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Found 9 results

  1. Having started my Carnivorous Plant journey (some ten years ago) by growing a handful of plants outdoors (due to lack of a greenhouse at the time), I've now returned to displaying a few plants outside; in a couple of newly set up bogs... A Darlingtonia haven on the left, and a mixed species bog on the right: The Darlingtonia are in a very watery/soupy mix of pure Sphagnum & rain water, and has a solar-powered airstone at the bottom to create a bit of oxygenation - in full sun the water really bubbles away! The Belfast sink bog, consists of S. × 'Maxima', S. purpurea venosa, S. × harperi, S. oreophila 'Purple Throat', Dionaea muscipula (seed grown myself), Dionaea muscipula 'Akai Ryu', Drosera capensis 'Alba', Pinguicula grandiflora & Utricularia dichotoma. It is a sphagnum, peat & sand mix with a blanket of sphagnum on the surface. It will be interesting to see these progress over the year(s), especially the Belfast sink, which should fill in nicely with D. capensis seedlings, P. grandiflora gemmae and the spreading U. dichotoma (providing it doesn't completely die off during the winter!)
  2. Deep in the mountains, perhaps a good hour drive on dirt roads out in the middle of nowhere, Rob Co of the pitcher plant project ( http://thepitcherpla...oject.com/blog/ ) and I reached the peak of a mountain, and knew the plants were around here somewhere. Thing is, the habitat completely looked wrong: there were sheer cliffs, and it really didn't seem like there were any streams or water sources nearby. So many unmarked dirt roads veered off the main dirt road. Was that the right one to take, and did we just drive by the site? Doesn't look like even trucks can make it very far on these side roads (and indeed, we had to eventually stop because the boulders in the road were too big). At first, we kept driving, thinking we would just see the site off the side of the road, but then it turned into a deep forest. We definitely passed the site-Damn! Where is it? On the way back, almost about to give up, we saw a really sketchy dirt road that didn't look like it had been driven on for a while...well, we're out in the middle of nowhere, might as well try it! Hey, at least we found some other sites earlier, so if we don't find anything now, at least it's really beautiful out here! A short distance down the road, the boulders were getting bigger and bigger, and even my rental truck was scraping the ground. Hope we don't get stuck, because it would probably take a complete day or two to walk back. We decided to park. The scenery out there was fantastic-as far as you could see were rocky mountains with sparse, dying trees. We saw a little spring, but no cobra plants....I really had my doubts that this was the right place. As we scouted the area and looked at the landscape, my eyes fixated on some shrubs in the distance: Mike: "NO WAY!!! There they are, I see them right over there!!!" I wasn't 100% sure, but said it with such confidence. At this point, like a person in the desert looking for water, everything looked like a Darlingtonia to me. Rob: "Are we there yet? IF anyone can find them, you can!" Mike: "Let's roll down this dangerous rocky mountain...might end up acing ourselves, but hey, we'll probably make it" Rob: "Okay, you know me, let's do this! And by the way, are we there yet? Oh wait, I see them too, damn Mike, you weren't playin!" Mike: " holy S***, F*** ya Bro, who's yo Daddy? Word to yo mama, yo dada, Mother F... ya...... (and every other explicative you can think of used in an excited context) we found it!!!" Okay, so it didn't happen exactly like that, but I think you get the point-we were excited as can be :) We were standing on a dirt road that was "turning back to nature" (ie. shrubs and trees were growing in it from a lack of use) and we were looking into the distance, trying to see if there was anything there. Can you spot the darlingtonias? It was pretty lucky that we saw them from here because I was about ready to turn back: It was ridiculously beautiful out there: Notice how desolate the landscape is...the substrate here is almost pure rock. No wonder other plants can't grow here. I also believe there was a fire here quite a few years ago, which really cleared up the site (update: I just learned there was a massive fire here in 2002 that cleared out approx. 500,000 acres of forest. This used to have more vegetation): This site had multiple fens to the left and to the right. Here's just one of them, and it's massive! some seeps go for as far as the eye can see: When it opened up, they became these massive seeps: IT was so peaceful at this site...jaw-dropping plants everywhere, and the background scenery was breath-taking: Looking up the mountain: A log had fallen, holding up substrate and making an ideal habitat: Darlingtonia waterfall-nature is really creative: These plants were just perfect:
