Open the Advanced Search

Ivy Broomrape

Orobanche hederae

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Hedgerows, rocky places, walls, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Cream-coloured, up to 2cm, sometimes hairy, yellow stamens.
An egg-shaped capsule.
Without any leaves. The plant has no green pigment and is parasitic on Ivy. However, the stems bear many large and pointed fleshy scales.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Orobanche hederae, also known as the ivy 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. hederae 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. hederae 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.


Ivy Broomrape, also known as Orobanche hederae, is a parasitic plant species that grows on the roots of ivy (Hedera helix) plants. Unlike most plants, it does not produce chlorophyll and cannot produce its own food through photosynthesis. Instead, it relies on its host plant for nutrients and water.

Ivy broomrape is native to Europe and Asia, and was first introduced to the United Kingdom in the 19th century. Since then, it has become a common sight in many parts of the country, especially in urban areas where ivy is a popular ornamental plant.

The plant has a slender, upright stem that can reach a height of up to 50 cm, with small, purple or pink flowers that bloom from June to September. Its parasitic nature means that it can harm the growth and health of its host plant, especially in large infestations.

Control and management of ivy broomrape can be difficult, as the plant is able to regenerate from small pieces of root that remain in the soil after the above-ground parts have been removed. In order to prevent further spread, it is important to remove all parts of the plant and to avoid disturbing the soil around affected plants.

In garden settings, the use of resistant ivy cultivars and proper maintenance of ivy plants can help to reduce the risk of infestation. Chemical controls are also available, but should be used with caution as they can harm non-target species and have negative impacts on the environment.

In addition to its impact on ivy plants, ivy broomrape can also have implications for ecosystems and wildlife. The presence of ivy broomrape can affect the health and growth of ivy plants, which in turn can impact the habitats and food sources of the animals that rely on them. For example, ivy is an important source of nectar for many species of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. If the ivy plant is weakened by ivy broom rape, the quantity and quality of nectar produced may be reduced, affecting the survival of these important pollinators.

Furthermore, ivy broom rape can also have a significant impact on the appearance and aesthetics of gardens and landscapes. The plant's unsightly appearance and its ability to harm the growth and health of its host plant make it a major concern for gardeners and landscapers.

It is important to note that while ivy broom rape is a parasitic plant, it is not a true weed as it does not compete with other plants for resources. However, its impact on its host plant and its potential impact on ecosystems and wildlife make it an important species to consider in garden and landscape management.

Ivy broomrape is a fascinating plant species that has adapted to survive through a unique relationship with its host plant. Understanding its biology and ecology can provide valuable insights into the complex interactions between plants and their environment.

In recent years, research on ivy broom rape has increased, with a focus on understanding its biology, ecology, and potential for control and management. Scientists have studied the plant's reproductive biology, its interactions with its host plant, and the chemical signals that allow it to locate and attach to its host. This research has led to a better understanding of the mechanisms that allow ivy broomrape to survive and thrive as a parasite.

One interesting aspect of ivy broom rape is its ability to alter the chemical composition of its host plant to promote its own growth and survival. This can result in changes to the nutrients and water available to the host plant, affecting its growth and health.

In terms of control and management, research has focused on developing sustainable and environmentally friendly approaches. This includes the use of resistant ivy cultivars, biological controls such as natural predators, and cultural methods such as proper maintenance of ivy plants to reduce the risk of infestation.

While ivy broom rape can be a challenge to control and manage, its impact on ivy plants and the environment highlights the importance of understanding and managing the relationships between plants and their environment.

In conclusion, ivy broom rape is a unique and fascinating plant species that provides valuable insights into the complex interactions between plants and their environment. Ongoing research on its biology and ecology, as well as efforts to control and manage its impact, will help to ensure the health and sustainability of ivy plants and their associated ecosystems.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map