1. Family: Sarraceniaceae Dumort.
    1. Genus: Heliamphora Benth.
      1. Heliamphora nutans Benth.

        There are around 18 species of carnivorous Heliamphora, all of which are endemic to Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. Heliamphora nutans was the first species in the genus to be discovered. It was spotted by Robert and Richard Schomburgk on the slopes of Mount Roraima in October – November 1838. Robert Schomburgk was a German cartographer who had travelled to the region on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society in order to create the first detailed maps of British Guiana (now called Guyana), which was Britain’s only colony in mainland South America.

    [KSP]
    General Description
    Venezuelan marsh pitcher is a carnivorous plant from the mountains of Venezuela and Guyana. It has short cone-shaped pitchers with a small lid and nodding white flowers.

    There are around 18 species of carnivorous Heliamphora, all of which are endemic to Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. Heliamphora nutans was the first species in the genus to be discovered. It was spotted by Robert and Richard Schomburgk on the slopes of Mount Roraima in October – November 1838. Robert Schomburgk was a German cartographer who had travelled to the region on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society in order to create the first detailed maps of British Guiana (now called Guyana), which was Britain’s only colony in mainland South America.

    Schomburgk made an excellent drawing of the species and sent it to George Bentham at Kew, who described it in 1840 as belonging to a new genus Heliamphora, named after the Greek helos (marsh, not helio, sun), and amphoreo (jar). David Burke, a plant collector for Messrs Veitch of Chelsea, rediscovered the species in 1881 and introduced it to England.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Heliamphora nutans is found in north-eastern South America, including Venezuela and Guyana, at elevations of 1,200–2,800 m on the tepuis (table top mountains) of the Guyanan Shield.

    Description

    A tuft of cone-shaped leaves, which form pitchers to trap insects, is produced from a rhizome. A small slit about half way up each pitcher acts as a drain to let out excess water. The pitchers of Heliamphora nutans are green shaded with red, and measure around 20–30 x 8–10 cm across the mouth. The flowering stems can reach 40–45 cm and carry red bracts and a few nodding flowers with narrow, pointed, white petals around 3–5 cm long. The brown anthers are clustered around a short style. The seeds are winged with wavy ridges.

    How the pitcher catches insects

    At the top of the pitcher is a small lid, which does not cover the mouth of the pitcher but secretes nectar that attracts insects. Once lured to the rim of the pitcher, an insect starts to feed on the nectar. Downward pointing hairs on the inside of the pitcher invariably cause the prey (usually ants) to lose their grip and fall into the liquid-filled base of the trap where they drown.

    This mechanism of capturing prey (termed a pitfall trap) is completely different from that of the Venus flytrap ( Dionaea muscipula), for example.

    Threats and conservation

    No specific threats have been recorded for this species, but in recent years there has been an increase in ‘eco-tourism’ to the region that could have adverse effects on some populations through habitat disturbance and trampling.

    Uses

    Heliamphora nutans is grown as an ornamental and a curiosity.

    Cultivation

    Heliamphora nutans should be planted in sphagnum moss and sand or perlite and kept wet and humid with good air circulation. It needs to be given as much light as possible in winter, but shade around mid-day in summer.

    This species at Kew

    Venezuelan marsh pitcher is growing in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, in the carnivorous plant zone.

    Pressed and dried, and alcohol-preserved specimens of Heliamphora nutans are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world by appointment. The details of some of these, including images, can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

    View details and images of specimens

    Mount Roraima and The Lost World

    Mount Roraima is one of about 100 tepuis in north-eastern South America. Tepuis are huge flat-topped mountains that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write the novel The Lost World, since they emerge out of the rainforest and have precipitous cliffs reaching to around 3000 m elevation, effectively cutting off the summit from the surrounding forest. Some tepuis are so precipitous that their tops can only be reached by helicopter. Since the discovery of Heliamphora nutans on Roraima, a further 17 species in the genus have been found on other tepuis in the region.

