Orobanche (weeds)

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Orobanche amethystea (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Orobanche L. - (broomrapes)

This genus of parasitic plants contains around 150 species with a wide distribution, mainly in the northern hemisphere. Many are important weeds which damage crops. They lack chlorophyll (holoparasites) and subsist on the roots of their host plants.

The plants grow 10-60 cm tall and have small scale-like leaves and snapdragon-like flowers. The seeds are tiny. They can stay dormant in the soil for many years. Germination is initiated when they come in contact with stimulating compounds released by the roots of a suitable host plant.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Sommerwurz
• English: broomrape
• Français: orobanches

There are several approaches for managing broomrape infestations. Apart from herbicides and resistant crops, methods are also under development for stimulating the germination of the broomrape seeds in the absence of suitable hosts, either through specific chemicals or by planting trap crops which promote seed germination but are not susceptible to infestations.

See also the closely related genus Phelipanche.


Currently, the following species have been entered into the system: