Officials have shared images on Facebook of three women posing with the strangely shaped plants and have asked the public to refrain from picking them.
The Cambodian Ministry of Environment has asked the public to stop picking the rare plant species, writing in its Facebook post that what the three women in the included images are doing is "wrong", "and please don't do it again in the future!". LiveScience spoke to Jeremy Holden, a freelance wildlife photographer and the discoverer of the Nepenthes holdenii plant species, and Francois Mey, a botanical illustrator.
The two informed the publication that despite numerous reports of the plant in the photos being Nepenthes holdenii, it was more closely related to Nepenthes bokorensis, which is more widely found across southwest Cambodia. These Nepenthes plants survive by producing nectar that attracts insects that climb inside of the plant and become trapped in digestive fluids.
The plants have been in steady decline due to agricultural expansion across the region, which is why Mey recommends that if you see one to leave it alone.
"If people are interested, even in a funny way, to pose, to make selfies with the plants, it's fine. Just do not pick the pitchers because it weakens the plant, because the plant needs these pitchers to feed," said Mey.
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