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manders

How long do nepenthes live?

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Having lost a few female flowering size plants recently, just beginning to wonder how long they typically live in the wild. Especially the females and some of the more delicate species? Cant find much info o n it, are some species short lived perennials?

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I suspect it will very from species to species and even plant to plant. I grow a cultivar that was originally grown from seed in Kew in 1897, and it's still growing as well as any Nep I've got. On the other hand, like you, I've had plants die for no obvious reason, when they were large and healthy. (I did the usual checks)

Not much help, am I?

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I suspect it will very from species to species and even plant to plant. I grow a cultivar that was originally grown from seed in Kew in 1897, and it's still growing as well as any Nep I've got. On the other hand, like you, I've had plants die for no obvious reason, when they were large and healthy. (I did the usual checks)

Not much help, am I?

Derek, have you had females flower themselves to death? Im beginning to regret pollinating all those flowers :smile:

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I remember reading somewhere that they have an indefinite lifespan. So basically they can never die of old age.... just bugs/animals, germs, drought, being cut up.... etc.

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I was laughing when I read the title. It is a serious question, but after having grown these plants for twenty years and know other folks who've been at for 30 years more than me, I felt confident I knew the answer.

But I wanted to check so I called my buddy Thomas up and asked, "How long do Nepenthes live?"

He quickly returned, "Until you kill them."

Although brief, it seems pretty accurate.

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Is that really true? Few, if any, plants have indefinite life spans. Most, if not all, plants are thought to follow the 1/4 power law rule, so you would expect a small species to have a shorter life than a large species. Vegetative propagation aside, how can a nepenthes species live forever? Surely there must be a point where the rootstock is composed of mostly dead cells and the plant dies? Even trees have a limit and they have a mechanism to cope with the dead cells.

There seems to be more information generally around on other lianas such as passiflora, where it seems some species can only be maintained in cultivation long term by repeated vegetative propagation whereas other species are relatively long lived.

Supposing the same situation exists with some nepenthes species in that once they reach maturity they may be entering the end of their life cycle, so without propagation there us a good chance of losing the plant. Perhaps some live a long time and some don't?

Edited by manders

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My understanding is that basically Nepenthes occupy an area until the forest grows up around them and the habitat changes over into denser growth and then the Nepenthes are on the way out. However, many habitats are simply open due there being few nutrients available to the plants and so the growth of the non-carnivorous plants is stunted. These types of habitats may remain open and unchanged for centuries and I imagine the established Nepenthes live until something kills them. The plants do slowly asexually reproduce via branching and that is probably how they cope with old tissue, they grow around it. Might some species not be able to do this? Could be, those thickened root stock species from Indochina have lost this ability in favor of having a permanent tap root, but but I do believe they still maintain the ability to sprout new stems as well as advantageous roots.

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My understanding is that basically Nepenthes occupy an area until the forest grows up around them and the habitat changes over into denser growth and then the Nepenthes are on the way out. However, many habitats are simply open due there being few nutrients available to the plants and so the growth of the non-carnivorous plants is stunted. These types of habitats may remain open and unchanged for centuries and I imagine the established Nepenthes live until something kills them. The plants do slowly asexually reproduce via branching and that is probably how they cope with old tissue, they grow around it. Might some species not be able to do this? Could be, those thickened root stock species from Indochina have lost this ability in favor of having a permanent tap root, but but I do believe they still maintain the ability to sprout new stems as well as advantageous roots.

Some of my seed grown N. ventricosa are on their sixth or seventh vines/branches already.

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But arent basals generally just side shoots of the main stem? Some of my plants have 10 or more basal shoots but none are rooted other than by the same root sytem, ok if i cut them off they might root but they havent on their own. Also, arent plants beleived to follow the same pattern of inbuilt genetic senescence that animals are? So even asexual reproduction has a limited lifespan?

No reason at all to assume the life span is infinite, quite the opposite, whats really interesting is how short it might be for the diminutive species.

