Nepenthaceae

Nepenthaceae

Introduction

A monogeneric family comprising 120-138 species (McPherson 2009, 2011) native to tropical Asia, distributed from Madagascar through Indo-Malesia to New Guinea and New Caledonia (Kubitzki 2003e; Meimberg & Heubl 2006). The family includes woody climbers or scrambling shrubs and some epiphytes (Kubitzki 2003e) widely known as the carnivorous “Pitcher plants”. It is characterised by unisexual flowers, axilar placentation, filaments united in a column, 3-4 locular ovaries and by the loss of vascularization in glands (Heubl & al. 2006).
The affinities of Nepenthaceae have long been discussed (Meimberg & al. 2001). Traditionally, the family was placed in the order Nepenthales, either as a monofamilial order (e.g. Taktajan 1980) or together with Droseraceae and Sarraceniaceae (e.g. Cronquist 1988). The placement of the family within Caryophyllales was shown by the early molecular phylogenetic study of Nandi & al. (1998).
Several molecular phylogenetic studies have shown (although with moderate support) the close relationship of Nepenthaceae and Droseraceae (Nandi & al. 1998, Cuénoud & al. 2000, Brockington & al. 2009, Schäferhoff & al. 2009; further information under Droseraceae). Another study, based on parsimony analysis of combined rbcL and matK shows with high support Nepenthes as sister to the rest of carnivorous families, whereas the study of Renner & Specht (2011) based on the ML and Bayesian analysis of the combined data of nuclear, ribosomal and plastid DNA, shows also with high support the relationship of Nepenthaceae with the Drosophyllaceae+[Dioncophyllaceae+Ancistrocladaceae] clade.

Synonymy

Nepenthaceae Dumort., Anal. Fam. Pl.: 14, 16. 1829, nom. cons., sec. APG III (2009)