset, said: "The plant produces spectacular traps which catch not only insects, but also rodents. It is remarkable that it remained undiscovered until the 21st century."

The team, which found the plant in 2007 following a two-month expedition, published details of their discovery in the Botanical Journal of Linnean Society earlier this year following a three-year study of all 120 species of pitcher plant.

They decided to name the plant Nepenthes attenboroughii, after the wildlife broadcaster Sir David.

"My team and I named it in honour of Sir David whose work has inspired generations toward a better understanding of the beauty and diversity of the natural world," added Mr. McPherson.

Sir David, 83, said: "I was contacted by the team shortly after the discovery and they asked if they could name it after me. I was delighted and told them, 'Thank you very much'.

"I'm absolutely flattered. This is a remarkable species the largest of its kind. I'm told it can catch rats then eat them with its digestive enzymes. It's certainly capable of that." .


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