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I read an article several years ago, someone was studying a population of N. ampullaria that was gowing in a large clearing, and several plants seemed to be very similar in appearances. Some deeper analysis revealed that they were all the same clone. After talking with the local villagers, it was noted that a large tree had once occupied the area where the clearing was, and was loaded with a N. ampullaria climbing all over it and into the canopy. When the tree died and collapsed, the vine then also fell to the ground and became buried with leaf litter, and debris, and was now sideways; aside from all the basal rosettes that they produce, which often snap off and fall to the ground (when they get too heavy with rainfall), this stem now produced hundreds of new N. ampullaria plants, all of them from the same original plant. They do not have any built in genetic senescence that anyone is aware of, and can go on like this forever. I have (as do many people) a N. dyeriana, which is a Victorian hybrid made in the late 1800’s (I think) and it doesn’t show any signs of senescence or age related problems. I wish I could say the same for myself!

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Dyeriana might just be a long lived plant and ampullarias particularly easy to propogate, like mirabilis. Doesn't neccesarily make them immortal does it? It also doesnt mean every nep species behaves the same way. There are species of bamboo which propagate vegetatively for decades then all die en-masse because they do have senescence built in genetically. Whether all plants have senescence built in due to telomeres or some other scheme seems to be open to some debate.

If you have a small species which doesnt spread by its roots, or accidentally fall under a pile of leaves and spontaneously propogate itself (and therefore make a new plant) how long can it live before the stem/root system can no longer support it?

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Yes, bamboo does go into senescence after flowering, but that is caused by a shift in their plant hormones caused by flowering, bromeliads and several other plants do the same thing, (mostly monocots); N. dyeriana has flowered countless times for countless people over the decades, even centuries, and has shown no such signs of a built in genetic senescence, nor has any other Nepenthes species for that matter. When a plant cutting takes root on its own, the only limiting factor determining its longevity is its environment, nothing else. If its environment can no longer sustain the plant, then it dies, but not due to some built in genetic code. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest otherwise; it's not even open to debate, as it's a simple matter of fact. So, in that sense, they are immortal. True, old stem tissue does get weak with age as it gets very woody, but the new growth will often develop roots on their own. In the wild, they do this all the time.

Edited by rsivertsen

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I think we're missing something here guys. I never said it was immortal, I said it has an indefinite lifespan. There is a huge difference between the two. Indefinite lifespan just means it won't die of old age, immortal means that nothing can kill it.

Click here for more details... and no whining about it being wikipedia

Detailed info on N. Rajah

It is important to note that N. rajah is a very slow growing Nepenthes. Under optimal conditions, N. rajah can reach flowering size within 10 years of seed germination, although it is thought that it may take 100 years to reach full size. Theoretically, given climatic conditions do not change, N. rajah has an indefinite lifespan.

So given the right conditions, yes it is possible.

Edited by fiercedeity

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Yes, bamboo does go into senescence after flowering, but that is caused by a shift in their plant hormones caused by flowering, bromeliads and several other plants do the same thing, (mostly monocots); N. dyeriana has flowered countless times for countless people over the decades, even centuries, and has shown no such signs of a built in genetic senescence, nor has any other Nepenthes species for that matter. When a plant cutting takes root on its own, the only limiting factor determining its longevity is its environment, nothing else. If its environment can no longer sustain the plant, then it dies, but not due to some built in genetic code. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest otherwise; it's not even open to debate, as it's a simple matter of fact. So, in that sense, they are immortal. True, old stem tissue does get weak with age as it gets very woody, but the new growth will often develop roots on their own. In the wild, they do this all the time.

And the flowering can be controlled to a defined and predictable time period by its genetic code, such as every 48 years in one particular species.

B

The thing that seems to be open debate in the literature is how much plant longevity is influenced by telomeres.

Are these dyerianas all original plants or cuttings? Centurie(s) is somewhat exagerating.

Why is it a matter of fact? does every Nepenthes species allways vegetatively propagate itself before it dies? I've had nepenthes seed themselves and grow into plants but very few signs of spontaneous vegetative propagation. Is it so impossible to conceive that, particularly, smaller species are short lived, as has been generally observed in the plant kingdom as a whole. Not all nepenthes root quite so easily as ampullarias.

When plant longevity has been studied, it has fitted into a predictable pattern based on total dry biomass, why should nepenthes be the odd one out?

