The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: Heliamphora from the eastern ranges

A: The eastern range, as I mentioned in the FAQ page on ranges, is highly fragmented. It is very inaccurate to just say that Heliamphora occur in the mountains in the Gran Sabana. That doesn't convey how much the individual tepuis are separated by each other. Even a matter of a few tens of kilometers, such as separates Los Testigos from Ptari tepui, is enough to ensure that it is extremely unlike that pollination can occur between the separate mountains. Populations of plants are decoupled from each other, and evolve in separate directions. Is it any surprise there are so many different species in this small area?

Eastern species
H. chimantensis Wistuba, Carow &
Chimantá massif (Chimantá,
Apacará Tepuis)
H. ciliata Wistuba, Nerz &
Gran Sabana (NE slope of
Aprada Tepui)
H. collina Wistuba, Nerz,
    S.McPherson & A.Fleischm.
Los Testigos (& Ptari Tepui?)
H. elongata Nerz Ilu Tepui, Tramen Tepui,
Karaurin Tepui
H. exappendiculata (Maguire &
    Steyerm.) Nerz & Wistuba1
Chimantá massif, Aprada
Tepui, Araopán Tepui
H. folliculata Wistuba, Harbarth, &
Los Testigos
H. glabra (Maguire) Nerz, Wistuba
    & Hoogenstrijd
Wei Tepui, Maringma Tepui,
Wei Assipu Tepui, E Roraima
H. heterodoxa Steyerm. Ptari Tepui (lower parts only),
Gran Sabana
H. heterodoxa (variant)2 Angasimi Tepui
H. heterodoxa (variant)2 Akopán Tepui
H. huberi A. Fleischm., Wistuba &
Chimantá massif (Apacará
Tepui, Chimantá Tepui, Amurí
Tepui, Torono Tepui, Akopán
Tepui, Angasima Tepui)
H. ionasi Maguire Cliff walls and valley between
Ilu tepui and Tramen Tepui.
H. minor Gleason & Killip var. minor Auyán-Tepui, Cerro la Luna
   H. minor var. pilosa A.Fleischm
       & J.R.Grande
N & S Auyán-Tepui, Cerro la
H. nutans Bentham Yuruani Tepui, Kukenán Tepui,
Roraima, Wei Assipu Tepui,
Maringma Tepui, Wei Tepui,
& other small plateaus
H. pulchella Wistuba, Carow,
    Harbarth & Nerz
Chimantá massif, Aprada
Tepui, Araopán Tepui
H. pulchella (variant)3 Amurí Tepui
(Chimantá massif)
H. purpurascens Wistuba,
    A.Fleischm, Nerz & S.McPherson
Ptari Tepui (summit only)
H. sarracenioides Carow, Wistuba
    & Harbarth
Ptari Tepui (summit only)
H. uncinata Nerz, Wistuba &
Amurí Tepui
(Chimantá massif)
1What some authors mean by H. heterodoxa var. exappendiculata Maguire.
2An undescribed taxon noted in McPherson et al. 2011, no doubt a new species name in the future.
3An undescribed taxon, essentially a near-hairless version of the species.

Heliamphora chimantensis--This species is interesting in that, while it flowers, it rarely makes seed. It mostly propagates vegetatively through division. Photographs of the plant in the wild frequently show great lawns of plants.

Heliamphora ciliata--Found at relatively low elevations (900m), it gets its name because of the long hairs on the backs of its pitchers.

Heliamphora elongata--As its name suggests, this species bears particularly elongated pitchers. This plant dashes the rule that Heliamphora in the eastern ranges are all short and stout.

Heliamphora exappendiculata--This species does not produce a pronounced nectar spoon. Some feel that this is a sport that does not merit species status, but I have decided to adopt the name in my lists.

Heliamphora folliculata --To my eye, this is one of the most bizarre species because its pitchers are nearly completely tubular, with little basal bulge or pitcher flaring. It is a Brocchinia mimic! Furthermore, the nectar spoon has evolved into a bubble-like chamber embedded in the pitcher, giving the plant its species name. A very odd plant.

Heliamphora glabra--A plant with extremely slender pitchers that have almost no hairs on the pitcher interior. Young pitchers are banana-yellow, and age to crimson. Very nice!

Heliamphora heterodoxa --There are two forms of this plant, the less common of which is only found on Ptari tepui, but which bears the species name. The other variety, not yet given a separate name, is found throughout the rest of the range. I suspect that someone is working on publishing this new name.

Heliamphora huberi--A very graceful, beautiful species, probably related most to Heliamphora heterodoxa .

Heliamphora ionasii --One of the most beautifully shaped of the species. I say this because the pitchers are shapely in a rather Angelina Jolie kind of way. Very lovely.

Heliamphora minor--True to its name, this makes small pitchers only 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) tall. This may be to protect the plant from the harsh conditions it expects on Auyán-tepui.

Heliamphora nutans--Another beautifully shapely species, although not quite as exaggerated in form as Heliamphora ionasii. Not quite Angelina Jolie, perhaps more Beyoncé Knowles.

Heliamphora pulchella--For a long time this was considered to be a hairy form of Heliamphora minor. The morphological differences merited separation of these two geographically distant species. Interestingly, a variant from Amurí Tepui lacks the long, internal hairs.

Heliamphora sarracenioides--What an interesting species! The authors of the species interpret this plant as having a huge nectar spoon that is essentially like a pitcher lid that one might see in Sarracenia. A competing viewpoint is that the nectar spoon is entirely absent, as in H. exappendiculata, and that the back of the pitcher is extended forwards in an arch.

Heliamphora uncinata--Identified by a strangely hook-shaped pitcher appendage, it shares many form and nectary characteristics with Heliamphora exappendiculata.

Page citations: Berry, P., et al. 2005; Fleischmann, A. et al. 2009; Givnish, T.J. et al. 2000; McPherson, S. 2006; McPherson, S. et al. 2011; Wistuba, A., et al. 2001; Wistuba, A., et al. 2002; Rice, B. 2006a; Schlauer, J. 2002.

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Revised: February 2012
©Barry Rice, 2005