The Darlingtonia Preserve is located just off Highway 101, north of the town of Florence on the Southern Oregon Coast. The tiny park is centered on a peat bog that hosts an unusual concentration of the carnivorous California pitcher plant, or cobra lily - known by the botanical name Darlingtonia Californica. The 18-acre preserve is the only Oregon state park dedicated to the protection of a single plant species.

The rare, strangely-shaped Darlingtonia plant is the only member of the pitcher plant family in Oregon. Visitors will discover a large colony of plants with green "cobra" hoods atop 10 to 20-inch hollow tubes that serve as the digestive tract for the cobra lily. As they mature, the hoods develop a mottled purple and red color. A hidden opening into the stalk is bordered by a large, green, moustache-shaped appendage beneath the curved hood of the leaf. Nectar on the "moustache" attracts insects to the plant, and eventually into the hood. Once inside, an insect becomes confused by the transparent areas in the hood that appear to be exits. The insect eventually falls into the lower part of the tube, and is trapped from escaping by downward-pointed hairs until it falls into a pool of water at the bottom of the stalk. Bacteria in the water decomposes insects into nitrogen that is then absorbed by the plant.

Darlingtonia Californica has purple and yellow flowers that rise above the hooded stalks. The plants are found only in wet meadows and bogs that provide acid soils that are low in nitrogen. Plants should never be collected from the wild, since they are rare and very difficult to cultivate. See the links page if you are interested in purchasing Darlingtonia seed from horticultural specialty companies.

The trip to the Darlingtonia Wayside makes a great lunch stop for visitors to the Southern Oregon Coast. The tiny park is a green oasis of dense coastal rain forest that has picnic tables, water and restrooms. The short trail and boardwalk to the Darlingtonia colonies is a nice way to stretch your legs after lunch, or as a break on a longer drive up Highway 101. Allow 30 minutes for the walking tour.

To view the images from the Darlingtonia preserve as a slide show click here, or go to the photo gallery link below, and use thumbnails to navigate the pages.

 Start Photo Tour ~ Thumbnail Gallery ~ Trail Map ~ Links

 All images are ©Tom Kloster 2002, and may not be used without permission