Orobanchaceae-xCastilleja2018-01-08T18:09:50+00:00

Orobanchaceae: Broomrape Family — Various excluding Castilleja

Members of the broomrape family are all parasites. The Aphyllon (formerly Orobanche) genus is fully parasitic and its members have no green leaves capable of photosynthesis and so providing nutrients to the plant. Others, like Castilleja and Pedicularis, are hemiparasitic, meaning that they have green leaves capable of photosynthesis but also derive some of their nutrients from the roots of nearby plants.

Bird’s Beak – Cordylanthus rigidus subsp. rigidus

Blooms:

July–Sept

Plant Height:

3–15 dm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry slopes

Notes:

A tall, much-branched almost shrubby annual plant, soft-hairy and yellow-green or red-tinged. It has small white flowers, shaped like a bird’s beak with a U-shaped maroon stripe.  There are 5–15 flowers per head, each surrounded by leaf-like bracts which are lobed in the lower half with the middle lobe either tapered or blunt and notched.

Chaparral Broomrape – Aphyllon tuberosum (formerly Orobanche bulbosa)

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

8–30 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Openings in chaparral, parasitic on Chamise

Notes:

A true parasite with no leaves capable of photosynthesis. A compact, dense plant, sometimes more or less triangular in outline. Flower are yellowish to purple, 10–18 mm long. Photographs can give a wholly misleading sense of its true size, the tip of the hiking pole gives a true sense of how small the plant really is.  [Note: All native California members of the Orobanche genus have been moved to the Aphyllon genus (see Jepson eFlora Revision 5, December 2017).]

Clustered Broomrape – Aphyllon fasciculatum (formerly Orobanche fasciculata)

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

5–20 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry chaparral, parasitic on Artemisia, Buckwheat, Yerba Santa and Bedstraw

Notes:

Another true parasite with no leaves capable of photosynthesis.  Flowers have broad flaring lips and are pinkish to yellow, either on separate stems or densely clustered. Generally found above 600 m. [Note: All native California members of the Orobanche genus have been moved to the Aphyllon genus (see Jepson eFlora Revision 5, December 2017).]

Naked Broomrape – Aphyllon purpureum (formerly Orobanche uniflora)

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

3–12 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Moist places, parasitic on members of sunflower and saxifrage families

Notes:

Another true parasite with no leaves capable of photosynthesis. This has beautiful small bluish-purple flowers, 1–3 on 3–12 cm long pedicels. Most of the plant’s stem is underground. This species generally has pale purple, occasionally deep violet, to yellowish flowers. [Note: All native California members of the Orobanche genus have been moved to the Aphyllon genus (see Jepson eFlora Revision 5, December 2017). It is now considered that A. uniflora is not found in California and that California plants previously treated as Orobanche uniflora did not belong to that species.]

Indian Warrior – Pedicularis densiflora

Blooms:

Feb–May

Plant Height:

6–55 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Woodland, parasitic on Manzanita and other members of the Heath family

Notes:

Very common in early spring and often found in abundance. Its toothed bracts and easily overlooked tubular flowers are a similar deep maroon. Its basal leaves are somewhat fern-like.

Dudley’s Lousewort – Pedicularis dudleyi

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

10–30 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Rare or endangered?

Yes – 1b.2

Habitat:

Moist open places near streams (Little Sur River)

Notes:

This rare plant has pinnately lobed elliptic-oblong to ovate dark green leaves.  The corolla is pink to purplish with an upper lip that forms a narrow hood enclosing the stamens and pistils, and a lower lip that is whitish and about half as long as the upper.

Dwarf Owl’s-clover – Triphysaria pusilla

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

≤ 20 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Grassy fields

Notes:

This plant can be as much as 20 cm tall but is normally much smaller. The foliage is green turning reddish-brown. The tiny flowers are almost invisible to the naked eye but, under a hand lens, show themselves to be a pouch, dark red on top with lower lips also dark red.

Mediterranean Linseed – Bellardia trixago

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

15–80 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Mediterranean

Invasive?

Yes, limited

Habitat:

Disturbed grassland

Notes:

This is an invasive species, occasionally found along roadsides.  At first sight it can be mistaken for a member of the mint family with its squarish stems and spike-like cluster of flowers, each with a hood-like, pink upper lip. Note the white lower lip, three-lobed with the middle lobe slightly extended.  The throat has two distinct ridges.  The leaves are coarsely toothed to scalloped, opposite towards the top of the stem.