California pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica)

Darlingtonia californica


The California pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica, cobra lilly) is a carnivorous plant native to the Pacific Northwest, and the only child in the Darlingtonia genus of the Sarraceniaceae family. It grows in bogs and places with running water, and purportedly evolved to catch the flies in the habitat. It gets the name ‘cobra lily’ for its arch and leaves that reselbe a cobra rearing its head. Like other carnivorous plants, it gets its nitrogen supply from the prey it feeds on.

Since the top of the pitcher is curved upnder, it doesn’t trap rainwater in its pitcher and has to rely on water from the roots.

The translucent head of the Darlingtonia confuses and tires insects trying to escape. It becomes too much for them and they fall down the slippery side into a waiting pool of enzymes waiting to digest the offender. Little information is known on how the Darlingtonia replicates.





California laurel (Umbellularia californica)

The California Laurel (California laurelUmbellularia californica) is an evergreen endemic to California, and is the only species in the genus Umbellularia. It thrives in oak woodlands, which is unfortunate due to its hosting ability for Sudden Oak Disease (phytopthora ramorum). The leaves are thick and smooth-edged, and arcuately veined, with small, yellow flowers. When crushed, the leaves give off a strong aroma similar to bay leaves, except like many laurels it has thick, waxy leaves. It has also been called Oregon myrtle and myrtlewood. Due to logging and popularity for its hard wood features, available supplies are beginning to dwindle.

  • Leaves pinnate, thick, leathery, alternately arranged, with intact margins
  • Leaves 3-6” long, 1” wide, oblong with a lance at the end
  • Flowers are white or yellowed
  • Dark gray-red-brown bark; scaly
  • When crushed, leaves give off strong scent
  • Can grow up to 80 feet tall, can live at least 200 years



Camas lily (Camassia quamash)

Camas lily, six pedal flowerCamas lily (Camassia quamash) is a perennial, purple herb that can grow to 70 centimeters tall. They used to be very abundant in the Willamette Valley, and were cultivated by many native groups including the Kalapuya, who would gather the bulbs and roast them from twelve to twenty-four hours to make them more edible. They prepared the land by setting fire to it, a process that does not live on today.


The leaves of the Camas are basal and populous and shaped like grass. The flowers are deep blue to pale and can get to 3.5 centimeters long, with pedals in groups of six. It shares its name with the Death-camas which has white flowers and bulbs similar to the Camas lily. The bulbs are highly toxic and fatal if eaten.


  • Flowers are deep blue, purple, to pale
  • Leaves can get to 3.5 cm long, pedals in groups of six
  • Grass-like leaves
  • Root similar to garlic but grows a foot deeper)


A field guide