Kevin Snively (ksnive@premier1.net)
Sun, 25 Jun 1995 16:55:53 -0700 (PDT)

The Wild Flowers of California
By Mary Eliziabeth Parsons
Illutrations By
Margart Warriner Buck

Origional Copyright, 1897 By William Doxey
Copyright, January 5th 1925 By Mary Eliziabeth Parsons
Reprinted 1930
Revised and Corrected

Begining at the top of Page 396

_Darlingtonia Californica_ Torr. Pitcher-plant Family.

Bog plants, with long horizontal rootstocks. Leaves.-Tubular;
furnished with a wing the length of the tube; hooded and appendaged
above; eighteen to thirty-four inches high. Scape.-Eighteen inches or
more high, with green bracts crowded near the solitary nodding flower.
Flower parts in fives. Sepals.-Green; twenty lines long. Petals.-
Purplish; shorter than the sepals; consricted above into a terminal lobe.
Stamens.-Twelve to 15 in a circle around the ovary. Ovary.-Top-shaped;
truncate; five-lobed; five-celled. Style five-lobed. Stigmas thickish.
Hab.-The Sierras, from Truckee Pass into Oregon.

Our pitcher-plant is on of the most wonderfull and interesting
of all the forms that grow, linking, as it were, the vegetable world
with the animal, by its unnatural carnivorous habits.If you would like
to visit it, this warm July day, we will take a mountain trail, leading
around under lofty yellow pines, Douglas spruces, and incense-ceaders,
making our way through the undergrowth until we come to a swamp lying
upon a hillside yonder. While still some distance away, we can discern
the yellowish-green of the myriad hoods as they lift themselves in the
sunlight like spotted snakes.
If you have never seen the plant before, you will be in a fever
of excitement till you can reach the spotand actually take one of the
strange pitchures in your hand to examine it. Nothing could be cleverer
than the nicely arranged wiles of this uncanny plant for the capturing
of the innocent-yes, and the more knowing ones-of the insect world who
come within its enchantment. No ogre in his castle has has ever gone
to work more deliberately or fiendishly to entrap his victims while
offering them hospitality, than does this plant-orge. Attriced be the
bizarre yellowish hoods or the tall nodding flowers, the foolish
insect alights upon the tube and commences his exploration of the
fascinating region. He soon comes upon the wing, which often being
smeared with a trail of sweets, acts as a guide to lure him on to
the dangerous entrance to the hoodlike dome. Once within this hall
of pleasure, he roams about, enjoying the hospitality spread for him.
But at last, when he has partaken to satiety and would fain depart,
he turns to retrace his steps. In the dazzlement of the translucent
windows of the dome above, he loses sight of the darkened door in the
floor by which he entered and flies forcibly upward, bumping his head
in his eagerness to escape. He is stunned by the blow and plunged
downward into the tube below. Here he struggles to rise, but countless
downward-pointing, bristly hairs urge him to his fate. He sinks lower
and lower in this "well of death" until he reaches the fatal waters
in the bottom, where at length he is ingulfed, adding one more to the
already numerous victims of this diabolical plant.
The fluid at the bottom of the well is secreted by the plant,
and seems to have somewhat the action of a gastric juice in
disintegrating the insects submirged in it. Many species of ants,
flies, bees, hornets, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, dragon-flies,
beetels, etc., are to be found in the tube, sometimes filling it to
a depth of two or three inches.
The disagreeableness of the vicinity of these plants can be
imagined upon a hot day when the sun is shining "Upon this sad abode
of death" and all the air is tainted with their sickening odor.
The mountaineers call the plant "calf's-head," because of the
large yellowish domes of the pitchers.