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Yarrow Broomrape

Orobanche purpurea

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
45 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, grassland, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

Blue, 5 petals
The flowers are purplish-blue making them easier to identify than other Broomrape species. They measure up to 3cm in size. The flowers are dark blue veined and the petals are pointed. White stigmas. The only British species of Broomrape with 3 bracts. The lower lip of the flower is 3-lobed.
A capsule.
Yarrow Broomrape is downy all over with white hairs. It has no leaves.
Other Names:
Blue Broomrape, Purple Broomrape.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Orobanche purpurea, also known as the purple 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. purpurea 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. purpurea 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.


Yellow Broomrape (Orobanche purpurea) is a parasitic plant that belongs to the Orobanchaceae family. It is commonly known as yellow broomrape or purple broomrape and is commonly found in Mediterranean countries, where it grows on the roots of various species of plants, especially legumes and cereals.

This plant has a unique and fascinating life cycle, as it lacks chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis and the production of energy. Instead, it relies on the host plant for its energy, water, and nutrients. Yellow broomrape sends its roots into the roots of its host plant and uses them to extract water, minerals, and organic compounds.

The plant has yellowish-orange to purple flowers that grow on thin stems, which are attached to a single root. It blooms from May to June and produces small, oval-shaped seeds that are dispersed by the wind.

Yellow broom rape is considered a serious weed in some regions, as it can cause significant yield losses in crops such as legumes and cereals. The plant's presence in crop fields reduces the host plant's growth, leading to reduced yields and lower-quality crops.

To control the spread of yellow broom rape, farmers can adopt various cultural and chemical methods. These include removing infected plants and surrounding soil, crop rotation, and the application of herbicides.

In addition to its negative impact on crops, yellow broomrape can also have negative ecological effects. As it depends on a host plant for its survival, the presence of yellow broomrape can alter the local plant community structure and diversity. This can, in turn, affect the entire ecosystem and the species that depend on it, including pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Despite its parasitic nature, yellow broom rape has been used for medicinal purposes in traditional medicine. The plant is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties, and has been used to treat various ailments, such as respiratory problems, headaches, and digestive disorders.

It is important to note that yellow broom rape should not be used for medicinal purposes without the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider, as it can also be toxic and cause serious health problems if not used properly.

Another aspect of yellow broom rape that is worth mentioning is its conservation status. In some regions, yellow broom rape is considered a threatened species and is protected by law. The decline of this species can be attributed to several factors, including habitat loss, the widespread use of herbicides, and the decline of its host plant populations.

To conserve yellow broom rape and its habitat, it is important to implement measures such as reducing the use of harmful chemicals, preserving its natural habitat, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Additionally, efforts to understand and study the species can help us better understand its life cycle and improve our ability to control it when necessary.

It is also important to note that yellow broom rape is not the only species of broom rape. There are over 200 species of broom rape worldwide, and each has its own unique life cycle and impact on the environment. Understanding the diversity of broom rape species and their role in the ecosystem is crucial for effective conservation and management.

In conclusion, yellow broom rape is a fascinating parasitic plant that has important ecological and economic implications. Its conservation status and potential uses highlight the importance of understanding and studying this species, as well as implementing measures to conserve it and its habitat.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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