Orobanche minor on Whiteknights campus

Orobanche minor growing on Brachyglottis monroi

Orobanche minor growing on Brachyglottis monroi

Parasitic plants, particularly ones with large and colouful flowers, are always a cause of curiosity from the casual observer, and are generally uncommon enough to exite field botanists. For many years there were numerous flower spikes of Orobanche minor on the Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’ plants in the Chemistry Department car park on Whiteknights campus.  However the Brachyglottis plants became moribund and were removed so I thought we had lost the Orobanche from the area. 

Later that year I noticed O. minor on Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’ in the car park of the local ASDA store, only 5 minutes drive away, and again this was a good sized population.

Numerous Orobanche flower spikes arising under B. monroi next to the Hopkins building

Numerous Orobanche flower spikes arising under B. monroi next to the Hopkins building

In 2014 I was delighted to see that plantings of Brachyglottis monroi next to the Hopkins Building (completed 2008) had gained a good population of Orobanche minor, and this has appeared in greater abundance in 2015 and again this year.  One of the flower spikes in 2015 was albino but this did not reappear in 2016.

Normal and albino flower spikes of O. minor in 2015.

Normal and albino flower spikes of O. minor in 2015.

About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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