Pitcher Plants; The Trappy Tale
It is no secret that Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. For within this vast pygmy forest are the countless rare and striking site-endemic species. Some has been described while it seems a lot more are yet to be discovered.
Did you know that Mt. Hamiguitan has the Philippines’ most number of pitcher plants? And that five of which are endemic to this site? A German scientist once enunciated that these can’t even be found anywhere else in the world yet.
One factor why this mountain houses endemic plant species is its ultramafic soil which contains high level of metallic elements and less organic matter. Unfortunately, ultramafic soil deprives plants the "essential" nutrients it needs. The silver lining- some plant species are clever and resilient enough to find its way to survive through evolutionary processes such as adaptation and speciation.
Pitcher plants are one of those survivor plants. They adapted to the harsh environment by developing a modified structure in its leaf designed to lure and catch insects and other animals to supplement its nutrition. Once their prey is confined, it will be slowly dissolved by the enzyme-filled liquid inside the pitcher traps. That makes them one nimble, carnivorous plant.
All of these evolutionary processes have resulted to the sprouting of the five unique pitcher plant species in this mountain.
The first species, 𝑁𝑒𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠 𝑝𝑒𝑙𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑎, was described in 2008. After a few years of continuous exploration, four others were also described namely 𝑁. 𝑚𝑖𝑐𝑟𝑎𝑚𝑝ℎ𝑜𝑟𝑎 (2009), 𝑁. ℎ𝑎𝑚𝑖𝑔𝑢𝑖𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑠 (2010), 𝑁. 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑒 (2016) and the most recent, 𝑁. 𝑎𝑙𝑓𝑟𝑒𝑑𝑜𝑖 (2017).
Humans can learn from these species as well. Such as whenever we find ourselves in a harsh, difficult environment, be resilient. Be like pitcher plants.
Meanwhile, a day to go for the PA Talk!
Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is among the six protected areas in the country which will be featured in the pilot episode of PA Talk, an hour of online conference organized by the DENR's Biodiversity Management Bureau and will be hosted by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda.