Darlingtonia Californica (Cobra Lily)


Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiosperms
Class: Eudictos
Subclass: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Sarraceniaceae
Genus: Darlingtonia
Species: D. californica

  • The Darlingtonia californica is the only member of its genis and is in a family of pitcher plants named Sarraceniaceae. The plants are called pitcher plants because of their leaves which are specialized for trapping insects. The leaves form a hollow tube or "pitcher" that contain different pitfalls that trap insects, which are attracted to them by a number of means such as glistneing surfaces, colorful leaves, or sugary nectars that are excreated from the plant. (Britannica)
  • The Cobra Lily attracts its prey with nectar and a "hoodlike" leaf at the plant's entrence that is brightly colored with mostly red and some yellow or purple. Insects are further attracted to the plant's interior by its window like leaves which allow lots of light to enter, making the whole plant illuminate. Once prey enters the "pitcher" of the plant its exit is impeaded by stiff, inward facing hairs, slippery walls, and the illusion the bright false windows contained in the Cobra Lily's leaves. Eventually, the prey falls into a pool of liquid at the bottom of the plant, this pool contains digestive liquid that contains protien-digesting enzymes and bacteria that break down the trapped prey. (Britannica)

  • The Darlingtonia californica is found in high elevation locations in Northern California and Western Oregon,in locations that contain cold, running water. Other plants in the pitcher family are found throughout the world in a diverse range of habitats. (Wikipedia)

  • The Darlingtonia californica has no real use to humans, the biggest threat to their existence is human collectors, due to their odd shape and beauty. Despite their possible interest from collectors, the plant requires such precise conditions that they rarely live long away from their natural habitat.

  • The Cobra Lily thrives in nutrient-poor bogs and in soil that is actually basic because of its adaptation to compensate for this lack of nitrogen through carnivory. Because the plant lives in such adverse conditions, its roots are highly modifies for their environment. The Cobra Lily can survive fire by regenerating from its roots but they are also quite delicate, as they cannot live in temperatures that 10 °C for more than short periods of time. (Wikipedia)
  • Interestingly, the Cobra Lily is unique compared to other pitcher plants in that it does not rely on rain water to fill its pitcher, rather it regulates the amount of liquid by pumping water from its roots. Another unique fact is that they rely more heavily on symbiotic bacteria to break down its food, compared to other pitcher plants. It was once believed that the plants rely exclusively on this relationship but recent research has confirmed that they do indeed secret enzymes for this process as well. (Wikipedia)


Works Cited
"Sarraceniaceae (plant Family)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.

"Darlingtonia Californica." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.

USDA Forest Service. Darlingtonia Californica. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.