Best time to travel to Malaysia

Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes in Malaysia

These plants eat insects and even small mammals

Best time: March–October

Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes
Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes
Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes
Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes

Scientifically, pitcher plants are called Nepenthes, though most people call them monkey cups. This, of course, doesn't mean that a monkey can be eaten by a plant. Probably such name appeared when people saw monkeys drinking rainwater from these plants.

The greatest variety of pitcher plants can be found within the Malay Archipelago. There are several locations in Malaysia which possess the highest density of different kinds—the Borneo montane rain forests, Gunung Mulu National Park, and Kinabalu National Park. More than 15 kinds of Nepenthes can be found there.

Nepenthes faizaliana is endemic to the limestone peaks of Mulu. If one wants to find them, the best option would be to follow the the Pinnacles Trail on Mount Api.

Nepenthes Rajah is endemic to Sabah region and can be spotted in Kinabalu National Park. It is the biggest pitcher plant in the world. Its trap usually holds up to 2 liters of liquid, but some exceptional plants can reach a volume of up to 2-3 litres of water. The King of Nepenthes traps not only insects, but also small animals like rats, shrews, lizards, and birds.

Pitcher plants grow through the year, but they are more active and produce more leaves during warmer and drier months—between March and October.

Practical info

What is the scientific name for pitcher plants?

Pitcher plants are scientifically named Nepenthes, and they are commonly called monkey cups. In Malaysia, the species are unique, with varying characteristics, and there are approximately 15 Nepenthes species in Borneo, each with a distinctive look and insect-catching approach. Show more

Where can I find the greatest variety of pitcher plants in Malaysia?

The greatest variety of pitcher plants in Malaysia is found in the Malay Archipelago. The Borneo montane rain forests as well as the Gunung Mulu and Kinabalu National Parks boast an impressive variety of Nepenthes species, with over 15 species in Borneo alone. The plants grow in nutrient and water-rich areas, and each species has specific growth habitats. Show more

When is the best time to visit Malaysia to see pitcher plants?

Your best bet to see pitcher plants in Malaysia is from March to October, during the warm, dry season when the plants are in the growth phase. Although pitchers can be found year-round, more leaves are grown during this period, and it's easier to find various species in the Parks when there's less rainfall, as some areas may become inaccessible during the wet season. Show more

How big can Nepenthes Rajah's trap hold?

Nepenthes Rajah, from the Sabah region of Malaysia, has the largest pitcher plant traps globally, holding 2-3 liters of water. The species has an insectivorous and carnivorous diet, digesting many animals, including birds, lizards, rodents, and shrews. The inner lining of its traps can capture prey with adhesive glands, which keeps them feeding continuously. Show more

What kind of creatures can Nepenthes Rajah trap?

Malaysia's Nepenthes Rajah, the world's largest pitcher plant, is an extraordinary trap that can digest larger animals besides catching insects. Carnivorous, the plant can capture rats, shrews, lizards, birds, and more, thanks to its ability to trap prey with its adhesive inner linings, killing them by dissolving their flesh and absorbing the nutrients. Nepenthes Rajah has evolved to capture bigger critters to supplement its diet of mostly insects. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin