Nepenthes Botanical Paintings

Modern microscopy techniques enable us to capture the shape and inner beauty of the leaf traps of carnivorous plants. These plants have intrigued people for many years. It is fascinating to discover sinister plants which eat animals, when you only expect plants to be food. Collectors and explorers documented animal eating plants over the last few centuries to spread information of newly discovered species and pose questions about how and why these plants captured insects. The John Innes Centre Historical Collection contains a special collection of rare books with botanical paintings and drawings documenting the history of Botany and plant research. These stunning antique prints were found in this archive mostly in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

Nepenthes rafflesiana from Curtis’s botanical magazine, plate 4285 (1847) is a pitcher plant from Borneo, Sumatra, Malaysia and Singapore. Nepenthes rafflesiana has pitcher traps up to 35cm long.
Nepenthes phyllamphora from Curtis’s botanical magazine, plate 8067 (1906). Now known as Nepenthes mirabilis from Australia, Oceana and Southern Asia, has large pitcher traps on the end of tendril like leaves.
Nepenthes curtisii from Curtis’s botanical magazine, plate 7138 (1890) is now known as Nepenthes maxima. It grows in Sulawesi, New Guinea, and the Maluku Islands and exhibits wide variation in pitcher trap shape and size.