Re: Some new names;

Jan Schlauer (
Fri, 13 May 1994 11:18:06 +0100


>I've seen all of those other names plenty of times, but what are Catopsis and
>Triphyophyllum. I've seen the latter mentioned in literature but have yet to
>see a description. The former is completely unfamiliar. Could someone describe
>these plants for those of us who are less advanced.

_Catopsis_ is a genus of Bromeliaceae, many members of which do have leaf
rosettes filling with water which leads to the eventual death and
decomposition of many a little drowned creature. For further information on
these (family, genera, and species), I recommend the bromeliad discussion

_Triphyophyllum_peltatum_ is the only (partially) carnivorous member of the
small family Dioncophyllaceae (3 monotypic genera) inhabiting coastal
regions of tropical West Africa. All of them being lianes or small shrubs
climbing up shrubs or trees by means of leaves which have two curved hooks
at their apex (Dioncophyllum = Leaf with two hooks).

_Triphyophyllum_ has 3 types of leaves (Triphyophyllum = Leaf of three
types). The first two leaf types (viz. rosette and climbing shoot leaves)
are found in all species of Dioncophyllaceae, the third type is special for
_Triphyophyllum_. It has a variously reduced lower laminar portion and is
reduced to a long and narrow arista at the apex as a prolongation of the
midrib of the leaf. This arista is covered with sessile and variously
stalked glands secreting a sticky fluid and - upon stimulation by captured
prey - proteolytic enzymes. The similarity of the trapping leaf portion to
the leaf of _Drosophyllum_ is rather close. These trapping leaves are
predominantly formed on young parts (especially on shoots emerging from
stems which have been cut back) and they may be missing in adult plants on
flowering shoots. Thus, the plant is only a part-time carnivore. Although
the similarity to cps of the flypaper type has been known for a long time,
it has until rather recently (mainly because of a paper proving the
proteolytic capabilities of the trapping leaves by GREEN, GREEN &
HESLOP-HARRISON) not been considered carnivorous.

Another striking feature of Dioncophyllaceae is their seed maturation. The
ovary breaks open a long time before seeds are ripe. Thus, the growing seed
supported on an elongating funiculus is developing in "open air" conditions
like in the gymnosperms. It forms a large disc around the embryo, the whole
arrangement looking like the fruiting body of a mushroom (thence the
epithet "peltatum" because the seeds look like peltate leaves).

As far as I know, no successful attempt has yet been made at cultivating
_Triphyophyllum_, although the plant is obviously *not* rare in the wild as
opposed to numerous rumours in the literature: it only does rarely flower
and set seeds, and many easily accessible stands of it have been destroyed
for farming or cooking (wood) purposes. The other members of
Dioncophyllaceae are threatened considerably more seriously, inhabiting
much smaller ranges and more specialized habitats.

Kind regards