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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 18th May

Posted: Monday 18th May 2020 by trustadmin

GREATER BROOMRAPE Orobanche rapum-geniste

Broomrapes have no leaves and no chlorophyll and are totally dependent on other plants for nutrients. Some species, such as Ivy Broomrape and Yarrow Broomrape, are only able to live on (parasitize) a single plant species after which they are often named, whilst others can live on a variety of other plants.

Greater Broomrape, which can grow to more than 30cm, and is Britain’s tallest and stoutest broomrape, feeds on broom or gorse and on Alderney its brownish-yellow flower spikes, often tinged with purple, can be seen in spectacular fashion all over the southern cliffs where the plant grows on the Prostrate Broom. The dead spikes from the previous year can often be seen even alongside the new growth.

Prostrate Broom is a sub-species of Common Broom, but whereas the latter is very rare on Alderney, Prostrate Broom grows all along the southern cliffs. It is in flower during late April and May creating carpets of bright yellow amidst the silvery sheets formed by its stems and leaves. Many insects feed on this plant but it also provides the food source for Greater Broomrape.

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