Darlingtonia californica is a fascinating plant to cultivate and observe. It was discovered in 1841 in northern California, and like Dionaea (the Venus Flytrap) and Cephalotus (the western Australia pitcher plant), it is a plant species so unique that it is the sole member of its genus.
Although Darlingtonia is in the same family (Sarraceniaceae) as other North American pitcher plants, it has a complex and striking appearance and form that is unique among pitcher plants: the flanged, twisting pitcher rises up to several feet and is topped by a large head that looks inflated like a balloon and is dotted with almost clear window-like areas, and with colorful projections that make the plant look reminiscent of a snake's head with extended forked tongue.
Darlingtonias have a reputation for being demanding or challenging to grow. However, the mountain variety from which these seeds are harvested is considered much hardier and easier to grow. In its natural habitat, these Darlingtonia occasionally experience day time highs of over 110°F in the summer and nighttime lows near 0°F in the winter. However, their roots are usually kept quite cool by running mountain water. In cultivation, success of growing these plants relies heavily on keeping their roots under 60°F, particularly for large, mature specimens.