Nepenthes maxima

Nepenthes maxima


Nepenthes maxima Reinw. ex Nees in Ann. Sci. Nat. 3: 369, t. 20, f. 2. 1824 sec. Cheek & Jebb 2001 wfo-0000381510
      Unknown type category: Sulawesi, Manado, G. Roemengan, 1821, C.G.C. Reinwardt 1537 (L)
  • =Nepenthes celebica Hook.f. in de Candolle, Prodr. 17: 100. 1873 syn. sec. Cheek & Jebb 2001 wfo-0000381950
    • Lectotype: Sulawesi, Gorontalo, Meyer s.n. (K)
  • =Nepenthes curtisii Mast. in Gard. Chron. ser. 3, 2: 681, f. 133. 1887, syn. sec. Cheek & Jebb 2001 wfo-0000381963
    • Lectotype: Sulawesi, G. Sopoetan (= G. Soputan), alt. 5000 m, Curtis 426 (K designated by Cheek & Jebb 20011)
  • 1. Cheek, M. R. & Jebb, M. H. P. 2001: Flora Malesiana - Nepenthaceae, Series I, Volume 15. – Leiden: Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Universiteit Leiden branch
  • =Nepenthes curtisii var. superba Hort.Veitch ex J.Marshall in Gard. Chron. ser. 3, 14: 756. 1893, nom. subnud. syn. sec. Cheek & Jebb 2001 wfo-00013025422
  • Nepenthes maxima var. superba (Hort.Veitch ex J.Marshall) Veitch in J. Roy. Hort. Soc. 21: 238. 1897 syn. sec. Cheek & Jebb 2001 wfo-0001302581
  • 2. Type: not located
  • =Nepenthes oblanceolata Ridl. in Trans. Linn. Soc. London, Bot. 9: 140. 1916 syn. sec. Cheek & Jebb 2001 wfo-0000381573
    • Lectotype: New Guinea, Carstensz Mts, camp VIa, alt. 930 m, C.B. Kloss (K)
  • =Nepenthes maxima var. minor Macfarl. in Gibbs, Fl. Arfak Mts.: 141. 1917 syn. sec. Cheek & Jebb 2001 wfo-0001302579
    • Unknown type category: New Guinea, Arfak Mts, L. S. Gibbs (BM)

Other sources

Jebb, M. H. P. 1991: An account of Nepenthes in New Guinea. – Science in New Guinea 17: 7-54. 29, f. 14 & 15
Nepenthes oblanceolata Ridl.: Danser, B. H. 1940: – Bull. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg, sér. 3, 16. p 344 (as Nepenthes oblanceolata Ridl.)
Jebb, M. H. P. & Cheek, M. R. 1997: A skeletal revision of Nepenthes. – Blumea 42(1): 1-106. p 61
partim (Danser, B. H. 1928: – Bull. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg, sér. 3, 9. p 325)


Terrestrial or epiphytic shrub or climber to 4 m tall. Climbing stems terete to triangular, 0.3-1 cm diam., often winged at two angles, occasionally with four, marked wings to 2.5 mm wide, internodes 5-12 cm long, axillary buds conspicuous, spike-like. Leaves chartaceous, petiolate; blade obovate to lanceolate, 15-30 by 2.5-7 cm, apex obtuse to acute, base attenuate, petiole canaliculate or narrowly winged, to 7 cm long, dilated at the base into an amplexicaul sheath which may be decurrent as two ridges or narrow wings for 1 cm or up to 2 internodes. Longitudinal nerves 1-3 on each side of the mid-rib, in the outer 1/3-1/4 of the blade, indistinct. (The leaf blade is occasionally strongly furrowed on its upper surface giving the impression of veins at regular spacing, the veins themselves are more apparent in dried specimens or when held against the light.) Pennate nerves numerous, not parallel, often branched, perpendicular near midrib, but irregular towards margin, indistinct. Lower pitchers narrowly ovoid, becoming cylindrical above, occasionally ‘waisted’, or the whole pitcher subcylindrical or cylindrical-ellipsoidal 8-20 by 2.2-5 cm, with 2 fringed wings up to 8 mm broad with fringed elements to 6 mm long, 1-4 mm apart; mouth ovate, concave, rising at the rear to a short, ill-defined column; peristome subcylindrical at the front, 2 to 5 mm wide, more flattened towards the lid, up to 15 mm wide, ribs 0.25-1 mm apart, conspicuous, outer edge entire or slightly sinuate, inner edge toothed; lid ovate, c. 2.5 by 2.5 cm, apex rounded, base cordate, lower surface usually with two appendages, basal appendage laterally flattened, often hooked towards base, apical appendage usually filiform, up to 12 mm long, rarely reduced to an inconspicuous swollen area, nectar glands sparsely scattered to fairly dense, orbicular, thinly bordered, 0.1-0.2(-0.4) mm diam., along the midline, sparsely scattered, larger, longitudinally elliptic, 0.5(-0.8) mm long, extending to appendages, where dense; spur filiform, entire, to 6 mm long. Upper pitchers abruptly or gradually originating from the tendril, narrowly infundibuliform, rarely tubular, or with an ovoid basal and cylindrical upper part, 6.2-19(-30) by 1.8-6(-8) cm, occasionally waisted, with 2 prominent ribs, occasionally with small fringed wings near the mouth, or rarely with wings as the lower pitchers; mouth ovate, acuminate and elongate towards the lid forming a column up to 3 cm tall; peristome flattened, up to 20 mm broad near the lid, ribs 0.25-0.5 mm apart, outer edge entire or irregularly sinuate, inner edge with teeth 1-2 mm long; lid elliptic to ovate, 2-5 by 3-6 cm long, apex obtuse, more or less cordate at base, lower surface with a laterally flattened, often hooked crest up to 8 mm long on the basal part of the midrib, and a filiform or dorsally flat-tened appendage near the tip, nectar glands as in lower pitchers, especially numerous and large on the two appendages; spur entire or shortly bifid, stout, 4-8 mm long. Male inflorescence 16-19(-40) by 2.5-3(-5) cm; peduncle 5.5-8(-14) cm long, 1.25-1.5 (-4) mm diam. at base; partial peduncles c. 85, mostly 2-flowered, 2-4(-5) mm long; bracts linear, recurved, c. 2.5 mm long, inserted 0-2 mm from base of partial peduncles; pedicel 6-9(-16) mm long; tepals elliptic, 3-4.5 by 1.5-2.5(-3.5) mm; androphore 2.5-4 mm long; anther head 1.25-1.5 by 1.5-2 mm. Indumentum variable, glabrous to densely pubescent with reddish brown hairs on stems, petioles, midrib, leaf margin, tendril and inflorescence from peduncle base to lower surface of the tepals, 0.2-0.3 mm long, androphore puberulent. Colour green to greenish white or yellowish green, usually mottled with red, peristome crimson; flowers dark red.A


