Re: Nepenthes Cuttings Question

MuadD'ib (MBT1159@ACS.TAMU.EDU)
Fri, 3 Mar 1995 13:12:55 -0600 (CST)

About the upper pitcher cuttings producing upper pitcher plants and vice
versa, let me regurgitate what we've been discussing (because for some
reason the conversation here and there parallels) in my Plant
Propogation and Plant Physiology classes. A woody plant cannot be
thought of in chronological age. It has a physiological age that varies
with different parts of the plant, provided of course that the plant has
reached a point where it flowers (or pitchers in this case). Stems
protruding from the basal part of the plant will be juvenile. Stems
that include the apical meristem and the ends of very old lower stems
will be mature, and those in-between will be an intermediate. I'll
attempt to illustrate:

\ |@| /
\\ |@| //
\@\ |@| /@/
\ |@@@| /
\\ |###| //
\#\ |###| /#/
\ |###| /
\*\ |###| /*/ @@ Adult
\**\ |***| /**/
\**\ |***| /**/ ## Intermediate
\/***\/ ** Juvenile

This is the reason grafting is such an advantage to fruit and nut producers,
an immature root stock can have a mature scion grafted to it and it is
productive in just a few years (usually 2-4 years), versus growing the plant
from seed or cutting and getting a productive plant in 15 or 20 years! The
actual cutting and grafting _will_ reduce the physiological age of the
cutting to an intermediate phase, but that's generally so the scion can
produce enough vegetative mass to reproduce. A six inch twig doesn't
produce many pecans (our big concern here at A&M).

Juvenile cutting _root_ better than intermediate and mature cuttings, and
intermediate cutting root better than mature cuttings. As far as leaves
(pitchers) being representative of physiological age, it's hard to say.
Leaves in some species (for example, Pathos) will be much different under
full sun versus understory conditions. Humidity, light, nutrition: any or
all of these and more can be an explanation.

The questions that need to be asked are: Under what conditions would a
particular _Nepenthes_ species produce upper pitchers in its native habitat?
What purpose does it serve? Is an upper pitcher mechanically different from
a lower pitcher for trapping insects. Different species of insects trapped,
different nutritional values (N levels), different amounts of light in the
upper part of the trees, different humidity? Another question I have is
whether Nepenthes are C3 or C4 plants? Are some C3 and some C4? That could
be a big deal in cultivating them.

Also, has anyone ever tried grafting a mature _Nepenthes_ scion onto a root
stock of another _Nepenthes_? Using this same method, male and female
scions of the EXACT SAME SPECIES could be present on a single plant!

Matt in Aggieland