Flora: The Pitcher Plant


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Fig. A (plan view) Local pitcher plants proved useful in the collection of many small animals and insects to the point where often it became preferable to other methods. They are fairly aggressive and use the natural rainwater to catalyse an enzyme genetically similar to the ammonite mucus mentioned previously. This turns the bath acidic so one needs to be quick. If the prey is to be useful as anything more than a skeleton (see Fig A)

One hazard in collecting the specimens is the number of veiny spiders that share the not so much symbiotic relationship as one that benefits the spiders themselves. A clever trick of evolution and adaptability has changed their aspect from lone clinging and presenting them back to an additional layer of camouflage.

Use of local flora: a carnivorous plant and natural sample collection

These species of pitcher plants and indeed so many of the planet’s species display robust and extremely visual versatility and the breadth of patterns and shapes cross over from plant to animal.


To scale

Insects adhere to the sticky internal walls preventing escape until decomposition or rigor mortis sets in and the prey falls to the bottom


three clear developmental stages

growth cycle, exhibited in three clear developmental stages


It is interesting to note that in Prometheus you can clearly see pitcher plants in Elizabeth Shaw’s room while she is trying to find out what killed the Engineers.

Could it be a foreshadowing? I know Ridley Scott hadn’t even conceived the sequel to Prometheus so it was just chance.

Could it foreshadow the trap David had set, he looks like he is helping her but he had more sinister plans. His actions trapping her on Planet 4? Again the sequel to Prometheus had not been written yet, but I am sure these are the sort of conclusions and symbolism people may link between the movies.

Just like the mural in the headroom, which started out as just a homage to H.R. Giger. Eventually, everything develops meaning when it’s original purpose is lost to time and lack of information. But does it really matter? This symbolism is what makes these movies fascinating.


“But in the cosmos there is balm as well as bitterness, and that balm is nepenthe.“ and “For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men.” – H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Outsider”


Pitcher of Nepenthes distillatoria. A: Honey-gland from attractive surface of lid. B: Digestive gland from interior of pitcher, in pocket-like depression of epidermis, opening downwards. C: Traverse section same.

Nepenthe is a fictional medicine for sorrow, literally an anti-depressant – a “drug of forgetfulness” mentioned in ancient Greek literature (Homer’s Oddessey) and Greek mythology, depicted as originating in Egypt.

Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, took other counsel.Straightway she cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug to quiet all pain and strife and bring forgetfulness of every ill. – Odyssey, Book 4, v. 219–221


The Australian Pitcher Plant is the only member of the Australian genus Cephalotus.


Nepenthes pitchers hang from tendrils.




Scanning electron micrograph of a pitcher’s inner surface.

4 thoughts on “Flora: The Pitcher Plant

  1. MU/TH/UR another absolutely fantastic post! Thank you so very much for sharing this. Pitcher, Sundew, and Flycatcher plants have been a passion of mine for some time now and you’ve certainly covered the topic extremely well and love how you’ve connected this with the Alien universe – also as I’m a great believer in the neverending seeking of knowledge this was such a great way to get folks intrested in some actual real terrestrial lifeforms that have a very intriguing and interesting symbiotic relationship with the ecosystems they inhabit! Thanks so much again for sharing this! Lady Anne ^^ö^^

    1. Thank you so much, coming from your that is quite high praise. I look forward to uncovering more as I delve into David’s research in his time on Planet 4.

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