Meet Nepenthes attenboroughii, the most recently discovered species of carnivorous pitcher plant. It’s been dubbed the “rat-eating plant.”

Named after British naturalist and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough, the plant grows only on the unforgiving summit of Mt. Victoria, a remote, 5,000-foot peak in the central Philippines. Unlike most pitcher plants, which subsist on insects, the oversized Nepenthes attenboroughii can trap and consume vertebrates as large as mice and rats.

Its cone-shaped pitcher traps, which come in shades of bright green, mottled purple or blackish red, can grow more than 11 inches wide. Prey attracted by the plant’s sweet nectar slip helplessly into its sticky interior, which is half full of acids and enzymes. After the digestive process, only the bones remain…

That’s where Stewart McPherson, the Indiana Jones of botany who discovered the exotic new breed of pitcher plant, comes in. In 2007, the British natural history explorer and two colleagues ascended Mt. Victoria, hoping to verify reports of enormous pitcher plants at the summit. After days of battling up the slope, at times hacking their way through untouched underbrush with machetes, they got their wish.

“We found thousands of giant pitcher plants covering the landscape,” says McPherson, who recently visited the States to unveil photos of the new species at several carnivorous plant conferences. (Wait, SEVERAL? carnivorous plant conferences?!? “I’d been lucky enough to have studied most of the known species worldwide, and it was instantly clear to us that not only was this a new species but it was also one of the biggest and most spectacular that had ever been found.” Nepenthes attenboroughii, which got its name due to McPherson’s admiration for the naturalist, is actually the second-largest pitcher plant in the world, but the fact that it remained unseen by human eyes until the 21st century is testament to nature’s remarkable diversity and mysterious depths…

Read more about this crazy plant & the rest of the article here.

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