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Greater Broomrape

Orobanche rapum-genistae

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Hedgerows, scrub.

Yellow, 5 petals
The flowers are honey yellow and tinted purple, up to 2.5cm in size. 4 stamens.
The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule.
Greater Broomrape is a parasitic plant preying on plants in the Pea family, in particular Gorse and Broom. The leaves are pointed and scale-like, mostly at the base of the stem. The single stem is very erect.
The smell of Greater Broomrape is repulsive.
Other Names:
Great Broomrape.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Orobanche rapum-genistae, also known as the broomrape of turnip and gorse, 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. rapum-genistae 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. rapum-genistae 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.


Greater Broomrape (Orobanche rapum-genistae) is a parasitic plant that grows on the roots of various species of plants, including crops such as sugar beet, potato, tomato, and sunflower. This plant is a serious problem in many parts of the world, causing significant yield losses and affecting the quality of crops.

The plant has a simple structure, consisting of a stem, a few leaves, and a flower spike. Unlike most plants, it does not have chlorophyll, which means it does not produce its own food through photosynthesis. Instead, it relies on the host plant for nutrients and water, tapping into its roots and drawing away the essential resources it needs to survive.

The plant has a complex life cycle, starting as a seed that can remain dormant in the soil for several years. When the right conditions arise, such as the presence of a suitable host plant, the seed will germinate and produce a stem that penetrates the root of the host. From there, the plant continues to grow and develop, eventually producing flowers and seeds that will drop to the ground and continue the cycle.

The severity of the impact that greater broomrape has on crops varies depending on the species of the host plant and the timing of the infestation. In general, the earlier the infestation occurs, the more severe the impact will be, as the parasite will have more time to draw away essential resources from the host plant. This can result in stunted growth, reduced yields, and even plant death in severe cases.

There are various methods that can be used to control greater broomrape, including cultural, chemical, and biological methods. Cultural control involves practices such as crop rotation, soil tillage, and proper fertilization, which can help to reduce the prevalence of the parasite. Chemical control involves the use of herbicides, while biological control involves the introduction of natural enemies of the parasite, such as predatory insects.

Prevention is Key to Controlling Greater Broomrape

One of the most effective ways to control greater broomrape is through prevention. This involves taking steps to reduce the presence of the parasite in the soil and limit the spread of its seeds. Some of the key prevention methods include:

  1. Crop rotation: By rotating crops and not planting the same crop in the same field year after year, farmers can reduce the build-up of broomrape seeds in the soil and limit the plant's ability to infect their crops.

  2. Soil tillage: Regular soil tillage can help to reduce the population of broomrape seeds in the soil by exposing them to the elements and decreasing their viability.

  3. Proper fertilization: Proper fertilization of crops can help to reduce the impact of broomrape infestations by ensuring that the host plant has the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy, even in the presence of the parasite.

  4. Monitoring: Regular monitoring of crops can help farmers to detect broomrape infestations early, allowing them to take prompt action to control the plant before it has a chance to cause serious damage.

  5. Seed treatment: Seeds of crops that are susceptible to broomrape can be treated with fungicides or other chemicals to reduce the risk of infection.

In addition to these prevention methods, it is also important for farmers to be aware of the importance of using integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. This involves using a combination of methods to control broomrape, including cultural, chemical, and biological control measures.

In conclusion, greater broomrape is a serious threat to crops and agricultural production. While there are various methods that can be used to control the parasite, prevention is key to reducing its impact and limiting the spread of its seeds. By being proactive and taking the necessary steps to prevent broomrape infestations, farmers can help to protect their crops and ensure a successful harvest.

Impact of Greater Broomrape on Agriculture and the Environment

The impact of greater broom rape on agriculture and the environment is significant and far-reaching. Some of the key impacts include:

  1. Yield losses: Greater broom rape has the potential to cause significant yield losses in crops, especially in cases where the infestation occurs early in the growing season. This can result in a reduction in the overall production of crops and lower income for farmers.

  2. Reduced quality: Greater broom rape can also impact the quality of crops, leading to a reduction in their market value. For example, the presence of broomrape in potato crops can result in deformed tubers and a decrease in the quality of the final product.

  3. Increased costs: The control of greater broomrape can be expensive, requiring the use of chemical herbicides and other control measures. This can increase the cost of production for farmers and lead to higher food prices for consumers.

  4. Environmental concerns: The use of chemical herbicides to control broom rape can have negative impacts on the environment, including the potential for groundwater contamination and harm to non-target species.

In addition to these impacts, greater broom rape also has the potential to affect the biodiversity of agricultural landscapes. By parasitizing native and cultivated plants, the parasite can alter the composition and structure of plant communities, leading to a reduction in the overall diversity of species in a given area.

In conclusion, the impact of greater broom rape on agriculture and the environment is significant and far-reaching. It is important for farmers, researchers, and policymakers to work together to develop effective strategies for controlling this parasitic plant and limiting its impact on crops and the environment.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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