Orobanche reticulata

var. pallidiflora

Thistle broomrape                                                                     Το παράσιτο λύκοσ,                αγριόλυκοσ

Orobancheae                                                                                                  Dicot.


This tall elegant broomrape, has intricate flowers which are arranged in terminal spikes; the colour is variable but most are cream with purple markings; the pale variety, var. pallidiflora, is commonly found on Skopelos.

It is parasitic on thistles  (Asteraceae) and knautia. The host is not always the nearest plant and can be several feet away. The plants, like all orobanche, develop quickly produce seeds and dry up to leave dry, brown, skeletal remains.

For more on Orobancheae go to bottom of page.

8-22cm ,W, Parasite                JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Orobanche - broomrapes

The fascinating flowers of the family Orobanche visually resemble orchids, but they are quite different; they are more closely related to Scrophulariaceae, the figwort family.

 They are unusual in the plant kingdom as they have no green leaves and no chlorophyll; they are unable to photosynthesise to produce their own energy. They are wholly parasitic, attaching to the roots of other plants and they derive all their nutrition from their hosts.

Many members of the genus are parasitic on a single species and others are restricted to a genus or family. Some, however have a wider range of hosts; these tend to be more common. The hosts may be wildflowers and little damage may be caused to them but sometimes the hosts are valuable crops, when broomrapes can be devastating. 

The identification, classification and differentiation of orobanche species is notoriously difficult and nomenclature is confusing, but new methods involving the structure of seeds and genetic studies have been developed to help identify these economically important weeds.

"A considerable number may be accepted as certain, many are probable, some no more than possible.”  A.F. Hort.1


1. THEOPHRASTUS. ENQUIRY INTO PLANTS. Vol. I & II. Translated by A.F.Hort. Loeb Classics. Harvard University Press.

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