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Darlingtonia californica

Darlingtonia californica

If you visit the Oregon Coast near Florence, it is worth the brief amount of time away from the dunes and ocean to step into the Darlingtonia State Natural Site (map). A short boardwalk trail affords the opportunity to observe this species en masse. This photograph was taken in March of last year, a couple months prior to the flowering season.

Like the related Sarracenia purpurea, cobra lily or California pitcher plant is an insectivorous plant. As aptly explained in the Wikipedia entry on Darlingtonia californica, it does have a few qualities that distinguish it from Sarracenia (and the third genus in the family, Heliamphora). First, instead of capturing rainwater, it regulates the water level in its trap through its roots. Second, the species does not produce digestive enzymes to break down the captured insects, but instead relies on symbiotic bacteria to act in a similar way. A third difference is the structure of the modified leaf; its curved, nearly-enclosed trap is seemingly the most effective in preventing the insect from leaving, with a number of “false exits” (transluscent leaf tissue) befuddling and tiring the insect as it tries to escape.

If you're seeking more photographs of this plant, I highly recommend Makoto Honda's Insectivorous Plants in the Wilderness photo gallery page for Darlingtonia californica.

As a botanical aside, the genus was named after the botanist Darlington by the botanist Torrey, who himself had a genus named after him: Torreya, which is prominently mentioned in the linked-to article in this weblog entry from yesterday.

3 Comments

Cobra lily plant
Pitcher to insects enchant
Neither can recant?

Absolutely new arena for me. I recommend you go to Makoto Honda's Insectivorous Plants in the Wilderness photo gallery page for Darlingtonia californica. You may have known about these plants but for us who did not- a real eyeopener in the best sense.

Same location has some impressive tall Myrica californica.

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