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Orobanche uniflora 3303f.JPG
Naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Orobanchaceae
Tribe: Orobancheae
Genus: Orobanche

See "Selected species"

Orobanche, commonly known as broomrape, is a genus of over 200 species of small parasitic herbs, mostly native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere.[1] 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. It is best recognized by its 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 between ten and twenty flowers in most species, although single in one-flowered broomrape (Orobanche uniflora). The leaves are merely triangular scales. The seeds are minute, tan-to-brown, and blacken 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.[2] 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're often named after the plant they parasitise, like 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 (O. 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 (O. crenata), which targets the fava bean, has stems that are gathered and eaten in the region of Apulia, in southern Italy, where they are given the name of sporchia.[3]


The scientific name comes from Greek ὄροβος (órobos 'bitter vetch') + ἄγχω (ánkhō '(I) strangle').[4][5] The common name comes from English broom + Latin rapum ('tuber').[6]

Selected species[edit]

Note that this list includes names of more recently described species that may, under further taxonomic scrutiny, prove to be synonyms of a single species. Also, some species formerly included in this genus have been referred to Conopholis.

List sources :[8][9]


  1. ^ Beck-Mannagetta, G. (1930) Orobanchaceae. In Engler, A. (ed.) Das Pflanzenreich 4: 1-348. (Engelmann:Leipzig).
  2. ^ Yoder, J.I. (2001) Host-plant recognition by parasitic Scrophulariaceae. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 4:359-365.
  3. ^ Luard, E. European peasant cookery, Grub Street, 2004, p.380
  4. ^ Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art (1868). Report & transactions. p. 256.
  5. ^ ὄροβος, ἄγχω. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  6. ^ rapum. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.
  7. ^
  8. ^ GRIN. "Species in GRIN for genus Orobanche". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  9. ^ "Plant Name Query Results for Orobanche". IPNI. Retrieved November 1, 2009.

External links[edit]