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|Carnivorous Plants on the Oregon Coast? Yep, we got 'em|
The boardwalk trail is less than a mile long and as it winds its way through this prehistoric bog you expect to see a dinosaur around every corner. Instead of dinosaurs the boardwalk trail leads you into a fen that is home to Darlingtonia californica. Also called pitcher plant or cobra lily, the rare, strangely-shaped plant is the only member of the pitcher plant family (Sarraceniaceae) in Oregon.
Darlingtonia State Natural Site (18 acres) is a state park and botanical preserve located five miles north of Florence on Hwy 101, just west of Mercer Lake and south of Sutton Lake that is dedicated to the preservation of a rare plant. Darlingtonia State Natural Site is the only Oregon state park dedicated to the protection of a single plant species. Concurrently, the plants it protects are the only carnivorous flora in the entire Oregon State system.
Darlingtonia plants are found in serpentine soils and sphagnum fens arising from wet sands on coastal plains. Collecting Darlingtonia samples is illegal in Oregon.
The name Cobra Lily stems from the resemblance of its tubular leaves to a rearing cobra, complete with a forked leaf - ranging from yellow to purplish-green - that resemble fangs or a serpent's tongue.
The plant was discovered in 1841 by the botanist William D. Brackenridge at Mount Shasta. In 1853 it was described by John Torrey, who named the genus Darlingtonia after the Philadelphian botanist William Darlington (1782-1863).
Darlingtonia californica has flowers with five purple petals (surrounded by yellow sepals) that bloom in the spring. Associated species include an orchid, California lady's slipper, and two lilies, Tofieldia and Narthecium.
What visitors see in this little garden of multi-colored horrors (for insects), is a plant with yellowish green hooded leaves that form erect, 10 to 20-inch-high hollow tubes.
On top, the leaves are often purplish to reddish mottled with transparent areas. A hidden opening into the stalk is bordered by a large, green, mustache-shaped appendage beneath the curved hood of the leaf.
Nectar inside the plant's hidden opening attracts the insects. Once inside, an insect becomes confused by the transparent areas that appear like exits. It's all "downhill" for the insect from that point as it eventually drops into the lower part of the tube, is trapped by downward-pointed hairs and falls into a pool of water at the bottom of the stalk. Bacteria in the water decompose it into nitrogen that is then absorbed by the plant.
Nearby scenery includes a lush assortment of vegetation that includes rhododendron, spruce, cedar and shore pine and adjacent to the parking area is a small picnic area with restrooms.