Please Note: The Special Exhibits area is closed for renovation until March 2014
Asian pitcher plants, or Nepenthes, inhabit the Special Exhibits area of the conservatory. There are more 140 species of these tropical carnivores ranging from Malaysia and Indonesia to Madagascar and the Seychelles. The size, shape and color of the pitchers vary with different species.
Insects and other small prey (occasionally small mammals, frogs or birds) are lured to the mouth of the pitcher by small nectar glands around the opening. Losing their footing on the ultra-smooth surface, they fall in and drown in the liquid below. This digestive cocktail inside is a combination of water and enzymes that breakdown the "meal" into a form that can be absorbed by the plant.
These and other carnivorous plants evolved trapping mechanisms to make up for nutrient deficiencies resulting from the typically poor soils in which they grow.