Nepenthes Holdenii: The Penis Shaped Plant That Eats Insects

Nepenthes Holdenii

Nepenthes Holdenii is an insectivorous/carnivorous plant that is known for its unique shape. It gets its nutrition by trapping insects and digesting them. Like all insectivorous plants, the Nepenthes Holdenii grows in soil bereft of nutrients. That is a big reason why it needs to trap and consume insects for nutrition. While the Nepenthes Holdenii has its trap open, it has its eggplant like shape and is brightly coloured to attract insects. However, once the insect flies into the trap and the plant shuts its door, it looks a lot like a penis. There are numerous other unique features of the Nepenthes Holdenii and in this post, we are going to look at them. We will also look at some characteristics of carnivorous/insectivorous plants in general. Let’s get started.

Nepenthes Holdenii: All You Need To Know

Where is the Nepenthes Holdenii found?

Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, home of the Nepenthes Holdenii

The penis shaped Nepenthes Holdenii is native to the western part of Cambodia. Almost all of the species of the Nepenthes family can be found in the tropical-sub tropical regions of the planet. They are usually found growing in nutrient deficient soil that is 600 metres above sea level. These plants are usually found in very remote and difficult to reach places, so don’t expect to just find a penis-shaped, insect eating plant during your weekend hike. As a matter of fact, it was only believed to grow in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains for some time. However, a new cluster of Nepenthes Holdenii was found further east

Is it possible to grow a Nepenthes Holdenii yourself?

The Nepenthes Holdenii is a very rare plant. Even among insectivorous plants, it is one of the rarer kind. Because of its extreme rarity, it is very difficult to even get seeds for this plant. However, if you do manage to get some seeds for yourself, this is what you can do to take care:

Grow it in a humid place 

As we have discussed before, the Nepenthes Holdenii originates from the humid hills of Western Cambodia. For best results, plant your Nepenthes Holdenii seeds in a terrarium straightaway. This will keep the plant in a humid place, regardless of how the weather is outside. Frost is deadly for the Nepenthes Holdenii so keep it safe and humid. 

Keep it away from direct sunlight

The Nepenthes Holdenii always grows in the shade of large trees in the humid hills of Western Cambodia. Direct sunlight can destroy them and it’s best to keep your Nepenthes Holdenii in the shade. However, don’t keep it completely in the dark. How will the insects find it if they can’t see it?

Just remember, growing a Nepenthes Holdenii isn’t like growing a rose plant. It requires a lot of hard work and meticulous care to grow it in your house. However, if you are ready to make all that effort, do go ahead and get yourself one.

What are insectivorous plants?

Plants not only give oxygen but also protect us from insects and mites. These special types of plants are called insectivorous plants. They grow in marshy land or near water and have high nitrogen needs. When they do not get this nutrient, they make up for its deficiency by eating insects and moths. They look a little different from common plants. Their leaves play an important role in catching the prey. There are 400 species of such insectivorous plants in the world and are mainly found in the humid hills of Asia. Here are some of the most popular types of insectivorous plants:

Pitcher Plant

It is also known as Nepenthes. This insectivorous plant is found in the Khasia and Garo hills of Assam. It has a jug-like shape at the tip of its leaves. This is its trap in which it traps insects and moths. This jug is one and a half to eight inches long. It has bags of nectar towards its mouth and side. Insects get attracted by the color of the jug and lose their lives in the greed of nectar. Due to the smooth wall, they are not able to come out even by crawling. The juice remains in its bottom, which gets digested quickly and its walls absorb the digested part. It is also known as Ghatparni in the local language 


It is also called sundews. It is a very beautiful insectivorous plant that is found in the hills of Shimla, Mussoorie and Nainital. Drosera is also called Makhajali. On the edge of its rounded leaves are red knob-like hairs, from which a sticky juice keeps coming out. This juice, derived from the Drosera plant, glows like dew in the sunlight. This juice sticks to the small insect moths and then turns the knobs and surrounds it from all sides.


In this, the trap to catch insect moths is the leaves adorned on the ground. It also hunts like Drosera. It is found in America. It takes more than a week to digest its prey. Dionia Muscipula is considered the most dangerous of insectivorous plants. No insect can escape its attack. Its two leaves act as the hunting tools for it, the hairs on which are so active that even the presence of an ant is recognized. As soon as the prey gets closer, it swallows it in 1 second.


In this plant, the sac-like leaves are adorned in a bunch on the ground. There are some glands on these attractive colored leaves which contain nectar. Insect moths go inside the pouch because of its color and nectar and get stuck in the thorns and cannot get out.


It is also called bladderwort. It is mostly found in clean water. Some of its species are also found in hilly terrain. This growth is more during the rainy season. Its leaves are round balloon-like. As soon as an insect-moth comes near it, the fibers present in it cling to it. The enzyme released in the leaves helps to eliminate the pests.

 If planted in the house, keep these things in mind – They require more care than other indoor plants.

Plant them in a place where there is no direct sunlight and there is more moisture.

You can keep it in light sunlight for one-two hours in the morning but not after 9 AM.

They grow mostly in water or in marshy places. That’s why they can be put in the fish tank.

Keep changing its water from time to time.

What are the different kind of traps in carnivorous plants?

Depending on the plants, there are different trapping techniques in which the plants move more or less, with more or less rapid movements:

  • Active traps: These are the insectivorous plants that require the plant to move, to make a movement to capture its prey. This is the case of  traps jaws which close in the Venus flytrap ( Dionaea ) said flycatcher, sticky traps consist of glandular hairs which enclose the prey in the Drosera, traps harpoons aspiring the prey in a kind of bladder in Utricularia, an aquatic plant.
  • Passive traps: These attract the prey and capture it without any movement. For example, the prey will come to drown in the heart of the Catopsis. Other sticky traps are found on Pinguicula, the leaves of which secrete mucilage which is attractive to insects. Among the Nepenthes and the Sarracenia, insects, small mammals and even birds come by themselves to be captured in the large urns of these plants. Finally, trap traps are provided on the Genlisea which have long filaments which suck the protozoa, because many insectivorous plants are aquatic plants or plants of wetlands.

How do carnivorous plants work

Why capture all these little beasts? What makes insectivorous plants so special is that they trap their prey but above all, subsequently, that they digest them, which provides them with additional phosphorus and nitrogen.

Through their roots, insectivorous plants, like all plants, will absorb mineral salts but as they often live in poor soils, they find the rest of their needs in the small animals that they swallow.

They are said to be carnivorous because they do not only trap insects: they are therefore distinguished from insectivorous plants only.

In the world, carnivorous plants are today threatened due to deforestation, pollution, excessive exploitation of peatlands, the disappearance of wetlands etc. 

How to grow carnivorous plants?

If you want to get started, start by choosing “easy” plants like Drosera, the flycatcher or Sarracenia. If they are in very small containers, repot them in earthen pots 12 to 15 cm in diameter and deep.

Above all, do not use your usual soil for indoor plants, because carnivorous plants do well in poor and acidic soils, so prepare a mixture of 2/3 of sphagnum peat moss and 1/3 of non-calcareous sand.

As they are also humidity-loving plants, they should never run out of water: preferably use rainwater or demineralized water.

They can be outdoors during the summer, in the East, but you will have to bring them in for the winter, ideally in a verandah at 8-10 ° C.

If you have children, these carnivorous plants are sure to attract them, so keep your kids away from plants such as the Nepenthes Holdenii.

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