Orobanche species in California are now in genus Aphyllon

by Doreen Smith

The parasitic broomrapes now leave genus Orobanche and become genus Aphyllon in the latest treatment by Adam Schneider and Alison Colwell. Yet another change of taxonomy, but maybe this time not of any of our favorite plants, like the now replaced genera Zauschneria, Boschniakia, and Dodecatheon. Mentioned as Orobanche californica ssp. californica on page 357 in J.T. Howell’s Marin Flora of 2007, these plants are now Aphyllon californicum ssp. californicum.

All species of broomrape are dependent for their nutritionon host plants, here the coastal populations of Grindelia stricta. The uncommon but large inflorescences of Aphyllon californicum can be discovered on Point Reyes from June until October. This specimen was growing by the east end of the North Beach entrance road. Other easily accessed spots for finding some of these always leafless purple clusters of flowers are on the traffic islands in the South Beach parking lot and on the seaward-facing parts of the tip of Chimney Rock peninsula.

Aphyllon californicum ssp californicum 2018 09 12 9439cm

Aphyllon californicum ssp californicum – (red-purple broomrape)

Photo by Vernon Smith