    Kew and Mount Roraima

    On first seeing Mt Roraima, Schomburgk wrote: ‘without wings, the intrepid explorer… would not be able to reach its summit’. Several years later, and after previous attempts to scale the summit had failed, Sir Joseph Hooker (a former Director of Kew) dispatched an expedition to make an attempt on the summit. The expedition was led by Everard Ferdinand Im Thurn, Curator of the Museum in Georgetown, Guiana (now Guyana), and included Harry Perkins, an Assistant Crown Surveyor. Guided by Amerindians through uncharted rainforest and waterways, the pair successfully climbed to the summit of Roraima in October 1884.

    Roraima was the first of the Guyana tepuis to be botanically explored. The approach had always been made from the east or south via the Venezuelan savannas that extend to 1,400 m up the mountain. It was not until 1971 that the mountain's wet northern side was first penetrated. It was this same route (the ‘Waruma trail’, which follows the Waruma river up to a ridge below the summit) that was followed by the highly successful 1978 Kew Expedition, resulting in 400 plant collections, including new species of ferns and several tree ferns. Two more Kew expeditions followed in 1979 and 1980.

    More recently, Roraima has become an increasingly popular destination for ‘eco-tourism’ and adventure-seeking readers of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. Some concern has been raised about the long-term impact of visitor numbers on the vegetation. However, the tepui region as a whole remains remote and relatively undisturbed, and is recognised today as one of the world’s centres of plant diversity and endemism.

    Distribution
    Guyana, Venezuela
    Ecology
    Marshy places, wet rock sheets, and amongst summit vegetation.
    Conservation
    Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    Devours small insects.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Venezuela

    Common Names

    English
    Venezuelan marsh pitcher

    Heliamphora nutans Benth. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jan 1, 1998 Schomburgk, R.H. [645 (983 B)], Guyana K000471792
    Jan 1, 1998 Schomburgk [1050] K000471793
    Jan 1, 1998 Schomburgk [1050], Guyana K000471794
    Edwards, P.J. [KER 40], Guyana 71432.000
    Guyana K000560001
    Persaud, R. [82], Guyana K000560002
    McConnell, F.V. [679], Guyana K000560003
    [McConnell, F.V. [[679]], Guyana K000560004
    Philcox [6414], Guyana 40978.000
    25342.000

    First published in Proc. Linn. Soc. London 1: 53 (1840)

    Accepted in:

    • [4] Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008) Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela . Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.

    Literature

    • [1] Jennings, D. E. & Rohr, J. R. (2011). A review of the conservation threats to carnivorous plants. Biological Conservation 144: 1356-1363.
    • [2] The Plant List (2010). Heliamphora nutans. (Accessed 29 August 2011).
    • [3] Fleischmann, A., Wistuba, A. & Nerz, J. (2009). Three new species of Heliamphora (Sarraceniaceae) from the Guayana Highlands of Venezuela. Willdenowia 39: 273-283.
    • [5] McPherson, S. (2007). Pitcher Plants of the Americas. McDonald & Woodward, Ohio.
    • [6] Rivière, P. (ed.) (2006). The Guiana Travels of Robert Schomburgk 1835-1844. Volume 1: Explorations on Behalf of the Royal Geographical Society 1835-1839. The Hakluyt Society Ser. III. Vol. 16. Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot.
    • [7] Radcliffe-Smith, A. (1998). Three-language List of Botanical Name Components. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [8] Huber, O. (1997). Pantepui region of Venezuela. In: Centres of Plant Diversity: A Guide and Strategy for their Conservation. Volume 3: The Americas, eds S. D. Davis, V. H. Heywood, O. Herrera-Macbryde, J. Villa-Lobos & A. C. Hamilton, pp. 312-315. IUCN Publications Unit, Cambridge.
    • [9] Steyermark, J. A., Berry, P. E. & Holst, B. K. (eds) (1995). Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana 1. Missouri Botanical Garden & Timber Press, Portland.
    • [10] Mellichamp, L. (1979). Botanical history of CP IV: Heliamphora. Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 8: 86-89.
    • [11] Veitch, J.H. (1906). Hortus Veitchii. Privately printed.

    Sources

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [C]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [D] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [E] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0