Darlingtonia Wayside near Florence

This area has been set aside as a botanical preserve so that you may observe Darlingtonia californica, an unusual plant which traps and digests insects. Also known as Cobra-lily, Cobra-orchid, and Pitcher Plant, its range varies from an elevation of 6,000 feet to sea level.

These cobra-like plants, Darlingtonia Californica, are found natively in the bog areas of Northern California and Southwestern Oregon. They flower in May or June with hanging blooms of yellow and red and produce up to a dozen leaves per plant. Erect seed pods remain most of the summer.

Insects are lured into the leaf opening under the hood by nectar in the colorful 'petal-like' appendages and the edges of the opening. Once inside the hood the insects become confused by the many transparent areas in the upper parts of the leaves which appear as exits. Keeping a foothold on the glassy smooth upper surface of the tube is difficult and eventually the insects are trapped in the lower tube by sharp downward pointing hairs. After falling into a pool of liquid at the base of the leaf, the captive is digested and absorbed as food through the plants thin lower walls.