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Nepenthes distillatoria

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Nepenthes distillatoria (Template:IPAc-en; from New Latin from Latin: destillo = to distill, -oria = adjectival ending; something from which a liquid is distilled, i.e., pitcher) is a tropical pitcher plant endemic to Sri Lanka. It was the second Nepenthes species to be described in print and the first to be formally named under the Linnaean system of taxonomy. It is therefore the type species of the genus.

Botanical history

Nepenthes distillatoria was the second Nepenthes species to be described in print, after N. madagascariensis. In 1677, Danish physician Thomas Bartholin made brief mention of it under the name Miranda herba, Latin for "marvellous herb".<ref name=Bartholin1677 /> Three years later, Dutch merchant Jacob Breyne referred to this species as Bandura zingalensium, after a local name for the plant.<ref name=Breyne1680 /> Bandura subsequently became the most commonly used name for the tropical pitcher plants, until Linnaeus coined Nepenthes in 1737.<ref name=P&L>Phillipps, A. & A. Lamb 1996. Pitcher-Plants of Borneo. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu.</ref>

Nepenthes distillatoria was again described in 1683, this time by Swedish physician and naturalist Herman Niklas Grim.<ref name=Grim1683 /> Grim called it Planta mirabilis destillatoria, or the "miraculous distilling plant", and was the first to clearly illustrate a tropical pitcher plant.<ref name=P&L /> Three years later, in 1686, English naturalist John Ray quoted Grim as saying:<ref name=Ray1686 />

The root draws up moisture from the earth which with the help of the sun's rays rises up into the plant itself and then flows down through the stems and nerves of the leaves into the natural utensil to be stored there until used for human needs. [translated from Latin in Pitcher-Plants of Borneo]<ref name=P&L />

Linnaeus used Grim's original specific epithet when naming N. distillatoria in 1753.

Nepenthes distillatoria from Joseph Paxton's Magazine of Botany of 1838<ref>Paxton, J. 1838. Nepenthes distillatoria. Paxton's Magazine of Botany 4: 1–4.</ref>

Nepenthes distillatoria was again illustrated in Johannes Burmann's Thesaurus Zeylanicus of 1737. The drawing depicts the end of a flowering stem with pitchers. Burmann refers to the plant as Bandura zeylanica.<ref name=Burmann1737 />

In the horticultural trade of the late 19th century, N. distillatoria was often confused with N. khasiana of India.<ref name=Masters16>Masters, M.T. 1872. The cultivated species of Nepenthes. The Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 1872(16): 540–542.</ref><ref>Masters, M.T. 1881. New garden plants. Nepenthes Mastersiana×, Hort. Veitch. The Gardeners' Chronicle, new series, 16(415): 748–749.</ref><ref>Masters, M.T. 1882. New garden plants. Nepenthes rubro-maculata×, Hort. Veitch. The Gardeners' Chronicle, new series, 17(423): 143.</ref><ref>Dixon, W.E. 1889. Nepenthes. The Gardeners' Chronicle, series 3, 6(144): 354.</ref>

Ecology

Nepenthes distillatoria is endemic to Sri Lanka and is the only Nepenthes species recorded from the island. It grows in waterlogged open scrub, along road embankments and other cleared areas, and in forest. N. distillatoria occurs from sea-level to 700 m altitude.<ref name=IUCN/>

Due to its isolation, N. distillatoria has no known natural hybrids.

Infraspecific taxa

Three infraspecific taxa of N. distillatoria have been described, although they are no longer considered valid.

  • Nepenthes distillatoria var. rubra (Nichols.) Hort.Veitch ex Lindsay (1891)
  • Nepenthes distillatoria var. speciosa Hort.Van Houtte ex Rafarin (1869)
  • Nepenthes distillatoria var. vera D.Moore (1872)<ref>Moore, D. 1872. On the culture of Nepenthes at Glasnevin. The Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 1872(11): 359–360.</ref>

References

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Further reading

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External links

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