Knapweed Broomrape: plain and simple

No, I have not started photographing dead plants! This is a real, live specimen and yet there is no trace of any green on it at all. The broomrape family are parasitic plants and the knapweed broomrape (Orobanche elatior) is, naturally, parasitic on both species of knapweed, but mainly greater knapweed. Because it is a parasite deriving its nutrients from its host plant it has no need for chlorophyll and so it is not green, the colour chlorophyll would give it.
Knapweed broomrape is an uncommon plant found mainly on the calcareous soils of southern England and so can occasionally be found in Dorset on the chalk downs where there is, of course, knapweed! Whilst there are several species of broomrape none are encountered frequently and only four can be found in Dorset; common broomrape, ivy broomrape, carrot broomrape and this one so identification should not be difficult if you find one. 
Knapweed Broomrape: plain and simple

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