Series: Images of a botanical trip to the Free State of Thuringia (German: Freistaat Thüringen) in Germany from 15 - 19/04/2011
Lathraea squamaria (NL: Bleke schubwortel / EN: Common Toothwort / DE: Gewöhnliche Schuppenwurz) is a species of Toothwort.
Lathraea is a small genus of five to seven species of flowering plants, native to temperate Europe and Asia. They are parasitic plants on the roots of other plants, and are completely lacking chlorophyll. They are classified in the family Orobanchaceae. They are all protocarnivorous plants. (A protocarnivorous plant traps and kills insects or other animals but lacks the ability to either directly digest or absorb nutrients from its prey like a carnivorous plant.) Most of the plant consists of a branched whitish underground stem closely covered with thick fleshy colourless leaves, which are bent over so as to hide the under surface; irregular cavities communicating with the exterior are formed in the thickness of the leaf. On the inner walls of these chambers are stalked hairs, which when stimulated by the touch of an insect send out delicate filaments by means of which the insect is killed and digested. Lathraea squamaria is parasitic on the roots of hazel and alder, occasionally on beech, in shady places such as hedge sides. The only portions that appear above ground in April to May are the short flower-bearing shoots, which bear a spike of two-lipped dull purple flowers. The scales which represent the leaves also secrete water, which escapes and softens the ground around the plant. This image shows the back of the flower-shoot, only revealing the scale-like leaves. All flowers are at the other side but i liked the pattern and structure on this side of the plant more.
Image: Mühlberg (DE) - 16/04/2011
© Johan Dierckx
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All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.
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