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Nepenthes rafflesiana

Nepenthes rafflesiana (/nɪˈpɛnθz ræˌflziˈɑːnə/; after Stamford Raffles), or Raffles' pitcher-plant, is a species of tropical pitcher plant. It has a very wide distribution covering Borneo, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and Singapore. Nepenthes rafflesiana is extremely variable, with numerous forms and varieties described. In Borneo alone, there are at least three distinct varieties. The giant form of this species produces enormous pitchers rivalling those of N. rajah in size.

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Among the many unusual forms of this species is the winged-tendril form, known under the epithet var. alata. Most often recorded in the wild in plants from Borneo, this form is sought after for the unusual appearance created by frilled "wings" that run down both sides of the tendril. Another unusual feature of this form of plant is that the wings appear to be inheritable, with the offspring of var. alata plants often showing the winged tendril as well. It is not known if this characteristic is a sport mutation in the genetics of the plant, an ancient trait passed down from a time when the pitchers were directly attached to leaves and not tendrils, or possibly a mix of both. If it is an ontogenetic trait originating from ancient genes, it could explain why the feature is directly heritable.

Contributed by Hawken Carlton

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