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Naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Orobanchaceae
Tribe: Orobancheae
Genus: Orobanche
  • Aphyllon Mitch.
  • Boulardia F.W.Schultz
  • Catodiacrum Dulac
  • Ceratocalyx Coss.
  • Chorobanche C.Presl
  • Gymnocaulis Nutt.
  • Kopsia Dumort.
  • Loxanthes Raf.
  • Myzorrhiza Phil.
  • Necranthus Gilli
  • Orobanchella Piwow., M.Nobis & Madeja
  • Phelipanche Pomel
  • Platypholis Maxim.
  • Thalesia Raf. ex Britton

Orobanche, commonly known as broomrape, is a genus of almost 200 species of small parasitic herbaceous plants, mostly native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere.[2] It is the type genus of the broomrape family Orobanchaceae.


Broomrapes are generally small, only 10–60 centimetres (4–24 inches) tall depending on species. They are best recognized by the yellow- to straw-coloured stems completely lacking chlorophyll, bearing yellow, white, or blue snapdragon-like flowers. The flower shoots are scaly, with a dense terminal spike of 10-20 flowers in most species, although single in one-flowered broomrape (Orobanche uniflora). The leaves are merely triangular scales. The seeds are minute, tan or brown, blackening with age. These plants generally flower from late winter to late spring. When they are not flowering, no part of the plants is visible above the surface of the soil.


As they have no chlorophyll, the broomrapes 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.[3] Broomrape 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.

Some species are only able to parasitise a single plant species, and they are often named after the plant they parasitise, such as ivy broomrape (O. hederae) being restricted to parasitising ivy. Others can infect several genera, such as the lesser broomrape O. minor, which lives on clover and other related Fabaceae.

Branched broomrape Orobanche ramosa, native to central and southwestern Europe but widely naturalised elsewhere, is considered a major threat to crops in some areas. Plants that it targets are tomato, eggplant, potato, cabbage, coleus, bell pepper, sunflower, celery, and beans. In heavily infested areas, branched broomrape can cause total crop failure.

The bean broomrape Orobanche crenata, which targets the fava bean, has stems that are gathered and eaten in the Italian region of Apulia.[4]


The generic name Orobanche comes from the Greek ὀροβάγχη (orobánkhē), from ὄροβος (órobos "bitter vetch") + ἄγχω (ánkhō (I) "strangle").[5][6] The common name "broomrape" comes from the English "broom" (a plant) + Latin rapum ('tuber').[7]


The following species are recognised in the genus Orobanche:[1]


  1. ^ a b "Orobanche L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  2. ^ Beck-Mannagetta, G. (1930) Orobanchaceae. In Engler, A. (ed.) Das Pflanzenreich 4: 1-348. (Engelmann:Leipzig).
  3. ^ Yoder, J.I. (2001) Host-plant recognition by parasitic Scrophulariaceae. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 4:359-365.
  4. ^ Luard, E. European peasant cookery, Grub Street, 2004, p.380
  5. ^ Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art (1868). Report & transactions. p. 256.
  6. ^ ὄροβος, ἄγχω. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  7. ^ rapum. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.

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