Monster Plant

Years back I had seen one in a botanical garden but the pictures AB has shared with me are of a pitcher plant grove. Which means there are several of them growing: in the valley of Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. Showing me the pics in his laptop, he said “There are hundreds of them growing undisturbed on an entire stretch. People come from far and near to see this monster plant.”

The people in the Khasi Hills where the plant grows call it Tiew-Rakot, which means demon-flower or devouring-plant. It is the only pitcher plant India has and goes by the botanical name, Nepenthis khasiana.

Explaining, AB said, “The most interesting part of the Pitcher Plant is its leaf which is modified into different organs… the lamina, the tendril, the pitcher and the lid. A lid is formed over the pitcher, an outgrowth on the face of the leaf near its apex. The lid grows and then become sealed over the mouth of the pitcher. When the plant attains maturity, the lid opens up ready to catch insects. The sides of the pitcher are slippery and grooved in such a way so as to ensure that the insects cannot climb out.  They drown, their body gradually dissolving.”

Pitcher plants grow in land absent in nitrogen. Which means the patch in Khasi Hills which AB came across is suitable for the monster plant. The liquid trapped in the pitchers is of medicinal value and locals think can cure stomach and kidney problems. Once emptied of the liquid the pitfall trap dies.

Then AB told me something I was not ready for. “Gathering courage and hope nothing happens I also downed the liquid through my throat,” he admitted.

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