Far away and long ago, in a time pre-COVID, I visited the Phu Kradueng National Park in northern Thailand.

Evening landscape with trees at the Phu Kradueng National Park in Thailand

The park is home to a number of carnivorous plants. I observed Nepenthes smilesii, Drosera burmannii, Utricularia hirta, U. graminifolia, U. bifida, and U. caerulea.

Large Drosera burmannii plant with grasses

Drosera burmannii is a plant that I have seen before and cultivated extensively, but it remains exciting.

Detail of Drosera burmannii leaves and tentacles

The plant is clearly effective at attracting and trapping insects. Those long, articulate outer tentacles move remarkably fast and the other, slower tentacles are tipped with such a wonderful abundance of goo.

Drosera burmannii flowers

Drosera burmannii flowers are highly light sensitive. To photograph one open, I had to work while the sun was out, then set up the camera first before setting a light or other photographic implement in a place that might block the sun. Working in the opposite order tended to result in the flowers closing before I had made a picture.

Drosera burmannii plants growing in sand

Many of the Drosera burmannii at Phu Kradueng grow in sand.

Drosera burmannii plants in their habitat

It is tempting to describe the habitat as sandy, but that is a bit like describing a tornado as windy.

Drosera burmannii habitat

Many of the plants were growing on the side of trails.

Drosera burmannii habitat

I sometimes feel under-ambitious when photographing plants that border trails. In this case, there weren’t many places where it was possible to find Drosera burmannii that weren’t practically underfoot.

Wide view of open, sandy Drosera burmannii habitat

This was one of the larger areas I encountered with Drosera burmannii.

Detail view of an open, sandy Drosera burmannii habitat

As in other areas, it was challenging to find plants that didn’t look a bit desiccated.

Medium view of an open, sandy Drosera burmannii habitat

There were lots of them though.

Solitary Drosera burmannii plant

Rocky riverbed in the Phu Kradueng National Park

I encountered Utricularia graminifolia at a few places in the park. This spot is a ways upstream from one of them.

Utricularia graminifolia plants in their habitat

The huge rocks that compose the riverbed have many worn depressions. The plants were growing in and around a few of them at a point where a very small seep entered.

Utricularia graminifolia flower

The flowers are the image of elegance.

Utricularia graminifolia plants with flowers

Doesn’t that look much better than seeing Utricularia growing in plastic 5cm pots under the hum of artificial lights?

Utricularia graminifolia stolons in water

The Utricularia graminifolia stolons also extended into the water.

Utricularia graminifolia stolons and traps in water

Traps were also visible.

Wide view of Utricularia graminifolia habitat

Here is a wide view of that Utricularia graminifolia location for context.

Medium view of Utricularia graminifolia habitat

The plants are visible on the right side of this frame.

Sphagnum at Phu Kradueng

This patch of Sphagnum was growing along the same river. No carnivorous plants were obviously visible in its vicinity.

Utricularia graminifolia habitat in a small stream

In a different part of the park, Utricularia graminifolia was also growing along this stream.

Utricularia graminifolia growing along a small stream

The habitat is quite similar to the other Utricularia graminifolia location, with the plants bordering pools in the rock. There was more water movement in this spot than at the other one though.

Red Acer calcaratum leaves

A section of a trail was embellished by a carpet of these Acer calcaratum leaves.

Carpet of red Acer calcaratum leaves

Should you get a hankering to see fall colors in early February, try Phu Kradueng!

Utricularia bifida flower

Utricularia bifida was also present at the park.

Anodard Pond, home to Utricularia bifida

It was growing on the margins of Anodard Pond.

Large concrete sign at Anodard Pond

Motivation is unclear, but it appears that someone thought it very important that everyone who visits know the name of Anodard Pond.

Grassland trail at Phu Kradueng

This open, meadow-like section of trail is located between Anodard Pond and the campground area at the park. There were some Nepenthes scattered along this trail, but they weren’t numerous nor vigorous.

Open woodland trail at Phu Kradueng

Another trail section, also on the way back to the campground, that traverses more of an open woodland.

Utricularia hirta flower

Utricularia hirta was an interesting species to encounter. The flowers are quite small but assertive in their own way.

Utricularia hirta habitat along a sandy trail

The plants were growing in a sandy ditch along this trail, relatively close to the campground.

Utricularia hirta plants in habitat

If you look very closely, there is a flower on the right side of this frame.

Utricularia hirta plants growing in sand

It was impressive to see Utricularia growing in essentially pure sand.

Utricularia hirta plants growing in moss

There were also plants growing among mosses.

Utricularia caerulea flowers

Utricularia caerulea was also represented in the same spot as the U. hirta.

Utricularia caerulea flower

The flowers are really tiny!

Forest trail in Phu Kradueng National Park

There are no carnivorous plants in or near this spot, but doesn’t it look cool?

Two Nepenthes smilesii pitchers with an ant

Nepenthes. Nepenthes are cool and all but I don’t find them as exciting as the members of other carnivorous plant genera.

Nepenthes smilesii

Phu Kradueng is home to Nepenthes smilesii.

Nepenthes smilesii plants

N. smilesii has pitchers that can be better looking than Nepenthes mirabilis but I feel like I have to apologize for not finding the species particularly thrilling. The plants are very pleasant.

Nepenthes smilesii

Anyway, most of the Nepenthes were growing near the cliffs that are so very popular in the park.

Lom Sak cliff at Phu Kradueng National Park

The largest populations of the plants were close to Lom Sak Cliff, along the trail.

Nepenthes smilesii

There was some pleasant variation in pitcher shape.

Nepenthes smilesii pitcher

Nepenthes smilesii pitcher

Spider with Nepenthes smilesii

This spider appears to live in the pitchers, perhaps in a form of symbiosis.

Nepenthes smilesii

Many plants were growing in grasses. That may work well for the Nepenthes but is not very photogenic.

Nepenthes smilesii plant in habitat

Nepenthes smilesii flowers

Nepenthes smilesii plant in habitat

Nepenthes smilesii habitat along trail to Lom Sak Cliff

Plants are visible on the right side of this frame, along the trail to Lom Sak Cliff.

Nepenthes smilesii plants growing along a trail

Here is another trailside view of the plants, on the trail near Lom Sak.

Burnt Nepenthes smilesii plants

The Nepenthes don’t seem to be of particular concern to the park. Some plants had been burnt.

Burnt Nepenthes smilesii habitat

Bulldozed Nepenthes smilesii plants

Other plants had been bulldozed in the process of trail maintenance.

Trail maintenance at Phu Kradueng

I suppose that is simply a hazard of growing along a trail.