Nephenthes attenboroughii, or “Attenborough's pitcher,” from Palawan is one of the ten (10) species chosen for 2010 by Arizona State University's (ASU) International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE). Each year the IISE announces a list of the Top 10 New Species for the preceding calendar year.
Attenborough's pitcher is a charismatic plant species and produces one of the largest pitchers known at 30x16 cm, comparable in size to an American football. It is also carnivorous, feeding on insects trapped by the fluid contained in the pitchers. Endemic to the island of Palawan, Philippines, it is known only from a single locality.
Attenborough's pitcher was among those chosen on the basis of a nomination based on a scientific article written by Alastair S. Robinson, Andreas S. Fleischmann, Stewart R. McPherson, Volker B. Heinrich, Elizabeth P. Gironella and Clemencio Q. Peña in February 2009 entitled, “A spectacular new species of Nepenthes L. (Nepenthaceae) pitcher plant from central Palawan, Philippines,” and published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. The authors suggest that Attenborough's Pitcher be Red Listed as Critically Endangered.
The authors said that "The specific epithet, attenboroughii, is a commemorative, genitive noun in apposition taken from the patronym Attenborough. We have chosen to name this species after broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, whose outstanding television documentaries have made the world’s natural history accessible and understandable to millions. As a keen enthusiast of the genus and a patron of Philippine conservation efforts, it is fitting that this spectacular new species be dedicated to him on the occasion of his 80th birthday."
McPherson and Robinson published a paper on the new pitcher plant species along with Andreas Fleischmann, Volker Heinrich, Elizabeth Gironella and Clemencio Peña.
“A spectacular new species of Nepenthes L.(Nepenthaceae) pitcher plant from central Palawan, Philippines” was published in the Botanical Journal of Linnean Society in February 2009.
According to the journal article, the Philippines is home to 17 Nepenthes species, 16 of which are endemic. This means that they can only be found in the Philippines.
The Philippines is the “third richest region for Nepenthes diversity after Sumatra and Borneo, each with approximately 30 endemic species.”
The botanists described the new Nepenthes species as “immediately distinguishable from other Nepenthes by its great dimensions and trumpet-shaped lower and upper pitchers.”
They also noted that it is the “only member of the genus occurring at high elevation on the mountain.”
The botanists explained in the article why they named the new plant species Nepenthes attenboroughii.
“The specific epithet, attenboroughii, is a commemorative, genitive noun in apposition taken from the patronym Attenborough,” they said.
They noted that they chose to name the plant after broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough because he is a “keen enthusiast of the genus and a patron of Philippine conservation efforts.”
They also mentioned that Attenborough has “outstanding television documentaries have made the world’s natural history accessible and understandable to millions.”
Meanwhile, it was revealed that other species were found during the botanists’ expedition in Mount Victoria.
According to Earth News, the botanists “came across a striking new species of sundew, a type of sticky trap plant, which they are in the process of formally describing.”
They also spotted “strange pink ferns and blue mushrooms they could not identify.”
They even saw another pitcher plant, Nepenthes deaniana, which is said to have not been visible in the wild for a hundred years.
Three of the botanists are regarded as pitcher plant experts: McPherson, Robinson and Heinrich.
McPherson is from Redfern Natural History Productions in Poole, Dorset, Great Britain. Robinson is formerly from the University of Cambridge while Heinrich is from Bukidnon, Philippines.
Fleischmann, meanwhile, is from Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich (LMU Munich) while Gironella and Peña are from the Palawan State University Biodiversity Center for Research and Conservation.
(Editor's note: To get back to the main story, please click on this link: http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/05/arizona-state-universitys-international.html).