Triphyophyllum peltatum is a plant from tropical west Africa. It is in the plant family called Dioncophyllaceae, which translates to the "family with double-hooked leaves." Why that is relevant to Triphyophyllum will become apparent. The only other plants in this family are Habropetalum dawei and Dioncophyllum thollonii. The genus name Triphyophyllum notes that the plant produces three types of leaves. I believe the specific epithet "peltatum" refers to the peltate way that seeds are held as they mature. For a common name for this plant, we must go to Africa. The Mende people of Sierra Leone call it the "tome", while in Liberia the Bassa people call it "goe-doo" and the Sanokwelle call it "ma bele."
As noted by the genus name, Triphyophyllum peltatum makes three types of leaves. The first type of leaf is long, lance-shaped, and unremarkable. The plant stays as a rosette of these leaves until it reaches a certain stage of maturity. The second kind of leaf is carnivorous. This leaf is little more than a long, vertical tendril. Structurally, this tendril consists of a leaf midrib without a leaf-blade. This carnivorous leaf bears glands that produce digestive glands that can absorb nutrients from captured, digested prey. When the plant begins life as a climbing vine, it produces leaves that are short and terminate with a pair of recurved hooks (remember the family name?). These hooks help the plant hang onto branches in the jungle. Eventually, it can grow to be a long vine 70 m long! That makes it the largest of all carnivorous plants, even though its carnivorous leaves are very rarely produced.
Read more about Triphyophyllum at the ICPS sarracenia.com FAQ
-- Barry Rice
Triphyophyllum information in the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter:
Jonathan (1992) A letter from Sierra Leone. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 21(3):51-53 (
Bringmann, Gerhard and Jan Schlauer and Kristina Wolf and Heiko Rischer and Uwe Buschbom and Andreas Kreiner and Friedrich Thiele and Martin Duschek and Laurent Ake Assi (1999) Cultivation of Triphyophyllum peltatum (Dioncophyllaceae), the part-time carnivorous plant. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 28(1):7-13 (
Bringmann, Gerhard and Matthias Wenzel and, Henrick Philipp Bringmann and Jan Schlauer (2001) Uptake of the amino acid alaninie by digestive leaves: proof of carnivory in the tropical liana Triphyophyllum peltatum (Dioncophyllaceae). Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 30(1):15-21 (
Bringmann, Gerhard and Heiko Rischer and Jan Schlauer and Kristina Wolf and Andreas Kreiner and Martin Duschek and Laurent Ake Assi (2002) The Tropical Liana Triphyophyllum peltatum (Dioncophyllaceae): Formation of Carnivorous Organs is only a facultative prerequisite for shoot elongation. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 31(2):44-52 (
Search the CPN Index and Archive for over 15 articles about Triphyophyllum.