  3. Here's another site way high up in the mountains that's actually relatively small, but jam packed with plants! We nick-named it the mountain creek site because a creek runs right through the middle of the habitat and, well, it's in the mountains! Not really rocket science :) The plants here are absolutely outstanding, and many were producing very large traps. Here's the creek that gives the site its name: despite low water levels and record drought, there was still plenty of water at this site: Do you see the mountain the background? It's made of very porous rocks, and those rocks collect moisture. Because of the volume of rocks and spaces in between the rocks of this mountain, water collects like a sponge. Downhill (where the darlingtonia site is) water constantly seeps out from the mountain, and the beginning of the spring is where Darlingtonias grow: All of this water feeds down a steep creek, which eventually feeds into the river that goes to the ocean. At the bottom of this valley in the background is the creek: But let's go back to the site. "Ay, yo Rob!!!": remember all of those darlingtonias you killed in the past? Well, don't feel so bad, they also die out in the wild. Here are some skeletal remains and even some dying seedlings. Why are they biting the dust? My guess, in this instance, is heat stress. Usually, water diversion causes issues, but you can clearly see water in this photo: Further evidence of heat stress:recent burning of the traps: Rob tested the water at various sites, and the range was between 30ppm to about 70ppm. I believe this site was around 40 ppm (can't remember for sure). Salty water isn't likely the cause of death here: This was definitely a site to behold: Some red plants grow here too! Powdery mildew is common in the wild: Plants can form dense populations: What are Darlingtonias eating in the wild? I've been visiting sites for almost 2 decades now and have never opened one up, but I felt it was important for us all to see what's inside: cucumber beetles, and mainly flying insects. Notice the maggots at the top of the pile of dead bodies: what you can't tell is before the trap was split open, it was filled with this really nasty, rotting water! The maggots were on top of all the corpses so they wouldn't be under water:
  4. Way high up in the mountains, far away from civilization, Rob Co of the Pitcher Plant Project and I decided to go on a crazy hike in what seemed like an endless mountain range. Reaching the site requires an hour and a half drive from the closest town and a 2 mile hike in some challenging steep terrain. On the way to the site, if you drive too fast or lose control, you'll fall off a sheer cliff, so there's no room for error out there. The roads aren't labeled out here, and getting there requires a little bit of trial and error plus some luck. Before I continue this story, let me add that hiking out in these mountain ranges require being in decent physical shape...this is no roadside botanizing! For the record, I look slightly fat but am buff underneath that, LOL Rob is quite physically fit (I'd hire him as a security guard any day), and he had a hard time going up and down these mountains (although to give him credit, he was slightly sick, so that's probably what slowed him down). Because of the high elevation (this was probably around 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) above sea level, the air is slightly thinner, which makes breathing more challenging. The dangers are also a lot higher than your average roadside site. For one, if you have an emergency, it's an hour and a half drive to the nearest form of civilization. Another challenge is the seep is about 2 miles away from where you can park the car. When we packed our backpacks, we had enough food and water to last around 4-5 days just in case. We also brought basic materials for survival (waterproof clothes, warm jackets, lighters, knives, bear spray, etc). Lastly, everything out there looks the same. When you try to find your way back to the car, it's extremely confusing and disorienting. Be sure to bring someone with a very good sense of direction if you decide to hike out in the wilderness like this. While there are trails out in this breath-taking scenery, the actual seep doesn't have any official trail to it. You essentially have to climb up a mountain top, look in the distance, and try to figure out how to get there without falling off the cliff. Here's Rob Co on the way to the site: The trails out here are extremely confusing because they aren't maintained whatsoever: Some of the trails are overgrown to the point that it's hard to tell it's still there: The scenery out there is absolutely breath-taking! Notice how many of the trees are pretty much dead-this was caused by a massive fire many years ago: Everywhere you look, there's jaw-dropping views like this. Interesting how some of the most beautiful places on this planet are quite hostile: What you can't tell is how steep this mountain is. It was very difficult figuring out how to get down to the fen, which is in the distance: Can you see the cobra pitchers in the distance? Probably not possible from this photo, but you could see it in person: We caught the last flush of some azaleas in bloom. The fragrance was sweet like candy-it smelled better than it looks! But who cares about all that, here's what we came to see, Darlingtonia by the thousands! This field was quite massive and absolutely impressive: In this photo, I'm standing uphill, and water is percolating downhill. The bogs were mainly composed of decomposing tree trunks, grasses, sticks, and a peat-like substance. It sort of bounced a bit when you walked on it: There were a few ponds at this site: And the Darlingtonia grew on the edges of these ponds. Keep in mind, water was constantly moving here: Just loved this unique habitat. Notice how there appears to be oil in the water: these are natural organic oils produced from decaying plant matter(probably from tree sap if I had to guess): Some of the plants are literally growing submerged. Slightly off topic, there were deep potholes at this site, and I fell into one because it was covered by the grass. I was up to my waist in water. At the bottom was thick mud that was hard to get out of, but I clearly survived: There were mainly "regular" color variants here, but check out the shape and dark red tongues on these traps: Hard to tell from this photo, but some were gigantic: My hand for scale: But there were also some amazing color variants here as well, like this copper topped one: Extensive windows and nice colors: Outstanding color variants. Notice the top of the head on the trap in the background is brown-this is from sun burn (heat stress):
  5. During the fall, Darlingtonia californica (the cobra lily) can change colors from bright yellow to dark red, and mixtures in between. Sometimes, if stressed, the windows can change colors as well. In the wild, we found a few individuals that under normal conditions consistently produces red windows! We searched the site carefully and only found maybe 2-3 plants that displayed this unique characteristic. I visited this same site in 2010 (?) and at that time, we thought the red windows might just be an environmental thing. However, upon seeing the plants again in 2013, the same individuals had red windows, which suggest this is a genetic characteristic. Fortunately, this population is doing well in the wild, and these unique red windowed plants will likely persist in situ beyond our lifetime because they're very hard to find :) Photos taken 10/12/13: Look at how incredible these clones are! Interestingly, The red doesn't color up all the windows Notice plants in the background, under the exact same environmental conditions, do not produce red windows: Nature is absolutely fantastic! A different individual clone: If these plants didn't already look so alien, the red windows helps make them look even more bizzare: Side view: This one has a "moustache" like tongue:
  6. This site is unique in the sense that it occurs in a chaparral habitat. A chaparral habitat is a community of plants consisting mainly of short, dense shrubs. In california, you will find a lot of manzanita, some madrone, caenothus, sage, etc. growing in such habitats. This plant community will eventually become very thick, and relies heavily on fire every 2-3 decades or so to clear out the vegetation and allow new growth to resume. Many of the seeds in this plant community will only germinate when burned .A chaparral habitat is much like a Sarracenia habitat in the sense that it relies on fire for long term maintenance. One thing notable in this population of Darlingtonias is that in previous years, there were many burnt, "sorry" looking plants. When I last visited this site in 2010, I thought it was just bad weather that's causing mechanical damage to the traps. However, upon seeing this site again in 2013 and seeing the same high ratio of burnt/dead traps, it seems like the issue is this site! Other neighboring seeps were in perfect condition this year. Chaparral communities are generally in full sun and have little protection from trees, and my haunch is that it gets too hot every summer at this site, which causes the pitchers to burn. I've seen the same thing happen to an "inland" population in Oregon that also gets full sun and seems to have sun-burnt pitchers year after year. Interestingly, these populations remain healthy, and even if the main plant dies, they send out so many stolons, it doesn't matter. Despite the heat stress, Almost every last square inch of colonizable space is occupied by Darlingtonia at this site: Overview of "cedar springs": Despite the high ratio of dead pitchers, this site is in fairly good shape-there are a lot of healthy rhizomes in there. Photos taken 10/12/13: another shot of the seep-notice how the surrounding vegegation is pretty short: A cedar branch is seen on the left of this fen: If you look in the background of this photo, notice the short shrubby chaparral habitat. Aside from the seep, this entire surrounding area is very dry: The fen flows into some thick shrubs: Did genetics cause this trap to turn a mouth-watering bright yellow, or is it from water/heat stress? This was in the middle of the "creek" so I have doubts about water stress causing this: What an amazing color! I'll have to come back in a few years and see if this thing is yellow year after year Happy traps: Weird tongue: These were looking great. The site actually looked better this year than in 2010: Some fall colors in the background-the surroundings really increased the beauty of this site : Sooooo many dead traps:
  7. Darlingtonias typically grow on hillside seeps high in the rocky, nutrient poor mountains. If they're found in a forest, the trees are usually either stunted or dying due to the harsh environmental conditions. However, one site has been discovered in the middle of the forest, which is a completely anomalous place to find cobra lilies. For a cool video and even more photos of darlingtonias in the wild, check out Rob Co's famous The Pitcher Plant Project: http://thepitcherpla...rip-2013-day-1/ I visited this site in 2010, and according to Damon Collinsworth of California Carnivores and Harry Tryon, a local Darlingtonia expert, the site looked a lot worse than it did approx. 10 years ago. Back then, they recalled the site was a lot more open, and is now getting shadier and shadier. Three years after visiting this site, my good friend Rob Co of the pitcher plant project and I revisited this site, and I was expecting "sarracenia doom and gloom." Was this site completely shaded out now, and how are the plants doing? To my surprise, the site looked even better than it did in 2010! I actually have some shots that I took in 2010, and you can compare them to 2013! Here's the site, photo taken 10/11/2013. Notice it's getting full sun! a really beautiful site: Ferns, azaleas, and other natives competing with Darlingtonia: Notice the dead or dying tree in the background: ironically, this is what gives me hope that this site will continue. The seep is too toxic and boggy for trees to colonize: Here's a picture of a darlingtonia plant from this site taken Sept. 17, 2010: Here's the exact same plant 3 years later, photo taken 10/11/13. They normally are even bigger after 3 years, but I suppose things are a bit slower at this site: To digress and belabor the point above, here's a clump at a different site, taken 9/17/10. There is one more plant behind it, but it's hard to tell because of the angle of the photo: The clump in the foreground is the same exact plant as the photo above! When these things send out stolons, they can really get big quickly. Unlike Sarracenias, Darlingtonias are doing very well in the wild! Photo taken 10/11/13:
  8. While exploring Darlingtonias with my friend Rob Co, we found a site in Del Norte Co, CA that seems to be isolated from the rest of the populations that are normally found in the area. This is found at around 5,000 feet above sea-level, so I suppose it's considered a montane habitat. Fortunately, it hadn't snowed yet, so we lucked out and were able to see this site. In previous years, snow prevented us from being able to see the higher elevation plants. The site was extensive, and if I had to guess, there were probably more than 20,000 plants here. IT seems when they put in the road and drainage, it destroyed the fen that was downhill, but uphill, the fen was thriving! The artificial ditch became an ideal habitat for these plants as indicated by the dense population that covers it. There were 4 or 5 different seeps that all drained into the roadside ditch, and surprisingly, this location was relatively close to the top of the mountain. It faced the east side, so the plants are likely shaded in the late afternoon, which helps keep the site cool. All photos taken 10/11/13: "Hey Rob!" The moment he turned his head, click: These plants were densely populating the roadside ditch: An extensive population: every last square inch that could be colonized had a plant: One of the fens or seeps that fed into the roadside ditch: Another seep in the same area: more habitat shots: Water is constantly running from the hillside. Check out those plants hanging on the cliff! The old pitchers from previous years eventually becomes substrate: Closer shot: notice how they're growing on almost pure, alluvial rock: Densely packed: The plants at this site were "normal" in size...no giants like I've seen elsewhere, but they can vary in size from year to year. In other words, they still could get giant: Another habitat shot: And now for some close-ups-diversity was decent here: Some slightly red ones: Nice green bodies with a contrasting red tongue: Now, you may think, OMG, a very yellow clone! While we did find plants that were very yellow (and likely due to genetics), this one was water stressed and growing in a very dry area. Notice the damage on the pitcher from a lack of water perhaps a month or two ago: Still, it's quite incredible: One last shot: A nice clone:
  9. Are there really red darlingtonias out there, or are they only red when they're small seedlings? HOw about plants with red bodies and yellow tops? Are there bronze colored Cobras? Is there a such thing as a giant Darlingtonia that can reach the size of a baseball bat, if not slightly bigger? Are there variants of Darlingtonias with an abnormal amount of windows on them? IS there a huge diversity of "tongue" shapes? HOw about "teeth"-do some darlingtonias have them? It may shock some of you that the answer to ALL of these questions is YES! here's a giant plant. One thing I observed is many of these giant plants produce one huge pitcher and that's it for the season-reminds me a lot of S. flava var. rubricorpora: Another shot of the same trap: Here's one with a red body and yellow "top": This one's mustache was cut a little short: A clone with a bronze head: The windows on this clone is quite extensive: Another shot: more photos to come...