Rat-eating plant discovered in the Philippines

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

A pitcher plant, the Nepenthes attenboroughii is believed to be the biggest meat-eating shrub in the world, dissolving its prey with acid-like enzymes.

It was discovered by a team of botanists, led by British experts Stewart McPherson and Alastair Robinson.

They found it on Mount Victoria in the Philippines after two Christian missionaries described seeing a large carnivorous "pitcher" there in 2000.

Attenborough, who has leant his name to a prehistoric lizard, a parasitic wasp, an echidna and a fossilised fish as well as the rat-eating plant is said to be happy with the dubious honour given to him by McPherson.

He said:  "I like these oddball plants and this is a very dramatic one. It can hold up to two litres of water in its jugs. It is a very nice, complimentary thing for this young, intrepid explorer to do, and I am very touched that Stewart McPherson should have done it in my name."

The team found the plant in 2007 and eventually published their discovery in the botanical journal of the Linnean Society earlier this year, following a three-year study of all 120 species of pitcher plant.

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


Subscribe to Horticulture Week for more news, more in-depth features and more technical and market info.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Trees and Shrubs - Planting benefits

Trees and Shrubs - Planting benefits

The message that health, the environment and business all benefit from trees is finally getting through, but are nurseries seeing an upturn? Sally Drury reports.



These evergreen trees and shrubs have decorative bark and can flower and fruit simultaneously, says Miranda Kimberley.

Four Oaks Trade Show 2018 - Product Solutions

Four Oaks Trade Show 2018 - Product Solutions

The latest products have all been designed to make growing more productive and to help sell more plants, says Sally Drury.

Opinion... Democracy is a hindrance to good place making

Opinion... Democracy is a hindrance to good place making

A farmer close by the small village of Green Hammerton in North Yorkshire is promoting his farm as a site for 3,000 new homes. It is slap-bang in the middle of the countryside at the mid-point between York and Harrogate.

Opinion... How to increase UK plant supply

Opinion... How to increase UK plant supply

Why don't UK growers produce more of the plants that the UK market demands?

Opinion... Co-operation is industry's best card

Opinion... Co-operation is industry's best card

What a great trade this is when one of us needs help. "The Container Revolution" co-operative exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a good example.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive RANKING of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles