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Common Broomrape

Orobanche minor

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Beaches, fields, grassland, heathland, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, roadsides, sand dunes, scrub, seaside, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

Yellow, 1 petal
Papery-looking, creamy yellow and usually with dark reddish-purple veins. Flowers are each up to 16mm long. Yellow stigma, sometimes purple.
The fruit of Common Broomrape is a small, capsule-like structure. This fruit is typically brown and can vary in size, containing numerous tiny seeds. The capsule develops after the flowering stage, and when mature, it splits open to release the seeds, contributing to the plant's reproductive cycle. The seeds are dispersed, and under suitable conditions, they germinate to give rise to new Common Broomrape plants. The fruit is a crucial part of the plant's life cycle, facilitating the dispersal and propagation of the species.
Broomrapes do not have leaves. They are parasitic; numerous hosts, in particular Black Medick and Wild Carrot. The stems of Common Broomrape are reddish-brown and occasionally creamy yellow. Most common in south-east England, scarce elsewhere. Broomrape species are notoriously difficult to tell apart from one another.
Common Broomrape is not typically associated with a distinctive aroma. Unlike many flowering plants that are known for their fragrances, Common Broomrape is more notable for its parasitic nature and unique appearance than for any specific scent. The plant lacks chlorophyll and does not engage in photosynthesis, so it does not produce the aromatic compounds commonly found in flowering plants. As a result, Common Broomrape is not renowned for its fragrance, and its appeal is often focused on its visual characteristics rather than olfactory qualities.
Other Names:
Clover Broomrape, Hellroot, Lesser Broomrape, Small Broomrape.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Orobanche minor, also known as the small broomrape or lesser broomrape, is a species of parasitic plant in the family Orobanchaceae. It is native to Europe and is commonly found in grassland, meadows, and pastures. O. minor is a rootless plant that derives its nutrients from the roots of other plants, often causing significant damage to the host plant. It has small, yellow or white flowers that bloom in the summer and is known for its ability to survive in dry, nutrient-poor soil. O. minor is considered a major agricultural pest in some areas and is difficult to control due to its ability to regenerate from small fragments of its root system.


Common Broomrape (Orobanche minor) is a parasitic plant that belongs to the Orobanchaceae family. It is commonly found in various regions of the world, especially in Europe and North America.

This plant has no chlorophyll and relies solely on the roots of nearby plants for sustenance. It attaches itself to the roots of its host plant and steals its nutrients, leading to stunted growth and decreased productivity of the host plant.

Orobanche minor is most commonly found on leguminous crops such as beans, clover, alfalfa, and peas. This makes it a significant agricultural pest, causing serious damage to crops and leading to significant economic losses for farmers.

One of the key ways to control Common Broomrape is to implement crop rotation. This involves planting crops in a different location every year, making it difficult for the plant to attach itself to the roots of its host plant. Additionally, planting crops that are less susceptible to the parasite, such as maize or wheat, can help reduce the impact of Orobanche minor on crops.

Another method of control is the use of chemical herbicides, although this should be done with caution as some herbicides can also harm the host plant. A more sustainable solution is the use of resistant cultivars, which are crops that have been bred to resist the parasite.

Another important aspect to consider when dealing with Common Broomrape is proper identification. This is because there are several other species of broomrape that look similar and can be easily confused with Orobanche minor. Proper identification is crucial for effective control, as the methods for controlling one species may not work for another.

It's also important to note that Common Broomrape can spread quickly, as the plant produces many seeds that can persist in the soil for many years. Once established, it can be difficult to eliminate, making early detection and control crucial.

In addition to being a serious agricultural pest, Common Broomrape also has ecological implications. The plant can reduce the overall biodiversity of an ecosystem by outcompeting other plants for resources. It can also affect the overall health of the soil, as the plant can lead to changes in the soil microflora and fauna.

There have been efforts to develop more sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of controlling Common Broomrape. One example is the use of biological control, which involves introducing natural enemies of the plant, such as fungi or insect predators, to control its populations.

It's also worth mentioning that Common Broomrape has a unique life cycle compared to other plants. The plant spends most of its life underground, attached to the roots of its host plant, and only emerges above ground when it is ready to flower and produce seeds. This makes it difficult to detect and control, as it often goes unnoticed until it's too late.

Another important factor to consider is the potential health hazards associated with Common Broomrape. Some species of broom rape contain toxic alkaloids, which can be harmful to livestock and humans if consumed. This is an important consideration for farmers who may have livestock grazing in areas where broom rape is present, as well as for people who may be consuming crops that have been contaminated by the plant.

In addition to its impact on agriculture and the environment, Common Broomrape also has cultural and historical significance. The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries and is considered to have potential as a source of natural remedies. It's also been the subject of folklore and mythology, with many cultures associating it with evil and witchcraft.

In conclusion, Common Broomrape is a parasitic plant that poses a significant threat to agriculture, the environment, and human and animal health. It is important to be aware of its potential impacts and to take steps to control its spread and reduce its impact. Effective control methods, such as crop rotation, the use of resistant cultivars, and biological control, are crucial for mitigating the negative effects of this plant.

30 Common Broomrape Facts

  1. Botanical Name: Common Broomrape is scientifically known as Orobanche minor.

  2. Parasitic Plant: It is a parasitic plant that depends on the roots of other plants, particularly those in the family Fabaceae, for nutrients.

  3. Habitat: Common Broomrape is commonly found in sandy or loamy soils and is often associated with disturbed habitats.

  4. Flowering Time: It typically flowers from late spring to early summer, producing clusters of small, tubular flowers.

  5. Appearance: The plant has a distinctive appearance with erect, slender stems and small, scale-like leaves.

  6. Lack of Chlorophyll: Common Broomrape lacks chlorophyll, the green pigment responsible for photosynthesis in plants, making it entirely dependent on host plants for nutrition.

  7. Height: It can grow to various heights, but typically ranges from 10 to 30 centimeters.

  8. Color: The flowers of Common Broomrape can be various shades of pink, purple, or white.

  9. Reproduction: It reproduces both sexually through seeds and asexually by sending up shoots from its underground rhizomes.

  10. Host Plants: The preferred host plants include various clovers, vetches, and other legumes.

  11. Global Distribution: Common Broomrape is found in various regions across Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

  12. Ecological Role: While it is considered a parasitic plant, it plays a role in the ecosystem by interacting with and influencing the growth of its host plants.

  13. Adaptation: The lack of chlorophyll is an adaptation to its parasitic lifestyle, as it does not need to produce its own food.

  14. Culinary Uses: In some cultures, the young shoots of Common Broomrape are consumed as a vegetable, and the plant has traditional medicinal uses.

  15. Seed Production: A single Common Broomrape plant can produce a large number of tiny seeds, contributing to its potential to spread rapidly.

  16. Germination: Seeds require specific conditions for germination, often involving chemical signals from the host plant's roots.

  17. Threat to Crops: In agricultural settings, Common Broomrape can be considered a weed as it poses a threat to crops by parasitizing them.

  18. Root Structure: The roots of Common Broomrape form specialized structures called haustoria, which attach to the roots of the host plant to extract nutrients.

  19. Life Cycle: It has a relatively short life cycle, but its ability to produce a large number of seeds contributes to its survival and spread.

  20. Mimicry: The flowering spikes of Common Broomrape can mimic the appearance of its host plants, aiding in its parasitic success.

  21. Control Methods: Controlling Common Broomrape can be challenging, and methods often involve managing host plants and using herbicides selectively.

  22. Influence on Hosts: The parasitism of Common Broomrape can impact the growth, development, and reproductive success of its host plants.

  23. Conservation: In some regions, efforts are made to conserve populations of Common Broomrape due to its ecological significance.

  24. Genus Orobanche: Common Broomrape belongs to the genus Orobanche, which includes various other parasitic plant species.

  25. Invasion Potential: Its ability to spread rapidly and adapt to different environments gives it the potential to become invasive in certain ecosystems.

  26. Genetic Diversity: Common Broomrape populations can exhibit genetic diversity, allowing them to adapt to different environmental conditions.

  27. Symbiotic Relationships: Despite being a parasite, Common Broomrape has complex relationships with its host plants and the ecosystem.

  28. Role in Traditional Medicine: Some cultures historically used Common Broomrape for medicinal purposes, although its efficacy and safety are not universally established.

  29. Biodiversity Impact: The presence of Common Broomrape can influence the biodiversity of plant communities by affecting the abundance and distribution of its host species.

  30. Research Interest: The unique biology and ecological interactions of Common Broomrape make it a subject of interest for researchers studying plant ecology, parasitism, and plant evolution.


Common Broomrape filmed in the sand hills at Crosby in Lancashire on the 3rd July 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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