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Chrysamphora californica

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Chrysamphora californica

California pitcherplant

by Edgar T. Wherry

Though currently believed to be restricted to a few mountain bogs in California and southern Oregon, a study of the literature and of Manuscript sketch of D. californica by Frank Morton Jones
herbarium records has revealed that California pitcher plant grows in numerous counties from Placer County, California, where it reaches an altitude of over 8,000 feet, to Lane county, Oregon where the writer has collected it at sea level. It grows in swamps, bogs, and springy places where the reaction is usually intensely acid and the soil temperature probably never exceeds 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

This plant evidently developed during the Cretaceous times so far west that when the Tertiary uplifts occurred, its seeds failed to reach the drainage basins of any of the eastern rivers, and it accordingly did not colonize the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Instead, it migrated westward, and occupied the area which subsequently became the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges, between latitude 39 and 44 degrees North. All traces of the connecting links between this and the related genera Heliamphora and Sarracenia were destroyed by the geologic events of Tertiary times, or by the advances of the ice sheets of the glacial epoch.

The image to the right is a manuscript sketh of D. californica by Frank Morton Jones. Click the image for a larger view.

Click here to see modern day pictures of D. Californica.

Click here for the watercolor by Mary Vaux Walcott.

Back to the Index of North American Pitcher Plants.