The Darlingtonia preserve

Darlingtonia


In 2005, on one of our trips to the Pacific Northwest, Partner and I were running up and down the Oregon coast: Lincoln City, Yachats, Florence. 

 

 

On our way to Florence I noticed an odd sign pointing to a DARLINGTONIA PRESERVE.  The name rang a very faint bell, but I couldn’t quite place it, and I suggested that we stop.

 

 

I am so glad we did.

 

 

It is a small park which serves as a natural preserve for a rare local plant, the Darlingtonia californica, aka the cobra lily.

 

 

Darlingtonia is a carnivorous plant resembling the pitcher plant.  Its body is a cup of water, topped by a cobra-like hood.  Insects blunder inside and fall into the water to drown; the hood helps keeps them inside if they try to escape.

 

 

Once they’re dead, Darlingtonia californica eats them up, slowly, by dissolving them and absorbing their delicious little bodies.

 

 

Bloodthirsty, I know. But the plants were gorgeous, and you have never seen so many together in one place in your life.  They were shining bright green in the fitful Oregon summer sunlight, hundreds of them in their damp little peat bog, humming to themselves, waiting for the little buggies to arrive for lunch.

 

 

Plants are remarkable.  We animals have always had an advantage over plants, seemingly; we move faster, anyway. But plants are sneaky and malevolent. Some are poisonous, like nightshade and datura and pokeweed. Some sting and burn, like nettles and poison ivy. Some are beautiful and dangerous, like the foxglove. Some can gash the hell out of you, like the cholla cactus. Some of them can poison the ground beneath themselves, so that nothing else can grow (many conifers do this).

 

 

But all of them, just like Darlingtonia californica, are beautiful in the sunshine.


 

 

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