Tom's Carnivores

Nepenthes macrophylla

Description & Care

Nepenthes macrophylla is a truly spectacular and very rare highland species from Borneo. It’s endemic to the summit of a single mountain, Gunung Trusmadi, and is critically endangered in the wild. Poaching and habitat destruction have already depleted populations of N. macrophylla to the point where it’s regarded as one of the most threatened highland Nepenthes in Borneo.

While known to botanists for a long time before it was formally described, N. macrophylla was not originally considered a distinct species. In the 1970s it was thought to be a form of N. villosa, a toothy relative from Mount Kinabalu, while in the 1980s it was generally considered a subspecies of N. edwardsiana. Only in 1997 was it classified as a species in its own right.

The species is named for its enormous leaves (macro-phylla meaning large-leaved). It’s also notable for its tough woody pitchers and their vicious toothy peristomes. The photos of wild plants above, taken by James Klech and François Mey, show the remarkable sizes that this species can attain over many decades. In the wild, Nepenthes macrophylla is known to form a natural hybrid with Nepenthes lowii known as Nepenthes × trusmadiensis. Each of these species - N. lowii and N. macrophylla - have developed a mutualistic relationship with treeshrews, similar to N. rajah. The reflexed lids produce a sugary exudate for the shrews, whose droppings fall into the pitchers.

I grow three different individuals of this species. First is a plant from Wistuba that I believe is his so-called Clone T. Second is a plant from Borneo Exotics, specifically their now-discontinued BE-3106 release compromising many unique clones. Finally I have a seed-grown plant, and this is probably my most vigorous N. macrophylla. That said, none are fast growers! This is a slow but rewarding species that needs highland conditions to thrive. If you can source it legally / ethically, I’d highly recommend this magnificent plant for any highland Nepenthes collection.

How I Grow It

Media Long fibre sphagnum moss, perlite, and - optionally - orchid bark (2:1:1)
Water Damp but not wet
Light Very bright, diffused light
Fertilizer Maxsea or liquid orchid feed in the pitchers, every two weeks
Temperature 12°C (54°F) minimum year-round, with summer highs of ~ 30°C (86°F)
Humidity 70% during the day, rising to over 90% at night

Learn more about cultivation with my guide to growing Nepenthes.

Day & Night Temperatures

Nepenthes macrophylla is a highland species, found at elevations of between 2200 and 2642 meters. This range is highlighted in orange above, and equates to temperatures of approximately 19 - 24°C (66 - 75°F) during the day, and 9 - 14°C (48 - 57°F) at night.


Native to Borneo
IUCN Red List status Critically Endangered
Natural hybrids N. lowii

Where to Buy

Availability Hard to find. Extremely slow-growing and critically endangered in the wild.
Borneo Exotics codes
  • BE-3106 (discontinued)
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