Welcome to week eleven of our column entitled Pretty Petals. Each week we will introduce you to a flower that we are working with here in the studio as well as flowers that we absolutely adore. Please join us every Thursday for some floral eye-candy where you will learn about a variety of very special blooms. This week is a crazy looking flower – the cobra lily.
The cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica), also known as the California Pitcher Plant, is a carnivorous plant. This uncommon, insect-eating bog plant is native to Northern California and parts of Oregon. Many people believe that the Cobra lily collects rainwater in its pitcher in order to trap insects to digest, but this is simply not true. The plant regulates the water that enters the pitcher by absorbing water (or draining if levels are too great) through its roots. Once an insect is trapped in the water, the plant secretes enzymes to help the digestive process.
Now enough creepy stuff! This is a unique flower. When we use it in a design, or when a client sees a vase of them in our studio, the cobra lily immediately becomes the center of attention. “What the heck are those things?”. Cobra lilies are really unlike any other flower available in the floral industry. They are a natural addition to a clean, contemporary design, yet they are conducive to a wild gardeny look too. Because cobra lilies are a wetland plant and are used to soggy conditions, these flowers prefer to be designed in a vase of water as opposed to a container with floral foam. The direct water source of a vase will give cobra lilies the shelf life they deserve (approximately one week). They tend to wither after only a couple of days in foam. In the floral industry, cobra lilies have a short time of availability – the early summer months are when they are imported to Canada from the United States. The pitchers are much larger in the cooler summer months – in the heat of summer, the flowers tend to be much smaller.
If you are looking for a conversation piece for your summer get-together, perhaps a vase full of these insect-eating flowers are just the thing! They may even eat a mosquito or two!