Genus of the Week
Week of March 15-21
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.
This week's genus:
Number of Species: 6, not including cultivars
Root: From the Greek "helos", meaning marsh, and "amphora", meaning urn.
(a reference to the pitcher-shaped leaves). Some confusion has arisen over the etymology, due to the fact that the Greek root can also be interpreted as being "helios", which translates to "sun". I cannot find an official reference for this, so I am relying solely on what I can glean from the Oxford English Dictionary and the advice of several helpful web surfers.
Plants in the genus Heliamphora are commonly known as "Pitcher Plants", and are in the
same family as the other known Pitcher Plant genera, Sarracenia and Darlingtonia.
All species in these genera are carnivorous, trapping insects and other small creatures inside
fluid-filled "pitchers" which are actually modified leaves. Several species of Heliamphora
are grown as ornamentals, and while they can be cultivated, they are unfortunately prone to collection
in the wild, as are all "carnivorous" plants.
Here are some links to images and information for the genus Heliamphora:
- Ms. Chiaki Shibata a member of the Insectivorous Plant Society in the Biology Department of
Nippon Dental University, has taken some gorgeous photos of Heliamphora growing naturally
in mountain habitats in Japan. Click
here to see them.
- Click here to see two nice
photos of H. minor inflorescences taken by I.Ohsaka of Japan.
- If you are interested in carnivorous plants, you should definitely stop by the
Carnivorous Plant Database. From there you can search for lists of existing species and
varieties of these unique plants.
- Triffid Park, a distributor of carnivorous plants, has a few
tips about growing plants in this genus, which are now available through tissue
culture. If you are interested in Tissue Culture Kits for home use, try
Peter Cole's web page.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
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