Botany geek!

On a recent trip to S.W. Oregon my friend Maggie took me to see MAN EATING PLANTS!!!  Okay, not really.  But they are carnivorous.  

Behold, the Darlingtonia californica.  

Also known as a cobra lily, these rare plants occur in an extremely limited area in Northern California and Southern Oregon.  

Some interesting factoids:  it is the only member of its genus, Darlingtonia.  

It can only grow in acidic bogs and drainages.  Bogs soils are low in nitrogen, which the cobra lily compensates for by, well, eating bugs.

Actually, Mr. Darlingtonia doesn’t eat the bugs.  Unlike a lot of its carnivorous cousins, this particular plant does not generate digestive enzymes within its pitcher.  Instead, it relies on the liquifying powers of symbiotic bacteria and commensals like fly midge larvae and slime mites.

Here’s how our little friend catches dinner:  the “cobra fangs” or “mustache” has little nectar glands.  Insects are attracted to the sweet odor and the offer of easy energy.  Lured inside by the possibility of more nectar, they find that they are being guided deeper into the pitcher by thousands of short, stiff, downward-angled hairs.  They exhaust themselves trying to fly out of the “windows” in the top of the pitcher and are eventually consumed by the critters living at the bottom of the well, as it were.  

Darlingtonia do produce flowers.  This one is all bloomed out, but you can see that they’re produced on very long stems.  Interestingly, nobody has definitively established what pollinates these flowers.  Hmm, I smell a possible master’s thesis….









As a total aside, this cracked me up:

  Note the type of produce being sold here.  OMG SWEET CRON!!  I just can’t get me enough cron, it’s the best.

~ by angelarenae on August 30, 2008.

2 Responses to “Botany geek!”

  1. OMG! This has to be just outside of Cave Junction, heading north? I was checking out your article on enamel (teaching myself) and saw this picture. If it’s the same one…and I am sure it is, it has been that way for atleast 30 years. I grew up in CJ and this is a silly sign my sister and I still joke about, EVERYTIME we eat corn, we yell CRON. Thanks for the laugh, on my birthday no less 🙂

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