The Darlingtonia flower consists of 5 long yellow-green sepals, 5 purple-pink petals, about 15 stamens and a 5-lobed compound pistil. It is pendulous on a tall scape which has numerous pink-lavender bracts that become papery and abscise as the ovary of the flower matures into a dry fruit containing seeds. (Fig. 3-20)
Coloration and the production of nectar are probably the most effective lures for attracting insects. The efficiency of the plants' trapping ability is attested to by its leaves or pitchers which are, more often than not, full of insects and their remains. Once the insect stumbles into the bottom area of the pitcher the downward pointing hairs that line the inside surface hinder the prey from climbing out. (Fig. 3-21)
Fig. 3-19 Darlingtonia californica plant with young plant developing from stolen.
Insects landing on the fangs are enticed toward the dome opening by the increased abundance of nectar just inside the mouth (opening) of the pitcher. Once inside the insect may try to fly out through one of the transparent areas in the dome, a fenestration, only to slam into it and drop down into the fluid below.
The interior of the Darlingtonia pitcher is similar to that of Sarracenia's pitchers. In some areas there are downward pointing hairs that direct the path of insects into regions that afford no foothold for them.
Until recently bacterial action was thought to be solely responsible for digestion in Darlingtonia, but it was discovered that at least one enzyme is secreted by the pitchers into the fluid bath. Here, as in the case of other Pitcher Plants, there are insects that are able to survive and thrive in the digestive bath living off the plants' captured prey.
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