Nepenthes spectabilis and its hybrids

I confess to having a special appreciation for Nepenthes spectabilis and many of its hybrids. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a spectabilis hybrid I didn’t immediately love. While many growers are smitten (and understandably so) by the intensely striped forms of N. veitchii, it’s the narrower peristome and elegant, thin-waisted body of spectabilis that speaks to my aesthetics more than veitchii.

From Wikipedia, some information about the species’ ecology:

Nepenthes spectabilis is endemic to the Indonesian provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh. Its natural range stretches from the Lake Toba region in the south to Mount Kemiri in the north. It has an altitudinal distribution of 1400–2200 m above sea level. Nepenthes spectabilis grows in mossy forest and stunted upper montane forest. It usually occurs terrestrially, but may also be epiphytic.
Certain populations of N. spectabilis differ considerably in morphology. Plants from the type locality produce relatively broad upper pitchers, while those from Mount Pangulubao are much narrower. A particularly gracile form has been recorded from the west side of Lake Toba. Plants from Mount Siluatan are different still, producing pitchers that are green throughout. The species also exhibits great variability in the extent of the indumentum; some plants have a dense covering of hairs, while others are virtually glabrous.
The form of N. spectabilis from Mount Bandahara is very large and has an unusual flared peristome. Plants grow in Sphagnum moss. In 1996, Paul Harwood, Heiko Rischer and Andreas Wistuba observed that the majority of prey in both lower and upper pitchers of this form consisted of beetles. They also found infaunal mosquito larvae in the pitchers
In the wild, N. spectabilis is sympatric with N. flava, N. gymnamphora, N. mikei, N. ovata, N. rhombicaulis, and N. rigidifolia. Natural hybrids with all of these species except N. flava have been recorded.
Due to the patchy distribution of N. spectabilis, its conservation status is listed as Vulnerable on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Upon observing N. spectabilis on Mount Pangulubao in 1995, botanist Charles Clarke wrote that he “got the impression that collectors had taken a bit of a toll on the population, partly because very few immature plants were visible”.


Pictured above
: the so called “giant” form of N. spectabilis, one of Borneo Exotics clones, produced in a lab by tissue culture. (This approach to distribution of desirable species reduces the pressure on native populations which are prone to over collecting)


This one is a seed-grown N. spectabilis grown by Leilani Nepenthes. Again, this plant was sexually produced in captivity and places no pressure on natural populations.


Above: N. ventricosa X spectabilis, one of the easiest hybrids to grow, and certainly one of the most rewarding, bringing all the best spectabilis characteristics into the mix.


Above: N. truncata X spectabilis, one of the larger, bolder hybrids. Also very easy to cultivate.


And this little weirdo is the unmistakeable N. spectabilis x aristolochioides, one of Borneo Exotics hybrids. Easy to grow, and always rewarding, this hybrid is a must-have for growers.


And finally, another photo of one of my favorite hybrids, N. ventricosa X spectabilis. There are several different clones of this cross, and the inverse, in commerce, and I have three distinct cultivars. The other two are from cuttings I received a few months ago, and only one has produced any respectable pitchers. I will try to get a photo posted later today to illustrate how different the other clone is.


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