Saturday, February 28, 2015

Unusual flora right on Sabino Canyon's main road

I had just written about how great Ann Green's Sabino blog was and this morning more proof appeared.  I can't improve on her so will just quote it and add my own pictures that were taken on Wed. Feb. 25th when Fred showed the plants to us.

Desert Broomrape

Desert Broomrape

"They are the root parasite Orobanche cooperi, with the English name Burro-weed Strangler or Desert Broomrape. (What a nasty name)

To my knowledge, all of the members of the Orobanchaceae family can be root parasites. Recently plants in the genus Castilleja (paintbrushes and owl clovers) were added to this family. Orobanche cooperi which has no chlorophyll is considered an obligate parasite because it cannot complete its life cycle without a host plant.
Common host plants for this plant are in the Sunflower Family especially the Ambrosia genus (such as Canyon Ragweed, Triangleleaf Bursage, and Burro Brush in Sabino) and Encelia (Brittlebush). These Orabanche plants were all somewhat near to Brittlebushes and thus is host plant for those in the photos."

These things ain't pretty but clearly few of the thousands who walk that main road would ever see them much less ask what they were.  But there they are and I nominate them for the title of most unusual of all the plants we've come across in the last two months. 


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