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Possible North African Pitcher Plants

Discussion in 'Live Plants' started by Abdulkarim Elnaas, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. Abdulkarim Elnaas

    Abdulkarim Elnaas Arachnosquire Active Member

    Does anyone know of any pitcher plants known to inhabit Northern Africa?

    In 2012 I was staying at my granny's land in Benghazi (Libya) and I remember seeing what I thought were pitcher plants growing in numbers on the red clay soil. I'd only seen huge pitchers with big red lips and impressive colors (in some building in Calgary, maybe the Zoo). Meanwhile, these were small and green with some white, if I'm remembering right, and they were very simple looking.

    If I recall correctly, they didn't look like most old world pitchers that I can see on the internet - they didn't have that stringy part that ends in a cup. They were smallish and I think they just grew straight up vertically from the ground in a cone shape, with a modest looking cap or hood or whatever that thing is called.

    I remember them because, as a person who is generally uninterested in plants, they managed to capture my attention and curiosity for a bit.

    I was hoping someone could suggest what I might have actually seen. My descriptions are probably somewhat off, seeing as this was some time ago.

    EDIT: I hope I'm not posting in the wrong place. I just noticed that there were a lot of carnivorous plant enthusiasts here who might be able to help.
  2. Owenmurray

    Owenmurray Arachnopeon

    Do you recall if there were any leaves on the plants, or was it strictly pitchers? As far as I know Africa doesn't have any sarracenia-esque pitcher plants where it's only bunches of pitchers without leaves. There is one species of terrestrial Nepenthes, Nepenthes pervillei, that comes to mind.

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  3. Myrmeleon

    Myrmeleon Arachnoknight

    Introduced species?
  4. Abdulkarim Elnaas

    Abdulkarim Elnaas Arachnosquire Active Member

    Again, I could be mistaken, but that was one of the things that stuck out to me. I'd always imagined pitchers would have that stringy part and that they would look like pots and that they would be climbers, like the one in Calgary. This is why I didn't think the ones in Benghazi were pitchers (or else I would have collected a few). I doubt they were as conspicuous as in the pic above, as those look very much like pitcher plants. I think it was the tiny cap and the cone shape that put me off. I can't say for sure about the details, I think I recall some growing singly and some with a pair of heads or three heads. Maybe there were leaves at the base. I will describe what I saw to my family in Benghazi, see if they can find one and send a pic for science.

    Given the sheer unlikeliness of a very specialized new-world plant growing in a Mediterranean environment on the other corner of the earth, and how long ago it was that I thought I saw it, I am probably misremembering something.
  5. myrmecophile

    myrmecophile Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Maybe something like Aristolochia.
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  6. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Many plants look like pitcher plants when they are just emerging from the soil in the spring. Do you remember what time of year it was?

    I am confident that what you saw was not a pitcher plant, but I would be interested to find out what it actually was. My guess would be some kind of arum, but Aristolochia is certainly also possible, as are dozens of other groups, presumably.
  7. Abdulkarim Elnaas

    Abdulkarim Elnaas Arachnosquire Active Member

    Probably not those. I remember it being a small plant that grew straight up out of the ground.

    It was summer, like maybe late June or July I think.

    I feel like there are too many variables.
    Is it my memory making some serious blunders?
    Was it a lookalike, but not an actual pitcher?
    Was it a pitcher of the old world variety?
    Was it a completely new pitcher?
    Was it a new world variety of pitcher?

    Occam's razor would have me narrow it down to the first two, and probably a mix of both. I just hope my family in Benghazi can help us out with this. I am also pretty curious.

    If I'd known or cared more about carnivorous plants when I came across the plant I am describing, I'm pretty sure this would have been easier. I would have at least known what to look for and remembered those things.

    Something that I do remember is these plants were growing where most other plants weren't doing too well. That red soil yielded mostly thorns and shrubs and milk thistle. Can't say whether it was a lack of water or the soil itself tho.
  8. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Hmmm, summer in a Mediterranean climate is terribly hot. I suppose it wasn't just emerging from the ground, then. Probably a funnel-shaped flower of some kind. I hold by my original guess of some kind of arum.

    Saracenniaceae are exclusively new world, and Cephalotus is exclusively native to southwest Australia. You might have seen an invasive species, but the only reasonable guesses for what might be invasive are Saracennia, which have large, obvious hoods. Nepenthes couldn't live in the kind of habitat you're describing, I don't think, and in any case the Mediterranean gets too cold in the winter for any Nepenthes I know of that could also survive in the summer there. The chances of there being an undescribed carnivorous plant family (and it would have to be at the family level for it to be a pitfall trap) from marginal habitats in Libya is essentially nil.

    For what it's worth, though, my guess is your memory is basically accurate.
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  9. MikeyD

    MikeyD Arachnosquire

    There are no Nepenthes in Africa, closest is Madagascar.

    I suspect you saw one of the Arum species. Arum italicaum and Arum cyrenaicum both occur in Libya.
  10. Abdulkarim Elnaas

    Abdulkarim Elnaas Arachnosquire Active Member

    It seems, after some image surfing on google, that it was an Arisarum. The coloration is exactly as I remember it and I've had this nagging sensation from the start that I was forgetting something. The stigma thingy in the middle was probably that thing.
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  11. MikeyD

    MikeyD Arachnosquire

    So I was close but no cigar. LOL. Another tuberous Aroid genus, Arisarum latifolium instead of one of the Arums.
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  12. Abdulkarim Elnaas

    Abdulkarim Elnaas Arachnosquire Active Member

    I basically searched up Arum and I also added North Africa in the search and Arisarum was mostly what came up. Thank y'all for the help! No way I imagined we'd actually figure it out.

