The Sonoran Desert Florilegium

plants of the florilegium

Orobanche cooperi

FAMILY:  Orobanchaceae — Broom-rape family

ETYMOLOGY:  The name for the genus Orobanche derives from two Greek words, orobos, a type of vetch (a leguminous plant), and anchone, meaning to strangle. This combination refers to the parasitic nature of plants in the genus.

The specific epithet cooperi honors James Graham Cooper (1830-1902), a physician, naturalist, and ornithologist who worked on the northernmost route of the Pacific Railroad Survey in 1853

The common name 'broomrape' refers to a plant (broom) with a tuber (Latin rapum), a description of a plant afflicted by the swollen tuber of the parasitic plant.

DESCRIPTION:  The purple tubular flowers with yellow and white marking on the lower petal are sometimes not easily visible because of similarly colored stems and bracts (leaf-like structures) around the flowers. Many flowers emerge on an erect spike that has a somewhat cone-like structure.

A parasitic plant, broomrape lacks chlorophyll and is dependent on its host plant for water and nutrients. Hosts of broomrape in desert areas are usually shrubs in the Sunflower Family. Broomrape can grow to a height of 15" and is found in many different habitats below elevations of 7,000'. It has been used by Native Americans for food and medicine.