Sunday, July 15, 2012

Studying Carnivorous Plants in Laos

One area of my interests is in the diverse but delicate ecology of Laos, much of which was devastated in the secret bombing and defoliation of Laos during the mid-20th century.

Italian researcher Marcello Catalano is studying Nepenthes, a form of carnivorous plants also known as pitcher plants in Laos. From prior accounts and research, we know that these plants have been found on Bolaven, Phu Khao Kouay and Nakhai Nam Theun.

He would like to hear from anyone who has ever seen these plants anywhere else in Laos, or if you have any extra information about the plants in the 3 places already mentioned. Even the smallest news could be very precious for researchers.

During a recent 3-week trip to Laos, his main obstacle was that few people were found who visited the forests and had means of transport and access to remote areas where the rare nepenthes were likely to be found or observed.

He found two species in Laos, the Nepenthes Mirabilis and the Nepenthes Smilesii. In the lowlands, agriculture is destroying the Lao forests and the rare Nepenthes Mirabilis is not recognized for its value. The Nepenthes Smilesii is growing on large plateau lands, also at risk because of agriculture.

Catalano wanted to "check the national park just opposite of Pha Taem (where smilesii grows, and on the Lao side the mountain system is the same), but there was no way to get there or at least in the area." He was given a lead regarding a national park very close to Bolaven, where nepenthes has been found.

He would appreciate any additional information you can provide:

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