Little Plant Shop of Horrors

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

AMP it up!

AKA: Nepenthes ampullaria Jack

Origin: Native to Singapore, actually...

Status: CITES II

Say hi to lil' Ampy! This little guy(or is it a gal?) has been with me for a very long time now, even longer than the Marimo balls have. The Ampy you see here actually originated from a cutting I took from one of my plants a few years back. That original Ampy is dead though...was destroyed by a cat mere days after I took the cutting. Sad, huh? Still this little one managed to survive for almost two years as a cutting in just water...before it was planted up.

What makes Ampy special should be obvious...its a Tropical Pitcher Plant. Yep, a carnivorous and native to Singapore on top of that. For those of you who don't know what all that means, well, it produces special pitcher-like structures from its leaves to trap insects and feed on them. You can see a close up of a very newly formed pitcher above. Its pitchers may be small, but lil Ampy has caught its fair share of insects...and even a few snails! Ampy's still rather young though, so its pitchers are still rather small and plain. This'll change in a couple more years. Yes, years. There's a lot of info on Ampy and its easy to find, especially since there's no mistaking Ampy for any other Pitcher Plant.

Best obtained from: Nurseries, but I haven't seen any around for a couple of years now. The original Ampy plant was bought around five years ago.

Cost: $8-18. Its the norm for any local species, if you can find them.

Singapore: Try Woon Leng Nursery in Chua Chu Kang. They might be able to bring some in. If not, one of the Nurseries in Upper Thompson Road sells tissue cultured ones for around $12, but they'll take years to reach Ampy's current size.

Hardiness: Tough, but ONLY if certain strict rules are followed.

Growth Speed: Snail's pace. Well...slower.

Its getting late for me now, so I'll cover those rules and other growth conditions another time. Generally, while Ampy is hardy compared to many of its relatives, it may not be that great a gift to most people because it doesn't pitcher too often, almost never produces upper pitchers (only lower ones) and its pitchers aren't much to look at. Of course, there are some pretty variations, like those which produce pink pitchers or oversized pitchers, but in my experience, you won't find any of those in Singapore nurseries. There are some in the wild here in Singapore, but don't go picking them. If you do, you are a baaaaaad person. Bad! No cookie for you! You might get a hefty fine though. A normal plant will, if its treated right and its feeling happy, produce larger and more fancy pitchers after it ages a fair bit, but since Ampy grows slowly, don't wait up for it. In any case, that's it for today, look forward for more on Ampy and its kinfolk in the posts to come!


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