I love walking the Shorepine Bog out at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. There’s always something interesting in bloom and the bizarre twisted Shore Pines (Pinus contorta var. contorta) give the whole boardwalk a surreal Dr. Suess feel.
I’ve been looking for an unusual plant that I’d seen on previous visits to the National Park in 2006 and 2008 so I was excited when I talked this week to a family who had seen something strange in the bog. As they started to describe the plant I knew that the Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica) had raised its “snake-like” form once again.
Native to northern California and Oregon this exotic looking pitcher plant is definitely out of its range here on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. However, though the plant is quite small it seems to be doing fine (despite its stunted growth).
The history of the Cobra Lily’s arrival on the Shorepine Bog Trail begins in 1999 when an insectivorous plant enthusiast collected several seeds from plants in Oregon and then distributed them along the trail that fall. Several clumps of the plants were found in 2003, the largest of which was only 5cm in diameter. The pitchers themselves were only 10cm tall, much shorter than the typical 50cm height. I saw two or three clumps in 2006 and only one clump in the same location in 2008.
The Cobra Lily is definitely a very cool plant to look for while visiting Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The fact that it has persisted for at least 10 years is quite interesting.