Cobra Lily—Darlingtonia Californica


I had been under the impression that the only carnivorous plant in the U.S. was the Venus flytrap, which thrives in East Coast wetlands. That’s before I learned of another insect-eating plant, Darlingtonia californica, more commonly known as the cobra lily, that is found mostly in boggy, acidic wetlands in southern Oregon and northern California. You can view these plants in a protected Oregon state wayside between Waldport and Florence just off Highway 101.

Unfortunate insects are lured by the plant’s nectar and flower-like appendages attached under the curled hood, which has a likeness to that of a cobra, hence its name. Once the victim is inside, it gets confused by the many transparent areas in the upper leaf that appear as exits. As it struggles to find its way out, it tires and slowly slips down, aided by the plant’s slippery secretions and downward pointing hairs, into liquid at the bottom of the pitcher where digestive enzymes provide the coup de grace.

The cobra lilies were confined to a relatively small area just off a boardwalk path, yet their density was impressive where they thrived.

Darlingtonia californica

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