Nepenthes Sumatra alata etc.

Matthew Jebb (
Mon, 20 Mar 95 09:20:18 GMT

Dear All,

>"N. sp. "Sumatra" was field collected in 1984 by Bruce Sutten
>at 4000' on a mountain side just off Lake Toba (found large colony at this
>site)...The pitchers are often referred to as looking like a cross between
>tobaica and reinwardtiana. The Japanese call it 'Sumatra alata'. However,
>this is in error, as the main characteristic of N. alata is having a large
>glanular boss under the lid - which it does not have. The plant was never
>keyed out and named due to it's common appearance - but it is a new
>un-namedspecies - closely related to N. tomoriana."

This species is _Nepenthes eustachya_, named in 1858 by Miquel. Danser
reduced it (1928) rather unwisely to _N.alata_. It differs in several
(admitedly minor) ways, the geographic disjunction is also of significance
in restoring the species - Danser accidentaly included a specimen of
_N.gracillima_ from the Malay Peninsula in _N.alata_, a factor which no
doubt helped him to accept the gap - although with N.treubiana-N.sumatrana
he seemed to take biogeography beyond credibility.

And on the subject of Indonesian Botanists and Nepenthes:

The reason I sent my first note was because there was a discussion about
it being more or less 'harmless to collect the odd plant while on holiday in
Indonesia' - I was merely presenting the Indonesian side of the argument
rather than moralising against the practise. By all means don't overlook
discoveries, BUT remember that nearly all tropical countries were once under
colonial rule, and during such times nearly all specimens - a large number
of which were to become types - were removed to overseas institutions. In
order to work on these floras today therefore, one HAS to visit Kew, Leiden,
Paris etc., because these TYPE SPECIMENS are vital as the name carriers for
the species (and nowadays herbaria usually won't loan Types). As a
consequence one can appreciate that the indigenous botanist in these
countries is upset to see any 'neo-colonial collecting' still occuring,
especially if Types fail to return to their countries. We should not be
concerned with whether or not the group is currently being worked on at
these places, but whether it MIGHT be in the future.

Think of it from the 'foreigners' point of view - If botanists from China
came to Europe 'on Holiday', collected, and then described several new
species of _Salix_, and deposited the types at Guangdong University
herbarium, European Botanists might be a tad bit annoyed don't you think?
Even if material of these "new" species can be collected and then deposited
at European Herbaria, the TYPE is all important, since it is the name carrier.

There is no particular moral high ground here, just a balance of whether
'rescuing' the species is more important than other social issues.


Matthew Jebb,
School of Botany,
Trinity College Dublin,
Dublin 2, Tel: +353-1-702 1421
IRELAND. Fax: +353-1-702 1147