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SCIENCE FILE | I Didn't Know That

December 05, 1996

Q: Does California have any native carnivorous plants?

A: Yes, the California pitcher plant, more often called the cobraplant and formally named Darlingtonia californica after William Darlington, an early American botanist.

The pitcher plant grows in bogs and has single, yellowish-purple flowers. It is named after its leaves, which are formed into tubular structures 12 to 20 inches long, capped by a hooded flap. The inside of the tube is covered with downward-pointing hairs that allow insects to crawl down the tube, but not to exit. They drown in liquid at the base of the tube and are digested by enzymes secreted by the plant.

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