I dont know if your right or wrong, but an assumption of an indefinite life span for all nepenthes species just seems a bit improbable, especially when you consider what we know of other cultivated lianas.

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An indefinite lifespan is a better choice of words, indeed. N. dyeriana is in fact originated from a single specimen hybrid plant; not at all improbable, as several plants, especially vine type plans, have an indefinite lifespan. Centuries are NOT an exaggeration, but a reality, and a matter of fact.

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Dear Manders, perhaps we could go back a little bit. What plants died on you? Why do you suppose they did so as part of their normal growth cycle?

I'm not seeing anything that connects the idea of a finite life span to any known Nepenthes. If anything, they are all genetically similar and have not diverged from each other like most other genera of plants have. Take a look at Utricularia and Drosera for more normal above-species-level relationships and diversity of genetics. If it is true of one species, it is almost certainly true for another species in this genus Nepenthes.

How would a couple of Nepenthes spontaneously develop this process of "planned death" and not inherit it from a common ancestor?

On the other hand, between the two of us, Thomas and myself had three separate plants of Nepenthes 'Cantely's Red' drop dead for no apparent reason. But upon removing the soil from the pot, I found it had gone to mush--I killed my plant by not repotting on time.

In the wild, Nepenthes do reproduce asexually. At least it says so in nearly every species section in Clarke's two books. The conditions in cultivation are simply too dry for them to spontaneously root without us making cuttings from them.

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OK - I'll stick my two pence worth in.

I think the short answer is that in truth - no one actually knows the answer for all Nep species and I actually doubt for any.

Like Manders, I see little reason to suppose that any individual of any species could actually live forever. Some species can live a VERY long time - 1000's of years, but eventually everything dies.

There is also a big difference between what happens 'naturally' and under cultivation. Most of our common trees have a life span of a few 100's years - but when coppiced and pollarded, this 'reguvinates' the plant and greatly extends their life span. But this is down to mans intervention.

It is regularly said that people are still growing these old Nep clones which are 100+ years old. But in truth - it is very rarely (if ever) the same rootstock as was originally grown - just a more recent rooted cutting.

I would suspect that on the whole, Neps probably do have a fairly long potential life span. But I also suspect that as with everything else, it differs between species and even between individuals.

But I would also agree, that most (if not all) Neps in cultivation which die are the result of the owners, rather than 'old age'.

Can they flower themselves to death? - I have no idea - I guess it is possible ? with a lot of pollinated flowers and a small root stock.

Dave - I really like that answer you were given :biggrin:

So as I said at the start. The real truth is that no one actually knows.

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Dear Manders, perhaps we could go back a little bit. What plants died on you? Why do you suppose they did so as part of their normal growth cycle?

I'm not seeing anything that connects the idea of a finite life span to any known Nepenthes. If anything, they are all genetically similar and have not diverged from each other like most other genera of plants have. Take a look at Utricularia and Drosera for more normal above-species-level relationships and diversity of genetics. If it is true of one species, it is almost certainly true for another species in this genus Nepenthes.

How would a couple of Nepenthes spontaneously develop this process of "planned death" and not inherit it from a common ancestor?

On the other hand, between the two of us, Thomas and myself had three separate plants of Nepenthes 'Cantely's Red' drop dead for no apparent reason. But upon removing the soil from the pot, I found it had gone to mush--I killed my plant by not repotting on time.

In the wild, Nepenthes do reproduce asexually. At least it says so in nearly every species section in Clarke's two books. The conditions in cultivation are simply too dry for them to spontaneously root without us making cuttings from them.

My question was really a general one about but your right the recent death of one particular plant did get me wondering. It was a female adnata about 7 years old and a regular flowerer. Its allways been in simialr conditions (a terrarium) and was growing with a male adnata, which is fine, and a few dozen baby adnatas which are from seeds of this plant. All in the same conditions and all fine.

I think it probably flowered itself to death (or i over did the pollination), this year it grew several flower spikes in succession and eventually the main stem stopped growing and died then so did the basals.

It was quite annoying as very few female adnatas around that I know of but at least some if the seedlings may turn out to be female.

The plant was never as robust as the male one in any event.

Edited by manders

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