This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Our Sarracenias are objects of intelligent wonder with Europeans; but India and Australia have similar curiosities, one of which is represented here. This is a Nepenthes, of which there are numerous species and garden varieties. Their native country is the more southern latitudes of India, and the islands in the Indian Ocean. In cultivation they will only do well in warm houses. While our pitcher plants are strictly stemless plants, Nepenthes ramble over bushes, and the pitchers are formed on the ends of long leaf stalks, as seen in the representation here given. Like all pitcher plants, water is distilled in the leafy vessel, and insects are caught and drowned therein. Many good botanists believe that the pitchers were especially designed for the purpose of catching insects, and that, the nitrogenous matter from the dead insects is absorbed to the nutrition of the plant. This may be so as to the main purpose, but no doubt much of the peculiarities are formed under the universal law of variety, and with little more object in view than mere distinguishing one kind from another. Thus, in this species are two horns, or sharp heels, that it would puzzle any guesser to show any use to the plant from them.
It is from these two points that the name is derived - bical-carat.a. They are found to hybridize very freely one with another, and there are numerous garden varieties. Nepenthes bicalcarata, however, is a distinct species, one of the many introductions for which we are indebted to Messrs. Veitch & Sons, of London.