Orobanche gracilis (NL: "Bloedrode bremraap" / EN: Slender Broomrape / DE: Zierliche Sommerwurz, Schlanker Würger, Blutrote Sommerwurz / FR: Orobanche grêle) belongs to the family Orobanchaceae.
Broomrapes are are strange plants, both in terms of appearance as in ecology: they are holoparasitic. As these species are lacking chlorophyll they are totally dependent on other plants for nutrients. Broomrape seeds remain dormant in the soil, often for many years, until stimulated to germinate by certain compounds produced by living plant roots. The seedlings put out a root-like growth, which attaches to the roots of nearby hosts. Once attached to a host, the broomrape robs its host of water and nutrients. When they are not flowering, no part of these plants is visible above the surface of the soil. O. Gracilis prefers semi-arid grassland and dry meadows and is a parasite on Trifolium sp. and Lotus sp. The plant in the image gives a withered impression, but is actually only starting to bloom. The stem is brownish, yellowish or reddish and usually has less than 15 scale leaves. The snapdragon-like flowers, with clove-like scent, are in tight clusters. The crown is glossy inside, turbid blood-red and yellow on the outside. The stigma is yellow, often with a red border (the two yellow "beans" in the centre of the image). The plant is covered with glandular hairs.
Image: Passo Gardena (IT) - 10/07/2011
© Johan Dierckx
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