Within its natural range (Sulawesi to New Guinea), N. maxima is only likely to be confused with two other species: N. klossii and N. eymae. All have lids with two (rarely one) appendage (best seen in upper pitchers), well-defined petioles, leaves with irregular pennate nerves, spike-like axillary buds, 2-flowered partial peduncles and dense, long, patent indumentum. Nepenthes eymae of Sulawesi is distinguished by its more broadly infundibuliform upper pitchers and N. klossii of western New Guinea differs in its lateral pitcher mouth. Nepenthes maxima is also closely related to N. fusca of Borneo which is distinguished by the narrowly triangular lid of the upper pitchers. References to N. maxima occurring in Borneo are erroneous and usually refer to N. fusca. The foregoing species, united by the characters mentioned above, are all part of Danser’s Regiae group in Bull. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg III 9 (1928) 405 which we maintain, including N. clipeata, N. faizaliana, N. pilosa, N. stenophylla, and N. truncata.
Nepenthes maxima is a widespread and very variable species. The upper pitchers range greatly in form, from narrowly cylindrical to strongly infundibulate. In some populations the upper pitchers are winged along their entire length, resembling the rosette pitchers. In others the lower pitchers are ovoid throughout while the upper pitchers vary from slender and cylindrical to markedly infundibulate.
Nepenthes curtisii Mast. has been the subject of much enquiry and speculation as to its origin and identity. It was formerly thought to be based only on cultivated material grown from seed at Veitch’s nurseries after collection by Curtis, according to the protologue, from Borneo. Accordingly, we lectoypified this name on cultivated material ex Veitch at K, citing it as “Curtis s.n. (K) cultivated ex Borneo” (Jebb & Cheek 1997). However, this material was pressed after publication of the species name and there is no evidence that it was seen by the name’s author, nor that it had come from Curtis. This choice is overturned by the discovery of the specimen selected above to replace it as lectotype, namely Curtis 426 (K). We had passed over this specimen since the original field label, hastily written in faint pencil, does not bear a collector’s name, though a later annotation says “?Curtis”. Nor are country or date indicated on the label. However, the original handwriting does match that in letters from Curtis in the archives at K and the locality indicated on the label is the colonial Dutch spelling prevalent in the 1880s for a mountain (G. Sopoetan = G. Soputan) in the northern arm of Sulawesi from which general area similar material of N. maxima is known. Curtis visited Sulawesi in 1881-1882 (TL-2). The citation of ‘Borneo’ in the protologue was probably a deliberate attempt by Veitch’s to mislead rival nurseries: a common practice at that time, especially with orchids. This ruse has misled botanists for over a century. A third hand on the label of the specimen, identifying it as N. curtisii Mast. is that of Masters. Unfortunately Masters does not date his annotation.

Distribution (General)

Sulawesi, Moluccas, New Guinea.A


Epiphytic in mossy forest, or terrestrial in swamp grassland, on ridge tops, in open forest on white sand, in thin soils over rock or on metalliferous ultramafic soils; (600-)1200-2500 m.A


A. Cheek, M. R. & Jebb, M. H. P. 2001: Flora Malesiana - Nepenthaceae, Series I, Volume 15. – Leiden: Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Universiteit Leiden branch


CountryDateCollector + collecting numberHerbariaTypeScanDerivatives
1821Reinwardt, C.G.C. 1537L
Citation: Sulawesi, Manado, G. Roemengan, 1821, C.G.C. Reinwardt 1537

Specimen summary: L
Unknown type category of Nepenthes maxima Reinw. ex Nees

Gibbs, L. S.BM
Citation: New Guinea, Arfak Mts, L. S. Gibbs

Specimen summary: BM
Unknown type category of Nepenthes maxima var. minor Macfarl.

Kloss, C.B.K
Citation: New Guinea, Carstensz Mts, camp VIa, alt. 930 m, C.B. Kloss

Specimen summary: K
Lectotype of Nepenthes oblanceolata Ridl.

Curtis 426K
Citation: Sulawesi, G. Sopoetan (= G. Soputan), alt. 5000 m, Curtis 426

Specimen summary: K
Lectotype of Nepenthes curtisii Mast.

Meyer s.n.K
Citation: Sulawesi, Gorontalo, Meyer s.n.

Specimen summary: K
Lectotype of Nepenthes celebica Hook.f.