The Biggest Carnivorous Plants

Charles Darwin once identified certain plants as insectivores in 1875, but as of the year 2010, we not only know that these plants are carnivorous but some are large enough to consume adult jungle rats. From the massive nepenthes pitcher plant to other large meat-eating flora, some carnivorous plants can get so big, it's downright scary.

Nepenthes Rajah

Endemic to Mount Kinabalu of Malaysia, the nepenthes rajah plant is arguably one of the largest known carnivorous plants discovered so far. Nepenthes raja has other names such as "Rajah Brooke's Pitcher Plant," "Giant Pitcher Plant" and "King of Nepenthes." The giant plant produces vines that often cling to the ground but will attach their selves to any upright structure as well. The stem is about an inch thick, being stalk-like in appearance and it can reach lengths to 20 feet. The leaves are wide, large and deep green, and the largest part of the plant is the trap, or pitcher. The pitcher of the giant nepenthes raja, grows to more than a foot in height and can hold more than four liters of liquid, including digestive fluids. The pitcher is deep, crimson red and can vary to shades of purple as well. The liquid within the attractive, massive plant lures mammals, birds and large insects to be trapped and digested by its pitcher.

Nepenthes Truncata

In September 2006, the Botanical Gardens of Lyon, France, provided the first photographic proof of a nepenthe, the Nepenthe truncata to be specific, digesting a mammal. The Nepenthes truncata, like other nepenthes, is a pitcher-baring carnivorous plant that produces a rather large lower trap that can grow to almost 2 feet from top to bottom. Endemic to Mindanao island of the Philippines, truncata is a hardy vining plant that produces wide, heart shaped foliage and a very long pitcher. The pitcher is a vibrant spring-green when it is young, but as it matures it can range from crimson red to eggplant purple, much like the nepenthes rajah. Nepenthes truncata is also known to naturally hybridize with other plants in the nepenthes family of carnivorous pitcher plants. It can be grown in a moist, shaded and warm garden in tropical to subtropical climates with rich, dark soil.

Raffles' Pitcher-Plant

Common to Borneo and Sumatra, Raffles' pitcher plant produces carnivorous pitchers that measure up to 40 cm. The plant is a climbing ground cover with modified leaves that act as individual traps for small prey like insects. The upper and lower pitchers of the plant are elongated and range in color from bright green to deep brown with red fading. Each pitcher contains a viscous fluid that lures prey to feed from it or pollinate, in which they become trapped and eventually digested. Raffles' pitcher plant can be grown in subtropical or tropical gardens with moist sandy soil.

Keywords: carnivorous plants, nepenthes, pitcher plants

About this Author

Chelsea Hoffman is a professional freelance writer with works published both on the Web and in print. She currently resides in Las Vegas. The author of the new series of horror novellas, titled "Fear Chronicles," Hoffman's work can also be found on environmental websites like, where she helps spread environmental awareness with her mighty pen.