Pitcher Plant Hunting in Weston
Insect-eating (carnivorous) plant such as Pitcher Plant always fascinates me, so I’m so happy that Simon from W.P.M.S Tours & Travel took me for a short tour in “Pitcher Plant Garden” of Weston. The density of pitcher plants there is high, or you can say they are everywhere.
With me is a group of local and foreign tourists. The pitcher plant site looks like other places in countryside. When I was wondering where to start, Simon warned everyone, “Watch your step, you might step on it!”
Within a minute, a tourist shouted, “See! There is one here.” Shortly a child also screamed in excitement, “I also found another one!” Soon everyone was so engrossed with pitcher plant hunting.
Though I’ve seen pitcher plant in red Ultramafic soil and heath forest, this is the first time I see pitcher plant choosing sandy area as its natural habitat. This area is sandy and full of white rocks, with patchy dark maroon rocks among.
Pic: family has fun looking for the pitcher plant
Simon is right, there are clusters of pitcher plant grow on the sandy soil, you have to be very careful of your steps.
Pic: Nepenthes gracilis, the most common pitcher plant species of Borneo.
Nepenthes gracilis can be found in secondary forest, peat swamp forest and heath forest of below 500 Meter above sea level. It may not have distinctive feature but it is tiny and cute, its colors vary from green to red. Most pitcher plant we saw in this area is Nepenthes gracilis.
Pic: clusters of Nepenthes gracilis in Weston.
Pic: the red circles are where we saw Nepenthes gracilis. Casual visitors will miss it easily.
Then I started to hunt in grass area. You can tell that the soil here is poor in nutrient from the presence of ferns, shrubs and shorter trees.
The pitcher plant seems to grow larger in grass area, probably due to higher organic substances in the soil.
Pic: Nepenthes xhookeriana
Nepenthes xhookeriana is a special find here. This species is a natural hybrid between Nepenthes ampullaria and Nepenthes rafflesiana (both are abundant in South-West of Sabah). The pitcher is squat, broad and ovoid in shape.
I spotted Nepenthes rafflesiania when I moved deeper into the wood.
Pic: excited kids taking picture with pitcher plant
Pic: the flower of pitcher plant, which is “friendly” to insect (pollinator).
Too bad we had to rush to the next destination, so we only spent 15 minutes in Pitcher Plant Garden. Otherwise I can spend hours exploring this area. I was told that a fireman who put off forest fire here saw a white pitcher plant as long as an arm in deeper part of neighboring forest. I’ll come back again one day to discover more.
How to get there
Weston is a small town at Sabah’s West Coast and 125 KM (2-hour drive) south of Kota Kinabalu city. 400 Meters before Weston, turn to a junction named Jln Lubok at your left, and you will reach the place in a few minutes (see Location Map).
Pic: you will see a Chinese temple (Chinese name: 聖王廟) near the junction.
This place is an open space without gate and fence. But don’t litter around when you visit the land.
Have you visited this place? Please tell me, if you see other species of pitcher plant there.
Photos taken in Weston, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo