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Found 5 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. 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:
  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. 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: