Lambir Nepenthes Colour Project (proposal)

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Green Pitcher found in exposed plot.

Green or Red? Colour Adaptation of Nepenthes gracilis

Chen Dexiang,Thien Tam Luong and Sarah Peprah



The state of Sarawak has 25 known species of pitcher plants, thus Sarawak has the honor of having the highest diversity of pitcher plants in any region of similar size. Nepenthes gracilis is a member of the Nepenthaceae family and is one of the more common species on the island of Borneo. It has been noted that its aerial pitchers are green and the terrestrial pitchers are purple (or red).


We hypothesize that the color of the pitchers on a pitcher plant is an adaptive trait ; therefore there will be a height-based distribution of the color of pitcher plants. Hence, we hope to show a correlation between the color of the pitcher with prey abundance in specific heights in order to prove the adaptive nature of color.


Is there a height-based distribution of the color of the pitcher plants? And is it an adaptive trait?

Red Pitcher found in exposed plot.


We are using Nepenthes gracilis as our model organism because it is the most common species and it exhibits both aerial and terrestrial pitchers. There will be two sites for study: the first site being the exposed patch by the roadside 500 meters from HQ and the second being the shaded patch at the foot of the CTFS Lambir plot. At each site, we randomly select 20 green and 20 red pitchers and measure their height from the ground and the number of prey inside the pitcher. In order to account for varying pitcher capacities, the volume of liquid would be measured and be divided by the number of prey. We will determine the color distribution using a histogram, then determine the similarity in prey abundances between both sites by means of chi square and t test.


40 falcon tubes, measuring tape, markers, tweezers, hand lens, microscope, petri dish


Clark, C. and Ch'ien, L. (2004), Pitcher Plants of Sarawak, Natural History Publications.,Borneo.