    Is Arisarum latifolium a synonym for A. vulgare? I think Wiki says so.
  13. MikeyD

    MikeyD Arachnosquire

    If you decide you like these plants you can grow quite a few in the garden. I am in Ontario (zone 5B) while you are at a surprising 7B because you are near the coast. You can easily grow many of the Asian Arisaema species as well as our native Arisaema triphyllum. Also the genus you saw in Libya has some hardy garden plants you can sometimes order from gardening catalogs and mail order nurseries. The most commonly seen is Arisarum proboscideum. You could proabbly also grow the huge Amorphophallus konjac in the garden as well. Buried deep enough it can survive zone 6b so it should be easy for you.
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  14. MikeyD

    MikeyD Arachnosquire

    Yes, Arisarum latifolium is listed as a synonym, actually the list is rather long. LOL

    Arisarum vulgare Targ.Tozz., Anal. Mus. Imp. Fis. Firenze 2(2): 67 (1810).

    Balmisa vulgaris (Targ.Tozz.) Lag., Gen. Sp. Pl.: 17 (1816).

    Arum arisarum L., Sp. Pl.: 966 (1753).

    Arisarum arisarum (L.) Huth, Helios 11: 133 (1893), nom. inval.

    Arisarum latifolium Hill., Brit. Herb.: 336 (1756), nom. inval.

    Arum incurvatum Lam., Fl. Fran . 3:. 3: 538 (1779), nom. illeg.

    Arisarum incurvatum Holmboe, Stud. Veg. Cypr.: 43 (1914), nom. illeg.

    Arum arisarum Lour., Fl. Cochinch.: 655 (1790).

    Typhonium cochinchinense Blume, Rumphia 1: 135 (1837).

    Calyptrocoryne cochinchinensis (Blume) Schott, Prodr. Syst. Aroid.: 195 (1860).

    Arum calyptrale Salisb., Prodr. Stirp. Chap. Allerton: 261 (1796).

    Arisarum australe Rich., Arch. Bot. (Paris) 1: 20 (1833).

    Arisarum serpentrium Raf., Fl. Tellur. 3: 63 (1837).

    Arisarum azoricum Schott, Oesterr. Bot. Wochenbl. 7: 190 (1857).

    Arisarum balansae Schott, Oesterr. Bot. Wochenbl. 7: 190 (1857).

    Arisarum forbesii Schott, Oesterr. Bot. Wochenbl. 7: 190 (1857).

    Arisarum jacquinii Schott, Prodr. Syst. Aroid.: 22 (1860).

    Arisarum libani Schott, Prodr. Syst. Aroid.: 21 (1860).

    Arisarum sibthorpii Schott, Prodr. Syst. Aroid.: 21 (1860).

    Arisarum veslingii Schott, Prodr. Syst. Aroid.: 20 (1860).

    Arum libani Schott, Prodr. Syst. Aroid.: 21 (1860).

    Arisarum crassifolium Schott, Bonplandia 9: 369 (1861).

    Arisarum subalpinum Kotschy ex Engl. in A.L.P.de Candolle & A.C.P.de Candolle, Monogr. Phan. 2: 563 (1879).

    Arisarum latifolium Bubani, Fl. Pyren. 4: 29 (1901).
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  15. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    I had a feeling it would be something like that. Your description of the plant reminded me of jack in the pulpit, a northeastern US native:
    I'm not surprised to find the plant was basically a look alike, but I'm very glad to finally know what the plant was.
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  16. MikeyD

    MikeyD Arachnosquire


    I think you would be pleasantly surprised if you took a look at the Arisaema that are available. I have 5-6 species and just added a couple more that I don' have. Some are even up to 3 feet tall and make quite a statement. Others are almost grotesque looking. They are really fun plants to grow, either in the garden or in pots. We are lucky to have several sources of bulbs in Canada as well. They seem unusual enough to even catch the interest of people who might not be all that interested in gardening.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
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  17. Abdulkarim Elnaas

    Abdulkarim Elnaas Arachnosquire Active Member

    Does anyone know where I can buy Arisarum sp. in Canada? There is one seller in Spain offering A. simorrhinum rhizomes on ebay that I found.
    Also, do y'all have any recommendations for other interesting plants that would be good for a beginner?
  18. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    I think the arisaema suggestion is a good one if you're looking for interesting-looking plants for a beginner.

    If you have enough light, Sarracenia are pretty easy, and are actually carnivorous plants. There is some special care, but it's not actually difficult, and they're pretty hardy. I can suggest other good beginner carnivorous plants if you like.
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  19. Abdulkarim Elnaas

    Abdulkarim Elnaas Arachnosquire Active Member

    I already ordered seeds for Dionaea muscipula, Drosera capensis, Drosera spatulata, Utricularia subulata, and Mimosa pudica.

    I have no idea what I'm doing :bag:
  20. MikeyD

    MikeyD Arachnosquire

    Fraser Thimble Farms
    Fuller Native and rare plants
    Phoenix Perrennials

    Some are only available in fall but others can be ordered now. If you find seeds available just be aware it's a 3-4 year commitment to raise seedlings to maturity. Better to start with bulbs.

    I have to agree that Sarracenia are perfect if you have a nice full sun area to place then during the growing season. I grow all of mine potted and they are some of my favorite temperate carnivorous plants.
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