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Bedstraw Broomrape

Orobanche caryophyllacea

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Cliffs, grassland, hedgerows, sand dunes, scrub, sea cliffs, seaside.

Yellow, 5 petals
The flowers are yellowish and tinged purple. Purple, 2-lobed stigma. Downy stamens.
The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule, 1.2cm long.
Ovate to lance-shaped leaves, up to 2.5cm (1 inch) in length. Parasitic on Hedge Bedstraw (Galium album).
Smells of cloves when fresh.
Other Names:
Bed Broomrape, Clove-scented Broomrape, Redstem Broomrape.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Orobanche caryophyllacea, also known as the redstem 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. caryophyllacea 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. caryophyllacea is 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. It is particularly problematic for farmers growing vegetables and cereals, as it can reduce crop yields significantly.


Bedstraw Broomrape, Orobanche caryophyllacea, is a parasitic plant species that belongs to the Orobanchaceae family. Unlike most plants, this species does not have the ability to photosynthesize, meaning it cannot produce its own food and relies on the roots of other plants for its survival.

The Bedstraw Broomrape can be found in several regions throughout the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. It is commonly found in areas with poor soil and grows on the roots of plants such as Bedstraw and Clover.

One of the most distinctive features of this species is its stem, which is purple-brown in color and lacks leaves. Instead, the stem is covered in tiny, reddish-brown flowers that bloom between June and August. The plant can grow up to 60 cm tall and is often referred to as the "carnivorous plant" due to its parasitic nature.

In addition to its unique appearance, the Bedstraw Broomrape is also known for its negative impact on agriculture. As a parasitic plant, it attaches itself to the roots of other plants and steals their nutrients, leading to stunted growth and reduced yields. This can cause significant financial losses for farmers, particularly in areas where the species is prevalent.

Despite its harmful effects, the Bedstraw Broomrape has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant has been used as a traditional remedy for a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, skin conditions, and respiratory issues.

Conservation and management of Bedstraw Broomrape populations is essential in order to prevent its spread and minimize its negative impact on agriculture. One of the key ways to control its spread is through the use of crop rotation, as this helps to prevent the plant from becoming established in a particular area.

Another approach is the use of resistant crop varieties. For example, some clover varieties have been developed that are less susceptible to infestation by Bedstraw Broomrape, allowing farmers to grow crops without being impacted by the parasitic plant.

Chemical control is another option, but it should be used with caution as it can also harm non-target species and have negative impacts on the environment. Only certified and authorized herbicides should be used to control Bedstraw Broomrape, and proper application methods should be followed to ensure the safety of both the environment and nearby communities.

In addition to these control measures, it is also important to engage in research and monitoring efforts to better understand the ecology and biology of Bedstraw Broomrape. This will allow us to develop more effective management strategies and improve our understanding of this unique and important species.

In conclusion, Bedstraw Broomrape is a significant issue in many agricultural areas, but with the right management strategies and conservation efforts, it can be controlled and its negative impact on crops can be minimized. It's important to remember that every species, including parasites like Bedstraw Broomrape, plays an important role in our ecosystem and should be respected and protected.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map