"..a bardy view!"

Triffids? From Outer Space or inner Philippines……

The revelation that a new species of a meat-eating plant has been discovered in a remote part of the Philippines is the stuff out of science fiction.

This is not your everyday Venus Fly-Trap, but a pitcher so big that it catches rats and devours them through the release of enzymes which break down the rodents to  eventually allow their digestion. Philplant1

Details were published in the botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

Perhaps the "Day of the Triffids" is not so fantastic after all.

The story goes that in 2000 two Christian missionaries were climbing the remote and rugged Mount Victoria in Palawan, a large island in the Central Philippines. They got lost for 13 days before being rescued.

Describing how they found a large carnivorous plant on the slopes, their tale was eventually read by a UK natural history explorer, as well as a botanist formerly of Cambridge University. Together with a Philippines scientist all three embarked in 2007 on an expedition to seek out the plant. With three guides they found not one, but several. Only now have their detailed results been revealed.

Regarded as the largest carnivorous plant on the planet, they named it Nepenthes Attenboroughii after the broadcaster David Attenborough, who is apparently delighted to have his name attached to it.

This was not the only thing they discovered, but several other species of plants, ferns and mushrooms which had not been seen before.

Images of Conan-Doyle's Lost World spring to mind, and doing a search on the internet about Mount Victoria produces surprisingly little information.

The fact that there are still very remote parts of the world yet to be fully explored is refreshing, and that such places exist in the Philippines is not surprising either.

We seem to think that in our technological 21st century age, the days to emulate the great adventurous Victorian and Edwardian explorers are over. Clearly not. The world still holds mysteries, and that is an exciting concept.

So what do we know about Mount Victoria, Palawan? It stands at 5,600ft, and is also known as Victoria Peak. It is extremely remote and inaccessible, and a number of deaths have resulted in attempts to reach the summit. That's about it, apart from some geological and mineral statistics.

What I would like to know is who discovered it and how it got it's name? Most explorers named something after Victoria because they were Victorian explorers.

Considering that the Philippines was ruled by Spain for most of it's recorded history, how is it that this name has British connotations?

It, like the mini-triffid, is somewhat of a mystery. Watch this space….


August 22, 2009 - Posted by | Conservation, Culture, The Philippines, Travel


  1. My dear chap,
    “There is a part of every foreign field, that will be forever English.”
    Perchance this is another classic example.


    Comment by Spook Moor | August 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hello!
    I came across this page and I would like to say something. Mt. Victoria Peak in Palawan is indeed very enchanting, I can attest to that for I have summited it. I don’t know any deaths related to climbing but dangers are very real(snakes were seen frequently).
    It pains me also,as a Pinoy, why would you name an endemic plant in the Philippines after an ENGLISHMAN!I wouldn’t be surprised that these ferns,mushrooms etc would soon be Rowlings,Beckhams or Bowies.
    I thought the British Empire was long ago been dissolved!!
    Thanks to these missionaries for venturing these part of Palawan with “little preparation” or should I say stupidity, they could have ask for a local guide like what others did on 1996 and uses the water in these pitcher plants wash their feet.


    Comment by Kim | December 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi Kim
    Thanks for your contribution to this article. I tend to agree with you and can only assume that naming it after a renown living scientist is a testament to his worldwide appreciation. English or otherwise.
    My main question was how, in view of Spanish domination for three hundred years, did Mount Victoria get it’s name? Presumably it was given in the 19th century by British explorers.
    If you can shed any light on that, I would be grateful.
    Congratulations on reaching the summit by the way. Should you like to write something about those experiences I’d be happy to give it prominence on this blog, and even add it to my Trek-Philippines lens (link on the right),


    Comment by Bard | December 27, 2009 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: