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Found 6 results

  1. I just got back from a road trip with my good friend Rob Co of The Pitcher Plant Project, and we had the opportunity to see cobra plants in the wild! This was the very first time Rob has ever seen any carnivorous plants in the wild, and it was exciting to see his reactions to the various places we visited. I had visited this exact red darlingtonia site last year, and in 2010, and they are consistently red year after year after year. There are also green plants at this site, which indicates the red is a genetic factor. While I have seen red plants at other sites, I've never seen any other site that contains such a dense population of pure reds. Indeed, this is quite a treat to visit, and it definitely required some off-road vehicles to reach. Here's D. californica 'RED' at the Alpine Farms site in del Norte Co, CA. It's nick-named alpine farms because a huge pot grow was found just above this seep many years ago. While we were driving up the road, there were people loading their guns, probably hunting some animals, but you never know: Red plants are usually a minority in most populations I've visited, but these reds were quite common at this site: not just colorful, but elegant: Zoomed out a little bit: The color is just awesome: No, these aren't photoshopped or altered in any way: this is their natural color: Another shot: bright red tongue: dense populations: And here's the seep:
  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. 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:
  5. 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:
  6. 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...