Heliamphora ionasi (Ilu Tepui, Venezuela)
The known range of the species is between 1800-2600m in the area between Ilu and Tramen Tepui in Venezuela. The plants are most abundant in open boggy clearings along the sides of the Ilu-Tramen valley, though they can also compete successfully with the dense vegetation of the cloud forest floor, and even grow directly on permanently wet cliff sides in a manner similar to H. exappendiculata and H. uncinata.
Pitcher size varies greatly depending on habitat- some are only 20-30cm in length, while others can be up to 50cm long and 18cm wide! The pitcher opening is exceptionally wide and often circular. This may serve the dual purpose of trapping pray and collecting organic debris as an additional source of nutrients. In some cases, the opening is the only part of the plant that is visible above the surrounding vegetation. The pitchers are typically held at an acute angle away from the apex, which might help keep the growth point exposed to light. In cultivation this means the plants like to sprawl, so ample space should be provided. Long downward facing hairs up to 11mm (longest in the genus) line the pitcher interior. They come off distinctive bumps which can be used to positively identify the species from hybrids with H. elongata and H. arenicola. A drainage hole is present at the narrow waist. Pitcher color is typically a vibrant peach suffused with pinks and reds even in lower light (though they can be completely red or green too). The nectar spoon is red, oval, and can be variously angled towards or away from the opening.
Although this has never been observed in nature, Heliamphora ionasi pitcher are certainly voluminous enough to potentially trap rodent pray!
These majestic, brightly colored, and elegantly shaped plants are a must for any serious collector of the genus.
(Maguire, B., 1978)