Nepenthes Talangensis - Botanical History - Taxonomic Confusion and Formal Description

Taxonomic Confusion and Formal Description

Nepenthes talangensis has been confused with N. bongso on a number of occasions. In his seminal 1928 monograph, "The Nepenthaceae of the Netherlands Indies", B. H. Danser treated specimens of N. bongso, N. ovata, and N. talangensis all under N. bongso. Shigeo Kurata did the same in an article published in a 1973 issue of the The Gardens' Bulletin Singapore. Two early colour photographs of N. talangensis were published by Mike Hopkins, Ricky Maulder, and Bruce Salmon, in a 1990 issue of the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter, where the species was again confused with, and identified as, N. bongso.

Joachim Nerz conducted field studies of N. talangensis on Mount Talang in 1986 and made three collections of the species: Nerz 2501 consists of a short climbing stem with pitchers and floral material; Nerz 2502 includes leaves and pitchers of the climbing stem and is preserved in alcohol; and Nerz 2503 comprises leaves and pitchers of the rosette. All three specimens were collected on September 6, 1986, from an elevation of 2200 m, and are deposited at the National Herbarium of the Netherlands (L) in Leiden.

Nerz's field studies, coupled with observations of N. bongso made by Mr. and Mrs. DeWitte on Mount Singgalang in 1993, showed that the two taxa almost certainly represented distinct species. To confirm this and prepare a formal description, Nerz and Andreas Wistuba examined herbarium specimens of both taxa, including B√ľnnemeijer 5398, 5521, and 5748 bis, as well as material of N. bongso from Mount Merapi (Korthals s.n., the type specimen) and Mount Singgalang (Beccari 268). This research culminated in the formal description of N. talangensis by Nerz and Wistuba in the December 1994 issue of the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter. The authors designated Nerz 2501 as the holotype.

Matthew Jebb and Martin Cheek synonymised N. talangensis with N. bongso in their 1997 monograph, "A skeletal revision of Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae)". The authors retained N. talangensis as a probable synonym of N. bongso in their 2001 revision, "Nepenthaceae", writing:

Each mountain peak in C Sumatra appears to support a slight variant of N. bongso, and we have adopted a rather broad definition of the species. Specimens from Mt Talang have been distinguished as N. talangensis, which may well merit recognition on the basis of photographs we have seen. However, we have not yet viewed the type specimens and for the meantime are leaving it as a synonym of N. bongso.

Nerz and Wistuba disagreed with this synonymisation. Charles Clarke elevated N. talangensis to a species once again in his 2001 book, Nepenthes of Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. The next detailed treatment of N. talangensis appeared in Stewart McPherson's 2009 monograph, Pitcher Plants of the Old World, which retained it as a separate species.

Despite the taxonomic confusion that has surrounded N. bongso and N. talangensis, these two species are easily distinguished by their pitchers, which are quite dissimilar.

Read more about this topic:  Nepenthes Talangensis, Botanical History

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