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Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G.
Explanation: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. This is a fly's eye view looking up into the maw of doom ... the enticing opening to the throat of a remarkable insect-eating plant called Darlingtonia.
Also called Cobra Lily, this insectivorous siren of the forests grows in moist patches in northern California and southwestern Oregon, USA. Its "mouth" attracts insects because nectar glands grow within. The dome or hood has many translucent "windows" which must appear to insects as easy escape portals ... until they become trapped within.
When growing in direct sun, the leaves turn red, but otherwise appear fully green::
The inside of the throat is coated with downward-pointing hairs that trap insects into moving downward until they become submerged into a pool of enzymes that slowly digest their exoskeleton and that feed the plant.
The seed heads produce tiny seeds only 2 mm long.
However, the plant does not require pollination, and local groups of Cobra Plants often persist as colonies of clones.
The carnivorous (insectivorous) nature of Cobra Plants puts it into a unique evolutionary line that is ancient -- beginning at least 140 million years ago -- although quite specialized in its feeding behavior. Botanists and horticulturists alike have appreciated its beauty and bizarre lifestyle.
Next week's picture: Giant African Land Snail
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