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Nepenthaceae

Nepenthaceae (pitcher plants) A family of carnivorous and tropical herbs and shrubs which are often woody climbers or epiphytes. The alternate leaves are without stipules. Tendrils, formed by projections from the leaf midrib, assist in climbing. The pitcher forms on the end of the tendril, with a lid covering the mouth. The pitcher is inwardly curved, with nectar glands at the entrance and a slippery internal surface. It is often brightly coloured. The colour and nectar attract insects, which slip into the pitcher; they are unable to climb out and so drown in the water that has accumulated at the base of the pitcher. The plant is able to absorb the nutrients from the dead insects. The flowers are dioecious and held in a spike. They are small and brightly coloured, red, yellow, or green, with 3 or 4 sepals and no petals. The stamens of the male flower are united into a column. The female flower has a short style, and a superior ovary with 4 locules, each with numerous ovules. The fruit is a thickened capsule and holds the small, light seeds with a fleshy endosperm. The family is related to other insectivorous families, such as the Droseraceae. There is 1 genus, Nepenthes, with about 70 species, occurring in Madagascar, the Seychelles, and from the Asian tropics to New Caledonia and Australia.

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