loading ...
OpenClose
loading ...

Broomrapes are parasitic herbaceous plants contained within the family Orobanchaceae. There are more than 200 species in the group with is largely restricted to the temperate Northern hemisphere. Broomrapes lack chlorophyll and apart from the flower spikes no part of the plant appears above ground. The seeds may lie dormant in the soil for long periods and are stimulated to germinate by exudates from the host plant roots. After germination the broomrape attaches to the roots of the host plant and uses it as a source of water and nutrients. The flowers are borne on a scaly shoot with a dense terminal spike of 10-20 flowers. Some species parasitise only a single host species e.g. O. hederae on ivy while others live on a variety of different genera e.g. O. minor which parasitises clover and related members of the Fabaceae. The branched broomrape Phelipanche ramosa, native to central and southern Europe, but widely naturalised elsewhere, can be a major threat to crops such as tomato, aubergine, potato, cabbage, sunflower, beans etc. even resulting in total crop failure. Because of the similarity of the broomrape flower spike with some orchids there can be confusion between the two groups. The photographs in the gallery below were all taken in the southern Peloponnese in Greece.