Continuing the discussion of Darlingtonia (Darlingtonia californica) begun earlier this week (see “Carnivorous Darlingtonia” from 06-13-18):
Nodding Darlingtonia flowers occur at the tip of leafless stalks which may have a few, scattered scales.
The flower has five creamy sepals with purplish lines. The five dark red petals are shorter than the sepals.
The Darlingtonia pistil is composed of a green bell-shaped superior ovary topped by an umbrella-shaped stigma. The 12 to 15 stamens surround the ovary.
Darlingtonia fruits are obovoid capsules containing light, reddish-brown club-shaped seeds. The seeds are covered with spinelike processes.When the capsule dries some seeds may escape through splits. More likely, most seeds are released a few at a time through small, mouth-like, shaker-style openings on the end of the capsule. These openings close on wet days and open in dry, windy weather. Therefore it is thought that the seeds are mainly dispersed by wind, but that is uncertain.
There is also doubt about what pollinates Darlingtonia flowers. Several clues, such as the reddish purple petal color, which attracts beetles, and openings between the petals that are shaped to admit beetles lead to the assumption that beetles may be the pollinators. But that is not proven.
These Darlingtonia flowers were growing along Howland Hill Road in Redwood National State Parks, Del Norte County CA.
I will close “Darlingtonia Week” with this photograph of a flower with its sepals and petals manually spread to reveal the pistil. I like the “pinwheel” effect, which is as interesting and beautiful as the Darlingtonia plant itself.