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Darlingtonia californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: SarraceniaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, generally from slender rhizome, short caudex, or stolon; carnivorous; roots poorly developed. Leaf: in basal rosette, prostrate to erect, each forming a tubular pitcher with fluid that digests captured prey by enzymes, bacteria, or other organisms, with stiff, reflexed hairs within. Inflorescence: scapose, flower generally 1. Flower: bisexual, radial, nodding; sepals 5 [4--6], generally free; petals 5 [0]; stamens many; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers generally 5, incomplete above or not, placentas generally axile, style 1, 5-lobed, umbrella-like or not, stigma terminal or under tips of style lobes. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal; valves generally 5. Seed: many, flattened-ovoid, smooth, or club-like, papillate [winged].
Genera In Family: 3 genera, 24 species: northern California, Oregon, British Columbia, eastern North America, northern South America, especially acidic bogs, streamsides, moist areas; often planted outside native ranges by horticulturists but generally not invasive.
eFlora Treatment Author: Barry A. Rice
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: DarlingtoniaView Description 


Species In Genus: 1 sp. Etymology: (William Darlington, Philadelphia botanist, 1782--1863)

Darlingtonia californica Torr.
Habit: Rhizomed; stolons +- 1 m. Leaf: nearly erect, 1--6(10) dm, green-yellow to deep red, enlarged upward; pitcher top opening underneath, tube with non-digestive fluids within; appendages yellow or green to purple. Inflorescence: < 1 m; scape bracts yellow. Flower: sepals 4--6 cm, oblong to oblanceolate, yellow-green, purple-tinged or not; petals 2--4 cm, narrowly ovate, yellow-green between wide, dark purple veins (variant lacking purple veins in Nevada Co.); stamens 12--15 in 1 whorl; ovary tip truncate or concave, style 2--3 mm, deeply 5-lobed, stigmas 5. Fruit: 2.5--4.5 cm, obovoid. Seed: +- 2 mm, papillate, light red-brown. Chromosomes: 2n=30.
Ecology: Seeps, boggy places with running water, generally serpentine; Elevation: 60--2200 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR, NCoRO (introduced, Mendocino Co.), n SNH (c Plumas, Sierra, Nevada cos.); Distribution Outside California: western Oregon; planted elsewhere. Flowering Time: Apr--Jun Note: Pollinator the bee Andrena nigrihirta, possibly also an arachnid; digestion in leaves by bacteria, arthropods, not by plant enzymes. Pitcher resembling cobra with fangs or forked tongue.
Synonyms: Chrysamphora californica (Torr.) Greene
eFlora Treatment Author: Barry A. Rice
Jepson Online Interchange
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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botanical illustration including Darlingtonia californica


Citation for this treatment: Barry A. Rice 2016. Darlingtonia californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 29, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 29, 2016.

Darlingtonia californica
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© 2006 Barry Rice
Darlingtonia californica
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© 2007 George W. Hartwell
Darlingtonia californica
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© 2009 Barry Rice
Darlingtonia californica
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© 2009 Barry Rice
Darlingtonia californica
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© 2009 California Academy of Sciences
Darlingtonia californica
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© 2008 Keir Morse

More photos of Darlingtonia californica in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Darlingtonia californica:
KR, NCoRO (introduced, Mendocino Co.), n SNH (c Plumas, Sierra, Nevada cos.);
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.