Broomrapes, or broom-rapes, are parasitic plants which grow on the roots of other plants, such as ivy, vetch or clover. They are native to temperate regions in the northern hemisphere and the family (Orobanchaceae) contains a single genus with more than 200 species. I regularly see two species when I visit northern Spain, Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae) and Red broomrape (Orobanche foetida). The yellow form of Ivy Broomrape is rarer is some parts of it’s range but is only type I see in northern Spain.
Orobanche foetida is widely distributed in the Western Mediterranean area where it is a parasite on wild plants (as show above in a patch of clover) but has also become a weed of legume crops in North Africa. I see it when I visit Cabo Ortegal in Galicia, northern Spain, a spot which is rich in wild flowers (below), and certainly not Mediterranean!
I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.