Only in Oregon: See Insect Eating Plants at Darlingtonia Wayside

Only in Oregon - Darlingtonia State Natural Site

Darlingtonia State Natural Site in OregonJust off the Oregon Coast Highway north of Florence is a small, 18-acre wayside dedicated to the protection of a single plant species.  Darlingtonia State Natural Site is a State Park property that preserves the cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica), a carniverous plant.

The cobra lily, also known as the California pitcher plant, thrives in bogs and marshes.  It's called "cobra lily" because its tubular leaves resemble a striking cobra.

To quote the State Park's website: 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.

Cobra lilies at Darlingtonia WaysideOn 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.

Boardwalk trail at Darlingtonia State Natural Site

A short YouTube video shows how the cobra lily traps its prey.  The videographer/narrator does a good job of showing and explaining how an insect gets trapped from the insect's point of view.

A boardwalk trail leads visitors to a viewing area with a large sign that provides information about this unique plant.  Picnic tables and a restroom are near the parking area, so this is a good spot to have a picnic lunch and rest before resuming your journey up or down the Oregon Coast.

There is no cost to visit and I always find it a nice, brief respite before taking guests to the scenic Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint.

To get to this wayside, which is north of Florence, turn east onto Mercer Lake Road.  This map provides exact directions.  The insects might want to avoid this place, but you certainly won't.

Darlingtonia State Natural Site, Oregon

Learn about more places and events in western Oregon by visiting the Facebook page "365 and More Things To Do in Lane County, Oregon".

Rick Obst is an Arizona native who moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2005 and fell in love with the verdant Pacific Northwest.  He enjoys photography and discovering the many people, places, and events that make this part of the world so special.

To learn more about Eugene, Lane County, and western Oregon, visit 365 and More Things to do in Lane County, Oregon on Facebook.  You'll see hundreds of pictures and links to discover the beauty and attractions of this special area.

 

Comment balloon 9 commentsRick Obst • September 15 2013 01:22PM
Only in Oregon: See Insect Eating Plants at Darlingtonia Wayside
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